Category: World Championships (page 1 of 7)

Croatia bounces back Women’s team makes winning return to IIHF play

By Andy Potts – IIHF.com

Croatia made a successful return to IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship action with victory in the Division II Group B Qualification tournament in Sofia. 

The Croats didn’t enter a team to compete last year, and had to drop down to the lowest level of the women’s game as a result. But, under the guidance of fledgling head coach Miro Smerdelj, a Croatian men’s international until 2013 and still playing for Mladost Zagreb in the new cross-border International Hockey League, the team swept through a five-team group that also included host Bulgaria, top seed Belgium, South Africa and Hong Kong. 

That represented a fine return to international action for Croatia’s women, who last played in an IIHF tournament in 2016 when it suffered relegation from Division IIA. Now the team will play in next season’s Division IIB tournament. 

Croatia’s rampant offence fired in 27 goals in four games – but the crucial one came 17 minutes into its meeting with top seed Belgium. The Croats were killing a penalty at the time, but Ela Filipec intercepted a pass on her own blue line and set off for goal. The 26-year-old, who plays her club hockey for Gric Zagreb in the Austrian league, danced her way around three opponents to get up close with Belgian goalie Nina van Orshaegen. Her first shot found the pads, but she recovered to lift the rebound onto the top shelf and give her team a vital lead. 

The goal proved decisive. Filipec’s Gric teammate Petra Belobrk made 25 saves at the other end as Croatia posted its third shut-out of the tournament and denied a Belgian team that finished with 26 goals from its three other games. Nobody could find a way past van Orshaegen again at the other end, but that short-handed effort was enough to win the game and, ultimately, the group. Belgium won its other three games to take second place. 

Croatia’s defensive power meant that it took 212 minutes of tournament action before it finally allowed a goal. Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Popova was the woman who solved Belobrk at last, converting a power play opportunity to claim the host nation’s first goal of the competition. Anna Evstatieva scored another power play goal shortly afterwards, but Croatia romped to a 12-2 victory. In 240 minutes of hockey, the group winner did not allow a single goal while playing at even strength. 

Much of that solidity derives from a roster that drew heavily on the Gric club, currently playing in Austria’s cross-border DEBL. Filipec and fellow blue-liner Martina Smolec are among the leading scorers in that league in the early stages of this season, and eight of the national team currently play there. With another player, Katja Bednjanec, also playing in Austria for the Klagenfurt Dragons, and 16-year-old twins Tena and Eva Cavka involved with Slovenia’s HK Celje, there’s a measure of international experience about this Croat roster. 

Behind the Croats, Belgium recovered from Thursday’s narrow loss to beat South Africa 3-0 in Saturday’s final game and claim second place behind Croatia. The team also impressed defensively, allowing just two goals in the competition. First-choice goalie van Orshaegen finished as the best netminder of the tournament, with a GAA of 0.33 and a save percentage of 97.5. Filipec’s effort was the only one to beat her all week; the other goal scored on Belgium went past Liesl Kuypers in a 14-1 win over Hong Kong. South Africa took third place, while Saturday’s match-up between Bulgaria and Hong Kong saw the host let a 1-0 lead slip in the third period to lose 1-2 and finish in last place without a single victory. 

Among the skaters, defenceman Filipec led the scoring by a huge margin. She finished with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points. Her closest scoring rivals, team-mate Vesna Gurka and Belgium’s Sonja Frere, managed eight each. Filipec’s six goals also made her joint leading goalscorer for the competition, tying with Dalene Rhode (South Africa) and Femke Bosmans (Belgium). 

Sweden wins gold over Canada in shootout at world championship

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By The Canadian Press

COLOGNE, Germany — Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the shootout for Sweden as it beat Canada 2-1 on Sunday to capture gold at the world hockey championship.

Victor Hedman scored late in the second period shorthanded to give the Swedes a 1-0 lead. Henrik Lundqvist picked up the win in net with 42 saves.

Ryan O’Reilly tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal early in the third. Calvin Pickard stopped 40 shots and took the loss.

