ICE HOCKEY: U.S. faces Russia in men’s World U-20 Champs semis

We’re down to the nitty-gritty at the IIHF World U-20 Championships for men, being contested in Vancouver and Victoria, Canada. The playoff quarterfinals pitted the top four teams in each group:

  • Russia 8, Slovakia 3
  • United States 3, Czech Republic 1
  • Switzerland 2, Sweden 0
  • Finland 2, Canada 1 (overtime)

With the surprises by Switzerland and Finland, the U.S.-Russia semifinal might be the toughest game remaining in the tournament. The semis will be played at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Friday and the medal matches will be played on Saturday.

In pool play, the only team to post a perfect record was Russia, although Sweden had only an overtime win against the U.S. as a “blemish.”

Group A:
1. 12 Russia (4 wins, 0 overtime wins, 0 overtime losses, 1 losses)
2. 9 Canada (3-0-0-1)
3. 5 Czech Republic (1-1-0-2)
4. 4 Switzerland (1-0-1-2)
5. 0 Denmark (0-0-0-4)

Group B:
1. 11 Sweden (3-1-0-0)
2. 10 United States (3-0-1-0)
3. 6 Finland (2-0-0-2)
4. 3 Slovakia (1-0-0-3)
5. 0 Kazakhstan (0-0-0-4)

The Americans have the nos. one and four scorers in the tournament so far. Forward Ryan Poehling leads all scorers with 8 points (5 goals + 3 assists), followed by Canada’s Morgan Frost, also with eight (4+4) and Russia’s Grigori Denisenko (7: 3+4). American Jason Robertson also has seven points (1+6) as does defender Alexander Romanov of Russia (1+6).

The U.S. won this tournament in 2004-10-13-17, but Canada has been the most successful country, with 17 titles (including last year). Russia has won four times as an independent nation, with the most recent in 2011. The Swiss do have a medal in this event: a third in 1998.

The games are being televised on the NHL Network in the U.S. Look for match results here.