It was a full schedule on the last day of the round robins for the 2014 World Junior Championship, and in epic WJC fashion, things ended with a bang.
The marquee match-up between Canada and the United States was another classic between the two rival nations, with Canada recovering from two struggling games to stop the momentum of a red-hot, undefeated US team by a score of 3-2.
All the games were classics, though, with the Czech Republic recovering from an embarrassing 3-0 defeat against Germany to beat Slovakia 4-1, Sweden beating Russia 3-2 in another tilt between two powerhouse teams, and Switzerland upsetting Finland 4-3 in a shootout.
Canada - United States
Keeping with the thrilling rivalry between these two teams the last few years at the WJC, today marked another classic match to decide the champions of Group A.
The two teams were neck and neck throughout the first two periods, but Canadian forwards Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar scored twice early in the 3rd period to take a lead that Team Canada would not relinquish, despite some late pressure by the Americans, including a goal in the dying minutes by Stefan Matteau.
Zach Fucale was the hero for Canada, stopping 24 out of 26 shots, including an enormous breakaway chance in the 3rd. He was named Canada's top player for the game.
Sweden - Russia
The other big match in the day was another instant classic.
Sweden jumped out to a 2-0 lead and was controlling play before Russia staged a late comeback, even tying the game midway through the 3rd.
That would be as close as Russia got, however, with Sweden forward Jacob de la Rose scoring with only 2:22 to play to give Sweden the win. With the win Sweden sweeps their round robin play with a perfect 4-0 record to finish atop Group B.
Czech Republic - Slovakia
After a huge upset at the hands of Germany on Monday, the Czech team responded in a huge way with a solid 4-1 victory over Slovakia.
The Czechs held a 4-0 lead by the second period and managed to stifle most of Slovakia's attempt at a comeback. With the win they can carry some momentum forward into the deciding games.
Slovakia, after coming so close to upsetting Canada before ultimately failing, did not have any momentum going in their favour, and couldn't bring themselves together in time against a hungrier Czech team.
Finland - Switzerland
After losing to both Sweden and Russia in their first two games, Switzerland finally managed an upset win thanks to a white-knuckle 4-3 shootout victory over Finland.
Defenceman Claude Paschoud scored the only goal of the shootout to the elation of his teammates. Melvin Nyffeller came up huge for his team, stopping 37 out of 40 shots.
Finland trailed 2-0 in the game and tied thing sup by the 3rd, but couldn't capitalize with their late chances in regulation.
What Lies Ahead
With the round robin now completed, the elimination rounds now begin with the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The United States plays Russia, Canada faces off against Switzerland, Sweden takes on Slovakia while Finland matches up against the Czech Republic.
OK, QF matchups: CAN vs. SUI at 11 am ET Thurs. USA vs. RUS. CZE vs. FIN. SVK vs. SWE. Winner of CAN-SUI meets winner of CZE-FIN in SF.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 31, 2013