PARDUBICE/Liberec, Czech Republic – Canada and the United States closed out their respective preliminary round groups with victories. Neither team was really challenged in their New Year’s Eve games as Canada cruised against Denmark 4-1, while the U.S. downed Finland, 5-3.
Before the puck was dropped, the entire medal round and relegation round were already set, making the outcome of both contests only academic.
The U.S. and Finland game was a potential semi-final round preview as the Americans will face the winner of the Canada-Finland quarterfinal, although neither team was giving away any secrets or future game plans.
Both teams’ top goaltenders started, however after giving up the fifth goal, Finland’s Riku Helenius was replaced mid-game by Harri Sateri. The Americans also replaced Jeremy Smith with Joe Palmer at the end of the second period, presumably for a different reason. It was Palmer’s debut at the championship.
Finland’s defense struggled to contain the Americans, who peppered the Finnish net, getting two goals in the first period and another three in the second. Colin Wilson scored twice in the game for the U.S. Sateri fared will in net for the Finns, holding the Americans scoreless for the second half of the game. Palmer didn’t fare quite as well, surrendering two power-play tallies along with a last-minute goal in the third period.
In Pardubice, Denmark found itself out-matched by the top-seeded Canadians. But after giving up 19 goals in the first three games, the Danes netted a moral victory by losing to the defending by a reasonable 4-1 margin. The lone goal that the Danes scored was with a two-man advantage midway through the third period.
It wasn’t for lack for opportunity that the Canadians didn’t score as they out-shot the Danes an overwhelming 43-16. But facing the quarterfinal game for the first time since 2002, the Canadians likely wanted conserve energy in their final game of the preliminary round.
Below are the final preliminary round standings, along with the quarterfinal round schedule. All teams have January 1st off as many will switch venues. The relegation round will be held in Liberec, while all medal round games will be played in Pardubice.
Final Group A Ranking:
1. Sweden, 12 points
2. Canada, 9 points
3. Czech Republic, 6 points
4. Slovakia, 3 points
5. Denmark, 0 points
Final Group B Ranking:
1. USA, 12 points
2. Russia, 9 points
3. Finland, 5 points
4. Kazakhstan, 3 points
5. Switzerland, 1 point
Canada – Finland, 16:05 January 2
Russia – Czech Republic, 20:05 January 2