The 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship ended the preliminary round today with six games. Switzerland doubled up Great Britain, 6-3; Finland beat Canada in a shootout 3-2; the Czech Republic beat Slovakia 7-3; the United States got by Italy 4-2’ Russia shutout Belarus 6-0 and Germany edged Latvia 2-1.
Starting with Switzerland and Great Britain. Nico Hischier had a goal and an assist for two points, two penalty minutes and five shots on net in 16:14 of ice time. Jonas Siegenthaler had an assist for a point and three shots on net in 21:19 of total ice.
Gregory Hofmann got the Swiss on the board 10:31 into the game when he scored from Enzo Corvi and Janis Moser.
Great Britain answered back less than a minute later when Liam Kirk scored unassisted to tie the game at 11:08.
Thirty-three seconds after the Kirk goal, former Devil Mirco Muller took a boarding penalty and a ten-minute misconduct.
Switzerland would be down a defenseman for ten minutes but kept on rolling. At 16:42, Romain Loeffel scored from Tristan Scherwey and Siegenthaler. That made it 2-1 Switzerland.
In the second period, Hischier took a goalie interference penalty 4:58 in. Kirk would capitalize again when he scored on the ensuing power play. He got assists from Mark Richardson and Mike Hammond on the goal that made it 2-2.
But Switzerland would respond with a power play goal of their own when, at 8:28, Ben Lake took a tripping penalty and Santeri Alatalo would capitalize for the Swiss. Corvi and Hischier had the assists at 10:07.
Thirteen seconds after the Alatalo goal, Christoph Bertschy scored to make it 4-2 Switzerland. He got a helper from Scherwey.
At 16:09, it was Bertschy again from Raphael Diaz and Scherwey to make it 5-2 Swiss.
Less than two minutes after that goal, at 17:45, Hischier got his goal (assisted by Philipp Kurashev) to make it 6-2.
Both teams would switch goalies in the third, the Swiss from Reto Berra to Melvin Nyffeler and the British from Ben Bowns to Jackson Whistle.
Just 2:47 into the new frame, things would begin to get chippy when Muller went off for roughing and Britain’s David Phillips took two minutes for tripping and two for roughing.
The British would add one more goal at 13:58 to make our final 6-3.
With that, the Swiss will finish in second place in Group A with 15 points, five wins, two losses and a plus-ten goal differential. They finish only behind Russia. Great Britain finishes in seventh place out of an eight team Group. There is no relegation this year, so they will be back in the tournament next year as well.
Now to the next game of importance to us that saw the Czech Republic blow out Slovakia.
Marian Studenic finished with a shot on goal in 16:48 of time on ice.
The Czechs set the pace for this game by scoring just 29 seconds into the contest. Filip Zadina notched one to make it 1-0 from Libor Hajek and Michal Moravcik.
It would be 2-0 before the first period was up when Michael Spacek scored at 15:04. Zadina had the lone assist on the goal.
The Czechs would continue their onslaught in the second when Lukas Radil scored 2:49 into the new period from Andrej Sustr and Libor Sulak.
At 4:17, Slovakia’s Kristian Pospisil received a slashing penalty and a roughing minor. Czech Republic’s Tomas Zohorna also received a roughing minor, putting the Czechs on the power play.
However, it was the Slovaks who would get on the board, with Matus Sukel scoring shorthanded at 6:53 from Martin Fasko-Rudas. That made it 3-1 Czechs.
At 19:37, Pospisil took a delay of game penalty, putting the Czechs on the power play with less than a minute to go in the second. The Czechs would capitalize with 11 seconds to go when Sulak scored from Michael Spacek. That made it 4-1 Czechs heading into the third period.
The Slovaks would replace goaltender Julius Hudacek with Adam Huska for the third frame.
But it was the same old song for the Slovaks. Just 3:31 into the third, Matej Stransky scored for the Czechs unassisted to make it 5-1.
At 5:47, Matej Blumel scored from Stransky and Michal Moravcik to make it 6-1 Czechs.
The Slovaks would strike for two goals at 8:45 when Martin Bucko scored from Adrian Holesinsky and David Buc. At 18:57, Pospisil scored from Peter Cehlarik and Daniel Gachulinec to make it 6-3.
The Slovaks would pull Huska with less than thirty seconds to go. Libor Hajek would score into the empty net from Robin Hanzl and Jiri Smejkal. This would give us our final of 7-3.
So with that, the Slovaks finish in fourth place in Group A with 12 points, four wins and three losses and a minus-five goal differential.
The Czechs finish in third place in Group A with 13 points, three wins, two overtime wins, two losses and a plus-nine goal differential.
Next up, the USA faced Italy, winning 4-2.
Matt Tennyson had an assist for a point and three shots on net in 17:18 of total ice. Matt Hellickson did not play.
The Americans got on the board 6:54 into the game when Kevin Labanc scored from Shea Ryan to make it 1-0.
Labanc struck again about three minutes later at 10:33 toa make it Kevin Labanc 2, Italy 0. He got assists on this one from Matty Beniers and Adam Clendening.
Before the first period was up, the Americans built a 3-0 lead when Conor Garland scored from Jason Roberson and Tennyson.
The Italians would get on the board 1:01 into the second when Luca Frigo scored from Alex Trivellato, cutting the lead to two for the USA.
However, the Americans would get that back at 9:54 when Garland scored again, unassisted, to make it 4-1 USA.
In the third, Frigo would take a high-sticking penalty 6:23 in. Exactly ten seconds after the Italians went on the penalty kill Stefano Giliati scored shorthanded and unassisted for Italy to make it 4-2.
Italy would pull goalie Davide Fadani for the extra attacker with two minutes to go in regulation but nothing would come of it. Our final was 4-2 USA.
The US finishes first in Group B with 18 points, six wins, one loss and a plus-13 goal differential. Italy finishes last in the eight team Group B with seven losses and a minus-30 goal differential. Again, they and Norway will not be relegated and will play in next year’s World Championship.
And finally, Russia took on Belarus, shutting them out, 6-0. Yegor Sharangovich had two shots on net in 20:40 of ice time.
The Russians scored early and often. Nikita Nesterov potted one 36 seconds into the game from Mikhail Grigorenko to make it 1-0 Russia and we were off and running.
At 4:29 of the first, Emil Galimov scored from Vladislav Gavrikov to make it 2-0. Following this goal, Belarus pulled goalie Alexei Kolosov in favor of Konstantin Shostak.
It didn’t work.
At 9:06, Maxim Shalunov scored from Nikita Zadorov and Nesterov to make it 3-0. Almost two minutes later, at 10:52, Grigorenko scored from Anton Slepyshev and Dmitri Voronkov to make it 4-0.
Nesterov ended the nightmare of a period for the Belarusians when he scored from Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Barabanov to make it 5-0.
The second period saw no scoring. The third saw Voronkov score at 12:08 from Slepyshev and Grigorenko to give us our final of 6-0.
Thirty seconds after the goal, at 12:32, Russia’s Galimov took a roughing minor and Belarus’ Geoff Platt received tow minutes for roughing and two for interference. At the final horn, Nikita Komarov took two for hooking for the Belarusians.
Russia finishes in first overall in Group A with 17 points, five wins, one overtime win and one loss. They also had a plus-18 goal differential.
Belarus finishes last in Group A with four points, a win, and overtime loss and five losses. They had a minus-19 goal differential.
So, on Thursday, the quarterfinals. Switzerland will play Germany, the United States will play Slovakia, Russia will play Canada and Finland will play the Czech Republic.