The Canadian World Junior championship squad that features three Rangers prospects completed preliminary round play with a perfect 4-0 record on Sunday, as Team Canada shut out Slovakia 3-0 in Leksand, Sweden.
It was also a big day for Rangers prospect Artem Anisimov, whose Russian team rolled over Finland 5-0 to clinch the Group B championship with the tournament's only other undefeated record. Anisimov registered an assist for Russia in that game, which was played in Mora, Sweden.
After losing its first two games, Team USA also managed to advance into the medal round, beating host Sweden 4-3 in overtime to qualify for the quarterfinals. Defenseman Jack Johnson, St. Louis' No. 1 overall pick in last June's NHL Entry Draft, scored the winner on a power play at 3:16 of overtime.
Also making the quarterfinals was the Czech Republic team that includes Rangers prospect David Kveton. The Czechs beat Switzerland 4-2 on Sunday. Kveton played on the Czechs' fourth line and did not record a point in the game.
The Czechs will open the quarterfinals against Sweden on Tuesday at Leksand. Team USA will face Finland on Tuesday in Mora.
As the Group A and B champions, Canada and Russaia are already through to the semifinals on Wednesday. The Canadians and Russian, who each received a bye out of the quarterfinals, will have to wait to see which teams they play. Canada will face the Finland-USA winner, while Russia will play the Sweden-Czech Republic winner in the final four.
In Sunday's opening game, defenseman Marc Staal, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2005, was again paired with Ryan Parent, giving Canada a strong presence on the blueline and setting the tone for the shutout. Forward Tom Pyattt, also drafted by the Rangers in 2005, moved up to Canada's second line for this game and had two shots on goal in the first period. Forward Marc-Andre Cliche played on Canada's fourth line and had one first-period shot on goal.
Cliche took a pair of minors for hooking and interference in the second period, while Pyatt was also called for a cross-checking minor in the second period.
Goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Kris Russell, the twin brother of Rangers draftee Ryan Russell, were the heroes for Canada on Sunday. Price, a Montreal prospect, made 32 saves, while Russell, who was drafted by Columbus, scored two goals.
Russell notched the game-winner at 5:36 of the opening period and followed up with a power play goal just over three minutes later to give Canada a commanding 2-0 lead
While the three Canadian Rangers prospects continue their quest for Canada's third straight World Junior gold medal, and two others are in the medal hunt, one Rangers prospect saw his medal hopes end on Sunday. Tomas Zaborsky's Slovak team finished the preliminary round 0-4.
Zaborsky, playing on the Slovaks' second line for the first time in the tournament, managed one shot on goal in the third period. He was also called for a third-period hooking penalty.
Slovakia will play two more games in the round-robin relegation round to determine seventh through 10th place. The first game for the Slovaks is against Switzerland on Tuesday.
In the second game of the day on Sunday, Team Russia continued to position itself as the prime challenger to Canada's hopes for a three-peat. Russia took a 2-0 lead over the Finns in the first period and never looked back.
Playing on Russia's third line and power play, Anisimov had the primary assist on Ilya Zubov's power-play goal 6:42 of the second period, putting Russia up 3-0. Anisimov finished the game with one shot on goal.