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Reinhart leads Canada into WJC semifinals

Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 4:51 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

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2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog
Reinhart leads Canada into WJC semifinals

Griffin Reinhart showed again why he was worth the wait for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The defenseman had a goal and an assist to lead Canada to a 4-1 win against Switzerland on Thursday in a quarterfinal game played at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden, and a spot in the semifinals.

Reinhart sat out the first three games of the tournament while serving the carryover of a four-game suspension for a high-sticking incident during the semifinals of the 2013 World Juniors.

After a solid defensive performance in the 3-2 win against the United States on New Year's Eve to finish preliminary-round play, Reinhart, taken by the New York Islanders with the fourth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, showcased more of his skills Thursday.

Reinhart started the play that led to Canada's third goal by creating a turnover at the Canadian blue line and breaking in alone on Switzerland goalie Melvin Nyffeler. Nyffelerstopped his attempt but Curtis Lazar, following the play, poked at the rebound, then pulled it away from Nyffler, carried it behind the Switzerland net and came around the other side for a wraparound goal.

Reinhart also scored the game's first goal with 1:52 left in the first period. Bo Horvat won a faceoff in the Swiss end, and Scott Laughton grabbed the puck and bounced a shot on net. Nyffeler made the save, but Reinhart scored on the rebound from in close.

"He's a real good player," Canada coach Brent Sutter told TSN. "I think he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He's a big, solid guy. I think that's what shows here. His experience, he's been through this, he handles it. He's very poised, confident. He brings a calming influence into the dressing room with his experience and his mannerisms."

Anthony Mantha, Lazar and Derrick Pouliot also scored for Canada, and Zachary Fucale stopped 19 of 20 shots to backstop the effort.

Canada will play Finland in one semifinal on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). Finland beat the Czech Republic 5-3 in another quarterfinal Thursday.

Nico Dunner scored for Switzerland, and Nyffeler made 19 saves.

Canada led 2-0 in the final seconds of the second period when Switzerland scored with one second left. Dunner beat Frederik Gauthier on a faceoff in the Canada end with five seconds remaining. Switzerland's Kevin Fiala got the puck and fired a shot that Fucale stopped. Fiala got the rebound and sent it to Mirco Muller at the right point. He fired a shot that Dunner re-directed down between Fucale's pads. A replay review upheld the call.

When Sutter saw his team between periods, however, it was a calm group.

"We talked about it on the bench when they were looking at it," Sutter said. "It didn't matter how it happened. We were still going to the third period with a one-goal lead. We need to stay with it, not lose your focus, not lose what we talked about for the last 48 hours leading into the game how we need to play and how we need to do things.

"The kids came in and they were very calm. They went out and played a really strong third period. We took a couple penalties we wished we never took. Other than that, I thought we played really well in the third and managed the lead well."

Any Swiss momentum ended 4:13 into the third when Lazar, the Ottawa Senators prospect, scored a 4-on-4 goal, his third of the tournament.

Matt Dumba and Laughton took penalties later in the third, but Canada killed them off. Pouliot closed the scoring when he picked up a loose puck at center ice, skated into the Swiss zone, backed down a Switzerland defender and fired a shot over Nyffler's blocker at 13:49 to make it 4-1.

The game was scoreless until Reinhart's goal at 18:08 of the first period. Sutter knew from watching the Swiss on video that the game would be a tough one for his squad.

"It was a tough game in a lot of different ways," he said. "I thought the Swiss played really well. They keep things really tight in the neutral zone. We just had to stay with our game. We didn't know who long it would take. Had to find ways to break them. It's always a dangerous game. I thought the kids handled it well."

Mantha made it 2-0 when he scored on a penalty shot for his fifth goal in five tournament games. Jonathan Drouin took advantage of a Switzerland line change and sprung Mantha on a breakaway. Switzerland's Samuel Kreis rushed back and pulled down Mantha, who was awarded the shot. On the attempt, Mantha skated in hard with the puck on his forehand, deked, pulled the puck to his backhand and slid it past Nyffeler at 9:04 of the period.

Mantha said he didn't know what his move was going to be until he got close to the net.

"The goalie moves first and then you react," he said on TSN.

Mantha, the Detroit Red Wings' 2013 first-round pick (No. 20) leads the tournament with 11 points, and his five goals are second.

According to Hockey Canada It was the fifth successful penalty-shot goal for Canada at the World Juniors, and the first since Jonathan Toews at the 2007 WJC.

Since its shootout loss to the Czech Republic in its second game, Canada seemingly has improved each game, beating Slovakia and the United States to win their Group in the preliminary round, and now a win against Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

"Ever since the Czech game we really buckled down and saw that every team in the tournament could win," Laughton, the team's captain and a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, said on TSN. "I don't know if we took them [the Czechs] lightly but they showed up and since then we faced a lot of adversity and came back, and I think it made us stronger."

Next is Finland in the semifinals. The teams met in a pre-tournament game, but much has changed since then.

"We know it's going to be a tough game from them," Pouliot said on TSN. "Both of us want to get to the gold-medal game. We'll be working hard and so will they."

Sweden 6, Slovakia 0 -- Filip Forsberg had two goals and two assists and Lucas Wallmark scored twice as Sweden rolled into the semifinals with a big win at Malmo Arena, in Malmo Sweden.

Elias Lindholm had a goal and three assists and goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped all 18 shots he faced.

Slovakia goalie Richard Sabol made 34 saves as Sweden outshot Slovakia 40-18.

Sweden will play Russia in the semifinals (9 a.m. ET, NHLN-US). It's the eighth straight year Sweden has advanced to the final four at the World Juniors. That run includes a silver medal last year in Ufa, Russia, and a gold at the 2012 WJC in Edmonton and Calgary. Sweden also is aiming to be the first host country to win the World Juniors since Canada won in Ottawa in 2009.

Sweden beat the Russians 3-2 on New Year's Eve, the final day of preliminary-round play.

Wallmark, a B-rated player in NHL Central Scouting's December list of players to watch for the 2014 NHL Draft, opened the scoring at 11:58 of the first period with a nice move in close. Lindholm, who had three goals and seven points earlier this season with the Carolina Hurricanes, made it 2-0 with 1:21 left in the first with a power-play goal.

Sweden continued to push early in the second with Forsberg, who has five points in 12 games with the Nashville Predators this season, scoring a power-play goal 1:10 into the period. Wallmark's second goal, at 13:21 of the second, pushed the lead to 4-0.

Forsberg scored his second late in the third with the teams skating 4-on-4, and Jacob de la Rose closed the scoring with a power-play goal with 4:41 left in the third.

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season