Elimination games began at the World Juniors today!
First up at Helsinki Ice Hall was Sweden versus Slovakia. The Slovaks played a good tournament, but the Swedes were just too much for them. Slovakia has not been able to generate offense and therefore could not carry much momentum either. Sweden shut them out 6-0 with a variety of players in on the scoring, including Alexander Nylander’s 9th point of the tournament.
The late game saw the US take on the Czech Republic. This game also proved a mismatch as Team USA shut out the Czechs 7-0 on the strength of an Auston Matthews hat trick. Matthews now leads the tournament in goal scoring with 7 and is 3rd in points with 11. I thought the Czechs would give the US a stiffer test best on how they played the Russians and Finns, but it was not to be. Nick Schmaltz opened the scoring with a nifty goal and Dvorak pounded in a rebound in the first. Then Matthews potted 2 in the second, followed by Eansor’s short handed breakaway goal. Finally, in the third, Matthews had an early tally for the hat trick and Debrincat put in a goal for his first point of the tournament.
Over at Hartwall Arena, Denmark forced Russia to overtime before Kamenev won it with a goal to make it a 4-3 final.
The second game featured host Finland versus defending champion Canada. This seesaw affair was won by Finland 6-5 in regulation, but not before Canada was up 2-0 and 3-2. The big line again put up the points and again the veterans Rantanen and Kapanen did not contribute on the score sheet. One wonders how long one line can keep a team going and how many comebacks the Finns can make.
Now the semifinal matchups are set and we have two longstanding rivalries in Finland versus Sweden and the US against Russia.
So we will see the strong all around play and smothering defense of Sweden against the fire wagon offense of Finland in the early game, while the undefeated Russians will take on the well balanced Americans. It should be a great day of hockey!
Prior to the games today we took in some sights. First we rode the Finnair Skywheel on the waterfront to get a birdseye view of Helsinki. After that and a nice lunch we visited the Rock Church, a beautiful sanctuary carved out of rock and domed over. It has gotten a bit colder the last day or so, but there is still much to see and do!