What a day.
Quarterfinals Game 1: Finland Edges Slovakia in Overtime
Them’s the breaks, I guess.
- It was genuinely a game of will versus talent here. Finland clearly had the high-grade talent to keep the Slovaks working, but man the Slovaks worked as hard as humanly possible to actually show that they belonged. They probably did belong a little more than Finland does just based on how their tourney went, but one blown assignment is all it takes in these knockout games, as it was when Lassila blasted through the entire Slovakian defense to get the overtime winner. It’s a shame too, because Mesar’s goal and then a win would probably get his name enshrined somewhere for how much of a gutsy effort it was to get his team to overtime.
- Take heart, Slovakia. Your hockey future is bright. I imagine another medal is in your very near future.
- Finland got their win, but now they need to prove their mettle against a team that’s much, much, much more talented and aggressive than Slovakia ever was. You gotta come up huge here.
Quarterfinal Game 2: Czechia BEATS CANADA in 3-2 regulation stunner by Jakub Stancl!
This was a game earmarked for a gross OT...and then Jakub Stancl said “nah, I think we’re good on continuing this. Go home.”
- Canada played as tight a game as you can play with the Czechs. Which is interesting, because it probably shouldn’t have been? They’ve got talent out the wazoo...on at least two forward lines, and as it turns out, Czechia found that if you get a bunch of glue guys against the best talent at this age bracket from your country...it actually tends to go pretty well for you. Stancl got two straight goals from the exact same place on the ice and nobody Canada brought to the tourney was going to stop him. Credit to the Czechs, they recognized what it takes to win here, and they kept going until the final bell, taking every last opportunity they could after Canada woke up and realized how close the score was.
- Still...that last goal was heartbreaking. 11 seconds left and then it’s a whole new game...and Canada just couldn’t keep up the pressure for the final 20 seconds. Just about every player looked ready to call it a night, and it reflected ill on the supposed hockey capital of the universe.
- This shock loss ends Matthew Poitras’ World Juniors. He finished tonight with an assist and 16:02 minutes played, and a final total of 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) at the tournament. He got his assist on one goal...but he looked pretty pedestrian out there, and of all things blamed, commentators decided it was the olympic level ice getting to him? I mean, maybe...but what’s everyone else’s excuse? Still, good opportunity for him, and he’ll be welcomed back to the team with open arms.
Quarterfinal Game 3: Latvia’s tournament ends with Dans Locmelis fighting for glory in 7-2 immolation.
The US nearly doubled up on shots here. The two goals were nothing short of herculean work by Locmelis.
- USA has no time for any BS right now; they want a medal and they want it NOW. Latvia was treated like a speed bump as this Plymouth ‘Cuda of an offense barrelled forward over it, and the Latvians simply had no real response. Well, okay...they had one response, and we’ll talk about it after this note. Going after Finland next, let’s see if they can keep this engine of destruction a-rollin’.
- Latvia’s tournament ends, but with Dans Locmelis being the heart and soul of it. Locmelis got 2 goals tonight, and played a whopping 23:04 as they tried everything to keep their heads above water. Locmelis finishes his tournament with the most points of any Latvian player; having 5 points, 2 goals and 3 assists, to end his tournament. Well done by him, we’ll see him back stateside soon.
Quarterfinal Game 4: Sweden nearly blows it but recovers just in time to win 4-3 over Switzerland
What a bizarre game.
- Alright, couple things; Sweden got a harsh reminder that you need to put yourself in a higher gear to win these knockout round games; The Swiss didn’t get many opportunities at all in this one, but what few ones they did made the Swedes look slow and disorganized, and frankly...it reflected poorly on a team that should’ve blown the Swiss out of the water. Second, Switzerland did as much as anyone could’ve to possibly win this game given the massive talent difference between the two, and it made what should’ve been an otherwise pedestrian Quarterfinal game into a dramatic must-watch. This was actually incredible fun, and I applaud the Swiss for making it so.
- Second! What the hell was that late ““““slashing”””” call in the third period on Nick Miele? I know that IIHF refs are a little more call-happy but that was absolutely ridiculous. Sweden shouldn’t need home cooking to beat Switzerland, and it didn’t even end up helping. Absolutely atrocious work by the Zebras in this one.
- Whatever, Sweden gets Czechia, and as the Canadians learned all too well, you’d better be ready for that one. Czechia will be.
Relegation Round Game 1: Norway vs. Germany
Germany will likely win this one, but I don’t anticipate it being close. Norway plays like their hair is on fire and has some real game-breakers peppered throughout their roster. It’s just a bit odd that Germany’s even here to begin with.
Semifinal Game 1: Sweden vs. Czechia
The Swedes’ hump to get over is here.
Sweden over the past decade has either flamed out here or gone to the gold medal game where they inevitably disappoint, but losing here has been even more perplexingly possible. They were able to get away with a miracle once, but it’s gonna need more than a miracle to beat the Czechs, who have to be riding a battle-high more powerful than an overdose of speed coming into this one. If the Swedes can handle the Czech offense, then they should win.
That is a hell of an ask, though.
Semifinal Game 2: USA vs. Finland
Finland better be ready to play, because this isn’t the States team I’m used to.
They skate like the wind, score like a meteor shower devastating a forming planet, and do not let up for anything or anyone. The Finns keep it pretty close no matter who it is they play, but they only played one team even remotely like them and got squished. Their goal here is to force this game to be as tight as humanly possible; keep that offense of the USA to the outside, and hope for transition chances.
Anything less would end their tournament.