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2005 WJC NOTES - December 25, 2004

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

NYR World Junior Championship Coverage >>

Day One of the 2005 World Junior Championship proved to be a winning one for five of the six Rangers prospects who laced up the skates as the United States, Canada, Czech Republic and Finland all skated to victories on Saturday. Leading the Future Blue offensive charge was Czech Republic forward Jakub Petruzalek (right) with a shorthanded goal and Finland winger Lauri Korpikoski with an empty-netter. Al Montoya turned aside 30 shots for Team USA, who edged Russia, 5-4. Ivan Baranka and Slovakia came out on the losing end of things, falling to Canada 7-3.

Ryan Callahan (USA) ... Made his World Junior Championship debut in Team USA's 5-4 win over Russia in the tournamant opener for both teams.

Al Montoya (USA) ... Turned aside 30 of 34 shots as the United States skated past Russia, 5-4.

Nigel Dawes (Canada) ... Collected two penalty minutes in Canada's convincing 7-3 win over Slovakia on Saturday.

Jakub Petruzalek (Czech Republic) ... Tallied a shorthanded goal in the Czech Republic's 7-2 win over Belarus in the opening game of the tournament.

Lauri Korpikoski (Finland) ... Netted an empty-net goal and collected two penalty minutes in Finland's 4-1 win over Germany on Saturday.

Ivan Baranka (Slovakia) ... Did not factor in the scoring as Slovakia dropped a 7-3 decision to Canada. RECAPS: December 25, 2004 >>

Slovakia 3, Canada 7
Despite playing the third period like a lamb, Canada entered the 2005 IIHF World U20 Championship like a lion with a 7-3 win over Slovakia.

Canada came out and dazzled with its dominating hits and sizzling offense. Within the first 30 minutes of the game, Canada held an impressive 4-0 lead thanks to the one-two punch of Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron. The pair combined on the first four goals as each finished with two goals and two assists in the first half of the game.

Slovakia started to chip away at the lead in the second half of the game, making it a 5-2 game thanks to goals from Marek Zagrapan and Stanislav Lasek. Peter Olvecky set the tone of the third period when he tightened the game even further 1:13 into the stanza, making it a two-goal affair. The goal gave Slovakia momentum and allowed them to control the tempo of the game for the first time. The Slovaks allowed only three shots on goal during the period until the waning moments when they surrendered two late-period tallies, including one penalty shot goal with seven seconds left in the game.

"I thought tonight's game was a situation where we started strong and got up 4-0, then 5-1," Canada head coach Brett Sutter said. "After we were up to 5-1, we got on our heels a bit at that point and tried to take the easy way out."

Despite the third period lapse, Canada lived up to its pre-championship hype for at least 40 minutes of the game. Canada has 12 veterans from the 2004 World U20 Championship, including Crosby, who also lived up to his billing with an impressive four-point performance. Crosby was only bested in the point department by his linemate, Bergeron, who was named Canada's player of the game.

Belarus 2, Czech Republic 7
Powered by three power-play, and two shorthanded goals, the Czech Republic easily skated to a 7-2 win over newly promoted Belarus in its opening game at the 2005 IIHF World U20 Championship.

Despite the lopsided final score, it wasn't until the late in the game that the Czechs were able to put the finishing touches on the win, thanks to a four-goal third period performance. Petr Vrana had one of the more unique hat tricks in hockey, netting one power-play goal, one shorthanded and one even-strength effort. He also added an assist for good measure.

Belarus was able to skate with the Czechs through much of the first half of the game. After the first 30 minutes, the Czech Republic held only a slim 2-1 lead over the persistent Belarus team.

At the end of the second period, Belarus was still within striking distance, only trailing, 3-1, but appropriately, it was Vrana who started to put the game out of reach with his shorthanded goal just over five minutes into the third period. The goal set up a second shorthanded tally just less than two minutes later when Jakub Petruzalek struck. The goal deflated Belarus, who surrendered two more goals in the 7-2 loss.

Germany 1, Finland 4
Finland skated to a 4-1 win over Germany in its opening game at the 2005 IIHF World U20 Championship thanks to a strong special teams effort that saw three power-play goals scored.

The power play was about the only positive offensive aspects for the 2004 bronze medallists, who struggled to score against the newly promoted Germans. Things looked good for Finland early in the game, as the squad got its first goal just over five minutes into the game, but then late first period penalty trouble halted the Finns advance and kept them scoreless until 20 minutes later when Otto Honkaheimo scored the eventual game-winner. Seven minutes later and with seven minutes left in the second period, Petteri Nokelainen made it a 3-0 lead with his team's third power-play goal.

Just over four minutes into the final period, Germany got on the scoreboard, making it a two-goal game. Florian Busch netted the even-strength goal. Lauri Korpikoski sealed the win with 10 seconds left, making it a 4-1 final. Overall, Finland out-shot Germany 30-12.

The game was a positive for both teams. For Finland, it was important to get the two points in its search for yet another medal at the World U20 Championship. For the Germans, it was a strong showing, and a strong message to its future opponents that they challenged the defending bronze medallists.

Russia 4, USA 5
When the United States and Russia meet, there's no telling what might happen. Like a six-goal first period with three goals scored in a two-minute span. Followed by a scoreless third period. And don't forget the shorthanded game-winning goal. Yes, when these two teams meet, all bets are off.

The game started like a fairy tale for the defending gold medallists on home ice. Drew Stafford, who plays for the host town's University of North Dakota gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead 4:22 into the game. Stafford assisted on his team's second goal 1:23 later to give the United States a strong 2-0 lead. But Russian reality in the form of a Yakov Rylov goal crashed the USA party at the 7:25 mark, cutting the lead in half.

Everything was quiet for 11 minutes until Russia's Sergei Shirokov opened an incredible scoring frenzy with a game-tying goal at the 18:01 mark. Only 18 seconds later, USA's Dan Fritsche recaptured the lead for his team, but the celebration was short-lived as Russia once again tied the game when Alexander Ovechkin struck at the 18:41 mark.

The second period got off to a quick start when Robbie Schremp scored the first power-play goal of the game 3:15 into the period. Three minutes later Dmitri Pestunov answered the call for Russia and for the third time, evened the game, which stood at 4-4 after the goal. At the midway point of the second Fritsche got his second goal of the game, a shorthanded tally, that made the game 5-4. And then--silence.

No one in the arena would have predicted that after nine goals in less than 30 minutes that Fritsche's goal would stand as the eventual game-winner, but that was exactly what happened as the teams swarmed the nets, but failed to score for the rest of the game as the United States hung on for the dramatic 5-4 win, which is sure to go down in history as yet another classic USA-Russia match-up.
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