The United States rolled over the Czech Republic early Wednesday morning, while the homestanding Russians just barely snuck by pesky Switzerland in the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship. The teams advance to the semifinal round on Thursday where Canada and Sweden await.
Team USA used special teams acumen to easily dispatch the Czechs in the first quarterfinal, 7-0. 64 penalty minutes were dished out in the game by a quick-to-the-whistle officiating crew, and five of the seven American goals came with a man advantage of some kind. Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau had a hat trick and Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Trouba had four assists.
Goaltender John Gibson was stellar again, making 31 saves even though the Czechs only seemed to make noise with Sharks prospect Tomas Hertl on the ice. The Americans will face Canada in the first semifinal at 4 a.m. on Thursday for a right to play in the gold medal game.
Later in the morning at Ufa Arena, the Russians found themselves up against the wall in the third period against Switzerland. A late Nikita Kucherov power play goal tied the game at 3-3 before Russia would eventually prevail 4-3 in a shootout, but not before Switzerland sent Russia into true panic mode.
Russia had opened the scoring in the first period and held a 2-1 lead in the second, but a Martin Ness tally midway through the second and a Sven Andrighetto goal midway through the third pushed the home squad to the brink and the Ufa crowd to the edges of their seats. The Swiss likely deserved a better fate than the shootout loss they received, but even in defeat they put together an admirable performance all tournament long.
Russia will face Sweden in the second semifinal on Thursday morning, again for a right to play the USA or Canada in the gold medal game.