Germany 1 - Canada 3
by Alan Adams
LEKSAND, Sweden – The first goal on the road to gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship has been achieved by Canada's National Junior Team. A 3-1 win over Germany on Friday clinched first place in Group A and with the victory Canada earned a bye to the semifinal.
"This means a lot to the guys," said Steve Downie, who scored Canada's second goal. "But we're not there yet."
"We are all excited to get to this stage" said Marc Staal. "That's huge for us."
Canada's next game and final preliminary round game is Sunday against Slovakia and the two-time defending world champions will be looking for their fourth straight win.
"We'll treat the game like Slovakia like it is a medal round game. We do not want to develop any bad habits," said Andrew Cogliano.
Canada now sits atop the Group A standings with 9 points. Germany follows with five points, while Sweden is third with three points. The United States is fourth with one point and Slovakia is running out of time to register its first point.
In Friday's other game, Russia beat Belarus 6-1 for its third straight win and secure at least second place in Group B. Finland, Switzerland and Belarus are knotted at three points apiece while the Czech Republic has yet to register a point.
Canada opened the scoring against the Germans at 7:04 of the first period when Kris Russell ripped a shot over goalie Timo Pielmeier's stick-side shoulder.
The Germans tied it at 12:26 of the second when two Canadians were in the penalty box serving minors. Felix Schutz beat Carey Price from close in.But Downie chased any thoughts of the Germans pulling off a second major upset when he scored at 14:42 of the second to pull Canada ahead 2-1. The Germans opened the world junior championship with a 2-1 upset win over the United States.
Russell iced the win with his second goal of the game, on a low slap shot, at 10:34 of the third period.
The Germans played a smothering defensive style of game and the Canadians did not have much room to get their flow game on track.
Coach Craig Hartsburg was happy with the result but feels there is room for improvement.
"We have taken some big strides since we started this process but there is a whole other level coming and we had better be ready," said Hartsburg.
The semifinal is set for Wednesday.