It's do-or-die time at the World Junior Hockey Championships with the knockout rounds starting Tuesday.
Only two teams were eliminated from contention in the preliminary rounds as Belarus and Denmark finished last in their respective table. However, the pressure only rises for the rest of the squads with the quarterfinals signaling the start of single-elimination play.
While some teams showed why they are true contenders, others can return home after a disappointing finish. Here are the latest results from the tournament in Buffalo, New York:
- Czech Republic 4, Finland 3 (shootout)
- Canada 7, Switzerland 2
- Sweden 3, Slovakia 2
- United States 4, Russia 2
Korenar Helps Czech Republic Survive Shootout
The Czech Republic have won some high-scoring battles in this tournament and this one was similar with six regulation goals, but the true credit goes to goalie Josef Korenar.
He made 51 saves, stopping 20 of the 21 shots on goal from Finland in the third period. After keeping the battle tied in overtime, he came up big once again in the shootout with four saves in five attempts.
The final stop sent his joyous team to the semifinals:
The San Jose Sharks were also excited about the performance from their possible future star:
Filip Zadina led the way offensively with two goals, but even he made sure to give credit where it was due.
"We did it! It's unbelievable," Zadina said, per Andrew Podnieks of the tournament's official site. "We played great. I'm so happy. We owe a big thanks to our goalie. He played so well."
Czech Republic will now take on Canada in the semifinals.
Canada Continues Dominance
Even with its loss to the United States, Canada outscored opponents by 15 goals in four preliminary games. The squad didn't slow down in the quarterfinals.
Taking on the clearly overmatched Switzerland, Canada scored eight goals and faced little opposition throughout the 60 minutes of game time.
Brett Howden gave the favorites the lead less than a minute into the contest:
The center became more of a passer from that point, picking up three assists in an impressive individual performance.
Meanwhile, it was a full team effort that sent the team to the semifinals. Seven different players scored, with only Drake Batherson coming through with two goals.
Cale Makar only scored once, but it was a memorable one with his ability to fire it through the defense:
His play was enough to earn him the player of the game award as voted by his team, per Mark Masters of TSN:
Switzerland scored two goals to keep it somewhat respectable, but it was outshot 60-15 in a one-sided battle. If the Canadians can keep up this offensive effort, they will be tough to beat.
Sweden Hangs on Against Slovakia
After being the only undefeated team in the preliminary rounds, Sweden had a lot of trouble against Slovakia Tuesday.
The game was scoreless after the first period, but Isac Lundestrom scored two goals, both on assists from Tim Soderlund in the second and third to keep Sweden in front. Although Martin Bodak had two goals for Slovakia to keep things close, they weren't able to ever take the lead.
Even with a hectic final 10 minutes in a one-goal game, Sweden survived for the victory.
Considering the how much time was spent short-handed and the failure to take advantage of their own opportunities, Sweden is fortunate to escape with the win.
Russ Bitely of HockeyProspect.com noted the effort done at the Harborcenter:
It was the final game at the Harborcenter this tournament with the semifinals and finals set for Key Bank Arena.
Bellows Hits Game-Winner for USA
Kieffer Bellows kicked off the scoring for the United States early in the first period, but it was his shot in the third period that made the difference in this one.
Tied at 2-2 with under eight minutes left, Bellows took a rebound off the board and fired it into the back of the net for the game-winner:
It had been a back-and-forth battle until then, with Andrei Altybarmakyan tying things up for Russia at the start of the third period. However, that goal put the United States up for good, with Joey Anderson then sealing it with an empty-net score.
Joseph Woll saved 27 of the 29 shots he faced, continuing a strong tournament in net for the Americans.
Despite the close battle, Russia has been eliminated and will end an impressive run at this event, per Brayton J. Wilson of WGR:
The United States will advance to the semis to take on Sweden.