The preliminary matches are all over, and now with 12 teams left, 11 more games will determine who holds the mantle of best hockey nation for four more years at the Olympic Hockey tournament.
First up, the qualification round where teams seeded 9-12 battle to face off against teams 1-4 in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.
Here’s what happened:
(5) Russia 4, (12) Norway 0
Alexander Radulov had two goals and an assist while Pavel Datsyuk added 3 assists as the host Russians secured a spot in the quaterfinals. Ilya Kovalchuck and Alexei Tereshenko added singles in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate. Norway hung tough until 4 minutes into the second period, when Radulov broke the ice. Kovalchuck added one before the second was out, and although still playing a solid defensive game the Norwegians had little offensive pressure. Russia added two goals in the last 67 seconds to add insult to injury. Sergei Bobrovsky had a 22 save shutout for the Russians, who face Finland on Wednesday.
(11) Latvia 3, (6) Switzerland 1
In what had to be considered a rather large upset, Latvia did what they couldn’t do in the preliminary round meeting, and that was beat Jonas Hiller. Oskars Bartulis scored 8 and a half minutes in and then Lauris Darzins had a power play goal less than 3 minutes later as the Ducks goalie gave up his first goals of the tournament. As was expected, if Switzerland fell behind they didn’t have the punch to score much, and the two goal deficit was enough. They got one back 5 minutes into the second, but Latvia did a great job of shutting down the Swiss attack. Darzins added another into the empty net to give Latvia one of its biggest, if not the biggest, wins in the history of the country’s hockey program. They will advance to face Canada on Wednesday.
(7) Czech Republic 5, (10) Slovakia 3
Roman Cervenka scored twice, including the winner with just over 4 minutes left in the second period to lead the Czech Republic over their arch-rival and knock them out of the tournament. The winning goal actually looked like an insurance marker, as it made the score 4-0. However, Slovakia battled back with Marian Hossa scoring before the second was done, and then added another 7 minutes into the third. Tomas Surovy made the Czechs grip their sticks a little tighter, drawing Slovakia within one, but they would get no closer and Tomas Plekanec iced it with an empty netter 40 seconds from the end. The Czechs will face the United States in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday.
(8) Slovenia 4, (9) Austria 0
Slovenian hero Anze Kopitar scored the opener just over 5 minutes into the first and it held up to be the game winner as Robert Kristan stopped all 30 shots Austria fired his way. Jan Urbas also tallied in the first, with Sabahudin Kovacevic scoring in the second and Jan Mursak adding the insurance in the third. The winner of this game would have notched the greatest hockey victory in their respective countries’ histories, and this time it was Slovenia that advanced to face Sweden in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.