Five Oilers prospects are taking part in the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia. We are providing daily reports and links to interviews and highlights through to the end of the tournament.
UNITED STATES 7, CZECH REPUBLIC 0
The United States. National Junior Team was clicking on all cylinders Wednesday, scoring a 7-0 victory against the Czech Republic in quarterfinal-round action of the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
The United States advances to play Canada in the semifinal round Thursday. Canada, which beat the Americans 2-1 in the preliminary round, won Group B to earn a bye into the semifinals.
John Gaudreau notched the hat trick -- the first for an American at the WJC since Austin Watson's natural hat trick last year. Gaudreau, who was named the U.S. player of the game, has five goals during his past two games after going scoreless in the first three preliminary round contests.
The Americans finished the game with five power-play goals, picking up where they left off in the final preliminary round victory against Slovakia on Monday when they struck for four goals with the man advantage.
U.S. coach Phil Housley seems to have found the right combination on the power play with Gaudreau and Vince Trocheck working the wings for J.T. Miller.
The victory certainly wiped out any memory of the 2012 WJC, when the Americans suffered a 5-2 preliminary round loss to the Czechs behind Petr Mrazek's 52-save performance. That loss knocked the United States from participation in the medal round.
The United States struck for five goals in the second period to open a 6-0 lead.
Barber and Gaudreau each scored twice and Ryan Hartman also fired in a goal during the offensive outburst in the middle period. Gaudreau's second of the period, a power-play marker off a cross-ice feed from J.T. Miller with 12.8 seconds remaining, was his third of the game.
The United States connected for five power-play goals on 12 attempts in the contest.
Gaudreau connected for his second power-play goal of the game just 28 seconds into the second when he collected a pass from Trouba and jammed home a shot at the right post. Hartman scored off a big rebound in the left circle after Trouba's slapper from the right circle wasn't controlled by Czech goalie Patrik Bartosak.
Hartman's goal forced Czech Republic coach Miroslav Prerost to pull starter Bartosak 1:08 into the second and insert backup Matej Machovsky.
Barber then scored two straight. His first came on the power play, off a splendid assist from Alex Galchenyuk at the 8:44 mark. Galchenyuk took a pass from Trouba and skated down the slot to draw two defenders before feathering a pass to Barber storming into the right circle. Barber's goal was his second of the tournament.
Barber then scored off a breakaway just one second after the United States had successfully killed a power-play chance by the Czechs. Seth Jones sprung Barber into the open ice down his right wing before he skated in and put a backhand under Machovsky.
Gibson, who was forced to make two big stops for the Americans on Tomas Hyka and Tomas Hertl in the second, had 23 saves through two periods, including 15 in the second.
Gaudreau completed the scoring in the second when he took a feed from Miller at the right post before whipping home his third of the game. Miller completed the scoring when a big blast from the point by Trouba deflected off the New York Rangers prospect, who was stationed right in front of Machovsky.
The United States played the game with six defensemen as Shayne Gostisbehere served a suspension for one game for the slashing major and game misconduct he was assessed against Slovakia. Gostisbehere will return to the lineup Thursday against Canada.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
RUSSIA 4, SWITZERLAND 3 (OT)
The Russian National Junior Team and their fans breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday when Nikita Kucherov scored in the fifth round of a shootout and Andrei Vasilevskiy made one final glove save to give the host country a 4-3 victory against Switzerland in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
The victory sends Russia into the semifinals of the medal round against defending gold medalist Sweden on Thursday at 8 a.m. ET (NHLN-US). Switzerland will face the Czech Republic -- 7-0 losers to the United States earlier Wednesday -- in the fifth-place game on Friday at 8 a.m. ET.
"Our team had a lot of scoring chances, and we took a lot of penalties," Russian coach Mikhail Varnakov told the IIHF website. Russia was whistled for eight minor penalties in the game.
Vasilevskiy, who stopped Switzerland's Alessio Bertaggia with a left glove save to end the game, finished with 41 saves. Swiss goalie Melvin Nyffeler turned away 33 shots. The loss marked Switzerland's fourth straight in extra time, including two via shootout, at the tournament.
