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World Junior Championship enters elimination rounds as quarterfinals begin

The 2018 World Junior Championship is down to the final eight teams. With the preliminary round in the rearview mirror, it's win and move on.

One team from each preliminary round group was eliminated -- Denmark in Group A and Belarus in Group B. The remaining teams will all play Tuesday in a four-game slate featuring three battles at KeyBank Center and one at HarborCenter.

Finland vs. Czech Republic, 12 p.m., KeyBank Center

Finland, which lost to the U.S. in a battle for second place in Group A, faces a Czech Republic team that beat out Russia for the second spot in Group B.

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has started all four games for the Finns. He has a .882 save percentage and 3.04 goals against average. On the other side of the ice is another Sabres prospect, Czech defenseman Vojtech Budik. He has three assists.

Finland's Eeli Tolvanen, Nashville's first-round pick in the 2017 draft, has a goal and four assists. Joona Koppanen leads the Finns in scoring with three goals.

Filip Zadina is the star for the Czechs. The No. 4 ranked 2018 prospect in the December ISS rankings has three goals and one assist.

Canada vs. Switzerland, 4 p.m., KeyBank Center

The Canadians, victors in Group A, get the weakest opponent from the pool of qualified Group B teams.

Canada has the most efficient offense in the tournament, led by Sam Steele (three goals, two assists) and Jordan Kyrou (one goal, four assists). The U.S. handed Canada its only loss in the preliminary round, a 4-3 shootout victory for the Americans at New Era Field.

Canada dominated Denmark in its latest game, 8-0, on Saturday.

Switzerland's only victory in the preliminary round came on Dec. 27, a 3-2 win against Belarus. Since, the Swiss have been outscored 18 to seven in games against Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Canada has a lethal power-play unit, converting on eight of 15 opportunities in the tournament so far. However, only the United States has taken fewer penalties than Switzerland.

Sweden vs. Slovakia, 6 p.m., HarborCenter

The Swedes have played Slovakia in the first round of the last two World Juniors, winning both games easily. Sweden shut out the Slovaks, 6-0, in 2016, while Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund had four assists in an 8-3 rout last year.

Slovakia has already shown you shouldn't look past them with a 3-2 upset victory over the Americans. Samuel Bucek, who has three goals and three assists, beat Team USA goalie Joseph Woll with two minutes and eight seconds left to secure the victory. Slovakian goalie Roman Durny, currently third in the tournament in save percentage, made 42 saves in that game.

Sweden's Lias Andersson is leading the World Juniors with five goals, while Sabres prospect Alex Nylander has six points. The Sabres other Swedish prospect, Marcus Davidsson, has a goal and an assist.

Rasmus Dahlin, the likely first-overall pick in next year's draft, anchors the blue line. With his puck-moving and skating ability, he's a nightmare to defend on the powerplay.

United States vs. Russia, 8 p.m., KeyBank Center

Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt has emerged as the star of this year's World Juniors. He's leading the tournament in points with nine after recording three points in two straight games. The University of Minnesota product totaled three assists against Canada and a goal and two assists against Finland.

Defenseman Adam Fox (one goal, three assists) and forward Brady Tkachuk (two goals, four assists) have also had strong tournaments.

The United States beat Russia twice in last year's World Juniors, 3-2 in the preliminary round and 4-3 in the semifinals. Troy Terry was the hero in the semis, scoring on all three of his shootout attempts.

The Americans are down a player, losing Will Lockwood for the rest of the tournament with an upper body injury. The Vancouver Canucks prospect didn't record a point in three games.

Russia's Klim Kostin, a St. Louis Blues prospect, is third in the tournament in points with six (four goals, two assists). The Russians lost to the two teams ahead of them in the Group B standings, Sweden and the Czech Republic, and beat the two teams below them, Switzerland and Belarus.

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