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World Juniors daily recap: Quarterfinals, here we come!

Your daily recap of the 2021 World Juniors action.

Canada v Switzerland: 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.

Czech Republic vs. Austria

Yesterday brought us the last day of action in the preliminary round, and we kicked things off with a matchup between Austria and the Czech Republic. The Czech team was looking to rebound well from a tough loss to the United States in their last game, and they did well to do just that. The first period was a relatively quiet one—no scoring and just one power play for the Czechs to work with, but they pretty thoroughly dominated possession throughout, so by the time the second period hit, we had the feeling that they were bound to find the back of the net with one of their chances sooner rather than later.

And that’s just what happened! Just past the six minute mark of the second period, the scoring broke open for the Czechs as Simon Kubicek got them on the board. And once the scoring was opened, it looked close to an onslaught—the Czechs added three more goals in the second period (two back to back from. Martin Lang and one from Filip Prikryl, all at even strength) while holding the Austrians to just two shots on goal. The third period saw the Austrians get a few more looks (seven shots in total) and a few bursts of looking threatening, but the Czechs really had full control of this one. They added three more goals in the third period—from Pavel Novak, David Jiricek, and then Jan Mysak in the final 26 seconds of regulation—to put away a game that was, well, pretty much over well before that. And the Czechs punched their ticket to the quarterfinals.

Final: Czech Republic 7 - Austria 0

Next game up (CZE): Jan. 2, 7:00 ET vs. Russia

Next game up (AUT): N/A

Canada vs. Finland

With some of the lopsided matchups that have come in the earlier parts of the preliminary round, we had the feeling that, with some of these powerhouse teams, we might not know exactly what they were until the last games of the the preliminary round and into the quarterfinals, when they started playing each other. This seemed especially true of Canada and Finland—both undefeated and having run the table in their games up until this point—so we were certainly going to be in for an interesting one here.

And interesting it was, but not quite in the way we expected. Canada came out with some jump and made their presence known very early, as Dylan Cozens got them on the board just under four minutes into the game with a pretty stellar goal on the rush. They had Finland on their heels, drawing two penalties in the first period, but failed to cash in on those chances. But no matter, they stuck with it and got rewarded in the second period, continuing to build momentum and picking up goals from Dylan Holloway (a sort of wonky deflection on the power play) and Peyton Krebs.

Finland wasn’t going to completely go away quietly, though, and they finally picked up a goal from Brad Lambert on the power play. It looked like we might really have a game at this point, but with how much work Canada had done to claim momentum and dominate this game, it was pretty close to over. Finland just didn’t seem to have it, and while they got a couple of looks with the goalie pulled late in the period, ultimately Cozens sealed the game with the empty net goal, bringing Finland’s preliminary round winning streak to an end.

Final: Canada 4 - Finland 1

Next game up (CAN): Jan. 2, 7:00 ET vs. CZE

Next game up (FIN): Jan. 2, 3:30 ET vs. SWE

Sweden vs. USA

After a tough loss to Russia in their first game of the preliminary round, the US had been pretty well rolling over every team that they faced, so like the matchup between Canada and Finland, this was going to be an interesting test for them. Sweden had been doing well up until their overtime loss to Russia the night before, so they were going to be looking to get themselves back on track.

It was going to be an uphill battle for Sweden, though, as the US came out with their foot fully on the gas as Sweden struggled to get their bearings. It was a quick first strike for the US, as Drew Helleson got them on the board just a minute and nine seconds into the period, after a sort of misplay of the puck by Hugo Alnefelt left him with a chance and a lot of open net to work with. Trevor Zegras extended their lead to two with a quick shot from a tough angle just under three minutes later, and Sweden really seemed to be back on their heels in a bad way.

The second period continued to look like it was going to be all USA all the way, as they picked up their third goal just two minutes into the second frame from Ryan Johnson. Sweden did have a chance to get them back in the mix, as Arvid Costmar drew a hooking penalty on Jackson Lacombe and was awarded a penalty shot. But, for some reason, Sweden opted to have Victor Soderstrom take the shot, and he lost the puck just as he was skating in tight on Spencer Knight. And, because this is just how the night was going for them, after coming up empty on the penalty shot, Sweden got scored on just 21 seconds later, after a scramble in front left (a very snake bitten) Alex Turcotte open to pot his first goal of the tournament. This was the end of Alnefelt’s night, and Jesper Walstedt came in in relief.

In the end, though, it was too little too late for Sweden. They looked to get their legs under them a bit more but they still only managed five shots in the third period, and didn’t bring much to really test Knight. The US held onto their momentum and picked up a pretty tidy win, keeping their hot streak rolling.

Final: USA 4 - Sweden 0

Next game up (USA): Jan. 2, 10:30 ET vs. SVK

Next game up (SWE): Jan. 2, 3:30 ET vs. FIN