Canada Eliminates China
Canada will play Sweden in the quarterfinals after beating China 7-2 in men’s Olympic hockey action on Tuesday.
Canada finished its two-game stand against China with a 10-2 goal advantage. Canada will meet with Sweden in a rematch of the 2014 Olympic gold medal game, while China will finish its tournament early with high hopes for the future after scoring four times in the tournament and keeping games within reach.
The first period was more eventful than Canada likely hoped for. By the fourth minute, Canada had already surrendered two breakaways and a penalty shot attempt by Spencer Foo, which Matt Tomkins ultimately stopped.
But at 6:57, Canada would see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Jordan Weal scored after Adam Tambellini found him to the right of the Chinese net all alone and he wasted no time burying it in. He then scored a similar goal on another power play at 9:55, this time thanks to Eric Staal after he himself got a pass from Tambellini.
China was having a hard time with Matt Tomkins looking sharp in the Canadian net, but at 15:32, Cory Kane scored in close to get China’s third goal of the tournament and a bit of life heading into the second period.
But China was dealt a rough blow heading into the middle stanza. Goalie Jeremy Smith, the backbone of the team, was pulled out of the game after injuring his right leg after reacting to a shot at the end of the period. Smith was taken on a stretcher out of the arena for further evaluation and was replaced by Paris O’Brien.
Unfortunately for China, the goals kept coming. Tambellini scored on the man advantage after he fanned on his shot, but it deflected off of Jake Chelios and in for the 3-1 goal. Then, two minutes later, he scored his second goal and fourth point of the night on a penalty shot, only for Eric O’Dell to tip in a Jason Demers shot at 12:05 to make it 5-1.
China wouldn’t escape without something to cheer about, though, as Kane scored his second of the night on the power play to make it 5-2. But Eric Staal and Jack McBain both scored their first goals of the tournament late in the game to finish off the 7-2 victory.
Slovakia Sends Defending Silver Medalists Home Early
Slovakia had as perfect of a qualification game as you could ask for, eliminating the reigning silver medalists with a 4-0 win on Tuesday.
Slovakia will meet up with the United States in the quarter-final round on Wednesday. USA beat Slovakia 2-1 back in 2014 in group play before both teams failed to make it into medal contention.
The damage began at 11:05 in the first. Libor Hudacek’s shot was originally stopped by Mathias Niederberger, but the puck bounced off a German defender in front and in for the 1-0 goal.
Then, at 27:01, Peter Cehlarik’s shot beat Neiderberger cleanly after sustained pressure on a power-play chance with more room with players off with penalties on both sides.
Michael Kristof scored just shortly after the German power play ended, with the German attacker not making it back into the play to make it a true 5-on-5 as Slovakia escaped to a 3-0 lead before the halfway point of the game. Germany couldn’t muster anything late in the game and Martin Hrivik would score the 4-0 empty-netter to finish the game and move on to the next round of the playoffs.
Danes Outlasts Latvia
Denmark has made the quarterfinal in its first Olympic men’s hockey tournament after beating Latvia 3-2.
Denmark will meet up for a rematch with the Russian Olympic Committee, with Russia winning the round-robin match 2-0 earlier in the tournament.
Latvia will miss the quarterfinal after nearly upsetting Canada in 2014.
The game was a close back and-and-forth affair, with each team trading goals through the first 42 minutes of play. But drama hit the game at 7:47 when Janins Kalnins, the Latvian starting goalie, was pulled in favor of Ivars Punnenovs for an undisclosed reason.
Punnenovs proceeded to make a couple of quick saves after going in cold before Morten Poulsen scored at 12:02, banking the puck off the Latvian goaltender from the goal line to make it 1-0.
But Latvia kept in it, and Lauris Darzins would get a goal at 16:23 off of a breakaway opportunity set up by Renards Krastenbergs to make it 1-1. Darzins would give Latvia the 2-1 lead early in the second. The team moved the puck well on the power play, with Darzins’ shot beating Sebastian Dahm cleanly for the go-ahead goal.
At 16:57 in the middle stanza, Denmark made it 2-2. Julian Jakobsen was the goal-scorer, joining his sister Josefine as Danish Olympic goal scorers in Beijing with a wrist shot to make it 2-2. It gave the Danes some energy late in the period, and a power-play goal at 41:45 turned the game around. Markus Lauridsen, the first Olympic goal-scorer in Danish history, made it 3-2 with his point shot, a goal that would give Denmark an important win heading into the next round.
Switzerland Wins First Game to Eliminate Czechs
After failing to win a game during the preliminary round, Switzerland has advanced to the quarterfinal after beating the Czech Republic 4-2 in men’s Olympic qualification round action.
Switzerland will meet with Finland in the qualification game on Wednesday, with the Finns looking to use its rest to its advantage after winning all of its round-robin contests.
The Czech Republic, led by GM Petr Nedved and coach Filip Pesan, will miss the quarterfinal game for the first time in the team’s history as an independent nation in Olympic competition. The Czechs lost the bronze medal game in 2018 but won gold in 1998 and bronze in 2006.
The loss means two of the top four teams from 2018 – the Czech Republic and Germany – will finish in the bottom four in 2022.
It didn’t start off that badly for the Czechs. After using a screen in front to take away the lane from Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni, Lukas Klok’s wrist shot from the point soared through traffic and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 Czech Republic.
But a 13-second attack changed everything. On a scramble on the power play, veteran Andres Ambuhl found a loose puck in the crease after Calvin Thurkauf got the shot on net to make it 1-0. On the next play, Killian Mottet scored in close off of Denis Hollenstein’s pass to turn the game on its head and put Switzerland up ahead. The Swiss then had another four shots on the next play, forcing the Czechs to play heavy defense to just give goaltender Simon Hrubec a break.
Things went from bad to worse for the Czechs. At 29:53, former NHL forward Denis Malgin sent a shot past Hrubec to make it 3-1, giving Switzerland a perfect run on the man advantage in the game and the biggest lead the team has managed to hold all tournament long after posting an 0-2-1 record in the round robin.
A goal by Raphael Diaz with 5:03 left to play looked to have taken the Czechs out of the game completely, but Roman Cervenka had other ideas. With the goalie pulled a power play to boot, Cervenka took David Krejci’s feed and made it 4-2 to give the Czechs a late boost with four minutes left to play. It wasn’t enough, though, as Genoni and the defense in front held strong to finalize the victory.
1. Adam Tambellini, CAN: Two goals and three assists was the difference as Canada beat China
2. Cory Kane, CHI: Scored both of China’s goals, so half the team’s overall output. Could have had another one, too.
3. Leonardo Genoni, SUI: It was a close game against the Czechs, but Genoni was fantastic in Switzerland’s first win of the tournament.
Quarterfinal Schedule – Feb. 16
USA vs. Slovakia – 11:10 PM ET (Feb. 15)
Russia vs. Denmark – 1:00 AM ET
Finland vs. Switzerland – 3:40 AM ET
Sweden vs. Canada – 8:30 AM ET