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|2013 WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Aiming For World Junior Gold Mike Lewis - FloridaPanthers.com
The World Junior Championship is one of the biggest events in the world of hockey; a tournament where players under twenty years of age can represent their country and where the stars of tomorrow come out to shine.
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It almost didn't happen.
There was a possibility that all the Panthers prospects would not have a chance to capture a medal.
The United States took care of business Wednesday in Ufa, Russia against the Czech Republic by the tune of a 7-0 shutout. That allows Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi to take in a rematch against Jonathan Huberdeau and Canada in the semifinals.
But for Yaroslav Kosov and his Russian mates, they almost got knocked out of the tournament before even getting to the medal rounds. The hosts had to get a late power play goal to just tie the game against a pesky Switzerland team and then won it 4-3 in the fifth round of the shootout to advance to the semifinals to play Sweden along with Panthers prospect Rasmus Bengtsson.
With Russia's come-from-behind victory, that means at least three Panthers prospects (and those with Panthers ties) will be taking home a medal from the games in Ufa as all four teams left have a player with Panthers ties. Now, it's just a matter of sorting which player will be donning what.
The semifinals which will decide who plays for gold will start Thursday with Canada and the United States dropping the puck at 4am EST and Russia and Sweden following at 8am EST.
UNITED STATES 7 - Czech Republic 0
In the early game in Ufa, the Americans used a five-goal second period to pull away from Group A's second best team. They also went by way of the power play as five of their seven goals came on the man advantage.
FULL STORY from IIHF.com
Boston College's John Gaudreau got the United States on the board 11:45 in, scoring on a 5-on-3 advantage after being set up by Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba and 2013 top pick Seth Jones. That would be just the start of what was to come as the the three would combine for an eye-popping 11 points on the day, including a hat trick from Gaudreau and four assists each from Trouba and Jones to lead the US attack.
Gaudreau made it 2-0 just 28 seconds into the second and Ryan Hartman followed up 40 seconds later for a three goal advantage.
Riley Barber scored the next two goals while Gaudreau completed his hat trick with 13 seconds left in the middle stanza for a 6-0 lead after two periods of play.
Rangers prospect JT Miller closed out the scoring with a goal 4:08 into the third, scoring on the United States' second 5-on-3 advantage of the game.
Trocheck and Grimaldi along with Connor Murphy were held off the score sheet despite the offensive outburst by the Americans. Former JR Panther Shayne Gostisbehere served a one-game suspension for a slashing incident in the final game of preliminaries against Slovakia.
RUSSIA 4 - SWITZERLAND 3 (SO)
Say this about the Swiss, but they have been a tough out in the entire World Junior Championships this year in Ufa. In fact, they've cause some havoc in the past couple of years, giving the "big-time" hockey power houses fits.
FULL STORY from IIHF.com
Switzerland picked up points in each of their preliminary games, beating Latvia and taking Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic all to overtime or a shootout.
That peskiness helped them give Russia fits in their game and if not for a late goal, it would be them in the semis against Sweden as opposed to the hosts. It was not to be however as Buffalo prospect M Grigorenko recorded a goal, added an assist and scored the game-winner in sudden death shootout in the fifth round to propel the hosts to a 4-3 victory.
It was about the special teams in the opening period as Russia would get a power play goal from A Khokhlachyov 6:07 in. The Swiss would respond with a shorthanded tally less than four minutes later by C Bertschy for a one-all game after one period of play.
Grigorenko gave Russia the lead 9:07 into the second period but the Swiss responded once again as M Ness scored 3:30 after for a two-all game after two periods.
In the third, it was Switzerland who took the lead when S Andrighetto scored midway through the period. They then did their best to frustrate the Russians and it almost worked. A late slashing call to S Guerra gave Russia a power play with 1:56 left on the clock and N Kucherov tied the game at three 17 seconds into the man advantage.
After a scoreless up-and-down play overtime, Grigorenko scored on a special deke, leaving Melvin Nyffeller (who finished with 33 saves) to shake his head.
Kosov was also held off the score sheet, recording two shots and was a minus-2 on the night.