2021 World Juniors Recap: Quarterfinals

 

On the second day of 2021, we witnessed four intense quarterfinal matches at the World Juniors. Every game was close with two being decided by one goal. The winners will now get a day off before their semi-final games on January 4th, 2021.

Russia versus Germany:

In the DUBNetwork preview, it was predicted that Germany would upset Russia in the quarters. The prediction was incorrect as Russia defeated Germany 2-1.

Russia was very lucky to win this game. They did not play great, but thanks to Yaroslav Askarov’s 18 saves, they move onto the semis.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period with a shorthanded goal scored by Vasili Ponomaryov 9:06 into the period. Ponomaryov read the play beautifully to get behind the defense and score on the breakaway. Russia added to their lead in the second period courtesy of Danil Bashkirov at 8:27 of the period.

Going into the third period, it looked like Russia was going to cruise the rest of the way. That was until Florian Elias beat Askarov at 3:24 of the period to get Germany within one. That was as close as they got as Russia was able to kill the clock off and sneak out with a 2-1 win.

Russia luckily escapes the quarters:

This game easily could have been Germany’s to win. Yes, Russia controlled the play but they did not look dominant. Their passes did not connect. They did not capitalize when they had a chance in this game.

One glaring problem is their set up in the offensive zone. They have their best playmaker in Podkolzin set up in tight prohibiting him from making passes and setting up teammates. This makes it frustrating to watch them play. They have so much talent, yet are not putting their players in positions to succeed. This is head coach Igor Larionov’s first tournament so maybe with time, he will make the proper adjustments to lead Russia to success. If the Russian continue this style of play they are going to have problems in their semi-final game. Don’t be surprised if they finish fourth this year.

Three stars from each team:

Russia:

Vasili Podkolzin- 3 shots, 18:19 TOI

Yaroslav Askarov- 18 saves on 19 shots

Vasili Ponomaryov- 1 goal, 2 shots, +1,17:31 TOI

Germany:

Florian Bugl- 25 saves on 27 shots

Tim Stützle- 3 shots, 24:34 TOI

Florian Elias- 1 goal, 2 shots, 24:24 TOI

Finland versus Sweden:

Whenever these two teams play, it is sure to be an existing game. Their quarterfinal game did not disappoint as Finland came back from two goals down to win in the dying seconds, and punch their ticket to the semi-finals. This was by far the most exciting game of the day as the two Nordic rivals add another exhilarating chapter to their long history.

Sweden jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. First, Lucas Raymond wired a shot past Finnish goalkeeper Piiroinen at 14:28 of the period. Then, Elmer Söderblom scored another beautiful between the legs goal to take a two-goal advantage. Söderblom scored a goal between his legs from the same spot when Sweden beat the Czech Republic earlier in the tournament.

Finland was able to gain momentum in the second period which lead to a Henri Nikkanen goal at 5:32 of the period. Finland had a goal disallowed after an offside ruling and trailed going into the third period.

The Finns were able to tie up the game after captain Anton Lundell scored at 11:04 of the third. The teams went back and forth until the last minute of the period when Finland was able to break through for their third goal. After hemming Sweden in their zone, Roni Hirvonen’s wrap-around goal beat Hugo Alnefelt with 25 seconds left. The excitement by the Finns and the dejection by the Swedes told the whole story as Finland clawed back in stunning fashion beat Sweden 3-2 and move onto the semis.

Finland proves its worth:

Although they started slowly, being outshot 11-4 in the first period, Finland was able to regroup and dominate the rest of the game. This game showed how dangerous the Finns can be as their relentless forecheck was on full display today. In the end, they deserved to win. Alnefelt kept Sweden in the game as long as he could but was unable to lead his team to victory. Finland is going to be a problem in the semis. If they play as they did in the second and third periods, they could easily find themselves in the gold medal game.

Three stars from each team:

Finland:

Anton Lundell- 4 shots, +1, 20:27 TOI

Roni Hirvonen- Game Winning Goal, 4 shots, +1, 17:14 TOI

Ville Heinola- 1 assist, 2 shots, +1, 27:58 TOI

Sweden:

Lucas Raymond- 1 goal, 1 assist- 4 shots, 18:01 TOI

Hugo Alnefelt- 28 saves on 31 shots

Victor Söderström- 1 assist, 25:03 TOI

Canada versus the Czech Republic:

The Czechs pushed Canada to the limit but fell 3-0. Canada was outshot in this game by the Czechs but thanks to an incredible game by Devon Levi, Canada will move onto the semis.

