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Thursday's three stars from the World Jr. A Challenge

by Mike G. Morreale /

The semifinal round of the 2012 World Junior A Challenge was set on Thursday after Switzerland and Canada East each posted victories in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The Swiss will take on the United States and Canada East will meet Canada West in the semifinal matches slated Friday. The winners advance to the gold medal game at Mariners Centre on Sunday.

Switzerland, which has reached the final four for the second time in as many tournament appearances, received goals from Shane Conacher, Christoph Bertschy, Robin Leone and Dean Kukan in recording a 4-1 triumph over Russia. Meanwhile, Shane Conacher connected for a pair of power-play goals to lift Canada East to a 4-0 win over Czech Republic. Charlie Finn made 25 saves for the shutout.

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards checked in with after the quarterfinal-round matchups on Thursday with his top three players for the evening.

First star: Christoph Bertschy, Switzerland - Bertschy, a sixth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild last June, is currently starring for Bern in the top tier of the Swiss hockey league system.

"He scored the first goal of the game for the Swiss, skated very well and played with great jump all game," Edwards said. "He handled the puck well and created a few other good scoring chances."

Second star: Charlie Finn, Canada East - The 5-foot-10, 150-pound goalie is in his third season with the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Finn, who made 25 saves in the shutout over the Czechs on Thursday, is 10-8-0 with a 2.39 GAA and three shutouts in 18 appearances this season.

"He stopped everything he faced, was not overworked but stayed focused and did not allow any soft goals that could have swung the momentum," Edwards said.

Third star: Blaine Byron, Canada East - Byron, regarded as a C-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list in the Central Canada Hockey League, finished with two assists in the victory over Czech Republic. Byron, a 5-foot-11.25, 163-pound center, currently plays for the Kemptville 73's -- he has four goals and 18 points in 17 games this season.

"Blaine was used at the point on the power-play and moved the puck around very well," Edwards said. "He showed good hands and passing ability, worked hard and gave a solid two-way effort."

Edwards' top three from Monday

Edwards' top three from Tuesday

Edwards' top three from Wednesday

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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