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Onto The Elimination Stages

USA battles Czech Republic while Canada takes on Finland in quarterfinals after preliminary play wraps up.

Wednesday, 05.21.2014 / 2:00 PM ET / World Championship
By Patrick McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Onto The Elimination Stages
(Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images)

The first test is out of the way. Now the real challenge begins.

For the five Florida Panthers players competing in the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, advancing past the preliminary round is just the first step in the quest for a gold medal. Now for Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson of Team Canada, and Jimmy Hayes, Drew Shore and Vincent Trocheck of Team USA, it is win or go home in the single-elimination quarterfinals.

The United States, who finished second in Group B, will face the Czech Republic, the third place team from Group A, at 9:00 a.m. ET on Thursday. As the top team from Group A, Canada will take on Finland in a quarterfinal game at 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday. Finland finished fourth in Group B, compiling 11 points and a 3-1-3-0 record in the preliminary round.

With their first place finish in Group A, the Canadians made a strong statement that this year’s team intends to end the recent stretch of underwhelming Canadian World Championship performances. In the last four World Championships, Canada has not finished higher than fifth place, and it looked like more of the same was in store when the team dropped their tournament opener to France, losing 3-2 in a shootout. Canada quickly got back on track, beating Slovakia 4-1 in their second game. Since then, they have not looked back, winning the rest of their preliminary games to finish with a 5-1-1-0 record and 18 points.

Canada’s biggest win thus far came on Sunday, in their penultimate preliminary round game, when they defeated Sweden 3-2 in overtime. The Canadians showed their resiliency, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to send the game to overtime, where defenseman Ryan Ellis would score the game-winner. Huberdeau, who recorded an assist on Canada’s first goal and was named Canada’s Best Player of the game, attributed his team’s success to their ability to remain calm in the face of adversity.

“We don’t panic on the bench,” Huberdeau told TSN following the game. “We were down 2-0, but we all stayed focused and the coaches said play hard and play better defensively and that’s what we did and the offense came.”

Huberdeau finished the preliminary round tied for third on his team in scoring with five points (1-4-5). while wrapping up the preliminary round on a five-game scoring streak. He also added ten shots on net and was +5 through the tournament’s first seven games. Gudbranson in the meantime finished the preliminary round with one goal, seven shots on net and a +6 rating in seven games played.

Jonathan Huberdeau celebrates Canada's first goal against Sweden with Brayden Schenn (Richard Wolowicz - HHOF / IIHF Images)

There were plenty of ups-and-downs for the United States in the preliminary round, but when the dust settled, the Americans skated away with a 4-1-0-2 record, good for 14 points and a second place finish in Group B.

The U.S. got off to a good start, toppling host country Belarus, 6-1 in their first game. Back-to-back losses to Russia, 6-1, and Latvia, 6-5, gave the team a scare, and the Americans almost made it three straight defeats, as they required overtime heroics from Seth Jones to top Kazakhstan, 4-3. A 3-1 win over Finland and a 5-4 win over Germany helped the U.S. close out the prelims on a positive note.

The win over Germany was highlighted by an amazing shorthanded goal from Shore midway through the second period. With the Americans on the penalty kill, Shore gathered a pass from defenseman Jeff Petry at the red line. With one man to beat, Shore executed a text book between-the-legs deke, leaving the German defenseman flatfooted and in the dust. With an open look on the net, Shore snapped off a quick shot between the legs of German netminder Danny aus den Birken.

The goal was Shore’s first of the tournament. He also tallied an assist and fired six shots on net during his seven games. Hayes finished the preliminary round with one assist, ten shots on goal and a -1 rating in seven games, while Trocheck recorded eight shots and finished with a -1 rating in six games.

As the tournament enters the quarterfinals, eight teams remain in the hunt for gold and it looks like Thursday’s matchups will offer plenty of excitement. In addition to US vs. Czech Republic and Canada vs. Finland, the quarterfinal clashes include Russia taking on France and Sweden taking on Belarus.

Even more exciting is the potential of a Canada-USA semifinal, which would take place on Saturday if both teams take care of business in the quarters. The clash of the North American neighbors would feature all five Panthers competing in the tournament and it would surely be a thrilling battle with both teams so close to the ultimate goal of capturing gold.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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