World Juniors Recap Day 8
Relegation Game 2: United States vs. Latvia
A dominant performance by the Americans today. Austin Watson opens the floodgates 5:40 in, then at 11:53 he strikes again. At 16:17, he scores a natural hat trick. Jason Zucker scores a shorthanded goal late in the period to make it 4-0 USA. JT Miller makes it 5-0 just 46 seconds into the second, and Nick Bjugstad makes it 6-0 10 seconds later. That was it for Kristers Gudlevskis, and Rihards Cimermanis goes in. The change in goalies does not stop the bleeding, although at 2:03, Zemgus Girgensons makes it 6-1, giving Latvia just a little hope, but the American scoring machine ramps back up again. Bill Arnold scores at 5:38 to make it 7-1. At 12:08, Adam Clendening makes it 8-1. Less than a minute later, Kyle Rau scores to make it 9-1. Bjugstad gets his second of the game at 15:30 to make it 10-1. He would get a hat trick with 3:19 to go in the period to make it 11-1. Cimermanis is pulled again and Gudlevskis goes back in to start the third. Austin Czarnik makes it 12-1 2:16 into the third, and finally, at 13:25, Teodors Blugers makes it 12-2. The Americans beat Latvia 12-2.
Semifinal Game 1: Sweden vs. Finland
An extremely quiet affair here. With about 90 seconds to go in the first period, Alexander Ruuttu opens the scoring for Finland to make it 1-0. Joel Armia makes it 2-0 late in the second period (with 4:30 to go). 3:11 into the third period, Sweden gets on the board with a powerplay goal by William Karlsson. With 1:44 to go in regulation, Max Friberg ties the game up, sending this one to overtime. It solves nothing, so a shootout is required. Sebastian Collberg scores in his first attempt, while Armia responds to tie it. His goal celebration results in him getting a misconduct. Friberg scores in Round 2 to give the Swedes a 2-1 lead. Joonas Donskoi’s shot is saved by Johan Gustafsson. Filip Forsberg misses on his shoootout attempt, meaning Mikael Granlund had to score to keep the game alive. He loses control of the puck and Sweden overcomes a 2-0 deficit to take the victory and will play for Gold on Thursday.
Semifinal Game 2: Canada vs. Russia
Well, you wanted it? You got it! Canada vs. Russia, baby!
Canada gets off to a very awful start. Yevgeni Kuznetsov scores 7:26 in to make it 1-0 Russia. Later, on the powerplay, Nikita Nesterov makes it 2-0. Canada gets one back 2:37 into the second on a goal by Ryan Murray. 4:24 in, Kuznetsov makes it 3-1, and strikes again to make it 4-1 at 8:48. Scott Wedgewood is pulled for Mark Visentin. It gets worse. Alexander Khokhlachev makes it 5-1 on a powerplay goal. Don Hay calls timeout. While there is no further scoring in the second period, Boone Jenner loses it after getting elbowed by Ildar Isangulov. He spears Isangulov and gets 5 and game. Penalty troubles continue to hound Canada. Jonathan Huberdeau receives 2 for slashing and a 10-minute misconduct for showing his displeasure. The mostly pro-Canadian crowd shows their displeasure. Not good. Not good at all. To the third period. Russia takes a penalty but Canada fails to score. Then, on a delayed call, Nikita Kucherov makes it 6-1. It’s not pretty, folks. But wait! It starts to get interesting! Dougie Hamilton scores on the powerplay to make it 6-2! You know what? They’re not done yet! Jaden Schwartz makes it 6-3 23 seconds later! And there’s more! With 8:01 to go in regulation, Brendan Gallagher makes it 6-4! The place is coming alive! And then, Brandon Gormley scores to make it 6-5! Russia changes goalies at that point, replacing Andrei Vasilevski with Saskatoon Blades goalie Andrei Makarov. Despite all the firepower Canada lashes out at Makarov late in the game, he stands his ground and shuts the door, even with Visentin to the bench for the extra attacker. In the end, Canada falls just a hair short of tying the game up and the final score is 6-5 in favor of Russia. Oh how the roof would’ve come off had Canada tied the game up and sent the entire country into a series of heart attacks and/or strokes. We would’ve been talking epic comeback to force overtime in spite of losing their cool midway through the game. Final shots in that game were 56 for Canada, and 24 for Russia. Oh what a thriller this game turned out to be.
When I was drafting this article, I originally included some profanity. Once Canada was making it tighter and tighter with each subsequent goal, I cut out those profanities. And when they started chipping away at the lead Russia built up, I was regaining my faith in the team. I was at the edge of my seat and waiting for that equalizer, but the change the goalie in favor of the QMJHL/OHL/WHL backup trick paid off for Russia (in this case, the WHL).
And now, the games scheduled for Wednesday are all relegation games with the fifth place contest set. The relegation games have Latvia vs. Denmark followed by Switzerland vs. the United States. The fifth place game will have the Czech Republic taking on Slovakia.
Get some sleep now, folks. We got one more hurdle to go through. We’d love to keep our medal streak alive with a Bronze victory. We have beaten Finland before, but will they be tougher this time around? Guess we’ll have to tune in to find out. Good night everyone! Next article on Wednesday night.