January 03, 2012
CALGARY — Yahoo! Canada's 3 Stars from Day 8 of the IIHF under-20 hockey championship:
No. 1 star: Andrei Vasilevski, Russia
The 17-year-old netminder is the main reason the defending champs have a shot at beating Canada again. Vasilevski kicked his game up a notch or three, stopping 38-of-39 shots in Russia's 2-1 quarter-final overtime victory over Petr Mrazek and the Czech Republic.
Each netminder made about a dozen game-saving stops. Vasilevski was superb in the final period, when he made 17 saves to preserve a 1-1 deadlock. He turned aside Dmitrij Jackson on a wide-open chance from close range 4:20 into the period, then flicked out his trapper to rob Tomas Filippi from the high slot with 1:50 left in regulation. Vasilevski also helped Russia withstand 74 seconds of playing 3-on-4 in overtime before Grigori Zheldakov, on a screened shot, drilled the game-winning goal past Mrazek.
Vasilevski was little-known coming into the tournament. With his 1.23 average and .970 save percentage in four starts, he's in line to be the tourney's top goalie.
No. 2 star: Petr Mrazek, Czech Republic
The 19-year-old who won over Alberta fans' hearts turned in another brilliant game, stopping 43-of-45 Russian shots. The member of the OHL's Ottawa 67's kept the Czechs from getting their doors blown off early with 16 saves in the first period. The regulation-time Russian goal was probably one he should have had, since Danill Apalkov's shot deflected in off Mrazek's right pad, but how can you hold that against him when he stopped 8-10 shots that should have gone in? Mrazek's best stops were both on Yaroslav Kosov, whom he denied on a 2-on-1 late in the second period and again on a one-timer off a faceoff.
When the Finns felt a push in their quarter-final game, the Granlund gang responded to help sweep aside Slovakia 8-5. Mikael Granlund, Finland's captain, scored once and assisted on two goals by his left wing, Markus Granlund, within a five-minute span of the second period to help his team get separation from Slovakia.
Mikael Granlund first put Finland up 3-2 with a power-play goal 5:32 into the second period. Barely a minute later, he showed his great anticipation by getting to the boards to cut off a Czech clearing try and quickly lasered a pass to Markus, who scored. Later in the frame, Mikael beat a defender wide and carried in on goal. He was stopped but Slovakia goalie Juraj Simboch poked the puck right to Markus Granlund, who snapped it home. The Slovaks never got closer than two goals the rest of the way.
Honourable mention: Alessio Bertaggia, Switzerland
The 18-year-old forward had two points to help the Swiss beat Denmark 4-3 in overtime in a relegation-side game that secures their spot next seaoson's world junior. Bertaggia, who plays for Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, set up Tanner Richard's OT winner and also scored an early goal.
Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Nicklas Jensen tallied twice to help Denmark earn its first-ever point in the standings at the tournament.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.