SCOTIABANK PLACE – The United States overcame a slow start and eventually topped Kazakhstan 12-0 on Tuesday. The win sets up a battle of unbeaten first-place contenders in Wednesday’s New Year’s Eve classic between Canada and the USA.
United States – Kazakhstan 12-0 (3-0, 5-0, 4-0)
Kazakhstan has one last hope to avoid the relegation round with a substantial margin of victory tomorrow against the Czech Republic. But all eyes are sure to be on the late game when rivals Canada and USA face off for first place in Group A. The winner will get an automatic berth in the semi-finals.
The Americans didn’t look like a bona fide contender in the first period, as they clearly took the Kazakhs a little too lightly in the opening stanza. It wasn’t until their fourth power-play opportunity that the Americans managed to score the 1-0 goal, as Ian Cole broke the ice 16:26 into the game.
Once the first goal got past Kazakh goaltender Andrei Yankov, the U.S. had an easier time with its offense. Aaron Palushaj doubled the lead 31 seconds later, and Drayson Bowman made it 3-0 a minute before the end of the period.
U.S. head coach Ron Rolston clearly gave his team an earful during the intermission, as they came out looking rejuvenated in the second period. It took just 52 seconds for the Americans to score as Colin Wilson put in a rebound from a shot off the face-off.
The U.S. piled in another four goals in the period, including two on the power play, to climb out to a commanding 8-0 lead. The U.S. out-shot Kazakhstan 39-3 in the first two periods.
Palushaj led the way with two goals and two assists and Wilson had two goals, while Ian Cole and James vanRiemsdyk both added a goal and two assists. In total, ten different Americans scored in the effort.
Mike Hoeffel added a two-man advantage goal in the third period, and singles by Jimmy Hayes, Mitch Wahl and Matt Rust brought the score to 12-0.
Jordan Schroeder’s two assists were enough to tie him for the lead in tournament scoring with Canada’s John Tavares and Cody Hodgson with nine points.
Czech Republic – Germany 6-0 (2-0, 1-0, 3-0)
SCOTIABANK PLACE – The Czech Republic shut out Germany 6-0 on Tuesday afternoon. The loss sends the Germans to the relegation round, but with the silver lining of carrying the three points that they earned by beating Kazakhstan.
A pair of power-play goals gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead in the first period. David Stich and Zdenek Okal scored 2:04 apart midway through the period to give the Czechs the early advantage. Germany had a rough period, getting out-shot 17-5 and taking four minor penalties.
Germany was without forward Maximilian Forster and defenseman Florian Muller after they were injured in yesterday’s game against Canada. The quick turnaround from last night’s game also didn’t help the German squad, which looked fatigued.
The Germans improved in the second period, but still could not get on the board. Their best chance came with about four minutes left in the period, when they had at least five consecutive scoring chances at point blank range, but couldn’t convert.
The Czechs shifted the momentum back to their favor on the next shift in what proved to be the deal-breaker for Germany. Ondrej Roman skated the puck around the crease and slid it past goaltender Timo Pielmeier for a 3-0 lead, just as Germany was showing its first signs of hope.
The goal knocked the wind out of the German sails as they ceded a quick three goals to open the third period, including a second goal from Roman, who finished the game with three points.
For the Czechs, it was an important step in the right direction after a slow start to the championship with two straight losses. The Czechs will likely qualify for the quarterfinals, unless Kazakhstan upsets them on December 31 in the preliminary round closer for both teams.
Despite the loss, German assistant coach Uwe Krupp still sees the positive side of today’s result. “Our goal coming into the championship was to stay in the top division,” Krupp said. “We have three points going into the relegation round, which is an important step in reaching that goal.”
The loss gives Germany a final preliminary round record of 1-3 and fourth place in the group. The Germans have the next two days off to prepare for the relegation round.
The quarterfinals will be played on January 2 after a day off for the entire tournament on New Year’s Day.