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World Juniors daily recap: Finland stays hot

Your daily recap of the 2021 World Juniors action.

Finland v Slovakia: Preliminary Round Group A - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Throughout the World Juniors tournament, we’ll be keeping track of all the action and bringing you all of the results in one place.

Finland vs. Slovakia

Finland came into this game with just about all of the momentum in the world, but despite that, it wasn’t a massive start to the game for them. They picked up one goal from Anton Lundell to give them a lead to carry with them into the first intermission, something to build on, but it wasn’t a positively dominant effort. Slovakia, though unable to cash in, got a few looks, and it was enough to keep things interesting, early on at least.

It feels like this has been the story of a number of the games in this tournament, but particularly for Finland, but in this game too, the second period is when things really broke open. Finland let Slovakia hang around in the first period, but that didn’t last long. Finland scored twice in two and a half minutes early in the period (Topi Niemela and Kasper Simontaival), giving them a comfortable lead heading into the third period. They were pretty well out-chancing Slovakia even up to this point, and the game felt pretty well out of reach for them, but Finland wasn’t done, was sure to bury them and put away all hope of any sort of comeback. The third period saw Finland add three more goals, all coming in a period of about seven and a half minutes in the middle portion of the period. Santeri Hatakka picked up the first of the period, and then Samuel Helenius added the final two. It was, to be brief, a decisive win for Finland, who remain undefeated in the preliminary round.

Final: Finland 6 - Slovakia 0

Next game up (FIN): Dec. 31, 6:00 EST vs. CAN.

Next game up (SVK): TBD

Switzerland vs. Germany

Germany, riding high from their win over Slovakia on Monday, came into this game with a whole lot of jump. They picked up three goals in the first period alone, one from Tim Stützle and one from John-Jason Peterka at 5-on-5, and then another from Peterka on the power play, and once again it looked like we might be staring down a game about to get out of hand. Switzerland bounced back a bit in the second period, but couldn’t really do anything with their chances, and still gave up one more goal in the second frame (a second for Stützle on the power play) and it still looked like things were spiraling.

Germany was hoping to cruise to a second consecutive victory without incident, but they wouldn’t end up being so lucky. The third period hit and it was like a switch flipped for Switzerland. Just about halfway through the period, they got themselves on the board with a goal from Noah Delmont, giving them some life, and they immediately took that and picked up another goal, this one just 56 seconds later from Ronny Daehler. Switzerland tried to put themselves within one, pulling the goalie with just over three and a half minutes left in regulation, but they weren’t rewarded, and Stützle picked up the empty netter, seemingly sealing Germany’s win.

But wait! Hold the phone! Switzerland wasn’t done yet! With two minutes left to play, Justin Volek took a pretty brutal cross-checking penalty, earning himself a game misconduct and Switzerland a five minute (major) power play. So they pulled the goalie again and after a nice bit of cycling, were able to pick up two goals (Noah Meier and Simon Knak) to get them within one, for real this time. They only had a few more seconds to work with after the second goal, though, and couldn’t quite get the bounce needed to find the equalizer. So the valiant effort fell just a little short.

Final: Germany 5 - Switzerland 4

Next game up (GER): TBD

Next game up (SUI): TBD

Russia vs. Sweden

For our final matchup of the night, we had two heavy hitters in Russia and Sweden facing off, and boy oh boy did this one start off with some drama. Just 31 seconds into the game it looked like Rodion Amirov had opened up the scoring for Russia, but not so fast! Even though the goal horn went off, the ruling on the ice was no goal, and it was to be reviewed for goaltender interference.

*Jeopardy music literally plays*

And the call stood and there was no goal after all. Alas!

But the Russians didn’t seen too fazed by this, and they still grabbed ahold of momentum and ran with it, and opened up the scoring for real seven and a half minutes into the period with a goal by Yegor Afansyev after pretty well dominating since the disallowed goal. Arvid Costmar was able to tie things up, but Russia pulled back into the lead before the period was over, as Amirov scored a goal for real this time.

Sweden took over in the second period, pulling momentum all the way back in their favor and getting some really nice chances for themselves. And if you were wondering how Alexander Holtz’s night was going, he had an empty net chance to work with earlier in the second period, and then another later in the period and missed on both. But then he followed up that second miss with a second chance from a weird angle that just sort of banked in off of Yaroslav Askarov. That’s hockey, I guess.

The third period was an interesting one—things were getting chippy and neither side had really claimed an edge in momentum after taking turns with it in the first two periods. We saw both sides get a few looks, but we stayed tied up until about halfway through the period when, after Sweden got a string of power plays in the second, Russia finally got a chance of their own, and they made the most of it. With a bit of cycling and a screen in place in front of the goaltender, the Russians were able to jump back into the lead with a goal from Kirill Kirsanov and a quick shot from the top of the left circle.

It was a weird last couple of minutes for Sweden, as they had one shot ring off the post, and then flubbed their extra attacker situation, as they pulled their goalie but still had only five skaters on the ice. But once they got set in the offensive zone, they struck gold, and with a minute left in regulation, a shot by Alexander Holtz deflected in off of Noel Gunler in front, and we had a tied game, heading to overtime.

The overtime period was an interesting one right off the bat—both sides got a couple of good looks, were able to do some cycling, and really looked threatening, but couldn’t seem to catch a break. It was exciting, but it got even spicier. With 24.9 seconds left in overtime, Costmar took a holding penalty and Russia would get a chance on the power play. Russia got right to work, and with under six seconds left in overtime, Marat Khusnutdinov picked up the game winner.

And folks. Sweden’s 54 game winning streak in the preliminary round has come to and end.

Final: Russia 4 - Sweden 3 (OT)

Next game up (RUS): TBD

Next game up (SWE): Dec. 31, 9:30 EST vs. USA.