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WJC NOTES - January 1, 2005

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

NYR World Junior Championship Coverage >>

World Junior Championship play continues for Al Montoya (pictured right), Ryan Callahan and Jakub Petruzalek as USA and the Czech Republic notched victories in Saturday's Quarterfinal round. Montoya turned aside 29 of 31 attempts to help Team USA to an 8-2 victory over Sweden. Petruzalek and the Czech Republic ended Lauri Korpikoski's medal quest with 3-0 shutout victory over Finland. In Relegation play, Philippe Furrer and the Swiss blanked Germany, 5-0.

Canada vs. Czech Republic - 4:38 PM EDT
Russia vs. USA - 8:38 PM EDT

Al Montoya ... Turned aside 29 of 31 attempts to help Team USA to an 8-2 victory over Sweden ... Is 3-1-0 through five games.

Philippe Furrer ... Earned two penalty minutes in Switzerland's 5-0 shutout over Germany ... Has recorded eight penalty minutes in five games.

Lauri Korpikoski ... Earned two penalty minutes in Finland's 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic RECAPS: January 1, 2005 >>

Quarterfinal - Sweden 2, United States 8

The 17 year-olds are stealing the show at the World U20 Championship. Canada's Sidney Crosby was the star of the preliminary round, but it was the United States' Phil Kessel who was the hero of the quarterfinals with his hat trick performance in an 8-2 win against Sweden.

Kessel, who had a respectable two points entering the game, was the difference between the medal round and heartache for the Americans. After the U.S. took a 2-1 lead in the opening minutes of the second, Kessel took over, netting the next three straight goals and giving the U.S. an insurmountable three-goal lead.

The United States will now take on Russia in the semi-final round. It will be a rematch of the opening game for both teams, which the United States won, 5-4. After that opening win, the U.S. struggled, suffering two losses, while Russia cruised through the rest of the preliminary round and finished in first place.

It looked like things wouldn't go well for the hosts when Sweden jumped out to 1-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Loui Eriksson scored his first of two goals, bringing back memories of the losses against Belarus and the Czech Republic. But eight minutes later, the U.S. brought the crowd to life, tying the game at one when Kevin Porter picked up a rebound for a goal.

The U.S. took its first lead in the last two games when Drew Stafford made it a 2-1 advantage. Then the Kessel show started with an eye-popping end-to-end goal. Sweden's Eriksson pulled his team to within one, but Kessel was there to restore order with his second clutch goal of the night.

Kessel scooped in a rebound from a Patrick O'Sullivan shot for his third goal of the night. The breathing room gave the Americans confidence with their offense as the team enjoyed several breakaways during the third period and scored twice more in the 8-2 win. Robbie Schremp, Ryan Suter and T.J. Hensick scored the late-game goals.

Sweden will have a chance to redeem its one-goal preliminary round loss against Finland as the two Scandinavian nations will face-off in the fifth-place game. Meanwhile, the U.S. is in the medal round for the third consecutive year.

Quarterfinal - Czech Republic 3, Finland 0

Finland ran out of magic in its quarterfinal game against the Czech Republic as the three-time defending bronze-medallists were shut out of the medal race and the game in a 3-0 loss.

Goaltender Marek Schwarz proved to the difference for the Czech Republic as Finland swarmed the net throughout the third period, out-shooting the Czechs, 14-3. Schwarz finished the game with 21 saves. Despite the increased pressure, it was during the third period that the Czech Republic ultimately put the game out of reach, scoring twice on three shots.

Finland, which came from behind in the preliminary round against Sweden and then eeked into the quarterfinals after coming out ahead of Slovakia in a three way tie, simply ran out of time and couldn't come up with its offense when it needed it most.

The Czech Republic came out in the first period and took control of the game's tempo, but failed to score, despite out-shooting the Finns 14-6. It wasn't until there was just over three minutes left in the second period that the deadlock was broken. Petr Vrana got his fourth goal of the championship, giving the Czechs a slim 1-0 lead going into the final 20 minutes.

Finland had many opportunities to get back into the game in the third period as the Czechs were whistled for four penalties compared with Finland's one. But a shorthanded breakaway goal from Rostislav Olesz was a back-breaker for Finland. Roman Cervenka sealed the win with just over two minutes left in the game as the Czechs made it to their second semi-final round in two years.

The Czech Republic will have a tall order in its semi-final match-up facing heavily favoured Canada. But Czech Republic head coach Alois Hadamczik isn't intimidated.

"Every game starts at 0-0, and every game can go either way," Hadamczik said. "We know that Canada is the favourite but the score at the end is what matters."

Both teams ended the 2004 IIHF U20 World Championship with a loss as Canada lost in the gold medal game, while the Czech Republic lost in the bronze medal game against Finland.

Relegation Round - Switzerland 5, Germany 0

Switzerland will most likely be back in the top division of the U20 World Championship next season after easily defeating Germany, 5-0, in the first relegation round game of the tournament.

The loss knocked the Germans back to the Division I level. Switzerland, while not a lock to return next year, improved its position dramatically with the shutout win. Swiss goaltender Michael Tobler made19 saves in the shutout. Overall, Switzerland out-shot Germany 41:19 in the victory.

Germany was able to stay with the Swiss defensively though the first period as the teams skated to a 0-0 deadlock through the first 28 minutes. Julian Walker scored at the 28:26 mark and 11 minutes later the Swiss held a 3-0 lead after Marco Kaser and Beat Schuler scored. Switzerland's Victor Stancescu sealed the win, netting two goals in the third period to make it a 5-0 final.

Germany, which struggled offensively through the entire championship, has scored just one goal in five games. Meanwhile, Switzerland, will be guaranteed at least an eighth-place finish if Slovakia defeats Belarus in tomorrow's relegation round game.
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