As day two of the 2019 IIHF World Championship got going, Team Switzerland and Nico Hischier were looking to put up a good showing against Italy. They ended up putting up the offensive game of the tournament so far by beating the Italians 9-0. Hischier finished with three points.
Kevin Fiala got the Swiss rolling when he scored 1:17 into the game to make it 1-0. Gregory Hofmann made it 2-0 at the 7:24 mark and Lino Martschini made it 3-0 at 10:06.
Vincent Praplan scored the first of two power play goals for Switzerland after Italy’s Alex Trivellato was sent off for tripping at 19:09. Praplan’s goal came with six seconds to go in the first period. The Swiss were up 4-0 at the end of one.
Simon Moser made it 5-0 when he scored just 1:36 into the fresh period. Fiala beat Italian goalie Andreas Bernard a second time when he found the back of the net at the 3:32 mark of the second. Nico notched the only assist on this one, marking his first point of the tournament.
Just 56 minutes into the third period, Italy’s Marco Rosa was called for tripping and 18 seconds later, Fiala completed his hat trick by scoring the seventh Swiss goal of the game. Nico had the primary assist on this one to give him his second point of the game.
Romain Loeffel and Hischier rounded out the Swiss scoring barrage when Loeffel scored at 16:55 and Nico at 19:43 to make it 9-0, which was our final.
In goal for the Swiss, Reto Berra was perfect, grabbing all 19 Italian shots he saw. Bernard was under siege all game, seeing an amazing 61 shots and turning aside 52 of them. The Swiss only took one minor penalty all game, keeping Italy to one single power play, on which they did not score.
Nico finished the game with the goal and two assists for three points, three shots on goal and a plus-3 plus/minus all in 17:52 of ice time over 23 shifts.
The Swiss juggernaut will now take on Latvia in Group B play on Sunday in their next game.
Moving over to Group A action now, we have Marian Studenic and Slovakia taking on Finland. The Slovaks played a good, close game but they could not follow up their upset of the USA and fell 4-2.
The Slovaks grabbed the early 1-0 lead when Erik Cernak scored just two seconds after a slashing penalty to Finland’s Atte Ohtamaa had expired. It would not stay 1-0 for very long.
At 12:40 into the first period, Slovakia’s Michal Cajkovsky was called for high-sticking. He went off and the Finns got to work on the power play. Petteri Lindbohm was the one to convert at 14:21 to tie the game at one.
And just 1:50 later, Finnish phenom Kaapo Kakko put them ahead 2-1. It was the first of three on the night for the projected number two overall pick in this year’s draft.
In the second period, Slovakia would pull even. Martin Marincin scored at 19:20 (with Studenic getting the primary assist) on a goal that would first be reviewed by the officials to see if Studenic interfered with Finnish goaltender Kevin Lankinen after he made the pass across the goal crease to Marincin. After it was deemed a good goal, the Finnish coaches asked for a coach’s challenge and it was still deemed a good goal. The Marincin’s goal having passed muster twice, the game was now tied up at two apiece.
But the third period, and the rest of the game, belonged to Kakko. He scored at the 9:52 mark to put the Finns ahead 3-2 and when Slovakia pulled goalie Marek Ciliak with just over a minute to go in regulation, Kakko did the honors into the open net. That empty netter completed his hat trick and sealed the game for Finland, 4-2.
Studenic finished the game with the assist for a point and a plus-1 plus/minus in 11:31 of ice time over 15 shifts.
Between the pipes, Lankinen faced 25 shots and saved 23 of them. Ciliak stopped 23 of the 26 shots fired at him. Finland had 27 shots total with the empty net goal.
For the record, although we are not officially following him for this tournament, Kakko did have the three goals, six total shots on goal, was a plus-2 in 24 shifts totaling 10:56 of ice time. Not bad for a day’s work.
Finland and Kakko will go head-to-head with Team USA and Jack Hughes on Monday, May 13 in their next game at Steel Arena in Kosice. This should give a good idea of the two players as we see them on the same ice surface for likely the final time before June’s Draft.
Now over to Quebec and the QMJHL Finals, game six between the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Halifax Mooseheads as the CHL moves closer to the Memorial Cup. Rouyn-Noranda came into the game up three games to two and on the brink of knocking off the Mooseheads and claiming the 2019 President’s Cup.
This one was pretty straight-forward as the Huskies blanked the Mooseheads 4-0 to take the series and win the President’s Cup.
Tyler Hinam scored the game-winner 13:32 into the first period, Rafael Harvey-Pinard 10:20 into the second and Alex Beaucage 13:21 into the third. Harvey-Pinard added an empty net goal with just about a minute to go at 18:49 of the third and the Huskies won the championship. Noah Dobson had assists on the game-winner and the first insurance goal for two points on the night.
It was a relatively penalty-free game as the referees just let the boys play. Halifax was 0-for-2 on the power play while Rouyn-Noranda did not have a chance.
In goal, Samuel Harvey stopped all 28 Moosehead shots he saw while Alexis Gravel turned aside 31 of 34 Rouyn-Noranda shots. The Huskies finished the game with 35 shots on net due to the empty net goal. Harvey was named the game’s first star while Gravel was the second star. (Tyler Hinam, with the game-winner midway through the first frame, was the game’s third star.)
Jocktan Chainey was an even plus/minus rating and registered a hit in the contest.
So, while Rouyn-Noranda claimed one championship on Scotiabank Centre ice, they will be looking to grab another one in about a week or so as the Memorial Cup kicks off from Halifax on Friday. And fear not for the Mooseheads. As hosts of the 2019 Memorial Cup, they will get an extra life and will get to compete for a chance to hoist the big trophy as well.