With four games on Saturday there’s plenty of action to dissect from the 2020 World Junior Championship. Along with the newsworthy blowouts of Team Canada and Team Slovakia, a pair of Philadelphia Flyers’ prospects recorded points in their countries’ wins. Here’s everything that happened in the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Russia trounces Canada 6-0
With perhaps less exaggeration in this statement than when it’s often used, it really couldn’t have gotten any worse for Team Canada in their 6-0 defeat yesterday at the hands of Team Russia. Captain Grigori Denisenko (Florida Panthers), forward Alexander Khovanov (Minnesota Wild), and Nikita Alexandrov (St. Louis Blues) each scored and provided an assist in the win for Russia while draft-eligible Amir Miftakhov pitched a 28-save shutout.
Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Yegor Zamula had an assist and a plus-one rating with a pair of shots on goal in a game-high 22:38 of ice time. He had the primary helper on Team Russia’s fifth goal, as Denisenko curled in the right corner of Canada’s zone before tossing the puck back to Zamula at the point for a shot through traffic that Yegor Sokolov tipped in. Zamula has three points and leads all Russian d-men in scoring at this World Junior Championship.
As for Team Canada, the 6-0 beating on the scoreboard seemed to be the least of their problems. During the second period, projected first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft Alexis Lafreniere took an awkward spill while driving to Russia’s net and left the game with a knee injury. After an initial scare that Lafreniere may have torn his ACL and would have to miss the rest of the season, it seems as though the injury is not nearly that serious and he might even be able to come back to this World Junior Championship.
Doctors continue to review Alexis Lafreniere’s MRI. Sounds like the injury may not be as bad as initially feared, there is in fact hope that Lafreniere may be able to return to play in these #WorldJuniors.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 28, 2019
After the game, Team Canada’s captain and Arizona Coyotes’ 2018 first-round pick Barrett Hayton was the center of attention as he left his helmet on during the celebratory playing of the Russian national anthem. Denisenko and a few of his Russian teammates showed their displeasure in Hayton’s decision leading to the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft issuing an apology for the incident.
Barrett Hayton didn't remove his helmet for the Russian anthem and Russia's players were not pleased about it pic.twitter.com/thv5tCj82F— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 28, 2019
Thanks to their current plus-five goal differential due to this outcome, Russia now sits atop Group B with a record of 1-0-0-1 (regulation wins-overtime wins-overtime losses-regulation losses. Three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss, and zero points for a regulation loss) and a meeting with Team U.S.A. (who is second in Group B) later today. Despite also being 1-0-0-1 Team Canada is last in Group B with a goal differential of minus-4 and has a contest against Germany tomorrow.
Sweden puts Switzerland away 5-2
With five goals in the game’s first 35 minutes Team Sweden walked by Switzerland with a 5-2 decision. Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Samuel Fagemo scored two goals in the first 9:58, while Vancouver Canucks’ prospect Nils Hoglander and 2020 draft-eligible winger Lucas Raymond each provided a goal and an assist for Sweden in the win. Hugo Alnefelt, a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this year, denied 25 of Switzerland’s 27 shots on goal to earn the victory.
Adam Ginning found his way onto the scoresheet a few times yesterday. After he notched the secondary assist on Karl Henriksson’s (New York Rangers) goal halfway through the second period, Ginning took a boarding penalty ten minutes later to earn himself a minor penalty and a ten-minute misconduct (given out for every boarding minor at the WJC). He played just 8:09 in the win and has one point, zero shots on goal, and 14 penalty minutes in two games so far this tournament.
Sweden will look to add on to their tournament-high five points with a game against a winless Team Kazakhstan tomorrow, while Switzerland sits third in Group A with a 1-0-0-1 record and minus-one goal differential. They’ll take on Slovakia tomorrow in a pivotal Group A matchup.
Finland pulverizes Slovakia 8-1
In a battle of Group A combatants, Team Finland made a statement and gained some critical ground in goal differential with an 8-1 shellacking of Team Slovakia. Forward Robert Dzugan had Slovakia’s lone goal and draft-eligible goalie Samuel Vyletelka allowed six goals on 25 shots in the first 34:51 before his replacement Samuel Hlavaj stopped 13 of 15.
It was only a two-goal game after the first period, but Finland unloaded for five strikes in a 12:15 span late in the second period to make it a 7-1 game heading into the final stanza. The Raty Brothers did work for Finland yesterday, as Aku (a fifth-round pick of the Coyotes this year) potted a pair of goals on four shots while Aatu (2021 NHL Entry Draft) had a tally of his own on three shots along with an assist. Patrik Puistola (Carolina Hurricanes) and Joonas Oden (third year of draft eligibility in 2020) each had a goal and an apple while the trio of Matias Maccelli (fourth-round pick of Arizona this year), Kristian Tanus, and Sampo Ranta (Colorado Avalanche) each accrued two helpers. Justus Annunen, another Avs’ prospect, stopped 25 of 26 for the win.
Finland looks to keep it rolling against Kazakhstan later today with the possibility of moving into first place of Group A. Team Slovakia’s next game is tomorrow against Switzerland.
Germany edges out win against Czech Republic
After giving Team U.S.A. a brief scare in their first game, Germany recorded their first win of the 2020 World Junior Championship yesterday with a 4-3 victory over the Czech Republic. Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect Dominik Bokk had a two-goal game for Germany to move into second in tournament scoring with five points in two games, while Detroit Red Wings’ defensive prospect Moritz Seider accumulated three assists and draft-eligible Taro Jentzsch had a pair.
First year draft-eligible forwards Lukas Reichel and John Peterka put Germany up 2-0 just 7:31 into the game, but Czech blue liner Martin Has (Washington Capitals) started his three-point performance by scoring on his only shot with 3:19 left in the first period. Bokk then scored the only goal of the second period and the first goal of the third period on the power play to make it 4-1 in favor of Team Germany before Jan Jenik (Arizona) and Libor Zabransky finalized the score in a 3:13 span halfway through the final frame.
Both Team Germany and Team Czech Republic have off today, as Germany goes into their game against Team Canada tomorrow with a record of 1-0-0-1 and the Czech Republic square off against Team U.S.A. with a record of 1-0-0-1 with an even goal differential.