The round robin portion of the 2016 World Juniors Tournament is finished, the matchups are set, and the quarterfinals will begin on Saturday.
Russia vs Slovakia
Result: Russia 2, Slovakia 1
Evgeny Svechnikov: 1 SOG
Russia finished the preliminary round with 11 points, taking 1st place in group B and will play Denmark in the quarterfinals. Svechnikov has a really unimpressive tournament so far, having only 4 penalty minutes, 9 shots on goal, and being a -1 through 4 games.
Finland vs Czech Republic
Result: Finland 5 , Czech Republic 4
Vili Saarijarvi: Did not finish
There's been a flu bug going around the World Junior camps this week and Vili Saarijarvi was forced to leave the game late in the 1st period with an illness. Finland had already lost a defenseman to injury and were down to 5 in the game when Saarijarvi left, so they were left with 4 defensemen for 2/3 of the game, but still pulled out a win.Jesse Puljujarvi had two more goals, Patrik Laine scored one, and their center Sebastian Aho picked up two more assists as that line continued to be unstoppable for Finland.
Finland finished the preliminary round with 9 points, taking 2nd place in Group B and will face Canada in the quarterfinals.
Sweden vs Canada
Result: Sweden 5, Canada 2
Some people in the media are calling Sweden's 5-2 win over Canada an "upset", but in a game that had no impact on the quarterfinal matchups, Sweden dismantled Canada and schooled them in how to play a team game. Sweden scored 3 power play goals, 1 even strength goal, and an empty netter, while Canada scored on the 2 man advantage and at even strength. Coming into this game, Sweden's penalty kill had been a perfect 10 for 10, and watching them shorthanded it's no surprise. Canada had a hard time even getting the puck through the neutral zone on the man advantage, and Sweden's aggressive forecheck, precision passing and execution, and physicality were really fun to watch. Chrstoffer Ehn is a staple on Sweden's penalty kill, and Axel Holmstrom also saw PK time today in addition to his power play time.
Holmstrom had a power play assist 13 minutes into the 2nd period with this smart cross crease pass to Adrian Kempe. Holmstrom is the net front guy on the power play, but notice how he moves beside the net to feed Kempe on the other side. This is really tough for goalies to stop, because of the lateral distance required to square up to the shooter (Holmstrom) and then suddenly have to move all the way across the crease.
Joe Hicketts also picked up a power play assist on Canada's two man advantage. Dylan Strome won the offensive zone faceoff from Axel Holmstrom (who was on the 5on3 PK), back to Joe Hicketts at the left point, Hicketts passes to the right point to Mitch Marner and past a double screened Linus Soderstrom.
Hicketts came up big for Canada on their 20 minutes of penalty killing, including a couple 5 on 3 kills. Sometimes it's "little" things like this sweeping poke check that go underalded, yet make a big difference.
Canada faces off against Finland in the quarterfinals, while Sweden takes on Slovakia.
Here's how the preliminary round concluded
So the quarterfinal matchups look like this
|Saturday, Jan 2, 2016||5am EST||Relegation||Switzerkand vs Belarus||Joren van Pottelberghe|
|Saturday, Jan 2, 2016||7am EST||QTR Finals||Russia vs Denmark||Evgeny Svechnikov|
|Saturday, Jan 2, 2016||9am EST||QTR Finals||Sweden vs Slovakia||Axel Holmstrom & Christoffer Ehn|
|Saturday, Jan 2, 2016||11am EST||QTR Finals||Finland vs Canada||Vili Saarijarvi vs Joe Hicketts|
|Saturday, Jan 2, 2016||1pm EST||QTR Finals||USA vs Czech Republic||None|