Match day #3 has come to an end. Its been a fun few days of hockey lasting from noon until past 9pm. As the prelim round comes to a close, it marks the half way point for the tournament. So far attendance has been very good and the atmosphere for the bigger matches has been as good as any high level international competition.
Despite Harborcenter’s construction being incomplete and perhaps a bit rushed, Terry Pegula’s new complex has shown well for its first large tournament. All games have run smoothly. Spectators have had nothing but compliments for the aesthetics of the main rink, the layout for concessions, and other small nuances of the building.
With Buffalo throwing its name in the ring to host the 2018 Mens World Juniors, its perfect timing to showcase the new secondary ice surface to the IIHF. Having left good impressions with the Federation despite the less than ideal Dwyer Arena in 2011, there is no doubt a much more efficient rink such as Harborcenter will enhance the bid.
The marquee game of the night was between USA and Russia. A near sellout crowd created a very energetic advantage for the home side. Mini US flags were handed out early and created a nice scene when waved all at once after goals.
The Russians didn’t put up much fight as it felt like the entire game was played in their end. The Americans proved too quick and skilled cruising to a 7-1 victory and a 29-8 shot advantage.
Melissa Samoskevich put on a show most of the game for the Americans notching a hat trick and player of the match honors.
USA finished the opening round with the top seed and point total. They also receive a bye into the semi-finals Sunday night at 7pm. They await the winner of the Czech Republic/Sweden game to be played Friday.
Speaking of the Czech Republic, they surprised many taking a 1-0 lead late into the first period against Canada. But the equalizer came with 1:29 left. Despite the Czechs being outshot 14 to 5 the score was only 1-1 heading into the locker room.
The Canadians settled down in the 2nd period and were able to score 4 goals. They also had an impressive 20-0 shot margin in the frame.
Sarah Potomak had 2 goals and 2 assists for Canada as they secured the 2nd bye in the playoff round with a convincing 7-1 victory
One of the most interesting matches of the day was between neighboring rivals Sweden and Finland.
The Swiss could only look on needing Sweden to take care of the Fins thus pushing them through to the playoff round.
However the Finnish ladies had different plans. Despite trailing 1-0 after the first period, they stormed out to 3 goals on 9 shots in the second. They would hang on to a 3-1 victory behind 2 points from captain Anniina Kaitala.
Switzerland was the odd (wo)man out in the 3 way tiebreaker based on goal differential. They will now face Japan in a best of 3 series to see who will remain in the top division next year.