World Championships - Tuesday games

Wednesday, 17th May 2006

Today sees the last of the qualifying games. In the afternoon USA play Czech Republic with the winners avoiding Russia in the quarters. Switzerland play Belarus and if the latter wins they qualify for the knockout stages. A loss for Switzerland and they will sweat on the result of the evening game between Slovakia and Ukraine. If the Slovaks win, Switzerland would be eliminated should they lose their own game. The last game is just for pride between Latvia and Norway, both having already been eliminated.


The Czechs seemed very lethargic in the opening period, seemingly keeping something back for the knockout stages. USA took the lead on 13:03 after a horrible giveaway by Hejda whilst trying to pass the puck out near his own goal. Malone intercepted and quickly drove the puck past a startled Hnilicka. 1-0 USA. The Americans doubled their lead at 19:43, again thanks to poor defensive play by the Czechs. Skloula was not strong enough and was bumped off the puck behind his own goal by Park who passed to Cullen at the side of the net and he flashed the puck off the goalie’s leg and into the net. End of the 1st 2-0 USA.

Czech Republic showed more interest in the game in the second and had a few chances against Jason Bacashihua , in the American goal for the first time in the championship, but he was up to everything they shot at him. He was beaten on 27:25 as Michalek wristed a weak shot towards goal and Hlavac tried to tip it past the goalie. The latter missed the puck completely but the shot fooled the goalie for 2-1. That was it for the 2nd and although the score is tight at 2-1, USA do not look troubled by the uninterested Czechs.
USA put the game out of reach on 47:25 when Malone and Brown waltzed into the Czech zone on a 2 on 1 . Malone found Brown and he one timed the puck past a slow Hnilicka. With 8 mins remaining Hnilicka got the better of Park on a one on one but seemed to be hurt after the save. Czech Republic must hope he is ok for the knockouts. Losing him would be a big blow to their chances.  End of the game and a comfortable win for USA by 3-1.


This was a must win game for Belarus and probably the reason for the cautious start by both teams. Until that is, 9:04 as Skabelka came out of the corner with the puck ans fired it from the faceoff circle over the glove side of goalie Aebischer. 1-0 to Belarus.
Mezin had work to do shortly later as Ruthemann tried a wraparound and Streit’s belter from the point had to be saved. End of 1st and 1-0 Belarus.

Mezin had to be at his best again after 26 mins as he beat out shots from Streit and Jeannin. 29:58 and Belarus had the cushion of a second goal. Zadelenov took a pass from Skabelka shooting high on Aebischer. He picked up his own rebound and lifted it over a prone Aebischer for 2-0.
Mezin again foiled Switzerland with a point blank save from Wirz.
End of 2nd Belarus 2 Switzerland 0.

Switzerland upped the pressure in the third and at 48:17 made it 2-1. Ruthemann forced the turnover in the Belarus zone and belted the rubber towards goal. Pluss got a lovely touch to guide the puck past Mezin. It was all Switzerland now and Belarus were checking furiously to keep them at bay. Mezin was well protected and easily saved the rest of the Swiss opportunities. Switzerland pulled Aebischer for the last 2 mins but Belarus held out for a deserved victory.

This win puts Belarus into the quarterfinals for the first time in their history. Switzerland must now sweat and hope Ukraine beat Slovakia in tonights game or they are out. Don’t suppose they are holding their breath.


Latvia took to the ice to a deafening roar from the 9000 capacity crowd, 99% of which are wearing the home colours. The game started with Latvia forcing Norway back into their own zone for long periods. The home side took the lead on 6:44 when Rekis hit a wonderful slapshot into the top corner of the net. 1-0 Latvia. 8:34 and it was 2-0 as Blinovs worked his way round the back of the defenders to score. Assisted by a superb long pass from Sirokovs. There was no more scoring in the first with Latvia well on top. Latvia 2 Norway 0.

The second started much the same as the first with Latvia pressing and Norway surprisingly not too combatative. 30:58 and Norway wake up and score on the powerplay. Per Age Skroder scored with a close in shot that Naumovs only just got to but could not prevent the rubber hitting the net. Norway perked up a bit after this but they were deflated again on 36:05 when Darzins made it 3-1 with a low shot through the five hole of Gunderson. No more scoring in the period. 3-1 Latvia.

Norway started the brightest in the third and took the game to the hosts. Latvia just fell back into a high trap, keeping Norway’s chances down to a minimum. On 53:16 Semjonovs settled the game with a one timer that flashed past Gunderson. Norway got a consolation goal on 59:34 as Nygard scored from close in to make the final score Latvia 4 Norway 2.

Both teams have already been eliminated from the next stage but the Latvian fans showed they can behave properly by giving both teams a superb ovation at the end.


For a game that Slovakia had to win, they started very slowly, almost nervously. Ukraine set 3 men on the blue line and did’nt venture up front much at all. 12:52 gone and the nerves were settled. Ciernik shot left and Kapus skated in to tip the puck in for 1-0. In a poor first period Ukraine furnished only one chance when Shafarenko wristed a shot that the impressive Krizan saved easily. End of the period and 1-0 Slovakia.

Slovakia came out hard and fast in the 2nd and on 21:36 Milo made it 2-0. Marian Hossa had the puck behind the goal and passed beautifully to Milo to score . 25:11 and it was 3-0 on the powerplay with Strbak hitting a wicked slapshot low past Karpenko. Ukraine folded and reverted to their niggly holding, hooking game and took 11 minors in the period. It was becoming a rout when first Kovacik on 35:46 and Bartovic at 36:58 put the Slovaks 5 up. They even missed a penalty shot on 38:10 when Cibak failed to deke the goalie. End of the 2nd 5-0 Slovakia.

Third period was a repeat of the second with Ukraine totally outclassed. Slovakia added goals by Kapus on 44:25, Polonytskiy on 48:02 and Hudec on 49:19. That completed the scoring and an easy 8-0 win for Slovakia. This means Switzerland are eliminated and Slovakia can look forward to a much tougher game against Canada in the quarters.

That is it for the qualifying round and the last 8 match ups are as follows:

Canada  v Slovakia
Sweden  v  USA
Russia v Czech Republic
Finland v Belarus

Some great match ups there and my predictions for what they are worth are that Canada, USA Russia and Finland will make the semis. We will know by Thursday night.


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