Three Florida Panthers prospects remain as the IIHF World Junior Championship moves on to the semifinal round — although it is not the three most would have come to expect.
Finland and Kasper Puutio took care of business against Germany while Sweden’s Ludvig Jansson won a battle of Panthers’ 2022 draft picks against Latvia’s Sandis Vilmanis.
Only a late-night upset really shook things up.
Czechia and Jakub Kos took on the defending-champion United States and Mackie Samoskevich on Wednesday and sent them home with a 4-2 upset victory.
Kos did not register a point during the upset but played key penalty-kill minutes in important moments for Czechia.
That included a five-minute penalty kill after Stanislav Svozil took a kneeing penalty 9:04 into the third period.
Czechia held a 3-1 lead at that point and sustained the lead after they gave up just one goal during the major penalty — a rebound knocked home by Carter Mazur with 9:29 to go.
Samoskevich had a chance to score moments before the power play marker but nailed the post on a slap shot with an empty net in front of him.
He finished the tournament with three assists in five games.
Czechia will face top-seeded Canada in the semifinal at 4 p.m. on Friday.
The next semifinal matchup will feature a clash of two Panthers prospects.
Sweden and Finland will go head-to-head for a spot in the gold medal game at 8 p.m. on Friday.
It is a matchup that features Puutio, a 2020 fifth-round pick, and Jansson, a 2022 fourth-round pick.
Puutio scored two goals in his first two games in the tournament and has since slowed down offensively.
The defenseman has two assists since, including one in Finland’s 5-2 victory over Germany in the quarterfinal.
Jansson has yet to register a point in four games throughout the tournament and has been used as Sweden’s seventh defensemen throughout the tournament. (Teams are allowed to dress an extra skater in the tournament)
Vilmanis, a 2022 first-round pick of Florida, did register an assist in Sweden’s 2-1 victory over Latvia to earn a berth in the semifinal.
The Panthers will be guaranteed to have one prospect playing for Gold on Saturday night, as the winner of Sweden-Finland will advance to play the winner of Canada-Czechia.