Denmark continued its impressive play at the World Junior Championship, defeating Switzerland in a shootout, while Slovakia took advantage of early mistakes and used a Martin Reway hat trick to beat Germany.
Coming into the 2015 World Junior Championship, Denmark was certainly not viewed as a contender, nor were they expected to do much damage, but the Danes are making doubters eat their words.
After a strong effort in their first game of the tournament against Russia, where they forced a shootout, Denmark lost to the Czech Republic Monday in overtime. They badly needed and wanted at least a point Tuesday against a surprisingly tough Swiss squad, to move above the Czechs in Group B. They not only accomplished their goal of gaining a point, but they took the shootout win 4-3 thanks to the winner from Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The Danes used great special teams work, going 2-for-4 on the power play and a perfect penalty kill, in combination with excellent goaltending from Georg Sorensen, who made 42 saves, to record the win.
The game between the two squads was one of the most exciting and evenly-matched of the tournament thus far and had fans at the Air Canada Centre applauding in support of both hockey programs.
Regulation goals for Switzerland came courtesy of Kris Schmidli, Timo Meier and Kevin Fiala (drafted #11 overall by the Nashville Predators in 2014), while the Danes countered with goals from Bjorkstrand (a 2013 third-rounder drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets), Anders Krogsgaard and Mikkel Aagaard.
With the loss, the Swiss lost any hope of securing the number one spot in Group B, which means it belongs to Sweden, while the Danes moved passed the Czech Republic out of last place in the group.
The win was also the first in 16 attempts for Denmark, as their hockey program continues to make progress. This will likely be the best showing at the World Junior Championship in the country's history, as they've never placed higher than 10th overall.
In Group A play, Germany squared off against Slovakia. Both squads had played above expectations so far, with Slovakia upsetting Finland and playing a disciplined and well-structured game against the U.S., while the Germans played Canada tough, before being overwhelmed by the talented Americans.
Slovakia got off to a hot start against Germany in the first period. The Germans made too many mistakes with the puck, allowing Slovakia to do what they wanted when they wanted. After a terrible first the Germans made a game of it, but it was too late and the early mistakes cost them. The Slovaks walked away victorious 5-2.
Slovakian goals came courtesy of Robert Lantosi, Matus Sukel and Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway in the first period, while Germany's Frederik Tiffels added a goal of his own. After a scoreless second, Germany's Tiffels added his second of the game, while Reway scored twice in the third to earn a hat trick in the Slovak win.