Skip to main content

U.S. to face Czech Republic in WJC quarterfinals

by NHL.com Staff / NHL.com

Sonny Milano's goal 4:02 into the second period propelled the United States to a 4-1 win against Denmark at Helsinki Ice Hall on the final day of preliminary-round play at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Milano, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, also had an assist. Auston Matthews, projected to be the top pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, also had a goal and an assist, as did Colin White (Ottawa Senators). Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins) also scored and Matthew Tkachuk, another top prospect for the 2016 draft, had two assists. Goaltender Brandon Halverson (New York Rangers) made 16 saves.

The victory clinched second place in Group A for the U.S. After losing to Sweden 1-0 in its second game, It beat Switzerland and Denmark by a combined 14-2. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic, the third-place team from Group B, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

"It wasn't the start we wanted, but I'm happy with the way we turned things around," U.S. coach Ron Wilson told the USA Hockey website. "Our players should feel good about leaving this group with three wins. We'll enjoy this tonight and then turn our attention to the quarterfinal."

Mathias Lassen scored for Denmark. Goaltender Mathias Seldrup made 40 saves. Denmark finished fourth in Group A and will play Russia, the first-place team from Group B, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (7 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Seldrup's goal gave Denmark a 1-0 lead 10:14 into the first period, but Matthews scored his U.S.-leading fourth goal of the WJC with 2:56 left in the period to tie the game.

Milano's go-ahead goal came 4:02 into the second. He left the penalty box after being picked to serve a bench minor on the U.S., got to the net and knocked in the rebound of a shot by defenseman Louis Belpedio (Minnesota Wild).

White and Bjork scored 2:03 apart in the third period to clinch the victory.

Sweden 5, Canada 2 -- Alexander Nylander and Rasmus Asplund, A-rated prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft, each had a goal and an assist for Sweden in the final game of Group A, at Helsinki Ice Hall.

Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles Kings) and Gustav Forsling (Chicago Blackhawks) also had a goal and an assist each. Goaltender Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) made 21 saves but was removed from the game with 3:49 left in the third period. Felix Sandstrom (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped the only shot he faced.

Sweden, which already had clinched first place in Group A, won all four of its preliminary-round games in regulation and will play Slovakia in the quarterfinals on Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning) scored for Canada, and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils) made 27 saves. Canada, which finished third in Group A, will play Finland in the quarterfinals on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Canada also lost its first game, 4-2 to the United States. It's the first time Canada has lost two preliminary-round games at the WJC since 1998, when the tournament also was played in Finland. Canada finished eighth that year, its worst-ever performance at the WJC.

Nylander and Forsling scored power-play goals in the first period, and after Stephens got Canada on the board, Kempe scored a power-play goal in the second period to make it 3-1. Sweden scored twice more in the third, capped by an empty-net goal by Asplund.

Finland 5, Czech Republic 4 -- Patrik Laine, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, scored the game-winner with 5:47 left in the third period to lead Finland in a Group B game at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

As a Finland power play was expiring, defenseman Olli Juolevi, an A-rated prospect for the 2016 draft, drove to the slot and then dropped a pass to Laine, who fired a shot past Czech Republic goalie Vitek Vanecek (Washington Capitals).

Jesse Puljujarvi, also a top prospect for the 2016 draft, had two goals. Roope Hintz (Dallas Stars) and Antti Kalapudas also scored. Juolevi and Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) each had two assists.

Goaltender Veini Vehvilainen, a B-rated prospect, made 31 saves for Finland, which finished second in Group B. The Finns face Canada in the quarterfinals on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Michael Spacek (Winnipeg Jets) and Jiri Smejkal each had a goal and an assist, and David Sklenica and Jan Ordos also scored. David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) had two assists. Vanecek made 22 saves.

Czech Republic finished third in Group B and will play the United States in the quarterfinals on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Spacek's goal gave the Czech Republic a 4-3 lead 8:37 into the third period, but on a power play Puljujarvi scored his second of the game to tie it. The 17-year-old, who plays for Karpat in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, leads the tournament with five goals and 12 points in four games.

Russia 2, Slovakia 1 -- Yegor Rykov, a C-rated player on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period.

Artur Latta also scored for Russia, and Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers) and Alexander Mikulovich had assists. Goaltender Alexander Georgiyev, who plays for TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, had 20 saves.

The win clinched first place in Group B for Russia, which will play Denmark, the fourth-place team from Group A, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (7 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Russia led 1-0 after one period on a goal by Lauta. Then 9:12 into the second period, Rykov intercepted a clearing attempt by Slovakia and beat goaltender Adam Huska (New York Rangers).

Christian Jaros (Ottawa Senators) scored in the third period for Slovakia. Huska had 25 saves.

Slovakia finished fourth in Group B and will play Sweden, the first-place team from Group A, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET; NHLN).

View More