It was a big day at the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship as the preliminary round continues to wind down.
The Czech Republic knocked off Great Britain, 6-1 while Kazakhstan demolished Italy 11-3. In the other non-Devils related game, Finland squeaked by Germany 2-1 late.
In our first game of importance to us, Switzerland lost to Russia (competing as the Russian Olympic Committee in further fallout from the doping scandal prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics), 4-1.
Nico Hischier had the long goal for the Swiss, notching a point to go along with two shots on net in 19:38 of ice time. Jonas Siegenthaler had a shot on goal in 20:22 of total time on ice.
Following a scoreless first period, Russia would score on the power play in the second. At 13:19. Romain Loeffel got called for a delay of game and the Russians took advantage with the extra attacker when Anton Burdasov scored from Emil Galimov at 15:01.
That was it for the scoring in the second as we headed to the third. Nico would tie the game just 8:12 into the third when he scored from Andres Ambuhl.
The Russians would strike quickly, however, notching two very quickly.
It began at 10:26 when Pavel Karnaukhov scored from Sergei Tolchinski and Alexander Barabanov. About 2:12 later, Tolchinski scored from Anton Slepyshev and Ivan Provorov. Just like that, it was 3-1 Russia.
With 3:13 to go in regulation, Switzerland would pull goaltender Reto Berra. With two seconds to go in the game, Tolchinski would tack on another point, an empty net goal from Barabanov and Karnaukhov to give us our final of 4-1.
With that, Slovakia is now in first place in Group A, as the Russians fall to second and Switzerland falls to third. We will get to the Slovakian game in a moment. The top four teams in each Group advance to the medal round. The Czechs currently stand in fourth in Group A.
Moving to Group B for a moment, the United States took on Norway.
Matt Tennyson had a shot on goal in 18:02 of ice time while Matt Hellickson played 18:27.
This was a close, low scoring affair. Conor Garland got the US on the board early when he scored on the power play. Norway took a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 9:09, putting the Americans on the man advantage. The Americans wasted no time. At 10:30, Garland scored from Zac Jones and Tage Thompson to put the US up 1-0.
In the second period, Thompson would get one of his own when he scored 7:12 into the middle frame. He got helpers from Ryan Donato and Matt Roy to make it 2-0 USA.
Things started to get chippy in the second when the Americans took two consecutive penalties (Roy for tripping at 8:23 and Jason Robertson for slashing at 11:31). This would be followed by matching minors at 16:41 to Norway’s Emil Lilleberg for tripping and the USA’s Kevin Rooney for roughing.
Things started to calm down in the third, but Norway would add a goal to cut the American lead in half at 2-1. At 14:27, Ken Andre Olimb scored from Mats Olsen Rosseli to get Norway right back into the game.
But it was too little, too late. The Norwegians would pull goalie Henrik Haukeland with a little more than two minutes to go in regulation, but to no avail. Our final was 2-1, the USA winning.
With that win, the USA now stands in second place in Group B with 12 points, four wins, one loss and a plus-nine goal differential. Norway moves to seventh place in the Group, just behind Canada and ahead of Italy. As it stands now, and barring a major collapse by one team, Finland, the USA, Kazakhstan and Germany would move on to the medal round.
In the final game involving a Devils player, Slovakia defeated Denmark 2-0.
Marian Studenic finished with two shots on net in 11:43 of time on ice.
Following a first period with no scoring and a second period that was a clean sheet, with no scoring or penalties, we moved on to the third.
Just 7:13 into the final stanza, Peter Cehlarik broke the scoreless tie when he scored from Marek Hrivik and Robert Lantosi. That made it 1-0 Slovakia.
The Slovaks would get an insurance goal at 12:25 off the stick of Adam Janosik. Lantosi and Hrivik had the assists on this one too.
The Danes would have chances. At 15:27, Milos Roman took a slashing call, putting Denmark on the power play. The Slovaks would kill that off and Denmark would pull goaltender Sebastian Dahm for the extra attacker at 18:39. But that would not get the equalizers either. Slovakia wins 2-0.
With that win, Slovakia, as mentioned, now stands in first place in Group A. Denmark falls to just outside the advancing teams to fifth.
Tomorrow, Belarus will face Switzerland, Canada will take on Italy, Sweden will test Slovakia and Finland and Latvia will tangle.