For the first this tournament, there were six games on the schedule. Four teams from each of the three groups were in action. Teams in Group E and Group F were looking to stay in medal contention while teams in Group G were looking to avoid relegation.
Group E: Sweden 4 vs. Switzerland 1 – It’s not often that you say that Sweden is fighting for their lives. But when you back someone into a corner, they come out fighting. Sweden scored the first four goals of the game and never looked back en route to clinching a spot in the medal round. Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves to lead the way for the Swedes. Linus Omark was the only player to notch a multi-point game (1 goal, 1 assist). Sweden will play France in a gimme tune-up for the quarter-final. Switzerland’s next game is against the USA with a regulation win necessary to advance.
Group E: Russia 6 vs. Latvia 1 – The defending champs used their last round robin game to send a message. The Russians scored three goals in the first four minutes of the second period to pound Latvia into submission. Russia dressed both its backup goalies with Alex Eremenko seeing action and making 25 saves. Oleg Tverdovsky had two goals and an assist while Anton Kuryanov also had a pair of goals. With the win Russia locks up first place in Group E and will face the 4th place team from Group F in the quarter-finals.
Group E Standings
1. Russia 4-1-0-0, 14 Pts.
2. Sweden 1-1-2-0, 7 Pts.
3. USA 2-0-1-1, 7 Pts.
4. Latvia 1-2-0-2, 7 Pts.
5. Switzerland 1-0-1-2, 4 Pts.
6. France 0-0-0-4, 0 pts.
(Standings include all games against Group E opponents including games played in the preliminary round. Bolded teams advance to the medal round.)
Group F: Canada 5 vs. Norway 1 – Teams have thrown everything possible at Canada to stop them. Even the tournament organizers tried to trip them up with a two-day break but they could stop the juggernaut. For a while, the Norwegians looked like they would play a close game but two goals 55 seconds apart ended those dreams. Chris Mason was solid in goal for Canada with 29 saves. Norway’s Pal Grotnes played the final 39 minutes and shone with 26 saves on 27 shots. Canada is right back at it tomorrow playing Finland for first place in Group F. Norway will play Slovakia for fifth place in the group.
Group F: Czech Republic 3 vs. Belarus 0 – It was a closely fought game but it was the Czechs that had just enough to squeeze out the win. Petr Cajanek had two goals for the Czechs, including the game winner scored just after the midway point of the game. Patrik Elias had the third Czech goal. Jakub Stempanuk had 18 saves for the shutout. Despite the loss, Belarus qualifies for the medal round. Both teams have wrapped up their round robin schedules and will next see action in the quarter-finals.
Group F Standings
1. Canada 4-0-0-0, 12 Pts.
2. Finland 2-1-1-0, 9 Pts.
3. Czech Republic 3-0-0-2, 9 Pts.
4. Belarus 0-3-0-2, 6 Pts.
5. Slovakia 0-0-2-2, 2 Pts.
6. Norway 0-0-1-3, 1 Pt.
(Standings include all games against Group F opponents including games played in the preliminary round. Bolded teams advance to the medal round.)
Group G: Austria 1 vs. Germany 0 – The battle between the neighbours lived up to the billing. A goaltending duel ended with only one goal scored over sixty minutes. Thomas Koch took a feed from behind the net from Thomas Vanek and blasted it by Dimitri Patzold. Bernd Bruckler was the star for Austria making 38 saves for the shutout. Austria plays its next game on Monday against Denmark with the winner qualifying for the 2010 World Hockey Championship. Germany is already in the 2010 tournament because they are the host but still must play Hungary to avoid going winless for the 2009 tournament.
Group G: Denmark 5 vs. Hungary 1 – A goaltender can only do so much when the rest of his team doesn’t want to play. Another stellar performance by Hungarian goalie Levente Szuper was squandered as Denmark demolished Hungary. Szuper made 39 saves on 43 shots before leaving with an injury. The Hungarians were actually on the board first, scoring 15 minutes into the game. From there it was all Denmark. The Danes scored five unanswered and limited Hungary to only 11 shots over the final 40 minutes. The loss guarantees that Hungary will be relegated to IIHF Division 1 play and not qualify for next year’s championship. Denmark has a must win game against Austria next while Hungary finishes out the string against Germany.
Group G Standings
1. Austria 2-0-0-0, 6 Pts.
2. Denmark 2-0-0-0, 6 Pts.
3. Germany 0-0-0-2, 0 Pts.
4. Hungary 0-0-0-2, 0 Pts.
(Bottom two teams, excluding Germany, do not qualify for 2010 World Hockey Championship.)
Three Stars of the Day:
1. Bernd Bruckler (Austria) – 38 saves, shutout
2. Oleg Tverdovsky (Russia) – 2 goals, 1 assist
3. Drew Doughty (Canada) – 1 goal, 2 assists
Group E: Sweden vs. France
Group E: USA vs. Switzerland
Group F: Slovakia vs. Norway
Group F: Canada vs. Finland
Group G: Hungary vs. Germany
Group G: Denmark vs. Austria