No. 1 Star: Benjamin Conz, G, Switzerland
With a berth in the quarterfinals on the line, and without the services of the top two Swiss defensemen (Luca Sbisa(notes) and Roman Josi), Swiss goaltender Benjamin Conz came up with his third great goaltending performance of the tournament in four games. After a letdown against Latvia, Conz rallied the Swiss to victory with a 40-save performance, including stopping 15 of 16 shots that Slovakia's top line of Tatar-Viedensky-Panik threw his way. Switzerland won the game 4-1 and advance to a quarterfinal against Russia on Saturday, while Slovakia now heads to the relegation round. Conz is an undrafted professional goaltender for Geneva in Switzerland's top league, and probably earned himself a draft selection with his play so far.
Over the course of four games so far, this Edmonton Oilers draft pick has proven to be Canada's top player. Eberle had another two goals against the Americans in a thrilling 5-4 shootout game, plus adding the first of three Canadian shootout goals to secure the victory and a bye into the semifinals. The USA will now have to face a tough Finland squad in the quarterfinal, so this was definitely not a meaningless game. The Saskatchewan native now leads the tournament in scoring with five goals and five assists.
No. 3 Star: Nino Niederreiter, F, Switzerland
It took this 2010 draft-eligible prospect a while to finally hit the scoresheet, but Niederreiter notched his second consecutive three point performance as Switzerland advanced into the playoff round. He scored the first two goals and added an assist on the empty netter to put Switzerland into a surprise spot in the playoff round. Switzerland backed out of hosting this year's tournament for fear of relegation on home ice, a fate that Conz and Niederreiter ensured wouldn't happen with the victory.
Honorable Mentions: G Jacob Markstrom (SWE) stopped 38 of 39 shots, including 26 in the first period, to help Sweden advance directly to the semifinal with a 7-1 victory over Finland. ... F Jacob Josefson scored twice in Sweden's victory. ... F Vladamir Tarasenko (RUS) continued his strong tournament with two goals and an assist in Russia's 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. ... D Tyler Johnson (USA) had a goal and an assist in USA's shootout loss to Canada. ... D Patrick Geering (SUI) had three assists, stepping into a more prominent role with Sbisa and Josi out. ... F Richard Panik(notes) (SVK) scored once and fired ten shots on goal in defeat.
Play of the Day:
At the 0:37 mark of this video, watch New Jersey Devils draft pick F Matthias Tedenby score a beauty: