Team USA advanced to the World Junior Hockey quarterfinals with a big 9-3 win over Slovakia on Monday, while Canada cruised to the top seed in Group B with a solid 4-1 victory over home town Russia.
The Americans had lost two tough games in a row, dropping 2-1 contests to Russia and Canada over the weekend, responding by playing an incredibly strong game against a desperate Slovakia team. Forward Vince Trochek had two goals and an assist, as did John Gaudreau as Slovakia was forced to pull goaltender Adam Nagy just nine minutes into the game after allowing three goals.
This could have been a hard game for the USA to win, especially considering how the Americans had struggled to get scoring from the forwards, yet they came out determined to get into the next round instead of having to fight for their lives in the relegation round.
Radek Faksa and the Czech Republic secured the No. 2 seed in Group A with a 4-3 overtime win against Switzerland, and will now face the USA in the semifinals. Faksa assisted on Tomas Hykas's goal to give the Czech's a 3-1 lead, yet the Swiss roared back to tie the game with just over two minutes remaining and send the contest to overtime. Tomas Hertl scored for the Czech Republic to win the game in the extra frame.
Team Canada earned the top seed in Group B and free pass to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over Russia. The Canadians controlled play for most of the game, leading 2-1 after the first period and never looking back, putting 43 shots on Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov. Malcolm Subban was also strong, although he only faced 21 shots in the game.
Emil Molin and Sweden once again have a great shot at the Gold after a 7-4 win over Finland on Monday, that gave the Swedes the top seed in Group A and sent the Fins to the relegation round. Molin scored with a rocket to the top shelf to make the score 6-4 and effectively put the game away for Sweden. The Stars prospect now has five points (two goals, three assists) in four games and is tied for the team lead.
Team USA plays the Czech Republic at 3 a.m. CT on Jan. 2, while Russia will face Switzerland in the other quarter-final game. The game will be carried live on NHL Network and should be replayed again later that night.