World Cup Day Three Review

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We’re three days into the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and so far, it has been pretty exciting and proving doubters (like myself) wrong. They players obviously want to be there and compete, the standard is as high as it should be and the games are as exciting and fiercely contested as any fan would hope for.

With all eight teams playing their first games, Monday night saw day three of the competition mix it up with one game from Group A and the other from Group B.

First on the billing saw the Czech Republic take on Team Europe. The Czechs were brushed aside in their opening game against Canada, losing 6 – 0 while Europe shocked the US with a 4 – 1 victory on Saturday night.

Europe so far have been the surprise package of the tournament, after a disappointing pre-tournament which saw heavy defeats, they look rejuvenated and that all was shown in the second period. After both sides played to a scoreless first where Europe outshot the Czechs 8 – 5.

Early in the second period, new LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar of Slovenia was awarded a penalty shot and as he tried to pull it to his backhand and slide it five hole on Petr Mrazek, the Red Wings shot stopper closed up in time to keep the puck out.

Midway through the second frame, Bruins blueliner Zdeno Chara picked up a loose puck after some pressure by Europe, fired a slapshot from a bad angle through a sea of bodies and it found its way into the back of the net making it 1 – 0 to Europe.

Just a few minutes later and it was back to a tie, Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers crossed the blueline and loaded up a wrist shot that went past Jaroslav Halak which was enough to close out the period at a 1 – 1 tie.

It didn’t take long in the final frame for Europe to take the advantage again as Mats Zuccarello used a Czech defenseman as a screen, firing past him and into the net for a 2 – 1 lead but minutes later that was cancelled out.

Europe went to the penalty kill and with a 11 seconds left, Martin Hanzal jumped on a loose puck out front and had nothing but net to shoot at which was enough to force overtime.

Two minutes into the extra session, Zuccarello started moving the puck up ice, hitting Leon Draisaitl at the blue line, past a fallen Czech defenseman and the young German was in alone, firing a hard snapshot on the blocker side of Mrazek to give Europe their second win of the tournament and the Czech’s a valuable overtime point.

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The other game of the day saw the kids take on the giants of Russia, North America fresh of their huge win over Finland last night were back at it to try to take down Alex Ovechkin and the Russians who needed a win after coming so close against Sweden.

Again, North America used the skill and speed to try to get the win, five minutes into the opening period Connor McDavid got by his man on the boards, setting up a two on one with soon to be hometown favourite Auston Matthews, the first pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who easily slotted the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky for the only goal of the first period but the second period was all about Russia.

It began in the ninth minute, Artem Anisimov cleared the puck high down ice which Seth Jones fanned on his clearing attempt, allowing Ivan Telegin a chance to shoot which was stopped by Matt Murray but he wasn’t able to recover in time to stop Vladislav Namestnikov who’s initial shot came off the post, bouncing back on the Murray’s skate and unfortunately into the net.

Less than a minute later and the Russians were in the lead, this time a failed clearance set them up, a bouncing puck landed favourably to Nikita Kucherov who fired a hard wrist shot past Murray and into the net for a 2 – 1 lead.

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With 14 minutes played in the period the ice was opened up with both teams down a man leaving some four on four hockey and Evgeny Kuznestov took advantage, skating 200 foot alone and lifting the puck just past the Shoulder of Murray on the short side which made it a 3 – 1 scoreline with plenty of time left to play.

With North America slowly losing a grip on the game they needed to rally, but two minutes later the Russians did it again this time as now former NHLer Pavel Datsyuk crossed the line and found St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko who turned and shot from the top of the circle making it 4 – 1 and spelling the end of Matt Murray’s night.

With Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson coming into try to keep the scoreline respectable, the kids started to find a bit of rhythm.

An initial shot by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was blocked by a sprawling defenseman, falling favourably to Morgan Rielly who beat Bobrovsky far side which meant there was a two goal deficit to come back from going into the final 20 minutes,

Russia were on the defensive in the final period, taking just four shots all period but they had an onslaught from North America who were desperate for the win, firing 19 shots on Bobrovsky who had a superb night between the pipes.

Of those 19 shots, only one beat the Blue Jackets goalie, a bomb from Colton Parayko on the powerplay was stopped but Nugent-Hopkins was on the doorstep to tuck in the rebound to make it a one goal game, but that’s when Bobrovsky was lights out, finishing the night allowing just 3 goals on 45 shots from the kids of North America and sealing a Russian 4 – 3 victory.

With the results on day three, that means Europe are top of Group A and the OT point for the Czech’s puts them third above the USA while North America and Russia are tied on points with two each, but the kids are above them in the standings on goal difference.

With four teams playing two games, there’s two more games tonight and two huge rivalry games. First up Finland take on their Scandinavian neighbours Sweden before the big one between hosts Canada and historical rivals USA in what should be a thrilling day four of competition.

 

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