Thursday, January 02, 2014

After New Years Eve Thriller, Canada sets its focus on the Swiss

As seems to be the case whenever they get together, Canada and the United States once again provided for high drama and entertaining hockey on New Year's Eve, a thriller of a game which saw Canada squeak out a hard earned victory over the USA, grabbing a 3-0-1 record to claim top spot in Pool A of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Tuesday's game had all the excitement, passion and physical play that typifies the North American game, as two teams more than a little familiar with each other produced yet another chapter in their long running series of hockey and continental bragging rights.

The intensity of the showdown, shakes away any concerns over how either team can focus when the time comes to play and for the Canadians side, put away any worries over goal tending moving through the quarter finals and with a continued focus on the task at hand beyond.

Tuesday's match up with the Americans could have gone sideways pretty quickly before the first twenty minutes had expired if not for the goaltender of Zach Fucale, the Halifax Moosehead who faced a good portion of his 26 shots in those first twenty and kept the Canadians on balance until the offence could get into gear.

And when Canada finally got untracked, they took a fair portion of the play to the American end, with Connor McDavid finally securing that elusive first WJHC goal, with Nic Petan also chipping in on the way to the 3-2 Canadian win, the winning marker from Curtis Lazar at 6:13 of the third, leaving the final six minutes to the Canadian defence and Fucale to shut the door for good on the USA.

With a day off to recuperate from the New Year's Eve excitement on the ice (and maybe elsewhere) Canada is back at it on Thursday AM, with a Quarterfinal match up with Switzerland their next challenge on the path to a hopeful Gold Medal Game.

Thursday's game starts at 10:30 AM ET/7:30 AM PT on TSN.

For the American's the New Year's Eve loss set up a whole new challenge, as they now must pass through the Russian squad to have hopes of defending their Championship status.

The Russia / USA game is the early bird special for TSN on Thursday, with a puck drop at 6 AM ET/ 3 AM PT. Other games to be played on Quarterfinal Thursday include, Finland and the Czech Republic, Sweden and Slovakia.  Germany and Norway will get the day underway with their Relegation Round match, the loser banished to the lower ranks of World Junior Hockey for a year.

For those that are still in a medal hunt, should both Canada and the USA find success on Quarterfinal Thursday, they would be but one more game removed from another epic showdown, one that would have a Gold Medal on the line once again.

There are of course, a few things to take care of first should the Americans gain their much desired rematch, but considering the passion and focus both squads bring to the ice wherever they are, the chance to see the two neighbours match up one more time at the World Juniors should not be discounted.

Some preview material for Thursday's games can be found below. You can find our full account of World Junior notes, scores and upcoming matches from our Archive page.

January 1-- Canada taking do or die approach at WJC
January 1-- Pressure is on Canada vs. Switzerland
January 1-- Chatterbox Fucale keeps lines of communication open for Team Canada
January 1-- Swiss prepare for 'gagme of their lives' against Canada
January 1-- Brent Sutter not letting Canada off the hook ahead of Quarter-Finals against Switzerland
January 1-- Sutter Not Looking Past Swiss in World Juniors Quarters
January 1-- 'Shrek' Bolsters Canadian Blue Line at World Juniors

December 31-- Canada beats U. S. in thriller will face Swiss in quarter-finals
December 31-- Canada hangs on to beat U. S., claims top see in group
December 31-- Canada defeats United States at World Juniors to claim first pace in Group A
December 31-- Canada claims Group A with nail-biting win over U. S.

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