I apologize for the lack of a results post from the final day of preliminary play- New Year's Day's activities didn't offer me a free moment to fire up a post.
Nonetheless, the final day of the preliminary round saw the Swedes defeat the Swiss 5-1, sending the latter to the relegation round. The Germans fell to Finland 2-0, sending Germany to the relegation round with Switzerland. The Czechs pulled off a major upset over Russia, vaulting themselves from last place in Group B all the way up second in the division. Canada-USA was another classic, with Canada coming out on top, winning Group A.
Today is the start of the playoff rounds- quarterfinal day. The playoffs use crossover, with first place in Group A playing fourth in Group B, Second in Group A playing third in Group B, First in Group B playing fourth in Group A, and Second in Group B taking on third in Group A.
USA (2nd Group A) vs. Russia (3rd Group B)
As of this writing, it's second intermission and Russia is up 2-1. The US have been their own worst enemy thus far, taking seven minor penalties already, including five in the first period. Ivan Barbeshev scored on the powerplay for Russia in the first, while Alexander Sharov scored to give his team the two goal lead. While on a powerplay of their own in the second period, Anthony DeAngelo scored to cut the lead in half. We'll have a final recap of this game in our quarterfinal recap.
Sweden (1st Group B) vs. Finland (4th Group A)
The rematch of last years gold medal game should be all Sweden, but Finland will give them a run for their money. Sweden is no doubt looking at this game as a chance for revenge after Finland beat them last year on home ice to win the tournament. William Nylander and Oskar Lindblom lead the Swedish attack.
Czech Republic (2nd Group B) vs. Slovakia (3rd Group A)
The Czech's upset win over Russia helped them to avoid having to play the US in Quarterfinal play, but the Slovaks will be anything from a pushover. This game should be close, but if the lethal Czech scorers can show up it can be over in a hurry. Slovakia has been carried by goaltender Denis Godla, who'll have to continue to be god-like for the Slovaks if they want to earn the upset.
Canada (1st Group A) vs. Denmark (4th Group B)
The Danish Cinderella story has been fun so far, but that ends tonight. Canada has been dominant in the tournament and the game tonight against Denmark will serve as a tuneup for the semi-finals on Sunday. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mads Eller have the ability to light the lamp for Denmark, and Canada would be wise to respect their talent.
Relegation Round - Switzerland vs. Germany
The relegation round sees the fifth place teams from each division facing each other in a best-of-three series. Game One took place this morning, with Switzerland defeating Germany 5-2. Denis Malgin and Noah Rod each had three points. Game two of the relegation series is tomorrow, and game three, if necessary, is on Monday. The loser of the series is bumped down to Division 1 next year, while Belarus will move up as they've already won this year's Division 1 tournament.