World Hockey Championship Roundup: Don’t Get Relegated

After meeting the qualification round teams yesterday, we saw got our first taste of the Relegation Round (Group G) today.  Elsewhere, we had two more games with teams dreaming of a gold medal.

Group E: USA 6 vs. France 2 – The French were never, surprisingly, even close to being in this one. The Americans scored four minutes in and never let up from there. Despite the French scoring a pair in the second, the closest they ever got was 3 goals down. David Backes led the American attack with a goal and 2 assists. The US distributed their offence evenly across the board with 6 different goal scorers. Al Montoya saw his first action in goal this tournament, facing only 16 shots all game. His biggest enemy was staying awake. The US will be in tough in their next game against the Russians while France should have an easier time against Latvia.

Group E Standings
1. Russia 2-1-0-0, 8 Pts.
2. USA 2-0-1-0, 7 Pts.
3. Latvia 0-2-0-1, 4 Pts.
4. Sweden 0-1-2-0, 4 Pts.
5. Switzerland 1-0-1-1, 4 Pts.
6. France 0-0-0-3, 0 Pts.
(Standings include all games against Group E opponents including games played in the preliminary round)

Group F: Finland 2 vs. Slovakia 1 (OT) – Overtime games seem to be the theme of the qualification round. The two teams played an even game the whole way along with neither team really seeming to be able to dominate control of the game. It took extra time to settle things between the battling teams and Sami Kapanen scored the winning goal with 81 seconds left in the extra frame. In fact, it was Kapanen who scored the regulation goal for the Fins in the first period. Lubos Bartecko scored the goal for Slovakia. Pekka Rinne was solid in goal for the Fins with 25 saves for the win. The Fins’ next game is against Belarus while the Slovaks will face their bitter rival the Czech Republic.

Group F Standings
1. Canada 3-0-0-0, 9 Pts.
2. Finland 2-1-0-0, 8 Pts.
3. Belarus 0-2-0-1, 4 Pts.
4. Czech Republic 1-0-0-2, 3 Pts.
5. Slovakia 0-0-2-1, 2 Pts.
6. Norway 0-0-1-2, 1 Pt.
(Standings include all games against Group F opponents including games played in the preliminary round)

Group G: Denmark 3 vs. Germany 1 – It wasn’t a pretty game but don’t tell that to the Danes. A pair of third period goals powered Denmark to the win. Danish goalie Patrick Galbraith led the way with 25 saves and Peter Reign had the game winning goal with ten minutes to go. Denmark looks to build on this performance when they play Hungary while Germany plays its next game against Austria.

Group G: Austria 6 vs. Hungary 0 – This wasn’t so much a game as it was a mugging. Austria dominated Hungary the whole game, ending with a decisive win. Normally a game where you make 54 saves is a good day but that was Hungarian goalie Levente Szuper’s stats line at game’s end. Austria had 60 shots on goal as they had their way with the Hungarian defence. In the other crease, Bernd Bruckler made 28 saves for the shutout. Thomas Vanek finally made his mark on the tournament with 1 goal and 2 assists in the game. However, he was overshadowed by Thomas Koch’s hat-trick performance. Austria’s next game is against Germany while Hungary looks to recover when they play Denmark.

Group G Standings
1. Austria 1-0-0-0, 3 Pts.
2. Denmark 1-0-0-0, 3 Pts.
3. Germany 0-0-0-1, 0 Pts.
4. Hungary 0-0-0-1, 0 Pts.
(Bottom two teams, excluding Germany, do not qualify for 2010 World Hockey Championship)

Three Stars of the Day:
1. Thomas Koch (Austria) – 3 goals, 1 assist
2. Sami Kapanen (Finland) – 2 goals
3. Levente Szuper (Hungary) – 54 saves

Saturday’s Schedule:
Group E: France vs. Latvia
Group E: Russia vs. USA
Group F: Czech Republic vs. Slovakia
Group F: Finland vs. Belarus

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