Slovakia, which needed a regulation time win to keep its playoff hopes alive, made hard work of the game. Despite dominating the first period, there was no way past Slovenian goalie Luka Gracnar. However, Richard Panik grabbed the only goal of the game 15 seconds into the middle frame, and netminder Stanislav Skorvanek made 33 saves to preserve that slender lead until the end.
As a result, Slovenia remains on zero points and can no longer catch Kazakhstan or Norway, both of whom have four.
“We had a slow start, but our goalie kept us in the game. He was amazing,” Slovenian forward Ziga Jeglic told IIHF.com. “In the end, like other times in the tournament, we didn’t score a goal. That was our downfall. We created a lot of chances, especially in the end, but we couldn’t score. It’s unfortunate.”
Slovakia is in fifth place in Group B, three points behind Latvia. However, it has the head-to-head advantage against the co-host and could move into the quarter-finals with a win over Norway in its final preliminary round game. Latvia needs at least a point from the impressive Swiss to guarantee its place without relying on a favor from the Norwegians.
“We're trying not to think too far ahead, just go game by game,” said Slovakia’s Mario Grman. “The playoffs are not in our hands right now. We have to win the next game in regulation and then see what happens between Latvia and Switzerland.”
Switzerland’s game against the Czech Republic turned into a battle between two of the longest-serving players at this year’s championship. Roman Cervenka is the leading scorer among everyone active at this year’s tournament, and he put the Czechs ahead in the seventh minute. The goal moved him to 65 (23+41) points in his 10th World Championship.
However, the Swiss have their own talisman in Andres Ambuhl, all time leader for World Championship games. He marked his 128th game with two goals in the second period as Switzerland opened a 3-1 lead. Dominik Kubalik got one back for the Czechs, but Tanner Richard wrapped up a 4-2 win as Switzerland secured top spot in Group B.
In Tampere, Germany kept its quarter-final hopes alive with a convincing 7-2 win over Hungary. The Hungarians now face a win-or-bust showdown against Austria to determine Group A relegation tomorrow. Germany will likely go to the top eight if it defeats France in its final game.
The French are safe from relegation, but are struggling with fitness. Captain Sache Treille returned to the team, but Alexandre Texier missed Sunday’s game against the USA due to illness. The Americans maintained their perfect record in this year’s championship with a 9-0 win. Cutter Gauthier reinforced his fast-rising reputation with a hat-trick as the Americans made it six successive victories. Only one USA team has previously won its first six at a World Championship, and that was the 2018 roster that eventually took bronze in Copenhagen.
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