The win is Sweden’s first in four tries against Canada since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992, and their first since 2013. Sweden stops Canada from being the first team to three-peat since the Czechs accomplished the feat between 1999 and 2001.

Just like in Saturday’s 4-2 semifinal comeback win over Russia, there was no scoring in the first period. After competing in separate groups in the preliminary round, the Swedes and Canadians went through a feeling-out process. Shots were 12-10 for Sweden in the first, with Canada easily able to kill off two penalties against the ninth-ranked Swedish power play.

Hedman got Sweden on the scoreboard with Nicklas Backstrom serving his second penalty of the game. Hedman’s bouncing shot from the point off a broken play eluded Pickard with 20.8 seconds left in the period.

The Canadians once again used their lethal power play to get back into the game in the third with Elias Lindholm whistled for high sticking at 1:48. It took just 10 seconds for O’Reilly to tie the game at 1-1 by flipping a Mitch Marner rebound over the right shoulder of Lundqvist. It was the first special-teams goal that Lundqvist had surrendered in five tournament games.

Canada tested its tournament-best penalty kill when Mike Matheson took a tripping penalty with 3:18 to play in the third period, but the Swedes matched them with an untimely too-many-men penalty with 1:24 left on the clock.

Sweden had a slight territorial edge in overtime by outshooting Canada 11-10. Sean Couturier was whistled for tripping with 10:51 left in overtime but the Canadian penalty killers were up to the task.

Alex Killorn fed Matt Duchene with a nifty spin-o-rama pass late in overtime, but his shot was stopped by Lundqvist.

Sweden called a timeout to set up an offensive-zone faceoff with 21 seconds left to play in overtime. Claude Giroux won the crucial draw to allow the Canadians to get the puck out of danger and set up the shootout.

In the shootout, William Nylander was denied by Pickard, then Nathan MacKinnon couldn’t slip his shot through Lundqvist’s five-hole. Backstrom, Sweden’s second shooter, beat Pickard low to the stick side before Brayden Point’s attempt was snagged by Lundqvist’s glove. Oliver Ekman-Larsson caught Pickard moving to put Sweden up 2-0, then Ryan O’Reilly was denied by Lundqvist. Pickard kept Canada alive by stopping his Colorado Avalanche teammate Gabriel Landeskog before Lundqvist stopped Marner to secure the gold for Sweden.

William Nylander capped his first appearance at the World Championship with both a gold medal and MVP honors.

The young forward led his country in scoring with 14 points in 10 games, and his seven goals tied for first among all players.

 

Russia outlasts Finland to earn bronze at worlds

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By Flip Livingstone – the score

The Russians proved to be too much for Finland on Sunday at the World Championship in Cologne, Germany, as the Red Machine pulled out a 5-3 victory to earn the bronze medal.

Nikita Gusev continued his hot streak with two goals and an assist, Valeri Nichushkin added three helpers, and Andrei Vasilevski made 26 saves in the win.

Despite scoring three goals, the Finns were never really in the game and have the Russian’s sloppy play to thank for the trio of tallies. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist and 19-year-old Sebastian Aho chipped in with two apples in the losing cause.

Russia broke out to a formidable 4-0 lead – chasing Finland goalie Joonas Korpisalo from his net – before allowing the Finns to score three unanswered goals. The comeback effort would be for naught, however, as Nikita Kucherov sealed the victory with just under 12 minutes to play with his seventh goal of the tournament.

Finland fails to medal for the fifth time in eight years, while the Russians earned some hardware for the fourth consecutive tournament.

Day Fourteen At The Worlds

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Canada completes comeback to eliminate Russia, will play for gold

It’s not over until it’s over.

Team Canada put together a four-goal effort in the third period for a 4-2 comeback victory over Team Russia in semifinal action Saturday.

The two sides were scoreless through the first 20 minutes, but goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nikita Gusev helped Russia take a 2-0 lead into the final frame.

Vadim Shipachyov, who recently signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, drew an assist on Gusev’s goal, marking his 13th point of the tournament.

