Throughout the World Juniors tournament, we’ll be keeping track of all the action and bringing you all of the results in one place.
USA vs. Czech Republic
Yesterday had us back in action with another jammed packed, three game day, starting with the US and the Czech Republic squaring off. We had two teams who play very different styles, both riding high after wins in their last games, and it was sure to be an interesting one. And the first period, if we’re honest, was a bit of a slog. The Czechs were executing their game plan just about to perfection, clogging up the neutral zone, disrupting zone entry attempts, and forcing the United States to play overwhelmingly on the perimeter. The US came out of this period empty handed, despite having a couple of looks, and had a big task ahead of them in not letting frustration creep in.
They kept to their game plan, and the second period saw things finally break open for them. Bobby Brink picked up a loose puck in the crease and snuck it past [blank] to put the US up by one five and a half minutes into the period. They got a bit more open space to work with when Adam Najman and John Farinacci were both called and they went to 4-on-4, and that’s something that benefited the US greatly—after establishing a nice bit of zone time and doing some nice passing, Trevor Zegras sent a shot in on Lukas Parik, whiffed on it a bit, but still got enough on it to send it into the back of the empty net.
And this is where things started to open up even more—as the Czechs had to sacrifice a bit of their defensive scheme to try to generate offense, it opened up more space and that’s where the US flourished. They were able to really grab an edge in momentum and keep possession well, keeping the Czechs on their heels. They tacked on five more goals before everything was said and done—a second for Brink late in the second period, a second for Zegras early in the third, and then one apiece for Arthur Kaliyev, Cole Caufield, and Matthew Boldy—and altogether just looked more effective, weren’t getting pushed to the outside. It was a more dominant look as they closed out the game, and the US was able to keep their momentum rolling.
Final: United States 7 - Czech Republic 0
Next game up (USA): Dec. 31, 9:30 EST vs. SWE.
Next game up (CZE): Dec. 31, 2:00 EST vs. AUT.
Canada vs. Switzerland
Canada’s just been rolling through this preliminary round, looking sharp, and you won’t believe it gang: the same was true of this one from the get go. Indeed, Canada came out with some jump and opened up the scoring just a minute and a half into the game, with a goal from Philip Tomasino, and we really were off to the races. The big story of the first period, though, centered around special teams—with six minor penalties and one major penalty handed out (three minors a side, plus the major to Switzerland), it felt like all we were doing was watching them swap power play opportunities. It was a lot of special teams and a lot of 4-on-4, but neither side could seem to find a way to take advantage of that, well, advantage, so we cruised into the first intermission still with a one-goal game.
But just like in the last game, things broke open in the second period. The US got a chance on the power play just 1:05 into the period, and Dyland Cozens extended their lead to two with a goal 35 seconds in. And that was really all it took, the floodgates were opened. Jakob Pelletier followed up with a nifty goal just before the midway point of the period, then Ryan Suzuki grabbed another power play goal just over five minutes later, and Connor McMichael made it five goals for Canada before the period was over.
Switzerland had been hanging with Canada through a lot of the early going, but by the time the third period hit, it was just about all Canada the rest of the way. They added four more goals before it was all said and done. Quinton Byfield picked up two (one on the power play), and Cole Perfetti and Kaiden Guhle closed things out. We’ve seen a lot of blowouts in the preliminary round so far, so hey, what’s another? ...Right?
Final: Canada 10 - Switzerland 0
Next game up (CAN): Dec. 31, 6:00 EST vs. FIN.
Next game up (SUI): Dec. 30, 6:00 EST vs. GER.
Austria vs. Russia
Our last game of the day started out with some pace, and also a bit of drama! Before we even hit the five minute mark, Yegor Chinakhov, streaking to the net, was hauled down and drew a penalty shot (the first we’ve seen so far in the tournament). But he was also injured on the play, going feet-first into the boards, so Rodion Amirov filled in, and scored on the penalty shot. Russia kept on rolling here, and not even two minutes later, Vasili Podkolzin put Russia up by two with a quick shot from out by the point.
And… sigh… things just really are not going well for Austria. Russia put up two more goals before the end of the period (a second from Podkolzin and one from Marat Khusnutdinov) and seemed to just be cruising through this one. It was already a day of blowouts, and the worry was this one was heading that way.
But it wasn’t all bad news! It happened! It finally happened! In the second period Austria scored a goal and it was a really nice one and you know what? I’m just going to show it to you.
Austria seemed to get some energy from that goal, and looked much sharper through the rest of the second period, even looking like they had Russia chasing the game at points, which, if nothing else, was kind of a nice thing to see.
But, of course, Russia wouldn’t be kept down. The third period was something of a reset, and with an early chance on the power play, they struck quickly and got themselves back on track with a goal from Artemi Knyazev. Russia had a couple of good looks throughout the period, but couldn’t convert on them, and it looked for a moment like we might just be cruising into a 5-1 final, but not so fast! The last three minutes of play saw a flurry of activity, as they tacked on two more goals from Yegor Afanasiev and Arseni Gritsyuk. Because why not.
Final: Russia 7 - Austria 1
Next game up (RUS): Dec. 30, 9:30 EST vs. SWE.
Next game up (RUS): Dec. 31, 2:00 EST vs. CZE.