CRIMMITSCHAU/DRESDEN – The hometown fans could not ask for a better start for Team Germany, as the hosts vanquished Switzerland 4-1 in their opening game. In Dresden, Canada showed off silky smooth passing and a tough defence in beating the Czechs 5-0. It was a rough go for Slovakia and Norway, who fell to the Americans and Swedes by a combined score of 18-3. Mika Zibanejad starred for Team Sweden, while eight different players lit the lamp for the US.
Germany vs. Switzerland 4-1 (2-0, 1-1, 1-0) Game Sheet Photos
CRIMMITSCHAU – With a capacity home crowd of over 3053 spectators behind them in the hockey-crazy town of Crimmitschau, it was time for the hosts Germany to take to the ice. In typically Teutonic fashion, the Germans did not let the pressure to perform affect their nerves, instead riding a wave of momentum in the first period to jump out to a 2-0 lead over the Swiss, courtesy of a pair of goals from Tobias Rieder.
The Germans, who are hoping for a strong showing in this year’s tournament after being promoted to the top division, did not take their foot off the pedal through the next two periods. Switzerland’s Dario Simeon cut the lead down to 3-1 following German forward Killian Keller’s goal in the second period, but in the third period it was all Deutschland as Daniel Fischbuch scored an empty netter to make it 4-1 and push the Crimmitschau crowd into a frenzy.
The star of the game was German goaltender Marvin Cupper, who stopped 44 of 45 Swiss shots to keep his team ahead. The Krefelder EV product earned player of the game honours for Team Germany, and will enjoy being the toast of Crimmitschau for the length of the tournament.
Canada vs. Czech Republic 5-0 (3-0, 0-0, 2-0) Game Sheet Photos
DRESDEN – Thursday evening was the Canadians’ turn to step on the ice for their first tournament match. Their opponents were the Czechs, who turned in a surprising 2-1 victory over Sweden the night before.
Early on it became apparent that Canada wasn’t going to take their opponent lightly, as the first period saw three quick goals by the Canadians. Forward Eric Locke broke the deadlock just over a minute into the game, getting the puck alone in front of the net off a slap pass from defenceman Ryan Murphy and slipping it past the Czech goalkeeper.
Canada tallied another goal soon after when Alan Quine made a great cross ice pass to Morgan Rielly, who fired a wrist shot to the top corner to make it 2-0. A next goal from Mark Scheifele put the lead to three goals heading into the second period.
While his teammates were busy putting points up on the board, Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban did not have much to do in the first two periods, needing to make only a handful of saves. As for the Czechs, penalties throughout the second period prevented any comeback attempts. By the end of the period the Czech attackers seemed slow on their skates and tired after spending so much time on the defensive. However, Canada mustered only four shots on net, none of them goals, and the 3-0 lead remained unchanged.
Despite staying out of penalty trouble for most of the third period, the Czechs weren’t able to get many scoring chances on Subban. That left the door open for the Canadians to increase the lead, and they did just that with another score from Mark Scheifele and a power play goal by Ryan Murray, who deflected a shot from defender Ryan Murphy to put his team up 5-0.
“We got a lot of players coming in who each play differently and have their own style,” said Subban after the game. “But if we can build on this and get some real chemistry going then we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Sweden vs. Norway 10-2 (1-1, 3-0, 6-1) Game Sheet Photos
DRESDEN – Day 2 began with a battle between the Scandinavian nations Sweden and Norway. The familiarity between these two teams was apparent early on, as lots of pushing and shoving went on between whistles.
Norwegian goalie Steffen Soberg, who was one of the bright spots in Norway’s opening game loss to Finland, quickly became the focus of the Swedish attackers, who routinely tried to swarm the area around his net and break his field of vision. However, with the help of his teammates Soberg was able to see the puck well and frustrate Sweden’s offence early on.
As the period wore on however, it was clear the Swedes were enjoying the lion’s share of puck possession, as the Norwegian goaltender was forced to make 25 saves in the period. His efforts were eventually rewarded by his teammate Jonas Knutsen, who fired a laser shot past Lundstrom with less than three minutes to go in the period.
Norway’s celebration was quickly silenced though, as Sweden’s Filip Forsberg won the ensuing faceoff, skated past the entire Norwegian team, fired the puck at Soberg and got his own rebound to tie the game up.
The Swedes then opened the floodgates in the 2nd, courtesy of some great play from one of their highly touted young forwards. Shortly after the start of the period, Mika Zibanejad was cruising along the Norwegian blue line and received a long pass from Oscar Klefbom right on the tape of his stick. Zibanejad then split the defence and calmly lifted the puck past Soberg’s glove for the score.
Zibanejad, who just finished his first pro season with Djurgarden in the Elitserien, would later fire home another goal in front of the net to put Sweden up 3-1. He didn’t stop there, shooting the puck at Soberg, getting his own rebound and skating around the net to find teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall in front for another score.
Though Norway’s Soberg did his best to keep his team in the game, the Norwegian offense simply could not keep the puck in the Swedish zone, and by the end of the second period the shots on goal were 49-12 in favour of Tre Kronor. For his part, Zibanejad added another goal for the hat trick, and his teammates put up five more in the third period to seal the 10-2 rout.
USA vs. Slovakia 8-1 (2-0, 4-0, 2-1) Game Sheet Photos
CRIMMITSCHAU – After surviving an opening game scare against Switzerland, the U.S. sought to turn up their game in their second match of the tournament, this time going against Slovakia. The game started out a bit sloppy in the first period, with eight penalties being called between the two teams.
On the other end, the Americans were able to take advantage of their power plays, when forward Rocco Grimaldi scored the first goal eleven minutes in, with JT Miller and Seth Jones on the assists. Just before the end of the period, defenceman Connor Murphy found the back of the net on another power play to put the U.S. up by two.
The Slovaks could not find an answer for Team USA’s physical play, and their offence was only able to muster sixteen shots through the first two periods. Much of the reason for this was due to the fact that for the second game in a row the Slovaks had trouble staying out of the penalty box.
For the United States, three more power play goals by Robbie Russo, Reid Boucher, Connor Reid, and a shorthanded marker by Travis Boyd put the game on cruise control for the Americans at the end of the second period.
Slovakia scored a goal in the third period to avoid the shutout, but the 8-1 final score dropped them to 0-2 for the tournament. The Americans now have a day to rest up before their important game against the Russians in Crimmitschau on Sunday, while the Slovaks will try for their first win of the tournament against Switzerland.