Canada got on the board just 17 seconds into the third with a goal from Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele, who tipped a shot by Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon drew an assist on Scheifele’s goal, then added a tally of his own from the slot with less than five minutes remaining in the third to bring the score to 2-2.

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly completed the comeback just 1:51 later, registering his fifth goal of the tournament to put Canada ahead. The team would tally again, with Sean Couturier adding an empty-net goal.

Canada will advance to the gold medal game to face the winner of Saturday’s match between Finland and Sweden.

The country has won gold the past two years, defeating Russia in 2015 and Finland in 2016.

Sweden downs Finland to advance to gold medal game

By Sean O’Leary – The Score

Sweden defeated rival Finland 4-1 on Saturday to advance to the gold medal game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship. The Swedes will battle Team Canada for international supremacy.

Just 1:49 into the first period, Nicklas Backstrom‘s faceoff win was one-timed by defenseman Alex Edler past goaltender Harri Sateri to give Sweden an early lead.

Three minutes later, Joonas Kemppainen pounced on a loose puck and pushed it by Henrik Lundqvist to tie things at 1-1, but that’s as close as Finland, who will take on Russia in the bronze medal match Sunday, would get.

Sweden’s power play took over in the middle frame, with goals from John Klingberg and William Nylander, who leads the tournament with seven tallies in nine games and is tied for second with 14 points.

Joakim Nordstrom added a fourth goal late in the third period, which was a suffocating 20 minutes from Sweden’s talented blue-liners, as the final shot count finished 41-23 in favor of Tre Kronor.

Sweden hasn’t played for gold since 2013, when they defeated Switzerland on home soil. The Swedes and Canadians last met in the final in 2004, with Canada winning the title.

Puck drop for the deciding game is set for 4:45 p.m. ET.

Why does USA continue to fail at the World Championship?

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The United States lost 2-0 in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup to Finland, prolonging their gold-medal drought at the World Championship to a staggering 57 years. In fact, the Americans haven’t even made it to the gold-medal game since they won it in 1960.

Given the depth of players the nation possesses, this is quite embarrassing, to be frank.

Sure, Canada, Sweden, and Russia are all rich with talent, but countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, and Switzerland have all played in at least one gold-medal game as recently as 2010.

You could argue that hockey is the No. 1 sport in most of those countries and that USA is more concerned with their football, baseball, and basketball. However, USA has more than double the amount of hockey rinks (indoor and outdoor) in its country than Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Switzerland combined, according to the IIHF’s website.

Furthermore, USA had 266 players play in the NHL this season, second only to Canada’s 451. Sweden was third with 91, per quanthockey.com.

There have been many years where USA was missing almost all of its top players, but 2017 was not one of those years. The team featured firepower up front with Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Dylan Larkin, stability on the back end with Jacob Trouba, Noah Hanifin, and Brady Skjei, and a good veteran goaltender in Jimmy Howard, who was coming off his best NHL season.

To make matters worse, they lost to a Finnish team missing just about everyone. The only players on the Suomi to play at least 20 NHL games this year were Valtteri Filppula, Sebastian Aho, Mikko Rantanen, and Jesse Puljujarvi. They got shut out by some goaltender named Harri Sateri.

Prior to losing to the Finns, the Americans had dominated the tournament. They were 6-0-0-1, scoring 31 goals and allowing just 14. They even beat both Russia and Sweden.

Perhaps the most logical theory as to why the States annually disappoint at this tournament is simple: the setting.

The worlds have been held in Europe every year since 1962, with the lone exception being 2008 when the tournament took place in Quebec City and Halifax.

Playing in front of a hostile European crowd can be awfully intimidating. They chant through the entire game as if it were a soccer match. American fans are outnumbered by fans of their European opposition regardless of which overseas nation is hosting the tournament.

Maybe even more importantly, American players aren’t accustomed to the larger international ice surface. Obviously, many European teams are made up of NHLers, but their supporting cast of players usually play overseas during the regular season and are therefore used to the big ice.

The European setting certainly plays a part, but perhaps USA’s failures at the worlds stem from a deeper meaning.

