BŘECLAV, CZE – Concluding the group stage of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Day 3 had loads of action in store for the fans, especially the Břeclav part of it. While Piešťany saw Swedes and Canadians dominate their respective opponents once again, the four teams west of the border combined for 26 goals in just two games.
The day started at 2:00 local time in Slovakia where Sweden and Switzerland battled for a spot in semifinals. This one was a wild one from the very beginning as Jonathan Dahlén opened the scoring just two minutes in and even though the Swiss managed to tie things up quickly, the score was 4-1 for Tre Kronor just thiteen minutes in.
The second period continued the trend as the Swedes netted three and the Swiss added one, but that didn’t make the game any more interesting as both teams parted way with a final score of 7-2 following a scoreless third period. While Sweden goes to semis where they meet the Czechs, Switzerland will battle for fifth place with Finland, just like last year.
Another vital game was played almost simultaneously in Břeclav with the Americans facing Finland. Starting slowly, the score was tied after twenty minutes of play with Thomas Novak ending Finnish lead with three minutes left in the frame. Suomi were able to hang on for a long time until the third period decided in favor of USA.
Novak would add another goal, the game-winner making it 5-3 three minutes into the final frame, but the Americans would add four more, all in the time span of about four minutes with Troy Terry scoring two to complete his hattrick and Novak adding another assist to finish off his four-point game. USA is set to face Canada in semis on Friday.
One day after becoming the first semifinalist of the tourney, Canada was also the first to finish group stage undefeated. Day Three had Canadians squaring off with Slovakia, the home team in desperate need of a victory, despite a sealed fourth place finish. The co-hosts posed only little threat to their opposition though, but managed to score a goal again.
Jansen Harkins would be the only Canadian with more than one point in this one as he recorded two assists and Adam Musil would get one, too. The Slovaks only managed to score midway through the third while down by five with Filip Lešťan getting his team on the board. Now they’re set to face Russia in the seventh-place game while Canada goes on to semis.
Czechs would close off the day and eventually become the second undefeated semifinalist that the tournament has found. Giving a chance to Aleš Stezka in the goal, facing Russia first seemed like an ordinary game and the score looked that way for half of it with Filip Suchý, later named player of the game, making it 3-1 four minutes into the second.
Then, something changed and the Czechs scored three in less than a minute, eventually running the score up to 7-1 before the end of the middle period. With fans wanting ten goals, the goal was clear for the third and the home team wouldn’t stop giving it their best. Jakub Zbořil would cap off the scoring with goals number 10 and 11, making the final 11-2. Sweden is up next for the Czechs in semis on Friday.
Photo courtesy of Juniorský hokej CZ/SK