"It's very tough for our players right now," Swiss coach Sean Simpson said. "They played their hearts out. Normally when you play well enough to take Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Russia to overtime, things work out at least one time."
In the shootout, Vasilevskiy forced Tanner Richard wide and stopped Christoph Bertschy and Sven Andrighetto in the opening three rounds. Nyffeler was equal to the task, turning away Mikhail Grigorenko, Nail Yakupov and Kucherov.
In the fourth round, Grigorenko scored and Alessio Bertaggia connected for the equalizer for the Swiss. Kucherov was then given another chance to open the fifth round and cashed in on a forehand-to-backhand move that froze Nyffeler. Bertaggia's second straight attempt for the Swiss was then stopped by Vasilevskiy to end the game.
"We need to play better and not make so many mistakes defensively," Russia's Alexander Khokhlachyov said. "We need to score on our chances."
Kucherov, a prospect of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored a power-play goal with just 1:36 remaining in the third to pull Russia into a 3-3 tie.
"We needed our power play [against Switzerland], and we scored on the power play," said Grigorenko, who assisted Kucherov's game-tying goal.
Just 20 seconds prior to the goal, Anton Slepyshev appeared to have knotted the score, but his shot from the slot crossed the goal line after the net had been removed from its moorings, and the goal was disallowed.
The Swiss were forced to kill a minor penalty in the early stages of the 10-minute overtime when Christian Marti was whistled for hooking, giving the Russians a 4-on-3 advantage.
Andrighetto roofed his own rebound over Vasilevskiy 8:57 into the third to give the Swiss its first lead, 3-2. Andrighetto controlled an outlet pass from Samuel Guerra and sped into the Russian end. After defenseman Pavel Koledov blocked his initial shot, Andighetto picked up the loose puck and beat Vasilevskiy.
Switzerland pulled into a 2-2 tie 12:37 into the second when Martin Ness scored off an uncontested spin-o-rama to stun those in attendance at Ufa Arena. Samuel Guerra controlled the puck along the left wing half boards before launching a shot at Vasilevskiy. Ness, who was standing alone in the slot, neatly controlled the rebound before cleaning up.
Grigorenko scored his first goal of the tournament in the second to give Russia its second lead of the game, 2-1.
Grigorenko, who has been one of the more active forwards on the Russian roster throughout the tournament, scored in his fifth game and 21st shot of the tournament 9:07 into the second. The Buffalo Sabres' prospect took an attempted shot by Kucherov in the left circle before skating through the slot and unleashing a hard backhand that beat Nyffeler.
Switzerland failed to score on a pair of two-man advantages in the game. The first was for a minute when the contest was tied 1-1 at 4:10 of the second period. The second extended for 1:25 when the game was knotted 2-2 late in the second. That advantage bridged the second and third periods.
Russia opened a 1-0 lead 6:07 into the first when Alexander Khokhlachyov connected for a power-play goal. The Swiss almost took the lead shorthanded at the start of the Russian power-play when Minnesota Wild prospect Bertschy stole a pass and just missed tucking home a shot into the right-hand corner on Vailevskiy at 4:59.
Bertschy made no mistake, however, on his second shorthanded chance at 10:05 of the first when he stole an ill-advised drop pass from Nikita Nesterov in the Russian end and beat Vasilevskiy to square the contest. Nesterov attempted to drop a pass for Nail Yakupov in the high slot, but the lightning-quick Bertschy anticipated the play and connected for his third of the tournament.
"This was clearly one of the most exciting games I've played in," Bertschy said. "You're not every day in a quarter-final of the World [Junior] Championship. Everybody was ready to play. We just didn't get the win."
Nyffeler kept the game even in the first with a tremendous pad save while on his back off the stick of Grigorenko with less than one minute remaining.
Russia was playing without the services of 2013 draft-eligible forward Valeri Nichushkin, who was serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit from behind in a 4-1 loss to Canada on Monday.
Switzerland actually finished pool play fourth in scoring with 16 goals, including three from Mike Kunzle. The Swiss only won once in the preliminary round, a 7-2 opening-game victory against Latvia, but picked up single points in shootout losses to Sweden and Finland and an overtime loss to the Czech Republic in Group A.
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