World Championship Roundup: Denmark, Kazakhstan Highlight Day with Historic Wins

For the second time in two days, the World Championship saw a big upset to kick things off - this time, thanks to Denmark. Also, Germany and Russia remain perfect, Kazakhstan records a win and the Czechs lose the opening two games for the first time at the tournament.
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IIHF men's world championship

Denmark Wins First World Championship Meeting with Sweden

For the first time in 12 meetings between the Scandinavian nations, Denmark has defeated Sweden at the World Hockey Championship thanks to a 4-3 victory on Saturday. 

The win comes less than a month after Denmark previously beat Sweden in an exhibition contest, the first time that had happened in any men's event in hockey history. The all-time World Championship record between the two teams is 11-1 for Sweden dating back to Denmark's arrival to the top division in 2003.

Former NHLer Nicklas Jensen was the star of the show for Denmark, scoring a hat-trick and setting up Emil Kristensen's game-winning goal late in the game. It didn't start hot for Denmark, though. Carl Klingberg scored his first of two goals at 22:06 when he got some clean ice and flipped the puck over Sebastian Dahm's shoulder to make it 1-0. Jensen scored his first of three goals at the halfway point of the game, but Swedish captain Henril Tommernes answered back with a point-shot goal that Dahm never saw.

But from there, Sweden never would lead again. Jensen and Kristensen scored just under a minute apart to close out the second period and Jensen added his third on the power play with 12 minutes remaining on the clock. Klingberg would score two minutes later to spark a late-game comeback, but by then, Dahm held the fort for the remaining action and held on for a 20-save performance in a historic game.

The win comes less than 24 hours after Latvia recorded its first victory over Canada in international play. Like with Latvia, the Danes victory was one that was hard to predict and based on the longtime rivalry, the win was definitely a reason to celebrate back home.

Finns Start Strong in Title Defense Effort

It wasn't a high-scoring affair, but it definitely didn't lack action. In the end, Finland had two lucky bounces go their way to beat the United States 2-1 on Saturday to open up the tournament for both nations.

Finland has now won four of the past five meetings between the two nations dating back to 2016, with USA taking the last matchup in overtime back in 2019.

After a scoreless first period that saw the teams split momentum, Atte Ohtamaa broke the ice at 26:54 when his point shot tipped off an American defender in front and trickled in between Cal Petersen's legs for the 1-0 goal. Iro Pakarinen would get credit for Finland's next goal about nine minutes later when he got the puck on net and, in a recovery effort, Petersen knocked the puck over the line and in for an unlucky bounce, giving Finland a 2-0 advantage.

But USA wasn't about to let this one get away. At 38:01 on the power play, Calder Trophy contender Jason Robertson scored his first national team goal when he knocked Christian Wolanin's feed down out of the air at the offensive zone blueline and beat Jussi Olkinuora through the legs, cutting the lead in half heading into the second intermission. USA was the better team in the third period but Olkinuora was the difference-maker, holding Finland's lead until the final buzzer.

Russia Too Strong for GB

It wasn't projected to be a close game, but nothing went Great Britain's way on Saturday as Russia escaped with a 7-1 victory on Saturday.

The game got ugly early, with Russia scoring four goals on Jackson Whistle on just six shots. The goals started early at 5:53 when Anton Burdasov scored a power-play marker off of a Mikhail Grigorenko feed to make it 1-0 with extra space. Two minutes later, Dmitri Voronkov stole the puck off of a British defender and fed Grigorenko for a shot in front, doubling the lead.

Burdasov would score his second of the night two minutes after that. Andrei Kuzmenko faked a pass in the slot and found Burdasov standing alone at the right faceoff dot, one-timing the feed past a sprawling Whistle to make it 3-0. Sergei Tolchnski and Pavel Karnaukhov would score breakaway goals by the halfway point in the game to extend the lead.

The biggest moment for Great Britain came at 18:46 in the first. Nearly three years since becoming the first player born and trained in England to get selected in the draft, the Arizona Coyotes prospect scored when his wrist shot beat Russian netminder Ivan Bocharov on a quick shot, marking Kirk's first goal with the men's national team in World Championship competition. 

Unfortunately, the game was way too far gone for the British to fight back.  Kuzmenko would score his first World Championship goal on a sneaky wrist shot around the halfway point in the third and Anton Slephyshev scored one himself to cap off the win.

Germany Win Big Again to Stay Perfect

Five different players contributed goals on Saturday afternoon as Germany secured a 5-1 victory over Norway to go 2-0 early in the tournament. 