Realistically, how many American kids grow up dreaming of starring in the World Championship? Probably none, because they all grow up dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup, or winning Olympic gold.

This is not to say that the Americans don’t want to win and make their country proud. They certainly do.

However, when it comes down to a puck battle, or putting your body on the line, 33-year-old Topi Jaakola of Finland, who has played his entire career overseas, might just have that much more of a will to win than a young American player with a bright future in the NHL. For Jaakola, this is his Stanley Cup.

Day Thirteen At The Worlds

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By Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States’ ice hockey world championship campaign ended Thursday with a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat against Finland, after a record-equaling run of six straight victories for Jeff Blashill’s young roster.

Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen scored as Finland booked its place in Saturday’s semifinals.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” said Blashill, whose team looked to be improving with each game following its surprise 2-1 defeat to co-host Germany in the opener.

“We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey. Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were today and I congratulate them.”

Canada edged Germany 2-1 to set up a semifinal showdown with Russia, which defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 with goals from Dmitri Orlov, Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin.

Goals from Nicklas Backstrom, William Nylander and Alexander Edler gave Sweden a 3-1 win over Switzerland in Paris, setting up a meeting with Finland in the final four. Gaetan Haas had equalized for the Swiss.

Both semifinals take place in Cologne.

Canada outshot Germany by 50 shots to 20, but had to endure a nervy ending after Germany captain Christian Ehrhoff sent Yannic Seidenberg through to score short-handed with less than seven minutes remaining.

Ryan O’Reilly set up Mark Scheifele to score on the power play toward the end of the first period for Canada, which was thwarted by an an inspired performance from Germany goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Canada had 20 shots to Germany’s one in the second period alone.

Jeff Skinner finally made the breakthrough with Mike Matheson and Scheifele involved before the end of the period.

Seidenberg pulled one back but Germany couldn’t force an equalizer.

Earlier, strong defense and a shut-out from Harri Sateri on his fourth start helped Finland surprise the U.S., which had beaten Russia to finish top of its group. The Americans outshot Finland by 26 to 20.

“We didn’t give up any goals so we feel we performed our game plan pretty well,” defenseman Juuso Hietanen said. “We didn’t give them any easy chances and we scored an important goal on the power play. Our defense was pretty good all night.”

The Finns had the best chance early on when goaltender Jimmy Howard denied Juhamatti Aaltonen on a breakaway.

Anders Lee was penalized for tripping at the start of the second period and Rantanen scored on the power play at the third attempt after Howard twice saved.

Howard, who finished with 18 saves compared to Sateri’s 26, produced another good block to deny Valtteri Filppula, but he was beaten by Kemppainen midway through the final period. Kemppainen swept the puck home after great interplay with Aaltonen.

Howard, who was the U.S. player of the game, said the Finns “made it tough on us all night long.”

Kevin Hayes, who was penalized for playing without a helmet at the start of the period, was then penalized again for slashing. Hopes of equalizing took another hit when Jack Eichel was sent to the box for high-sticking with less than two minutes remaining.

Lee, Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin were named the Americans’ best three players of the tournament.

In Paris, Sergei Plotnikov set up Orlov and Kucherov swept in the Russians’ second on a power play shortly afterward in the first period.

Overall, despite bossing possession, the Czechs were closed down well by the Russians, restricting their ability to get into good shooting positions. Russia wasn’t dominating but it did look comfortable. Czech frustration was summed up when forward David Pastrnak‘s stick broke in half on a slap shot.

“We played quite well in the beginning of the game, in the first period, but we weren’t scoring,” Czech coach Josef Jandac said. “When Russia scored they controlled the game for the next two periods.”

Panarin, the tournament’s scoring leader, wrapped it up off Kucherov’s cross-ice pass in the third. It was his fourth goal of the tournament and 14th point overall.

“It was a tough game. We didn’t start very well and the Czechs could have scored,” Russia coach Oleg Znarok said. “The ice isn’t very good here. We can say it’s very bad so it was difficult to play well.”

