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World Championship Update: May 17

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
With just one day of round-robin play now remaining at the 2010 IIHF Men’s World Championship, things are starting to shape up in regards to which teams will play on to the quarterfinals and which will be sent home.

Norway Wins, Still Holds Hope
Team Norway knew it need to beat Switzerland in regulation today to have any shot of advancing to the Quarterfinal Round. They did just that, getting on the scoreboard twice in the first seven minutes and three times overall in the opening frame en route to a 3-2 victory over the top-ranked team in Group F. The win moved Norway into a tie for third place in Group F with six points.

Avalanche defense prospect Jonas Holos skated for a game-high 29:29, increasing his per-game average at the World Championship to 27:45. Holos has two points (1g/1a) in six games at the event.

How Norway Gets In: Norway needs to claim one of the top four spots in Group F to advance to the quarterfinals. With all three of their Qualification Round games now complete, the club will have to sit back and wait. The team received a little help later on in the day, as the Czech Republic topped Latvia. A Latvia victory would have eliminated Norway from the tournament. Norway is now tied with the Czech Republic at six points apiece (Norway owns the tiebreaker, but the Czech Republic still has one game remaining). If the Czechs earn at least one point Tuesday against Canada, Norway will be sent home. If not, Norway advances to the Qualification round.

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Slovakia Downed By Finland
A win for Slovakia today could have gone a long way toward guaranteeing the country a spot in the Quarterfinal Round, but it was Finland that instead clinched a spot in the knockout portion of the tournament with a 5-2 victory. After a scoreless first period, Team Finland netted three goals in the middle frame to shift the momentum in its favor.

Slovakian netminder Peter Budaj stopped 21-of-24 shots in two periods of action before being replaced by Rastislav Stana for the final frame.

Marek Svatos had four shots on goal in 14:15 of ice time for Slovakia. The forward has recorded one assist in five games at the World Championship.

How Slovakia Gets In:
The Slovaks still have a very good shot at advancing to the quarterfinals. The club’s final Qualification Round contest comes on Tuesday, where they will take on Germany. A victory in regulation or overtime will do the trick.

Belarus Ends On Positive Note
Team Belarus wrapped up its play at the 2010 IIHF Men’s World Championship on a positive note, beating Denmark, 2-1.  The surprising Denmark squad, already assured of its first quarterfinal berth in history, got the game’s first goal just 38 seconds in but would not strike again. Belarus received the tying goal by Andrei Stas during the middle frame and the winner from Mikhail Stefanovich in the final period.

Ruslan Salei, who served as Belarus’ captain at the tournament, had a game-high 25:34 of ice time in the game and recorded a team-best five shots on goal. Salei ended the event with a  goal and an assist in six contests while averaging a team-leading 24:59 of ice time.

End Of The Line: Belarus was already eliminated from contention for a Quarterfinal Round berth following Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win over Germany. Salei and Belarus would have needed to win that game in regulation to have any shot of advancing.

What’s On Tap
Six games are on the schedule for the final day of the Qualification and Relegation Rounds.

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USA/Italy: The Americans, including forward T.J. Galiardi and coach Joe Sacco, have won two straight games since being sent to the Relegation Round. Team USA needs to gain at least one point against Italy (either via a regulation win, overtime victory or overtime loss) to stay in the top division for the 2011 IIHF Men’s World Championship.

Slovakia/Germany: As previously mentioned, Budaj, Svatos and Slovakia need a victory to advance.  Team Slovakia currently owns three points, while Germany has four. A regulation win by Slovakia would help the team move on based on having more points than Germany (6-to-4). An overtime victory by Slovakia would give both of the countries five points, but Slovakia would hold the tiebreaker based on head-to-head play.

Canada/Czech Republic: The Canadian squad – featuring Avalanche players Kyle Cumiskey & Matt Duchene – has already qualified for the quarterfinals. However, you can be assured Team Canada will be looking to put up a solid performance heading into the knockout round following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Finland on Sunday.
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