Russia 4 - United States 1 ::: Saturday was “the”day for the top two teams in Group E. The United States took on Russia in what would determine the first seed in that group and most likely the first seed in quarterfinal action.
Unfortunately for the U.S., the power play unit was a problem. That man advantage unit belonged to the Russians as they fired off three power play goals in a 4-1 victory in Bern. Russia’s victory gives them 11 points with one game to play. They are four points ahead of both U.S and Latvia.
The United States actually got on the board first with Lee Stempniak (Toronto) scoring just 3:16 into the contest.
After that, the Russians took control with three unanswered goals to close out the first period. Oleg Saprykin scored with Colin Wilson (Nashville) sitting in the box for hooking just 2:45 after Stempniak’s goal to tie the score.
Then with Los Angeles’ Jack Johnson in the box for hooking, Alexander Perezhogin beat Robert Esche at the 9:51 mark. Sergei Mozyakin netted the Russians third goal of the game with 2:54 left, their one and only even strength goal of the contest.
Alexander Radulov made it 4-1 with the game’s final goal 1:36 into the second as the Islanders Kyle Okposo was sent to the box for charging just 43 seconds into the middle frame.
The American’s power play unit on the other hand was ice cold against the Russians as they went 0-5, even with a five-minute major on Vitali Vishnevsky for checking from behind 12:31 into the second. That ineptness could be largely attributed to the play of Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoneix) who stopped 26 of 27 shots in the game.
The United States take on Switzerland in their last game of the quarterfinals on Monday.
Keith Ballard finished with two shots on goal.
*****Latvia 7 – France 1
::: Looking to solidify their position as they hope to make the next round. With two shootout victories to their credit, they went out Saturday and earned a huge three points as they trounced France 7-1 in Berne.
The game was actually close the first 40 minutes as Latvia held a 3-0 lead. But a strong third put the game out of hand for the Latvian’s as they now have seven points with one game left (Sunday against Russia).
Latvia got on the board with the only goal in the first as Aleksandrs Nizivijs converted on the power play 7:29 into the first.
Then they jumped right out of the blocks after the first intermission, potting two goals in the first four minutes of the second. Nizivijs set up Martins Cipulis 1:19 into the frame while Lauris Darzins scored seven seconds after a French penalty expired to up the score to 3-0 at the 3:55 mark.
Looking for the kill, Latvia scored twice more before France even found the back of the net. Cats defenseman Karlis Skrastins blasted it past the French goalie for his first of the tournament 6:39 into the third while Aleksandrs Jerofejevs found the back of the net 8:18 in.
France made it 5-1 with their only goal of the contest 11:38 in when Luc Tardif beat Edgars Masalskis. Latvia didn’t hold back however, responding 46 seconds later as G Ankipans scored and then Cipulis netted his second of the game just 15 seconds after that.
Skrastins finished with the goal on four shots and was a plus-1 while on the ice for 19:49. Janis Sprukts was a plus-1 in 18:24 of ice time.
Czech Republic 8 – Slovakia 0
::: The war between former country mates wasn’t so much a war and more of a slaughter. The Czech Republic took advantage of Slovakia playing the day before and walked away with an 8-0 victory.
The Czechs would score four times in the first as well as four in the second before taking it easy in the final period of play.
NHL great Jaromir got the Czech Republic with his second and third goals of the tournament when he scored 6:35 into the game and then took the feed from P Cajanek 9:08 in.
Just like that the Czech Republic held a 2-0 lead and Slovakia was in disarray. They took two straight penalties and with the first dying down, Miroslav Blatak found the back of the net on a 5-on-3 power play with 7:12 left in the opening period. Roman Cervenka would make it 4-0 going into the intermission when he scored with 4:35 left on the clock.
The Czechs would push their lead to 7-0 with three goals in the first 10:12 of the second. Edmonton’s Ales Kotalik scored his second of the tournament at 5:07 while Cervenka netted his second of the game at 9:08. Recently added Milan Michalek (San Jose) then scored at 10:12.
Patrik Elias (New Jersey), another recent addition to the Czech lineup, finished out the scoring with 1:46 left in the second as Karl Rachunek picked up his third assist of the game on the play.
With the game out of hand, it got chippy in the final period of play as both teams picked up penalties. Also with the game out of hand, all four goalies were able to get time in between the pipes. Martin Prusek and Jakub Stepanek shared the shutout as they each stopped nine Slovak shots.
With the victory, the Czech Republic is guaranteed a spot in the top four of their group. Currently tied with Belarus for third with six points, they are four points ahead of the fifth place Slovakians. They finish out their qualifying round on Sunday when they take on Belarus.
Rostislav Olesz finished with a shot on net on 10:24 of ice time.