World Juniors Quarter Finals: Heartbreak and Upset

Jerred Bapty
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@CaptainBapty

Thursday, January 3, 2019


VANCOUVER/VICTORIA, BC – Canada is out of medal contention. Canada will not medal on home soil for the first time in World Junior history. 

Now that’s not to say this was a bad team, but Finland exploited the weaknesses they demonstrated in Wednesday’s 2-1 Overtime decision. 

Canada had multiple opportunities to put the game away, but struggled to finish the play, missing the net or having a stick blow up at the worst possible time. 

Like Noah Dobson in Overtime. 

Canada started the game well and opened the scoring just 1:30 into the 2ndperiod, something they’ve done in almost every game in the tournament. 

As the game wore on, Finland continued to out shoot and out muscle Canada as they had difficulty getting out of their own end and maintaining control of the puck. 

Both of Finland’s goals weren’t beautiful passing plays or perfect shots. 

The tying goal was an errant centering pass that road up goaltender Michael DiPietro’s stick and founds its way under his arm. 

The game-winning OT goal was a shot deflected off the stick of Cody Glass at past DiPietro. Toni Utunen took the shot and is the latest hero incarnate for Finland. 

Canada was a good team that never quite clicked. They’re goal scoring dropped off as the tournament continued and Canada’s special teams was some of the worst at the tournament. A powerplay of just under 17% is only better than Finland, oddly enough, and Denmark, while Canada’s penalty kill sat at 80%. 

Finland has a chance to medal for the first time since they hosted and won gold at the 2016 World Juniors in Helsinki. 

This is the first time Canada won’t medal in the tournament since that same 2016 tournament in Finland. 

DiPietro along with Cody Glass and Maxime Comtois received Canada’s Player of the Tournament awards, while Finland’s Valtteri Puustinen was named Finland’s Player of the Game. 

An Upset in Victoria

A penalty-filled affair between Sweden and Switzerland ended with a Gross Misconduct for Throwing an Object and a 2-0 loss for the top team in Group B, Sweden. 

Swiss goalie Luca Hollenstein proved he is one of the best goalies in the tournament once again with a 41 save shutout. With this performance, Hollenstein is now boasting a 0.978 save percentage and a 0.66 goals against average with 2 shutouts. 

Switzerland did take more penalties than Sweden but, stayed strong on the penalty kill and took advantage of a bad Too Many Men penalty against Sweden that led to their second goal. 

“It feels great,” said Yannick Bruschweiler, who scored Switzerland’s opening and game-winning goal. “We played perfect as a team. It’s a great experience.”

Sweden’s goalie Samuel Ersson along with Emil Bemstrom and Erik Brannstrom were presented with the country’s Player of the Tournament awards, while Hollenstein received the Player of the Game award for Switzerland. 

Switzerland advances to face Finland in the Semi-Finals Friday evening. 

USA Muscles Past Czech Republic

Despite pelting Czech goaltender Lukas Dostal with 41 shots on net, the Americans only managed 3 goals in a 3-1 win. 

Josh Norris got USA out to a 2-0 lead early in the 2ndwhile the Czech took two penalties in the first 10 minutes of the 1stperiod. 

The Czech Republic came back in the 3rdwith a rare powerplay goal against the Americans to make it 2-1. The Czechs pressed but ultimately allowed an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play that sealed the game for the Americans. 

The Americans are finally getting some scoring from the depth part of their lineup with guys like Norris and Noah Cates getting the first two American goals. 

What is concerning about this US team is their shooting percentage. 3 goals on 41 shots is a shooting percentage of just 7.32% and looking back at their game against Kazakhstan, 8 goals on 66 shots puts that game’s shooting percentage at 12.12%. Their tournament shooting percentage? 10.05% on 209 shots. 

Dostal along with David Kvasnicka and Martin Kaut received Czech Republic’s Player of the Tournament awards, while Cates got USA’s Player of the Game award. 

Russia Dominates Slovakia

This game’s score, and even the title of this section, don’t fully reflect how well Slovakia played in this 8-3 loss to the Russians. 

Russia scored 7 unanswered goals, including three goals in the first 7 minutes that chased the Slovak starter Samuel Hlavaj. Juraj Skelnar came in to replace him. 

Russia just continued to capitalize on their opportunities up until the 3rd period when finally, Slovakia got on the board. Martin Fehervary ripped a one-timer past Pyotr Kochetkov. Kochetkov was replaced by Danil Tarasov soon after making another spectacular save to keep the Slovaks to just one goal. 

Milos Roman and Michal Ivan managed to put two past Tarasov late in the game but, it wouldn’t be enough. 

Russia was outshot in this game and took more penalties than the Slovaks but, come away with the win. 

Hlavaj along with Fehervary and Adam Liska were awarded the Player of the Tournament awards for Slovakia, while Klim Kostin was awarded Russia’s Player of the Game. 

Russia moves on to face the USA in the other Semi-Final on Friday. 

Denmark Finally Scores!

Game 1 of the Relegation Round ended in dramatic fashion as the Danes fell 4-3 to Kazakhstan. 

But a 4-3 score means that Denmark FINALLY scored! Danish captain Jonas Rondbjerg scored about 7 and a half minutes after Kazakhstan opened the scoring 1:36 into the 1stto tie the game at 1, and Rogers Arena finally heard the Danish goal song ‘We Could Be Heroes’. 

This was a tough loss for Denmark to swallow. They outshot the Kazakhs 43-19, but only got 15 saves from Mads Soegaard in the loss. Goalie Demid Yermeyev stood on his head once again in the Kazakh goal and will likely be the key for Kazakhstan to escape relegation. 

Malte Setkov helped the Danes pull within one with just over 3 minutes left to play, but they couldn’t find the equalizer. 

Game 2 of the relegation round goes Friday and Kazakhstan holds a 1-0 series lead. 

Let me know what you think!!

Twitter: @Captainbapty

Email: jerred@barnburner.ca

Image: @IIHF