Sunday, February 18, 2018

Olympic Pool Update (Day 5, Feb 18)

Here we go, the final day of round robin action has already come and gone, but don't fret... if you didn't get enough points from one team, you still have at least one more game with everyone, thanks to the playoff format.  The pool winners and the best record (with tie-breakers) will all move on to the quarter-finals and the remaining eight teams will play in a single-elimination bracket to get into the quarterfinals on Monday night/Tuesday morning.  The quarterfinals will run the next night and then we'll really get the good stuff in the semis and medal games.

But first, the four remaining round robin games!

The early game was a battle in Pool C, trying not to finish in last place, trying to help their position in the qualifying round, maybe getting a better match-up for a chance into the quarterfinals.  This one went all the way to the shootout, tied at one, with Germany taking this one, only needing three shooters in the skills competition to win it.

There were only four players in the hockey pool from this game and not one of them earned a point.  What a shame!

The Czechs had a chance to take top spot in Pool A with a regulation win against the Swiss and an early goal in the 3rd period, breaking a 1-1 tie, was the big difference in this one for the Czechs, who added a couple of empty-net goals late to guide their way to a 4-1 win and 1st place in Pool A.

Unlike the first game of the night, there were some points in this one.  The Czechs were led by Michal Repik with 2 goals, Jan Kovar with 2 assists and Dominik Kubalik scored the winner for a couple of points as well.  Most importantly, Martin Erat had an assist, giving Don the outright lead in the pool, while Grant left Clayton in last place, thanks to some of the scoring above.

The Canadians needed a regulation win against Korea and some help in the last game of the day to help secure the bye into the quarterfinals, with the best record that wasn't a division winner and they took care of their own task, beating the host nation, 4-0.  Lots of credit to the Korean goalie, Michael Dalton, he made 45 saves in the loss, which could have been a lot worse for his team, but it probably would have been more exciting for the pool.

Derek Roy had a couple of assists, while Christian Thomas' 1st goal of the tournament was the game-winner, as those were the only two that were notable on the scoresheet.

Clayton's team had 4 points, helping to climb out of the basement, but now with 21 points, both Chris and Don shared the lead out of this game, with Neil only 1 point back.

Top spot in Pool C was up for grabs with two of the best teams in the round robin before play on Sunday, Sweden and Finland revived a long-standing rivalry with a gritty game, right down to the bitter end.  This one was a grind, but Sweden broke a 1-1 tie, midway through the 3rd period on a Patrik Zackrisson goal and was able to hang on, add an empty-netter and clinch the Pool C win with a 3-1 victory over their rivals.

Zackrisson and Linus Omark each had 2 points for the pool in this game, guiding the way for Sweden, but a few more singles really propelled Chris' team into top spot after the round robin, as his team finished with 25 points.

With the regulation loss, Finland lost the chance to have the bye into the quarters, giving Canada the bye instead.  The Finns will be the top seed in the qualification round, which we'll cover a bit more soon.

The men's tournament now takes a day off between the round robin and the qualification games and we'll preview the qualification games later on in the day/evening, as the game-winning goals now come with an extra bonus point, with teams now getting eliminated from play.

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