Day Twelve At The Worlds

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By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States came back three times to hand Russia its first defeat 5-3 and top Group A with its sixth straight win at the ice hockey world championship on Tuesday.

Kevin Hayes scored two goals in his second game at the tournament, and Anders Lee earned the match-winner as the U.S. out shot Russia by 35 to 19.

“A great win. We grew as a team today,” forward Johnny Gaudreau said.

They head to the quarterfinals on Thursday, when the U.S. will play Finland, and Russia will meet the Czech Republic.

Two-time defending champion Canada will play Germany, and Sweden takes on Switzerland.

Group B leader Canada beat fourth-placed Finland 5-2, with center Mitch Marner scoring twice in Paris.

Co-host Germany wasted a 2-0 lead against Latvia before leveling right at the end to make it 3-3, forcing overtime and penalty shots in Cologne. The first two shots from each side were saved and, after Roberts Bukarts hit the post, Frederik Tiffels settled it for Germany.

The Canadians, Russians, and Americans have lost one game. Russia scored 35 goals, the Canadians 32, and the Americans 31.

Switzerland avoided Russia by defeating the Czech Republic 3-1 in Paris to clinch second spot in Group B.

Nick Bjugstad hit the post early on for the U.S. before Artyom Zub was penalized for high sticking, then Nikita Kucherov for slashing, but the Americans failed to make their pressure count.

Nikita Gusev scored on a breakaway with just the Russians’ second shot at 12:29.

With five penalties in the first period, Russian indiscipline was bailed out by their defence, while the Americans were grateful to goaltender Jimmy Howard for a good save on another Russian breakaway.

The U.S. had 16 shots compared to Russia’s three in the first period alone.

Kucherov was still off the ice when Hayes equalized at the start of the second on a power play, scoring from a narrow angle. It was Hayes’ first goal since joining the U.S. following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.

Russia captain Anton Belov scored minutes later after Sergei Plotnikov sent the puck back, but Dylan Larkin equalized on another Brock Nelson assist.

U.S. captain Connor Murphy was penalized for interference and Gusev claimed his second on the power play — on a counterattack when the understrength Americans were attacking — leading to an evident surge in Russian confidence.

But Hayes scored again to tie the game at 3 going into the third period.

Frayed tempers led to a punch-up in the third, before Yevgeni Kuznetsov was penalized for slashing.

This time, the U.S. capitalized. Jack Eichel sent a long pass to Gaudreau, who found Lee free to score from close range.

Another moment of indiscipline from Kuznetsov, this time for blatant interference, dented Russian hopes, though Howard had to make another big save to deny Artemi Panarin the equalizer on a breakaway.

Russia went for broke, but Nelson sealed it for the U.S. with an empty net goal with 22 seconds remaining.

After Marner’s early goal for Canada, center Jani Lajunen equalized for Finland within 18 seconds. But less than one minute later Marner set up Colton Parayko for another laser beam slap shot from the defender.

Centre Nate MacKinnon, Canada’s leading scorer with 12 points, set up Marner for 3-1 later in the first period.

Brayden Point got a fortuitous fourth after the puck came back off the boards and fell just in front of goal. But defenceman Atte Ohtamaa kept Finland in with an outside chance heading into the third period.

The suspense lasted precisely 34 seconds as Finland gave the puck away and centre Matt Duchene peeled away to score.

It was a nail-biter in Cologne, where Germany equalized with 33 seconds to go through centre Felix Schutz.

Germany broke through with two quick goals midway through the second period with left winger David Wolf netting and veteran defenceman Dennis Seidenberg scoring 27 seconds later.

But Latvia forward Gunars Skvorcovs replied late in the second period; Janis Sprukts equalized midway through the third, and center Andris Dzerins scored a power-play goal with four minutes left.

Earlier, Sweden defeated Slovakia 4-2 to finish third in Group A and Belarus defeated Norway 4-3 in Group B.

Day Eleven At The Worlds

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By Jerome Pugmire – The Associated Press  

PARIS — Defenceman Colton Parayko scored twice and centre Nate Mackinnon moved atop the tournament scoring leaders with three assists as defending champion Canada beat Norway 5-0 at the ice hockey world championship on Monday.

