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Canada Takes Top Seed For Quarterfinals

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

CANADA (10) VS. AUSTRIA (1)

Strong offense can be the best defense, especially when the forward unit is as heavily stacked as Canada’s (7-0-0-0).

The juggernaut squad from North America continued its 2015 IIHF World Championship dominance on Tuesday, beating Austria (0-2-1-4) 10-1 in a one-sided affair at 02 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Canadians put on a four-goal clinic in the first period, with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie and center Matt Duchene finding the back of the net before the 10-minute mark. Taylor Hall and Aaron Ekblad also tallied in the first.

The second stanza was relatively quiet by Hockey Canada standards, as only Jason Spezza and Jordan Eberle put pucks away.

Austria opened up the third period with its lone marker of the contest, but Canada proceeded to stuff in another four goals to ice the game and the preliminary round of the tournament.

Duchene finished the contest with four points (two goals, two assists) and is now tied for first in the competition with 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Duchene also leads all players in faceoffs with a 72 percent win rate (41/57).

"It’s been all sorts of guys that have been scoring lots of goals and getting lots of points in this tournament," Duchene told the IIHF website. "Everybody’s contributing pretty equally. That’s a really good thing, the sign of a good team."

Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon scored one of the third-period tallies and picked up an assist on another to finish the game with two points, two shots and a plus-4 rating. He has eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games for Canada.

Ryan O'Reilly assisted on Barrie’s goal to start the scoring. O’Reilly is in a four-person tie for fourth place in assists (7) and is fifth in faceoffs with a 64 percent win rate (29/45).

Barrie is tied for first among all skaters with a plus-9 rating through seven games.

Canada owns the best record at the World Championship, and will face Belarus (4-0-2-1) in Prague when the quarterfinal round begins on Thursday.

Austria will be relegated from the top division of the tournament after finishing last in Group A. France (1-1-0-5) jumped Austria in the standings after defeating Latvia (0-2-1-4) 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday.


BELARUS (3) VS. NORWAY (2)

Three consecutive power-play goals powered Belarus to a 3-2 victory over Norway (2-0-0-5) at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Belarus got the first marker just 7:29 into the opening frame after Morten Ask was sent to the sin bin for slashing.

The winning club put up the next two goals in the middle stanza, taking advantage of the extra-skater opportunities presented.

Norway began mounting a comeback in the second period, scoring the first of back-to-back tallies to make things interesting, but the club couldn’t get the equalizer in the third.

Avalanche defensive prospect Jonas Holos again led his team in ice time, skating 25:48 in the loss. He also assisted on Norway’s first marker and fired five shots on net.

Holos finishes the tournament with six points (one goal, five assists) in seven games. He averaged a team-high 26:10 of ice time for Norway.

Norway will not play in the quarterfinal round.


USA (5) VS. SLOVAKIA (4) - OVERTIME

It took an extra frame to decide a winner between Team USA (5-1-0-1) and Slovakia (1-2-2-2) at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, but the Americans came out victorious in the end, winning 5-4.

The U.S. took an early lead, scoring twice in the opening 4:11 of the contest and forcing Slovakia to change netminders.

With another tally just 47 seconds into the middle frame, Team USA looked to have the game in hand. The Slovaks countered however, scoring three consecutive goals to take their first lead of the day.

Reeling from the sudden change in events, the Americans recovered to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in the second after Charlie Coyle tipped Avs defenseman Zach Remond's shot into the net.

The game would remain deadlocked through the third period and into overtime until college standout Jack Eichel tallied to take the 5-4 victory.

Redmond finished with an assist and a shot on goal in 5:31 of playing time.

Team USA secured the top seed in Group B with the win and will face Switzerland (2-0-4-1) in Ostrava on Thursday.


CZECH REPUBLIC (2) VS. SWITZERLAND (1) - SHOOTOUT

With their positions already locked down for the quarterfinal round of the tournament, the Czech Republic (4-1-1-1) and Switzerland were playing more for pride and momentum on Tuesday than anything else.

It should come as no surprise then that the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked Group A teams would need more than some bonus hockey to settle the match.

The Czechs came out on top in a shootout in front of a friendly home crowd at O2 Arena in Prague, topping Switzerland 2-1.

The Swiss scored on a power play 16:56 into the first period, kicking off a lead that would last until midway through the third when the Czech Republic finally got the equalizer.

The tournament host Czechs tallied twice in the shootout to take the contest and some momentum into their matchup versus Finland (4-2-0-1) on Thursday.

Avalanche netminder Reto Berra was solid between the pipes for the Swiss, turning aside 28 shots in three periods of play and one sniper in the skills competition to keep his team in the game until the end.

Avs defenseman Jan Hejda finished with two shots on goal and 16 minutes of ice time.

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