After each team played 3 games in 3 days, the short Ivan Hlinka Memorial round robin has been concluded, and the playoff games are set. Team Canada rolled through the round robin, facing adversity briefly against Sweden when they fell behind 3-1 early, but otherwise dominated their games to set themselves up nicely for the semifinal and possibly the final. Nugent-Hopkins took a back seat against the weak Slovaks, as Boone Jenner and the team's defensemen stepped up offensively.
The most important game yesterday happened in Breclav, where the host Czechs took on the Russians. Tomas Hyka took over the game after it was tied at 1 early, scoring twice to help the Czechs knock off the Russians, 3-2. The win puts the host team into the semifinals, where they will meet Canada. The other semifinal will be between Sweden and the USA, as the Americans overcame an early deficit against Finland to win decisively, 5-2. Cason Hohmann, USA's small but abrasive sparkplug, got a goal and an assist to lead the charge for the Americans. Sweden, meanwhile, romped past Switzerland 7-1, and as a result boast the top three leading scorers out of their group, led by centre Joachim Nermark and defenseman Oscar Klefbom.
There's a much needed day off for the teenagers tomorrow, but they'll be right back at it on Friday and Saturday to wrap things up. Here's the schedule:
- 7th Place Game: vs. , Piestany, 8:00 AM EST (Friday)
- 5th Place Game: vs. , Breclav, 9:30 AM EST (Friday)
- Semifinal 1: vs. , Piestany, 11:30 AM EST (Friday)
- Semifinal 2: vs. , Breclav, 1:00 PM EST (Friday)
- Bronze Medal Game, location TBD (Saturday)
- Gold Medal Game, location TBD (Saturday)
Join me after the jump for some YouTube highlights of the action:
Notice how Canadian defenseman Dougie Hamilton sets the play up by talking with Boone Jenner before the faceoff. Jenner doesn't score off of Hamilton's initial setup, but gets the second chance, showing his quick release after a cross ice feed by Garrett Meurs.
It's Jenner again, just 20 seconds after the first goal, this time on a nice setup by Jonathan Huberdeau.
Oscar Klefbom (#19), shows why he's the top scoring defenseman on this PP clip. He moves the puck very efficiently, not panicking while his teammate limps off the ice before calmly firing a perfect slapshot from the slot into the back of the net.
If anyone can find any more highlights than this guy's archives, feel free to link up in the comments or shoot me an email.