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WJC NOTES - December 30, 2004

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

NYR World Junior Championship Coverage >>

The 2005 World Junior Championship preliminary round came to an end on Thursday and for the defending champs, the tides have turned over the last two days. Following Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Belarus, Team USA dropped their second game in as many nights, falling 3-1 to the Czech Republic. At 4-0-0, Nigel Dawes (right) and Canada continues to steamroll through its opponents with an emphatic 8-1 drubbing of Finland, while outscoring its opponents 24-4 to start the tourney.

Quarterfinals action begins on Saturday, January 1 with Team USA facing Sweden and the Czech Republic meeting Finland.

Ivan Baranka ... Collected two penalty minutes in Slovakia's 3-0 loss to Sweden ... Has posted one assist and four penalty minutes in four games.

Nigel Dawes ... Collected an assist in Canada's 8-1 win over Finland ... Has posted four points (one goal, three assists) and six penalty minutes in four games.

Philippe Furrer ... Collected two assists in Switzerland's 6-1 loss to Russia ... Has recorded six penalty minutes in four games.

Al Montoya ... Turned aside 31 of 33 shots in Team USA's 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic ... Is 2-2-0 through four games. RECAPS: December 30, 2004 >>

Canada 8, Finland 1
Canada continued to steamroll its way through the preliminary round at the 2005 IIHF World U20 Championship. Today's Canadian victim was Finland, which succumbed 8-1.

It was the fourth straight game that Canada scored seven or more goals. Finland played well in the opening period, but could not keep up with the Canadians for the entire 60 minutes, as fatigue from yesterday's dramatic win against Sweden was surely a factor.

Finland trailed only 1-0 for much of the first period, it was only a Brad Richards shorthanded tally in the last minute that dug a two-goal hole for the Finns.

But there was nothing Finland could do to stop the Canadians in the second period, as the 4-0-0 squad rattled in five unanswered goals. Jeff Carter was a big factor behind the Canadian surge as he netted the natural hat trick, including getting the first two goals of the period. It was the first time in U20 history that a Canadian scored a hat trick against Finland.

An additional tally by Shawn Belle prompted Finland to put in goaltender Tuukka Rask, but it did little to slow the Canadian offense as Carter scored his third goal less than two minutes later. Corey Perry closed the period's scoring with 1:15 left to make it a 7-0 game.

Canada's Andrew Ladd got a shorthanded goal just over three minutes into the third period. The only Finnish offense came when they scored with a two-man advantage as Juuso Hietanen saved the shutout and brought the final to 8-1.

Canada secured first place in the B Group and an automatic berth in the semi-finals with a perfect record. Finland (2-0-2) will have to await the outcome of the Slovakia-Sweden game for its final placing in the preliminary round group.

Russia 6, Switzerland 1
If Russia had lost against Switzerland today, they could have been headed to the relegation round, but a 5-1 win ensured the Russians, at a minimum, a spot in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, it will be the Swiss (1-0-3) that joins Germany and Belarus in the relegation round.

Depending on the outcome to tonight's USA-Czech Republic game, Russia (2-0-2) could still win the A Group and earn an automatic berth to the semi-finals.

Switzerland challenged the Russians in an evenly-skated first period. Russia gained the early edge with a power-play goal 4:58 into the period. With just over two minutes in the period Dmitri Pestunov doubled the lead to give Russia a little breathing room going into the second period.

Buoyed by its strong performance in the opening period, Switzerland came out shooting in the second and was rewarded when Marco Kaser made it a 2-1 game just over a minute into the period with a power-play goal.

A three-minute span in the second period proved to be the turning point as Russia netted two additional goals, while Switzerland failed to capitalize on a penalty shot. When the dust settled, Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Galimov had scored, giving Russia a 4-1 edge.

Ovechkin and Georgi Misharin provided the offense of the third period as Russia surged ahead to the 6-1 victory.

Slovakia 0, Sweden 3
Sweden saved its best effort for the last game of the preliminary round and was rewarded with a 3-0 shutout win over Slovakia in a must-win situation.

The win was the difference between the relegation round and second place, and a berth in the quarterfinal round for the Swedes. The loss put the Slovaks in fourth place and into the relegation round, while Finland, which had an amazing come-from-behind win against the Swedes yesterday, finished in third place.

The win was big for the Swedes not only because it gave them a second-place finish, but also because it restored the team's confidence after a tough loss against Finland on Wednesday.

Johannes Salmonsson continued to be the saviour for the Swedes. He leads Sweden with five goals during the championship including scoring two of his team's three goals tonight.

Salmonsson opened the scoring 3:11 into the game with an even-strength goal. The Swedes clung to the slim lead for nearly the next 30 minutes while killing five consecutive penalties. When the Swedes were matched four-on-four, they struck with their second goal when Carl Soderberg scored at the 31:51 mark. Salmonsson added to the total two minutes later with the final goal of the game.

In an rare scenario, Sweden, which was on the brink of going to the relegation round entering the game, ended up finishing in second place. On the other end of the spectrum, Slovakia, despite a strong showing in the preliminary round, was the unlucky team in a three-way tie that sent them to the relegation round.

NOTE: In case of a three-team tie (Sweden, Finland and Slovakia all finished on four points in their group) the standing is decided by head-to-head games between the teams involved. The games taken into account are: Finland-Slovakia 0-2, Finland-Sweden 5-4 and Sweden-Slovakia 3-0. All teams have two points in the head-to-head standings and the goal differential from those three games decides: 1. Sweden 7-5 (+2), 2. Finland 5-6 (-1) and Slovakia 2-3 (-1).
Finland ranks ahead of Slovakia due to more goals scored.

United States 1, Czech Republic 3
The Czech Republic skated into second place in its preliminary round group after handing the United States its second straight loss at the World U20 Championship in 3-1 victory .

The United States had several good opportunities, but Czech goaltender Vladislav Koutsky turned in a stellar performance to help his team earn their third win of the championship. The win also moved Russia into first place in the group, while the U.S. earned a third place finish.

The game was one of the lowest scoring and most entertaining affairs of the championship. Rostislav Olesz opened the scoring after U.S. goaltender Al Montoya gave up a long rebound which landed on Olesz's stick any found its was into the net. The Czechs extended their lead 57 seconds into the second period when Lukas Kaspar shot from long distance and caught Montoya off guard to give his team a 2-0 lead.

The U.S. spent the rest of the period applying steady pressure on the Czechs, but was only rewarded in the last minute of the game when Dan Fritsche streaked in for the goal to pull the Americans to within one.

The U.S. came out in the first minute and scored again, but the goal was disallowed, and the Czechs maintained their slim one-goal lead. It was that one-goal advantage that the Czechs clung to through the rest of the third period and sealed the win with an empty netter in the last five seconds to make it a 3-1 win.

The win bumped Russia into a first-place finish in the group with a 3-0-1 record, while the Czechs, also 3-0-1 in the preliminary round finish in second place. The U.S. closes the round in third place with a 2-0-2 mark, while Switzerland will join Belarus in the relegation round. The Czech Republic will face Finland in its quarterfinal round game on Jan. 1, while the U.S. will play Sweden.
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