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Men's World Championship Roundup: GB, Italy Relegated; Denmark Wins Major Upset

Italy and Great Britain have been relegated from the men's World Hockey Championship, while Denmark pulled off a historic upset over Canada and Czechia shut out USA with one day remaining in round-robin play.
2022 IIHF World Championship

Italy Relegated After Loss to Kazakhstan

Italy will be sent down to Division IA for the 2023 World Championship after losing to Kazakhstan 5-2 on Monday. Italy finishes the tournament with just one point, an overtime loss to 

It will mark Italy's return to the second tournament for the first time since 2018, avoiding relegation last year as the IIHF elected to not enforce it due to COVID-19. It will be Italy's sixth trip to Division IA since 2011, advancing to the top event immediately all but one time.

Kazakhstan had issues for most of the tournament in holding on to their own leads, and that happened again today. Curtis Valk scored at 11:22 after jamming in the puck from in close, only to have Italy's Brandon McNally answer back on the power play three minutes later. 

Thankfully for Kazakhstan, Valeri Orekhov regained the advantage a minute later with a wrist shot, beating Andreas Bernhard for a late advantage in the first. Alikhan Aestov made it a two-goal advantage after knocking in Yegor Petukhov's scoring chance four minutes into the second, giving Kazakhstan a bit of breathing room in what was a close game. That didn't last long, however, as Diego Kostner scored at 25:26 to make it 3-2. 

A controversial kneeing penalty to Dylan di Perna in the final two minutes of the second changed everything. On the ensuing five-minute advantage, Roman Starchenko scored on a wrist shot to make it 4-2, making an Italian comeback much more challenging. A Nikita Mikhailis tip-in off of an Orekhov pass at 46:02 sealed the deal, keeping Kazakhstan in the top tournament in consecutive years while relegation is active for the first time since 2004-06.

Great Britain Falls Apart, Relegated for 2023

Great Britain was 14 minutes away from avoiding relegation once again. Instead, they blew a 3-1 lead late in the game to Austria, forcing GB to go back down to Division IA thanks to a 5-3 loss.

Great Britain was promoted to the top tournament for 2019 and earned their berth into 2020 with a strong effort when it mattered. There was no relegation in 2021, but the team would have avoided it based on points anways.

Without Liam Kirk, this stings, and marks a sad end in the top division for a team that has stuck together for many years.

The first half was all GB, with Matthew Myers scoring with one minute to go in the first period to open things up. Robert Dowd then added one 1:57 into the second, giving GB a nice advantage. Ali Wukovits' first World Championship goal at 44:51 cut the lead in half, but Cade Neilson scored one of his own to regain the two-goal advantage with 14 minutes left.

That's where everything fell apart. Dominique Heinrich's one-timer from Peter Schneider made it 3-2, and Benjamin Nissner tied it up at 51:26 after Thomas Raffl won a battle along the boards. 

Raffl would end up becoming the hero when, at 58:54, he scored through a small opening in Ben Bowns' legs to make it 3-3, forcing depseration for a British team that needed to win in regulation. They didn't, and Scneider's empty-netter ended things in a positive note for Austria in a good third-period effort to avoid relegation themselves.

Denmark Beats Canada for First Time Ever

On paper, this should have been Canada's game to lose. But Denmark played a stronger, more consistent game, and ultimately Canada for the first time in World Championship history with a 3-2 victory.

The battle in Group A gets more interesting now. There's a potential that, if Canada loses to France and Slovakia beats Denmark, there would be a three-way tie on the final day of competition.

But that's something to look for for tomorrow. Today, Denmark has a lot to celebrate.

With two goals on four shots to open the game, Denmark took advantage of the situation. Markus Lauridsen and Peter Regin scored in the first period to make it 2-0, forcing Canada to play on its heels despite outshooting Denmark 14-6.

Maxime Comtois eventually scored for Canada, ripping home a blast of a shot off of an Adam Lowry feed to make it 22:23. But shortly after, Comtois was ejected for a hit to the head on Oliver Larsen, forcing Canada to kill a five-minute penalty. 

They did, but they ultimately allowed the next goal. At 52:11, Mathias Bau's shot made it between the legs of Chris Driedger for the 3-1 goal, restoring Denmark's two-goal advantage. Four minutes later, Ryan Graves' slap shot cut the lead back to one, allowing Canada to up the pressure and pull Driedger to close the game. Unfortunately for Canada, they couldn't find a way to beat Sebastian Dahm one more time and Denmark held on for the 3-2 victory, one of their biggest in World Championship competition.

Czechia Shuts Out USA to Earn QF Berth

Czechia will play in the quarterfinals and now have a chance to win Group B after shutting out the United States 1-0 on Monday.

Karel Veljmelka stopped all 24 shots sent his way, while USA made 15 stops.

The lone goal was a breakaway on Czechia's first shot, with Matej Blumel getting to the loose puck from a Hynek Zohorna pass just in time to beat Swayman on a breakaway backhander to make it 1-0.

There's still a chance for Czechia to win the group is Latvia wins against Sweden and Czechia beats Finland on Tuesday. For USA, a Latvia win and an American regulation loss to Norway would move them out of the group. 

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Three Stars

1. Thomas Raffl, F (AUT): Raffl's hard work set up the tying goal, and then he later scored the winner. What an effort.

2. Sebastian Dahm, G (DEN): Dahm has been in net for many big victories for Denmark, and this will be one of the biggest as the team chases a quarterfinal berth.

3. Karel Vejmelka, G (CZE): Veljmeka's slow start to the tournament is all but forgotten with another shutout effort, this time against the United States.

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