BŘECLAV, CZE – Semifinal day is in the books and it’s been a wild one from a 11-5 game between Canada and United States to a 176 penalty minutes given out in fifth place game. After all, Canada was joined by the Czechs as finalists following a team effort against Team Sweden. Russia also beat Slovakia in seventh-place game.
Just about the time when Russia won the seventh-place game over Slovaks by the score of 5-2, Finland and Switzerland started their fifth-place contest in Břeclav and things got rough right from the beginning, both team remembering last year’s fifth-place game where Suomi won after shootout. Down by four after just fifteen minutes of play, Switzerland started losing it and the result was 176 penalty minutes, 135 of those awarded to the Swiss. They would try to come back and got pretty close once, but the final was 9-3 for the Finns.
Over in Piešťany, Slovakia, first semifinal of the day was as memorable as they get with Canada facing United States in a rematch of last year’s final. Canada won a year ago and they would prove a little too difficult for their southern neighbors once again. Dylan Strome opened the scoring just one minutes in, but Thomas Novak responded quickly. Anyways, the score was 3-1 for Canada after twenty. Strome would eventually complete a hattrick in just about 30 minutes of playing time.
That hattrick still didn’t have USA beat and that’s what captain Travis Konecny had to take care of and he sure did. With his team up 5-3 just past the midpoint of the second, the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft netted two to give his team a huge 7-3 lead, also getting the game-winning goal in the process. At 10-3 for Canada, the Americans managed to save some of their dignity by scoring two more and the final, 11-5, looked horrible, but still more acceptable with USA actually getting five goals.
The second semifinal matchup was to determine who joins Canada in the finals and the arena in Břeclav found out just minutes after the second period between Czechs and Swedes started. Immediately after that, Daniel Krenželok blasted one home from the blue line to make it 2-0 for the home team and it looked like another good day of hockey. But, Tre Kronor said no and managed to tie things up with two quick goals.
Head coach Jakub Petr called a timeout immediately after that and that was a good thing to do. His team found the perfect answer by scoring two in less than two, jumping back up by two. Jonathan Dahlén would come through and cut the lead in half before the second ended which set up a dramatic ending in the third period. And with Swedes having Czechs under pressure, goaltender Daniel Vladař was right there to keep his team in the lead and he did so for the remainder of the game, along with defense’s top-notch effort.
Photo courtesy of Juniorský hokej CZ/SK