WJC Roundup: Canada, USA, Russia win Big, Austria Finally Scores

Canada and USA didn't have many doubts in their big victories on Tuesday while Russia took a bit of time to finally find their footing. But after a couple of rough outings, Austria finally had a reason to celebrate, despite the loss.
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Austria Finally Scores, But Russia Holds on For Victory

By all accounts, this game probably should have been an absolute drubbing. Austria entered their third game with no goals, just 15 shots and 15 goals for and starter Sebastian Wraneschitz was given the night off.

But it wasn't exactly an epic blowout like most expected. In fact, Austria actually held a 3-1 shot advantage through the first four minutes of play and was definitely holding their own at 5-on-5. But the much stronger Russians would go on to secure a 7-1 victory, earning a quarter-final berth in the process.

It all started with a Rodion Amirov penalty shot goal at 4:04. Yegor Chinakhov was the one that was supposed to take the shot, but he had to leave the game after going feet first into the boards after being hauled down on a breakaway. Vasili Podkolzin then scored his first two goals of the tournament later in the first, with Marat Khusnutdinov tapping in another Podkolzin chance to make it 4-1 by the end of the first.

But the lone goal of the second period actually was awarded to Austria. After a hard-fought seven periods of play, Senna Peeters finally got Austria's first goal in over a decade at this tournament when Marco Kasper fed him on a partial break. Peeters scored to give his team something to cheer about, and they actually looked strong in the final minutes of play in the frame as Austria was trying to build on the momentum. It didn't pan out to anything as Yegor Afanasiev, Arseni Gritsyuk and Artemi Knyazev added goals in the third, but at least it made an impact for the smaller team in the tournament.

Austria is still alive in the chase for a playoff spot, but they'll need to tackle the Czech Republic on New Year's Eve if they want to advance to the final eight. Russia, on the other hand, will challenge for the top spot in the group when they face Sweden on Wednesday. 

Canada Dominant From Start to Finish

Double digits. Again. Two games after crushing Germany 16-2, Canada once again had a blowout victory, defeating Switzerland by a score of 10-0 on Tuesday evening in Edmonton.

Canada's effort couldn't have started much better. Just four seconds into his first shift of the game, Philip Tomasino sent a quick wrist shot over Noah Patenaude at 1:30 after taking a feed from Quinton Byfield, giving Canada a 1-0 advantage that would last until the second period. 

From there, Dylan Cozens would score on the power play after picking up a loose puck near the crease and stepping over a sprawled Patenaude, doubling Canada's advantage. Jakob Pelletier added another one before the game hit the halfway point to secure a 3-0 lead, an advantage the nation would never give up.

But for the Swiss, it continued to go downhill from there. The true story was the play of Byfield, who had two assists in the first three goals before really breaking through in the second half. Byfield grabbed an assist on Ryan Suzuki's power-play marker at 33:44 before scoring two goals in the third - a big performance for a player with just two points in nine previous World Junior Championship games. Byfield finished with six points, sparking a bit of extra life into a line with Pelletier and Jack Quinn that received criticism early in the tournament for their lack of production. Kaiden Guhle, Ryan Suzuki, Connor McMichael and Pelletier (twice) added markers to finish off the scoring.

Canada will turn its focus to Finland in what should be a battle to determine the winner of Group A. Switzerland, meanwhile, will need to find a way to beat Germany on Wednesday to ensure a spot in the quarter-finals as Group A's fourth seed.

It Was Close Early, But Americans End Up Crushing Czechs

The Czechs put in a good fight in the first, outshooting the Americans 10-8 in a high-tempo period at both ends of the ice. But it would be a rebound from Bobby Brink that opened the scoring at 25:33 that broke the deadlock, beating a diving Lukas Parik after finding Orr found Brett Berard's shot in the crease. Brink added a second goal 10 minutes later in the slot after beating out a defender, but no before Trevor Zegras split Brink's goals up with one of his own at 33:30.

The third period, though, was when things got ugly. Zegras scored once more at 46:03 on a delayed penalty, sending a hard slap shot past Parik to make it 4-0. Two minutes later, Arthur Kaliyev scored his first of the tournament before fellow sharpshooter Cole Caufield did the same to make it 6-0. Matt Boldy would score the final goal of the game on Parik before the Czech netminder was replaced by Nick Malik with nine minutes, putting an end to the onslaught in the process.

With the win, the Americans will advance to the quarter-final while preventing the elimination of Austria with the win over the Czechs. If the Czechs can hold on for a victory, or at least an overtime loss, against Austria, they'll also secure a spot in the quarter-final, but they can't take anything for granted.

Three Stars:

1. Quinton Byfield, C (CAN): A six-point night despite bottom-six ice time will help silence the haters just a bit. His best game of the tournament.

2. Trevor Zegras, RW (USA): With a two-goal, five-point effort, Zegras took over first in tournament scoring with 10 points. Beats his nine-point run from a year ago. Continues on his MVP warpath.

3. Vasili Podkolzin, RW (RUS): We were starting to wonder when the Canucks prospect was going to finally pot one. With three points on Tuesday, no complaints with his performance.

Group A Standings

1. Canada, 9P (3-0-0-0)

2. Finland, 6P (2-0-0-0)

3. Slovakia, 3P (1-0-0-1)

4. Germany, 2P (0-1-0-2)

5. Switzerland 0P (0-0-0-3)

Group B Standings

1. Sweden, 6P (2-0-0-0)

2. USA, 6P (2-0-0-1)

3. Russia, 6P (2-0-0-1)

4. Czech Republic, 3P (1-0-0-1)

5. Austria, 0P (0-0-0-3)

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