If you were hoping for an exciting Olympics men’s hockey tournament, then you sure haven’t been disappointed so far! Upsets, early exits, and games going down to the wire have been the story so far in the playoff round. Lets take a look at how the playoff round started today…
Slovenia and Sweden started the action off today, puck drop was at noon local Sochi time, 3:00 AM EST. The Slovenians put up quite a fight against Sweden, and the Swedes only had a 1-0 lead after two periods of play, Alex Steen was the goal scorer in the opening period. It was the final period where the Slovenians started to wear down and Sweden took full advantage. Danial Sedin started the scoring off, followed by Loui Eriksson, and two more goals were added by Carl Hagelin to soldify the victory. Sweden won 4-0 over Slovenia and moved into the semifinals.
The second game of the day was between the hosts Russia, ranked 5th, and fourth ranked Finnish team. Russia was first on the scoreboard, just shy of 8 minutes into the game Ilya Kovalchuk scored on the power play to give the Russians a first period lead. The lead didn’t last long though, Finland scored just minutes later – Juhamatti Aaltonen was the goal scorer. Then, in the final minutes of the opening period, the Fins took a 2-1 lead via a Teemu Selanne goal. Finland added one more goal in the third, Mikael Granlund scored just 5 minutes into the period to give the Fins a 3-1 lead. Final score, Finland 3, Russia 1.
The third ranked United States took on the Czech Republic in one of two late games. The USA didn’t waste any time, scoring in less than two minutes after the opening draw. James van Riemsdyk scored from a tough angle to give the Americans a 1-0 early lead. Just three minutes later the Czechs tied it right back up though, Ales Hemsky scored an unassisted goal, and the game was even again. Dustin Brown and David Backes each scored a goal in the last ten minutes of the first period to give Team USA a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission. Zach Parise was the only goal scorer of the second period, he added a goal halfway through the period to make it 4-1. Phil Kessel scored a 5th goal for some insurance for Team USA, they wouldn’t need it though. The Czech Republic only scored one more goal though, Ales Hemsky scored another unassisted goal, and the final horn blew with the Americans winning 5-2.
The most interesting game of the day, in my opinion, was the second game of the late night double header, Canada vs Latvia. No one expected Latvia to put up a convincing fight, but they surprised everyone. Both teams scored first period goals, Patrick Sharp scored for Canada, and Lauris Darziņs scored for the Latvians. The Canadians out-shot Latvia heavily in every period, but Kristers Gudlevskis, Latvian netminder, kept fighting them off. A deciding goal wasn’t scored until less than ten minutes was left in the final period. Shea Weber scored a power play goal to barely lift the Canadians over Latvia. Kristers Gudlevskis saved 55 of 57 shots, and was easily the player of the game for Latvia.
Below is the updated bracket for the semifinal round!