Only two games on the schedule today but they were big ones. The medal round started today with two of the four quarter-final games. Belarus looked for a Salt Lake City-sized upset of Russia while Finland and the US battled in a barnburner.
Russia 4 vs. Belarus 3 – Last year’s defending champions were given all they could handle by the upstart Belarusians. It was the Russians that were playing catch-up for most of the game. Belarus didn’t score until the second period but they held two one-goal leads for less than three minutes each time. The Russians held the lead briefly in the second before the Belarusians made their own come back. With 12:38 to go in the third, Ilya Kovulchuk put one by Andrei Mezin and that was all Russia needed to advance. Vitali Proshkin, Vitali Atyushov, and Alex Frolov also scored for Russia. Konstantin Koltsov, Oleg Antonenko, and Ruslan Salei each scored for Belarus. Andrei Mezin made 28 saves in the losing effort while Ilya Bryzgalov only had to make 13 saves to earn the win. With the win, Russia advances to the semi-finals against USA.
USA 3 vs. Finland 2 – It was a free-flowing offensive game between two of hockey’s powerhouse nations. The goaltenders were the stars of this game with each making over 30 saves but the red light was lit one more time behind Pekka Rinne (32 saves) than Robert Esche (47 saves). The game was scoreless in both the first and third periods but both teams had their chances turned away by the opposing netminders. All five goals were scored in the second period with the Fins scoring first on a power play goal by Niko Kapanen. The Americans came back with three unanswered goals by Dustin Brown, TJ Oshie, and Ryan Suter. Finland got a late second period goal from Hannes Hyvonen but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Americans. The US will face the Russians in one of Friday’s semi-finals.
Three Stars of the Day:
1. Robert Esche (USA) – 47 saves
2. Ilya Kovulchuk (Russia) – 1 goal, 1 assist
3. Oleg Antonenko (Belarus) – 1 goal, 2 assists
Canada vs. Latvia
Sweden vs. Czech Republic