After the preliminary round was over on Monday night we had our playoff matches and the two teams who would play to stay in the main group. Yesterday the teams began their march to Gold, or struggle to survive.
Today is an off day, just rest and practice.
Before we get to the recaps, big congratulations to the organizers and fans. According to Niagara This Week - Record-breaking response to U18 world championships - Niagara This Week - the attendance record for this tournament was set before the preliminary round was over, and after the final buzzer of Canada - USA sounded it was official: 21,879 people had watched the games so far, and that number is going to grow. As you can see in one of Singjay's pictures below, there are two large banners at one end of the rink:
Behind these banners are retractable bleachers. Right now the area where they would be is used for team warm ups (left side) and volunteer staging (right side). The bleachers will be lowered for Fridays games, increasing the Meridian Capacity to 5,300, and providing more fans to watch the medal games.
Switzerland 5 - France 1 - Full Recap Here
The win gives the Swiss a decided edge to stay in the top group for 2017, while France is on the verge of being demoted right after earning promotion.
Swiss forward Alina Muller had two goals and an assist, giving her nine points and sole possession atop the tournament scoring leaders. Muller also leads all players with seven goals. She has been involved in nine of her team's 14 goals this year.
"It was important to win," Muller said. "We know France wants to stay in the top division, but we want to as well. We know we're the better team, but that doesn't mean we'll win. Still, even though it was close for the first 30 minutes, we were never afraid we'd lose."
Sweden 3 - Czech Republic 2 - Full Recap Here
"We didn't have a very good start, but we finished the game very well," Sweden's Celine Tedenby offered. "I think we were the ones who had the killer instinct."
This afternoon's game started slowly, and neither team did much to generate offense in the opening period. But in the second, Sweden got into penalty trouble and the Czechs poured it in. Only the sensational goaltending of Soderberg kept the score close.
Sweden now has the chance to medal in the tournament for the first time since 2013 when they won bronze by beating the Czechs 4-0.
Russia 3 - Finland 0 - Full Recap Here
Russia defeated Finland in both 2014 and 2015 en route to a bronze medal.
"I’m not sure I played that well," a disconsolate Pajarinen said afterwards, "but as a goalie I can only do so much. I think we put up a good fight right until the end."
"It was a stressful game because the score was so close for so long," Beloglazova suggested, "but I think we played well defensively, especially in the second period. We tried to be patient and wait for our chances."
Russia ended Finland's attempt to win both the Men's and Women's world junior championships. In the drive to get their second medal a year after winning their first (bronze) of the tournament the Russians held fast and shut out the Finns.
The Semi-Finals will be played on Thursday. The games are:
USA vs Sweden - 4PM
Neither team played each other this tournament. The Swede's defeated Finland and France and face a very tough opponent in the Americans.
Canada vs Russia - 7:30PM
Canada defeated Russia 5-2 on Friday night. Canada must work on it's power play and penalty kill to stay alive in this tournament.
Other Thursday games:
Finland vs Czech Republic - 2PM
This is the game for 5th place.
Switzerland vs France - 12PM
Switzerland can stay in the main group with a win in this game, if France wins a third relegation game will be played on Friday.
Division 1 Tournament
Qualifying for the main group in 2017 is still underway. It's a round robin, total points tournament. Current Standings as of writing time are: (source: IIHF)
The tournament wraps up on Saturday.
I'll only be in person at the evening games from now on, but will RT IIHF announcements throughout the day. Maybe sneak in a stream of a game.