Past the halfway point of the preliminary round, and things have pretty much gone according to plan for the favorites. Through 10 of the 18 games there hasn’t been an upset or a really shocking result. That trend continued on Friday, with convincing wins from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Here is a quick Olympic Hockey recap of what went down on Friday in Sochi.
CANADA 6, AUSTRIA 0
Jeff Carter had the first natural hat trick in years for Canada, scoring 3 times in the third period to lead Canada to a more convincing win than Thursday’s 3-1 score against Norway. Roberto Luongo made 23 saves for the shutout, but wasn’t really tested against the Austrians. Drew Doughty and Shea Weber each scored for the second straight game in the first period and after Carter’s 3 goal outburst in under 12 minutes, Ryan Getzlaf completed the scoring. Patrick Marleau assisted on all 3 of Carter’s goals, tying him for the tournament lead in scoring.
FINLAND 6, NORWAY 1
Lauri Korpikoski scored twice and Olli Maatta added a goal and an assist as the Finns matched Canada with a 2-0 record as they handed Norway a definitive loss. Teemu Selanne scored once to become the oldest player ever to score in an Olympic tournament, while Jori Lehtera and Olli Jokinen also bulged the twine. Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 of 21 shots and also added an assist. Per-Age Skroder scored the lone goal for the 0-2 Norwegians.
This sets the stage for Sunday’s showdown between Finland and Canada, with the winner getting an automatic berth in the quarterfinals while the best case scenario for the loser is the 4th seed quarterfinal qualifier. Worst case scenario is that the loser will play a qualifying game to advance to the quarterfinals.
SWEDEN 1, SWITZERLAND 0
Daniel Alfredsson scored the lone goal, assisted by Erik Karlsson and Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 26 shots he faced en route to the shutout and Sweden clinching first place in Group C and an automatic berth in the quarterfinals. For the Swiss, it was their second straight 1-0 game, but unlike their shutout of Latvia on Wednesday, they were on the short end of the stick this time around. Reto Berra was good in the Swiss net making 30 saves, but shouldered the blame for the Alfredsson goal. Karlsson’s relatively harmless shot from near the side boards was fumbled by Berra and popped loose in the crease for Alfie’s easy tap-in.
CZECH REPUBLIC 4, LATVIA 2
Marek Zidlicky had a goal and an assist to lead the Czech Republic to a much needed win after the egg they laid in the early going on Wednesday against Sweden. Jaromir Jagr also scored for the second straight game in the win. Martin Erat, who scored his first goal of the season in the Capitals’ last game prior to the Olympic break, scored for the Czechs with Jakub Voracek adding the other. Ondrej Pavelec, after sitting out against Sweden made 18 saves for the win.
The big game in this pool will come Saturday when the Czech Repbulic faces Switzerland for second place in the group and a preferred opponent in the qualification round, and an outside (but unlikely) shot at getting directly into the quarterfinal.