Canada tops Group B with five wins from six matches, putting it three points ahead of 2010 winner Czech Republic. Canada has 27 goals for only eight conceded, with the only defeat to third-placed Switzerland.

Russia is doing even better than Canada, with six straight wins after beating Latvia 5-0 to retain top spot in Group A ahead of the United States. The clinical Russians have 32 goals and allowed five ahead of their showdown with the Americans on Tuesday.

Brayden Schenn, Mark Scheifele, and Ryan O’Reilly got Canada’s other goals while goaltender Chad Johnson had an easy 10-shot shutout for Canada, which is chasing a third straight title and record-equaling 27th. Russia holds that record, with 22 of those achieved as the former Soviet Union.

Canada coach Jon Cooper said the players were fired up after losing to the Swiss 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.

“Our guys were playing a little bit angry from what happened two nights earlier,” Cooper said. “So the guys had an extra bit in their step, they came out with energy, and determined.”

Canada’s last group game is on Tuesday against fourth-placed Finland, which is three points clear of Norway.

Mackinnon has five goals and six assists so far. That puts him two behind Russian winger Artemi Panarin, who also had a hat trick of assists against Latvia. Russia’s goals came from Bogdan Kiselevich, Ivan Telegin, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov and Anton Belov.

Latvia is level on points with Germany and they face off on Tuesday for a quarterfinal spot.

Of Mackinnon, Cooper said: “He’s a first overall (NHL) pick for a reason. He’s an exceptional talent, a rare breed of both power and skill. Tie that in with the fact he competes really hard and he can keep defenders on their toes.”

Parayko’s ability to shoot from distance gave Canada the bonus of extra firepower.

“He really has a cannon,” Cooper said. “The laser beam sights were on today.”

Norway coach Petter Thoresen thanked his goaltender Henrik Haukeland for keeping the score down.

“Our goalie was very good. I’m glad about that, because it could have been ugly numbers on the scoreboard,” Thoresen said. “Our guys didn’t start well and just wanted to fight all the time.”

Meanwhile, France beat last-placed Slovenia 4-1 in Group B.

Forward Antoine Roussel grabbed a hat trick and 41-year-old goalie Cristobal Huet received an emotional send-off from the home crowd and players from both sides in his final international.

Jan Mursak got an impressive consolation on a lightning-fast breakaway when Slovenia was short-handed.

Denmark beat Italy 2-0 in Group A’s other match with late third-period goals from Nichlas Hardt and Peter Regin.

Italy ended the tournament with seven straight losses and was relegated.

Day Ten At The Worlds

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By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — The United States defeated Slovakia 6-1 Sunday to book its place in the quarterfinals at the ice hockey world championship ahead of its Group A showdown with Russia.

Johnny Gaudreau finished with two goals to take his tournament tally to six, and an assist, while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves on his fourth start for the Americans, whose confidence seems to be growing as they stretched their winning run to five games.

Still, U.S. head coach Jeff Blashill saw room for improvement before the final group game against Russia on Tuesday.

“One thing we have to clean up is puck management and turning pucks over,” Blashill said.

Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei played their first game on joining the side following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.

Hayes, who was named player of the game, picked up two assists and Skjei had one.

Clayton Keller, the youngest player at the tournament, opened the scoring, assisted by Anders Lee and Skjei. It was the 18-year-old Keller’s fifth goal of the championship.

Gaudreau followed suit early in the second period, set up by Hayes before Martin Gernat pulled one back.

Two quick-fire goals from Christian Dvorak, assisted by Gaudreau, and Jacob Trouba put the U.S. in a comfortable position.

Gaudreau grabbed his second of the game to start the third period – Hayes again with the assist – before Lee scored on a power play.

The U.S. moved top of Group A, one point ahead of Russia, which has a game in hand. The Russians, who also safely progressed to the quarterfinals, face Latvia on Monday, when the U.S. is idle.

