Kukla's Korner Hockey
Kasperi Kapanen with the gold medal goal in OT for the Finland win.
added 4:36pm, Game recap is below...
added 4:46pm, Another view of the goal is below too...
from Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com,
Russia has had its share of scares at these World Juniors, including a hair-raising 4-3 overtime win over lowly Denmark in the quarter-final. But that doesn't matter now.
Yegor Korshkov got the winner on a brilliant unassisted effort with 2:04 left in the second period. He faked a shot at the right point, performed a spinnerama, looped through the faceoff circle and cut in front to tuck the puck inside U.S. goalie Alex Nedeljkovic’s left post. It gave Korshkov his team-leading seventh point.
Against Finland, the swift-skating Russians will vie for their first gold medal since 2011 (Buffalo) and 14th of all-time, including the Soviet Union era. They took silver last year versus Canada.
The Americans will seek consolation in the bronze medal game versus Sweden. They have won bronze four times before (1986, 1992, 2007, 2011). It's a disappointing outcome for a squad loaded with NHL-drafted talent.
from Risto Pakarinen at the IIHF website,
It was Finnish young guns versus Sweden’s solid defence, and it didn’t turned out to be similar fireworks of scoring as Finland’s game against Canada. But it was a thriller all the same, and in the end, Finns came out on top thanks to two second-period goal, 2-1.
Kasperi Kapanen and team captain Mikko Rantanen collected two assists each for Finland. Antti Kalapudas scored the game-winner. Kaapo Kahkonen made 21 saves for Finland.
Rasmus Asplund scored Sweden’s lone goal, Linus Soderstrom made 26 saves.
Here is IIHF writer Lucas Aykroyd’s analysis of the Sweden-Finland and USA-Russia showdowns, along with his predictions.
Aykroyd picked the winners of 18 out of the 20 group games, plus all four quarter-finals. He has covered eight IIHF World Junior Championships, plus four Olympics and 16 IIHF World Championships. The predictions are the sole responsibility of the writer and do not reflect any official views of the IIHF.
SWEDEN-FINLAND (9:00am ET, Hartwall Arena)
Finland is coming off the euphoria of eliminating the defending champions, and will once again have a frenzied Hartwall Arena crowd on its side. But it’s hard to go to the emotional well two games in a row. The Finns will have to do that, while Sweden was clinical in its 6-0 dispatching of Slovakia. It’ll be a battle, but on paper, the blue-and-yellow squad is better-positioned to make the final.
Prediction- Sweden 5, Finland 3: Hosts’ weak PK opens door for Swedes, top Finnish line scores but not enough.
RUSSIA-USA (1:00pm ET, Hartwall Arena)
If there’s one hallmark of the post-Soviet Russian teams, it’s their unpredictability. You can never count them out in a situation like this, but it’s hard to tell what kind of team will show up today.
Including round-robin action, the Americans haven’t defeated Russia since 29 December, 2007, but their steady excellence in Helsinki has given them a great opportunity for revenge and a shot at their first gold since Ufa 2013.
Prediction- U.S. 3, Russia 2: Americans survive bursts of Russian pressure, Matthews delivers the goods again.
more on both games...
Both games are on NHL Network and TSN.
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Here are five things we learned on quarterfinal Saturday at World Junior Championship:
Deep draft pool -- The World Junior Championship generally is dominated by 19-year-olds, but the 2016 edition is proving to be one for the kids.
Of the top seven scorers, six are players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. Besides Puljujarvi's 15 points, Matthews and Laine are tied for third with 11; Sweden forward Alexander Nylander and Finland defenseman Olli Juolevi are tied for fifth with nine; and U.S. forward Matthew Tkachuk is seventh with eight. The only drafted player to break into the top eight is Aho, who centers Puljujarvi and Laine and is second with 12 points.
The top three goal scorers are Matthews with seven, Laine with six and Puljujarvi with five. Puljujarvi (10) and Juolevi (nine) lead in assists. Juolevi leads all defensemen in points.
