The second-to-last day of the preliminary rounds of the 2014 IIHF World Championships saw a couple teams come up with big wins to keep their playoff hopes alive.
In the opening game of the day at the Chizkova-Arena in Minsk, France scored 4 3rd-period goals to defeat Denmark 6-2, and clinch their playoff spot while they also eliminated Denmark from advancing. France (2-2-0-2) is currently in a tie for 3rd at 10 points with the Czech Republic. Denmark (1-1-0-4) is currently in 7th with 5 points. Denmark is safe for the 2015 World Championships.
The reason Denmark is safe, is due to Italy’s 5-1 loss to Sweden. Italy (1-0-0-6) finishes the 2014 World Championships with 3 points and will rejoin Division IA after being promoted just last season. They finish the competition in 15th, 1 point ahead of Kazakhstan. Sweden (5-1-1-0) did all that they could to try to come out the winners of Group A after tomorrow. They finish the preliminary round with 18 points and a goal differential of +11, 3 less than Canada.
In Group B, Finland edged out Kazakhstan 4-3 to push themselves above the magic playoff line. Finland (3-1-0-3) finishes the competition with 11 points but are not safe at 4th place. Kazakhstan (0-0-2-5) will return to Division IA the same way they came: sitting alongside Italy. Kazakhstan finishes with only 2 points and 16th overall.
The big game of Group B had 14,531 (the most in Minsk Arena so far) watch Belarus beat Latvia 3-1 in a huge game with tons of playoff baggage. With the win, Belarus clinched a spot in the next round. Belarus (4-0-0-2) is now a point ahead of Team USA at 12 and has one more game to play. Team USA is in a tie for 3rd with Finland.
(T-5) Norway vs (2) Canada – All Canada has to do is win and they will win Group A. They hold the tiebreaker in goal differential as it is. Norway has already been eliminated but can still earn some patriotic points by edging Slovakia in the standings.
(7) Denmark vs (T-5) Slovakia – Denmark could go from 7th to 5th with a win and Norway loss as they are only 2 points behind both Slovakia and Norway. Denmark does not have a favorable goal differential so an OT win isn’t going to cut it.
(T-3) Czech Republic vs (T-3) France – Win and you secure 3rd place in the group. That is the goal for the two teams in this game.
(7) Germany vs (T-3) United States – Team USA needs to beat Germany to secure third place but also secure peace of mind going into the later games. There are a lot of moving parts in the standings tomorrow and can technically face all 4 advancing teams in Group A in different scenarios.
(5) Latvia vs (6) Switzerland – After a disappointing loss by Latvia in today’s game, they will need to win tomorrow’s game to advance. Luckily for them, if they win in regulation, they are in. They can even steal 3rd place if they win and Team USA loses. If they lose, Finland will clinch a berth into the next round.
(1) Russia vs (2) Belarus – A battle of the top two teams in Group B, Belarus can win 2nd place with a regulation win. Russia has already clinched 1st in the Group and will play the loser of France vs Czech Republic.