Germany looked strong from the start, even after playing a game on opening day against Italy. The Germans won that 9-4, and its relentless play proved to be too much for Norway in its first game.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Lukas Reichel was the standout for Germany, scoring a goal and an assist and creating a few other opportunities. Marcel Noebels once again had a multi-point night, assisting on goals from Leo Pfoderl and Leon Gawanke. Lean Bergmann and Mattias Plachta also contributed goals for Germany.

Norway's lone goal came from Emil Lilleberg in the second period, a 2021 NHL draft prospect. Henrik Haukeland lost the goaltender duel to Mathias Niederberger, with the latter outsaving Haukeland 24 to 21.

Switzerland Starts Strong Against Czechs

The Czech Republic has lost the first two games of the World Championship for the first time in tournament history after Switzerland edged them out 4-2 on Saturday.

The win was important for Switzerland, who, unlike most teams in the tournament, managed to bring most of the nation's top players to the tournament. Nico Hischier is considered a favorite to win the MVP award down the line, and his Game 1 performance was a good start to what should be a good tournament for the Swiss. 

The loss comes a day after the Czechs dropped a 4-3 decision off of a late goal to Russia to open up the event.

The Czechs were able to strike first, with Filip Chytil potting a goal on the man advantage at 14:46. But Gregory Hoffman answered back at the other end under three minutes later, sending the game tied heading into the intermission.

Special teams remained important in the second. After a couple of passes each by the pair of NHLers, Timo Meier would give Switzerland its first lead of the tournament after connecting with Nico Hischier at 24:12. 

The first even strength goal of the game came at 38:19. Tristan Scherwey got one in close after flipping the puck over the arm of Hrubec, giving Switzerland a 3-1 lead. Hrubec was replaced by Roman Will for the third period, and while Will had a strong frame, Meier scored his second of the night to finish off the scoring at 4-1. Jiri Smejkal would score one with five minutes to go for the Czechs, but at that point, it proved to late for a comeback thanks to a second goal from Hoffman to finish things off.

Kazakhstan Beats Latvia for First Time

For the first time in tournament history, Kazakhstan has beaten Latvia at the World Championship with a 3-2 shootout victory.

The win comes 24 hours after Latvia beat Canada for the first time 2-0, a win that sent the country into the streets for late-night celebrations. Kazakhstan's victory is the first at the tournament since a 3-2 shootout victory over Switzerland at the 2016 event before falling to Division IA via relegation that year.

Latvia struggled in the early stages of the game, taking just four shots in the first period. But they were still the first club to strike when, at 27:44, Kaspars Daugavins threw the puck from behind the goal line to Lauris Darzins in front. Darzins couldn't get a good shot off right away but on his second attempt, he knocked it over Nikita Boyarkin for the 1-0 goal.

Kazkhstan would keep the pressure going and at 38:59, they were finally rewarded with a goal. Alexander Shin scored on the power play to beat Matiss Kivlenieks, the first goal the Latvian netminder allowed after a shutout against Canada.

A bad line change hurt Kazakhstan early in the third period. With just two guys on the ice to defend against Latvia, Kazakhstan found them outnumbered once Rihard Bukarts broke in alone. Bukarts slid the disk through Boyarkin's legs for the 2-1 goal, penalizing Kazakhstan for the rough mistake. 

But just 12 seconds later, Kazakhstan answered back. After a scramble in front caused a bit of mayhem, former Team Canada defenseman Jesse Blacker was there to pick the puck up after a Latvian defender cleared from his own goalie and Kazakhstan had once again tied the game up.

The game needed extra time to determine the winner. Seven goals were scored in the shootout, but it would be Yevgeni Rymarev that would score the winner to give Kazakhstan the win in a game they never led in regulation.

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Three Stars

1. Nicklas Jensen, F (DEN): A historic performance by Denmark led by a big night from one of it's best players.

2. Timo Meier, F (SUI): Switzerland was buzzing in Game 1 and Meier was always a threat when on the ice.

3. Mikhail Grigorenko, F (RUS): A star in both games so far. He could challenge for the tournament MVP.

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May 23 Schedule

Great Britain vs. Slovakia - 5:15 AM ET
Norway vs. Italy - 5:15 AM ET
Sweden vs. Belarus - 9:15 AM ET
Kazakhstan vs. Finland - 9:15 AM ET
Denmark vs. Switzerland - 1:15 PM ET
Canada vs. USA - 1:15 PM ET

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