Today would set the stage for the gold medal and bronze medal games at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. In addition, there was a relegation as Kazakhstan defeated Denmark to remain in the tournament for 2020 with the Danes moving out.
Sayan Daniyar and Davyd Makutski scored in the first period to make it 2-0 Kazakhstan and then Artur Gatiyatov scored two empty netters in a span of 1:32 which gave the final of 4-0.
It was not for trying though. Denmark threw 25 shots at Demid Yeremeyev, dominating the shot totals. Kazakhstan goaltender Demid Yeremeyev was equal to all 25 of those shots in getting the shutout. Danish goalie William Rorth saw only 16 shots and stopped 12 of them.
Kazakhstan sweeps the relegation series and Denmark will be moving down to the 2020 IIHF U20 World Championship Division I Group A. Germany, who won that division this year, will be promoted to take the Danes’ place. Next year’s World Junior Championship takes place in the Czech Republic. According to an article on the IIHF website by Dhiren Mahiban, 2020 “will be the seventh time Kazakhstan plays in the top group. They played in the top division from 1998-2001 and in 2008 and 2009 prior to this year’s event.”
In comparison Denmark had been in the top group since 2014 according to Mahiban. Mahiban mentioned that they relegated Belarus last year and had made it to “the quarter-finals the three times before.”
With that bit of business out of the way, we moved to the games that would set the medal round, with the US taking on Russia and Finland facing Switzerland later in the night.
The first gold medal game participant was set when the USA defeated Russia, 2-1. Russia had an early goal disallowed when the puck was redirected in off of a Russian skate. There was no kicking motion, but in the IIHF any time a puck goes in off of a skate it is no goal. The US dodged one bullet but it would not be the last.
A few minutes after the disallowed Russian goal, Oliver Wahlstrom scored to make it 1-0 US. Alexander Chmelevski would make it 2-0 just four minutes into the second period and that was all the Americans needed in the end.
Russia would get on the board when Grigori Denisenko scored at the 13:36 mark of the second. Early in the third period with Russia on the power play, the US dodged another bullet. A Russian shot rolled behind American goalie Cayden Primeau on edge and along the goal line. It never crossed the line and was cleared out by the American defender. Russia would pull goalie Pyotr Kochetkov with about a minute to go in the game, but the US held on to win.
Primeau turned aside 34 of the 35 Russian shots while Kochetkov stopped 25 of 27 American shots.
The USA will now play for gold on Saturday and their opponent in the gold medal game would be decided by the Finland-Switzerland game taking place a few hours after the Americans won their game.
And this one was the exact opposite of the USA-Russia game. It was a 6-1 blowout in favor of Finland. The Finns got goals from Jesse Ylonen, Henri Jokiharju and a pair from Devils prospect Aarne Talvitie in the first period. The Swiss got one from Philipp Kurashev to make it 4-1 at the end of one.
But the Finns added two more in the second period, one from Aleksi Heponiemi and one from Rasmus Kupari to ice it at 6-1.
Akira Schmid started for the Swiss, making 27 stops on 33 Finnish shots. Finnish goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 16 saves on 17 shots in a relatively easier night.
Talvitie’s final stat line read: the two goals, six shots on net and a plus-2 rating in 18:36 of ice time.
Next up, the gold medal game on Saturday with the United States taking on Finland. Also, the bronze medal game between Russia and Switzerland will take place tomorrow. We will have recaps right here for you at the conclusion of the two games.