The WHL played a huge role in Canada’s win. In the first, they got goals from Dylan Cozens and Bowen Byram. Lethbridge Hurricanes star Cozens scored his seventh of the tournament off a breakaway at 8:22 of the first period. Vancouver Giants stud Bowen Byram scored his first career World Junior goal after a rocket of a shot got past Czech goalie Nick Malík 11:39 into the period to take a 2-0 lead. Canada was able to seal the win and shutout with an empty-net goal scored by Conner McMichael at 17:11 of the third period to hold onto a 3-0 and advance to the semis.

Devon Levi stands tall:

The Czechs kept pressing but Levi was able to turn away all 29 shots he faced for the shutout. Full credit has to go to the Czechs for how they played in this game. They never gave up and outplayed Canada in the third period. As for the Canadians, it seemed like they went into shutdown mode towards the end of the game. This is fine, but when they play Russia in the quarterfinals, this type of play could burn them. This has been a constant theme throughout the tournament for Canada. They get a lead and then are content with playing a shutdown version of hockey the rest of the game. Canada has played well through the tournament, so their place in the semis is deserved and expected.

Three stars from each team:

Canada:

Devon Levi- 29 save shutout

Bowen Byram-1 goal, 2 shots, +1, 24:53 TOI

Dylan Cozens- 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, +2, 17:05 TOI

Czech Republic:

Nick Malík- 22 saves on 24 shots

Martin Has- 4 shots, 21:04 TOI

Simon Kubicek- 2 shots, 19:27 TOI

The USA versus Slovakia:

Slovakia was lucky that this game was not a blowout, and that the US only won 5-2. The Slovaks were outshot 43-18 but thanks to an incredible goaltending performance by Simon Latkoczy, they avoided a blowout. The US showed once again why they are a contender for the gold medal this year in this dominating game over Slovakia.

The US struck first when Arthur Kaliyev scored on the powerplay at 10:44 of the first period. In the second period, the US increased its lead after back to back goals. The first goal came from John Farinacci at 11:55. The powerplay then struck again as Cole Caufield scored his second goal of the tournament 16:53 into the second period. Slovakia got one back as Matej Kaslik beat Spencer Knight at 18:32 of the period.

Slovakia climbed back to within one when Dominik Sojka scored the first powerplay goal given up by the US this tournament at 9:50 of the third period. This was as close as Slovakia got as the US scored twice more in the third period to take the 5-2 victory. John Farinacci scored his second goal of the night at 15:46 followed by an empty-net goal from Matthew Beniers at 18:36 of the period.

Domination By The Americans:

The USA proved once again why they are a tournament favourite. Although Slovakia was close to tying the game, the US had control throughout. Their offense is firing on all cylinders, and they are getting solid goalkeeping from Spencer Knight. It must also be noted that Trevor Zegras is having an MVP type tournament. He is tied for the tournament lead with Dylan Cozens with 13 points and leads the tournament in assists with nine. If Zegras can continue his play against Finland, then the US will have a good shot of making the gold medal game.

Three stars from each team:

USA:

Trevor Zegras- 2 assists, 4 shots, 16:31 TOI

John Farinacci- 2 goals, 7 shots, +2, 14:52

Matthew Boldy- 1 assist, 6 shots, 20:46 TOI

Slovakia:

Simon Latkoczy- 38 saves on 42 shots

Samuel Knazko- 1 assist, 2 shots, 15:10 TOI

Matej Kaslik- 1 goal, 2 shots, +1, 17:29 TOI

Semi-finals:

The Semi-finals are set. Canada will take on Russia while The US will take on Finland. These were the top four teams in the tournament so this result is not surprising. The winners will face off for gold while the losing teams will battle for bronze.

Prediction and Game Times:

Canada versus Russia- January 4th, 2021 @ 16:00 MST:

Canada 4 – Russia 2

USA versus Finland- January 4th, 2021 @ 19:30 MST:

USA 5 – Finland 4

DUBNetwork Forums 2021 World Juniors Recap: Quarterfinals

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