Denmark upset denied -- Denmark is going home from the World Juniors for a second straight time after a tough loss in the quarterfinals. But what happened Saturday was a completely different experience from 2015.
Denmark led Russia 3-2 with 44.1 seconds left in regulation before losing 4-3 in overtime.
"They have an experience now for life and their hockey future," Denmark coach Olaf Eller told TSN. "They have a taste of how close you can come."
It's a far cry from their 8-0 loss to Canada in the 2015 WJC quarterfinals. That Denmark roster featured Winnipeg Jets rookie Nikolai Ehlers and Jets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand, who is playing in the American Hockey League.
Monday's semi-final games are Sweden/Finland at 9:00am ET and USA/Russia to 1:00pm. Games will be on the NHL Network and TSN.
via Martin Merk of the IIHF website,
The quarter-finals on 2nd January will begin with Russia playing Denmark at 14:00 local time at Hartwall Arena. Host Finland and Canada will play the late game at the same venue at 18:00 (11am ET).
At Helsinki Ice Hall Sweden will play Slovakia at 16:00 followed by the quarter-final between Team USA and the Czech Republic at 20:00.
After an off day on New Year’s Day game action will begin on 2nd January with the start of the best-of-three relegation round between Switzerland and Belarus at 12:00 at Helsinki Ice Hall. The winner will maintain in the top division for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto, Canada, while the loser will be relegated to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group A. The promoted team for the 2017 World Juniors is Latvia.
Quarter-Finals (2 Jan.):
14:00 Russia vs. Denmark, Hartwall Arena
16:00 Sweden vs. Slovakia, Helsinki Ice Hall
18:00 Finland vs. Canada, Hartwall Arena
20:00 USA vs. Czech Republic, Helsinki Ice Hall
Semi-Finals (4 Jan.):
Winner SWE/SVK vs. Winner FIN/CAN
Winner RUS/DEN vs. Winner USA/CZE
The semi-finals are played at Hartwall Arena at 16:00 and 20:00 respectively.
Relegation Round (best-of-three):
2 Jan. 12:00 Switzerland vs. Belarus, Helsinki Ice Hall
3 Jan. 12:00 Belarus vs. Switzerland, Helsinki Ice Hall
5 Jan. 12:00 Switzerland vs. Belarus, Helsinki Ice Hall (if needed)
Note: subtract 7 hours from the listed times to get ET time.
In case you missed it, Canada lost 5-2 to Sweden today.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
"It was probably one of the first times I was really under a ton of pressure going out there for every shift," Doughty said. "The entire nation of Canada is watching that game and they put so much pressure on players, it's difficult. I played pretty well there and dealt with it pretty well and I think it made me grow as a player."...
"It's always been like that. Ever since I was a kid," he said. "That's what you do: on Boxing Day you wake up and you watch Team Canada. It's definitely a tradition. Everybody gets into it and everybody's rooting for their country."...
Doughty said Canadians' fanaticism might put too much pressure on their players. "I know how young kids are. They want to see what people are saying about them so they're going to go look at what Bob McKenzie is saying on TSN about them and on and on and on," he said. "For them I think the best thing to do is just stay away from that stuff. It's difficult to do but at least it's not in Canada. That's a bonus. They can kind of get away from it. They won't have it on TV 24/7."
more plus other hockey topics...
From today's WJC action, the video tells it all.
"TSN has created this unconscionable amount of pressure on these young guys. The Canadian guys have to be squeezing their sticks today because of all the pressure that TSN puts on them.
"They're expected to win. Here, they've lost their first game and the world's ready to end. I'm always saying make sure the flags are always flying at half-staff in Canada. That's what we (Americans) did. The flags in Canada are flying at half-staff."
-Ron Wilson, head coach of Team USA in the WJC. More on this topic from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star.
Team USA defeated Team Canda 4-2 today.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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