Sweden, which was boosted by the arrival of centre Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, booked its quarterfinal place later Sunday with a 4-2 win over Scandinavian rival Denmark.

An early goal from Joel Lundqvist followed by two from William Nylander put the Swedes in a commanding position before Morten Madsen and Markus Lauridsen pulled Denmark back in the third period.

Backstrom sealed the win on a power play as Sweden ensured it cannot finish any lower than fourth in Group A.

The top four in each group go through to the quarterfinals.

The Czech Republic ended France’s hopes of making the quarterfinals from Group B with a 5-2 victory in Paris.

The tournament co-hosts failed to make the most of two 5-on-3 chances and more power play time, 10:35 compared to just 2:43 for the Czechs.

Finland came from two goals down to beat the Swiss 3-2 in overtime in Group B.

Fabrice Herzog and Joel Genazzi put Switzerland two goals up before Juuso Hietanen pulled one back on a power play before the end of the first interval and Mikko Rantanen equalized in the third to send the game to overtime. Valtteri Filppula scored the winner as Finland consolidated fourth place in the group.

Day Nine At The Worlds

By The Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany — Switzerland came from two goals down to end Canada’s perfect start to the ice hockey world championship with a 3-2 win in overtime on Saturday.

Fabrice Herzog’s second goal of the game helped to lift Switzerland to second in Group B behind two-time defending champion Canada.

The Canadians were frustrated by an inspired performance from Swiss goalie Leonardo Genoni, who took over from Jonas Hiller at 6:28 when his side was already trailing by two goals. Altogether, Switzerland made 43 saves as it was outshot by 45 to 26.

Centre Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring on a power play, assisted by Mitch Marner, who doubled the Canadians’ lead shortly afterward.

But Mike Matheson was penalized for delaying the game in the third period and Herzog scored on the power play, then Vincent Praplan equalized.

Canada pushed hard for the winner only for Herzog to grab the overtime winner in Paris.

Earlier in Cologne, Russia routed Slovakia 6-0 and the United States fought back from two goals down to beat Latvia 5-3.

Russia reclaimed the lead of Group A and outshot Slovakia by 39 to 22.

Yevgeni Dadonov got the tournament favourites off to a great start with just 1:12 played, then claimed his second goal on a power play. Andrei Mironov made it 3-0 at the first interval.

Nikita Kucherov and Ivan Telegin added goals in the second period, and Vladislav Gavrikov finished the scoring as Russia stayed two points above the U.S.

It started badly for the U.S. with Latvia’s Teodors Blugers opening the scoring midway through the first period and Kaspars Daugavins making it 2-0 at the start of the second, assisted by Andris Dzerins.

Anders Lee and Danny Dekeyser were penalized for tripping, and Dzerins for holding, as tempers frayed.

Lee came back to set up J.T. Compher’s goal for the U.S., but another moment of indiscipline from Clayton Keller gave the Latvians yet another power play chance, duly taken by Oskars Cibulskis on a rebound after Connor Hellebuyck blocked Miks Indrasis’ initial shot.

Nick Bjugstad pulled one back again and Johnny Gaudreau equalized for the U.S. before the end of the second period with his fourth of the tournament.

Andrew Copp’s and Dylan Larkin’s goals then ensured the U.S. stretched its winning run to four games, following its surprise defeat to co-host Germany.

“It was a huge win given the early adversity,” Copp said. “We needed to get our legs under us a little bit and get into intensity mode.”

Germany boosted its quarterfinal hopes with a 4-1 win over Italy thanks to goals from Christian Ehrhoff, Matthias Plachta, Yannic Seidenberg and Dominik Kahun. Michele Marchetti got Italy’s goal after Leon Draisaitl set up Ehrhoff’s opener in his first start. Draisaitl has just arrived from the NHL playoffs.

Germany moved level with fourth-placed Latvia in Group A. The teams meet for what will likely be a decisive game on Tuesday. The top four in each group go through.

Belarus defeated Slovenia 5-2 for its first win of the tournament in Paris, where Markus Hannikainen scored the winner for Finland to beat Norway 3-2 to go fourth in Group B.

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