|Marek Mazanec is unable to prevent Denis Golubev from giving|
Russia a 3-1 lead. Photo: Andre Ringuette, HHOF-IIHF Images.
From the start of the tournament, the Czech Republic knew that making the quarter-finals would be a difficult task. And though they appeared so close to advancing, in the end they were so far.
Like they had in their losses to Canada and Sweden, they got off to a quick start, with Jakub Osrava getting the first goal at the 1:53 mark. And like those other games, the wheels came off the bus not long afterward. The Russians scored four goals in under eight minutes in the first period to put the Czechs in a deep hole. After getting pulled after four goals against Sweden, goaltender Marek Mazanec was pulled again on Friday at 6:28 of the second period after allowing six goals on 16 shots. Filip Novotný stopped 11 of 13 shots the rest of the way.
The final score was 8-3, with Petr Straka and Michal Hlinka scoring the second and third goals for the Czechs. In their four group games, the Czech Republic was led in scoring by captain Jakub Jeřábek with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). Martin Frk, Antonín Honejsek, and Hlinka each had 3 (2 goals and 1 assist each).
Russia was led in the game by a goal and three assists from captain Vladimir Tarasenko. Dmitri Orlov, Danil Sobchenko, and Yevgeni Kuznetsov each chipped in a goal and two assists.
With the win, Russia advances to the quarter-finals, and they will play Finland on Sunday. The winner will play Sweden, the winner of Group B, on Monday. The other quarter-final, also on Sunday, will feature Canada against Switzerland, with the winner playing Monday against the USA, tournament host and winner of Group A. The bronze and gold medal games will be played Wednesday.
The next task for the Czech team is avoiding relegation. They are joined in the group by Norway, Germany, and Slovakia. The top two teams will stay in the top group and play in next year's World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton, AB. The bottom two will drop to the Division 1 tournament, their spots in the top tournament to be taken by Denmark and Latvia.
The Czech Republic's 2-0 win over Norway carries over into the relegation round, as does Slovakia's 2-1 overtime victory against Germany. Therefore, the Czechs currently lead the group with 3 points, followed by Slovakia with 2, Germany with 1, and Norway with 0. The Czechs play against Germany on Sunday and against Slovakia on Tuesday. A win in at least one of those games will be enough for the Czech Republic to remain in the top group.