FARGO-MOORHEAD, USA – In World U18 action, Germany beat the Czech Republic 4-3, putting the Czechs in danger of going to the Relegation Round. Meanwhile, Russia romped 8-1 over Norway, which suffered its third straight loss.
Germany – Czech Republic 4-3 (2-0, 1-1, 1-2)
When the Czech Republic fell 4-3 to Germany on Sunday in Group A action in Moorhead, there was a certain feeling of déjà vu. That's because on April 20, 2007, Germany sent the Czechs down to Division I with a 6-3 win in relegation play.
Sunday's result was another major blow to Czech hopes, even though both the Germans and the Czechs now have a record of one win and two losses.
Germany is questing for its second straight U18 quarter-final berth, and could secure that with a victory over the winless Swiss on Tuesday. The Czechs may find it tough to crack the top three in Group A, as they finish their Preliminary Round versus powerhouse Canada on Monday.
In the victory over the Czechs, the Germans brought a balanced attack, as 10 different players recorded a point. They also benefited from the fine goaltending of Lukas Steinhauer, who faced 43 shots.
Just 54 seconds into the first period, Marcel Ohmann beat Czech goalie Marek Mazanec to open the scoring for Germany. Marc El-Sayed scored his third goal of the tournament on the power play midway through the period to stretch the lead to 2-0.
When Tobias Rieder made it 3-0 Germany at 7:20 of the second period, the Czechs yanked Mazanec in favour of Filip Novotny. That move seemed to provide a spark, as Robin Soudek got his team on the board just over three minutes later on a two-man advantage.
But the Czechs lost the momentum again in the first minute of the third period. An interference call against Adam Polasek led to a quick Matthias Plachta power play goal, making it 4-1 Germany.
The Czechs would come close, but not close enough, down the stretch. They generated power play goals from Andrej Nestrasil and Antonin Honejsek, the latter with just 3:40 left. A late slashing minor taken by Polasek doomed the Czechs' chances of knotting the score.
Germany's other previous U18 victory over the Czech Republic was a 3-1 decision on April 17, 2001.
Norway – Russia 1-8 (0-4, 0-1, 1-3)
After walloping Slovakia 7-2, the Russians enjoyed their second straight easy romp at this tournament, jumping out to a 4-0 first-period lead and never looking back against Norway.
With a goal and two assists, Vladimir Tarasenko, a 1991-born forward who plays for the KHL's Sibir Novosibirsk, took over the tournament scoring lead with 10 points.
Numerous other Russians boosted their statistics. Sergei Chvanov scored twice, Evgeni Kuznetsov added two goals and an assist, Nikita Zaytsev had a goal and two assists, Alexander Burmistrov had a goal and an assist, and Kirill Kabanov and Maxim Kitsyn had two assists apiece.
The Russian power play clicked three times, and Russia outshot Norway 52-24, including a 23-6 margin in the first period. Beleaguered Norwegian netminder Lars Volden has faced a total of 117 shots in his two starts so far.
Rasmus Juell scored Norway's lone goal with 2:55 left, spoiling netminder Emil Garipov's hopes of earning a shutout in his 2009 IIHF World U18 Championship debut.
The Norwegians finish up their Preliminary Round versus Finland on Monday, while Russia faces the USA in a superpower clash on Tuesday.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)