United States – Canada 5-3 (0-0, 2-2, 3-1)
BRNO – With a 5-3 win over their Canadian rivals, the United States have taken the top seed in Group A and will have an automatic bye to the semi-finals. Canada will play against Russia in one of the Thursday’s quarter-final games.
Seth Jones struck his team’s first even strength goal five minutes into the third period, and Frank Vatrano followed it up just over a minute later to give the Americans a 4-2 lead. Canada made things interesting in the final minutes thanks to a goal by Ryan Pullock with 4:54 left in the game. But with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker, American forward Matt Lane got the puck at centre ice and sent it into the empty net to seal both the win and the top seed for Team USA.
“Our coach told us to just keep playing at the second intermission,” said Jones. “One of our mottos is to win the third period, so we really try to work on that and to outwork teams for the full 60 minutes, and I think we accomplished that tonight.”
Neither team was able to get the upper hand in the opening period. Team USA had the best chance in the frame when Lane was taken down by defenceman Damon Severson and was awarded a penalty shot. On the attempt Lane went to the backhand but couldn’t lift the puck over Murray’s pads.
Special teams got plenty of ice time in the second frame, as each team scored a pair of goals on the power play. The Americans were the first to run into penalty trouble. Less than two minutes into the second frame, Connor Carrick went to the box on a slashing call, and on the power play Troy Bourke sent a pass in front of the crease to Hunter Shinkaruk, who slotted the puck into the open net to score for Canada and break Team USA’s streak of ten straight periods and over 200 minutes without allowing a goal at the U18 world championship.
But Canada found itself down a man only thirty seconds after scoring the opening goal, and Matt Grzelcyk made the Canadians pay with a hard shot from the top of the circle to tie the game. The US followed up with two penalties of their own however, and on the second power play Canadian captain Matt Dumba scored with a high wrist shot with ten minutes remaining in the period.
“I thought we gave them some life with the power play in the second period,” said Team Canada head coach Jesse Wallin. “We took an unnecessary penalty with the check from behind and it hurt us to lose Rychel for ten minutes. Its wasn’t for a lack of effort but it looked like guys were trying to do to much."
"I think today was still our best game of the tournament so far and we’ve been getting progressively better, we were right there to the end and there were a lot of positives that we can take from that game.”
Both teams traded penalties after Dumba’s goal, but with under two minutes left Kerby Rychel received a ten minute game misconduct for checking from behind, and the Americans scored off a rebound goal from Riley Barber to knot the game up 2-2 at the second intermission.
Canada will now play against Russia on Thursday in Breclav, while the United States get a couple of days off while they await the quarter-final winner.
Switzerland – Germany 2-6 (0-4, 0-1, 2-1)
ZNOJMO – Germany looked every bit the part of a team determined to avoid the relegation round, jumping on the Swiss for four early goals in the first period on its way to a 6-2 victory. The win books a place in the quarter-finals for the Germans, who sent Latvia down to the relegation round in the process.
Markus Eisenschmid had a goal and an assist and Leon Draisaitl scored a pair of goals in the opening period and finished with three points in the game. Benjamin Zietek, Sven Ziegler, and Tim Bender also scored for Germany, and goaltender Patrick Klein made 37 saves in the game.
The Swiss managed to avoid a shutout thanks to late goals from Fabrice Herzog and Dario Simion in the third period. Switzerland will now join Denmark, Czech Republic, and Latvia in the relegation round. Germany is set to face Finland in Thursday’s quarter-final in Breclav.
The playoff qualification is a positive end to an up and down preliminary round for Germany, which opened the tournament with an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of Swede, before coming back to record a historic 4-2 upset against Russia, the first time Germany has ever beaten the Russians at the U18 level.
Following that game Germany lost a close match 5-4 to Latvia, which put their qualification chances in jeopardy. But because Latvia lost to Russia by such a wide margin in its opening game, the tiebreaker system puts the Germans ahead on goal difference.
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