We’re getting to the half-way point of the IIHF World Championships preliminary round and shockingly, Canada had yet to get a win in the tournament, let alone a single point in the standings, heading into today’s action. With six of the now nine Chicago Blackhawks players and prospects in action today, which countries are starting to pull away as contenders and pretenders in the group stage?
Russia def. Denmark, 3-0
The Russians notched their third win in the tournament with a 3-0 shutout of the Danes in their fourth game of the IIHF World Championships. For the fourth time this tournament, Blackhawks “prospect” Max Shalunov was held off the scoresheet. He played 11:01 minutes and recorded just one shot on goal while going 6-for-15 at the face-off dot. A rather disappointing tournament continues for the 28-year-old Shalunov.
Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov was also held off the scoresheet, recording 21:26 minutes of ice-time in the win with two shots on goal. Zadorov has one assist in four games in the tournament. Russia is back in action on Saturday as they take on Philipp Kurashev and Switzerland. Russia sits in a tie for first-place in Group A with Slovakia, both teams with nine points in the standings.
Kazakhstan def. Germany, 3-2
Also in action in the early games today was Blackhawks 2020 first-round draft pick Lukas Reichel and Germany. It was a forgettable day for the German side as they fell 3-2 to the surprising Kazakhstan team. It was the first time since 2005 that Germany has lost to Kazakhstan in the IIHF World Championships.
In the loss, Reichel took a hit to his head in the first period and missed significant time in the game.
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) May 26, 2021
He did return from the hit in the second period, but did not play much in the middle frame and did not record a shift in the third period in the loss. According to Germany’s head coach Toni Söderholm, Reichel will have to be evaluated to se if he can return to the team for the rest of the tournament. Not good news at all for the 19-year-old, who is reportedly supposed to sign with the Blackhawks following the conclusion of the tournament. Reichel has five points in four games with Germany in the tournament. They sit in first-place still in Group B with nine points in the standings and are next in action on Saturday against Finland.
Canada def. Norway, 4-2
Finally in the afternoon game, Canada got their first win of the tournament with a 4-2 victory over Norway. Canada had lost their first three games, all in regulation, to start the World Championships. With the win, they now have their first three points in the standings and sit in sixth-place in Group B, ahead of Norway and Italy.
Connor Brown and Adam Henrique led Canada with three-point games each, while top 2021 NHL Draft prospect Owen Power had two assists in the game. As for the Blackhawks representation, Brandon Pirri had two shots on goal in just 6:13 minutes of action, Brandon Hagel recorded four shots on goal and won a single face-off in 12:14 minutes of ice-time, and Nicolas Beaudin was a minus-1 rating in 11:03 minutes of action.
Canada is back on the ice on Friday as they take on upset-minded Kazakhstan. The Kazakh team is 3-1-0 in four games in the tournament, with just one win in regulation. They have upset Finland and Germany already and hold a shootout win over host nation Latvia, a team that beat Canada already this tournament.