World Juniors Recap: December 25th, 2020

 

The 2021 World Juniors has officially started. On Christmas Day, six teams took to the ice in Edmonton and showed why this tournament is so exciting. We saw our first upset, a team battle adversity and stick with a tournament favourite, and a game that featured two high profile goaltenders making huge mistakes. Here is a recap of day one from the bubble.

News and Notes:

Czech forward Adam Raska has been suspended one game for a dangerous boarding hit during Czech Republics’ pre-tournament game versus Slovakia. Raska will miss the Czech’s first game versus Sweden scheduled for December 26th.

Slovakia versus Switzerland:

Slovakia upset Switzerland 1-0 in the first game of the tournament. After Slovakia was thrashed 6-0 in the pre-tournament, many believed they were bound for the bottom of the group. Thanks to an incredible performance by Simon Latkoczy, Slovakia was able to open the tournament with a win. Latkoczy was a surprise starter as many believed that Samuel Hlavaj would be the go-to starter for the tournament. Hlavaj is in his third World Juniors while Latkoczy has only seven games of international experience.

With less than six minutes left in the third, Slovakia was finally able to break through with a goal by Roman Faith. Faith was able to pick up the puck in the slot and rip it past Swiss goalkeeper Thibault Fatton.

During the game, Latkoczy made what may be the save of the tournament. With less than three and a half minutes left, Latkoczy absolutely robbed Switzerland’s Inaki Baragano. Latkoczy dove across his goal and robbed Baragano of what would have been the game-tying goal.

Switzerland’s captain and Portland Winterhawk forward Simon Knak was credited with eight shots on goal but was unable to beat Latkocz.

Next Games:

Switzerland will take on Finland next on December 27th at 12:00 MST while Slovakia will face Canada right after starting at 4:00 MST.

Three Stars from Each Team:

Slovakia:

Simon Latkoczy- 28 save shutout

Dominik Sojka- 2 shots, 20:55 TOI

Roman Faith- 1 goal, 13:35 TOI

Switzerland:

Thibault Fatton- 31 saves on 32 shots

Simon Knak- 8 shots, 20:46 TOI

Inaki Baragano- 3 shots, 16:38 TOI

 

Finland versus Germany:

Germany entered this game with only five defencemen and nine forwards due to positive COVID-19 tests. They were up against one of the pre-tournament favorites in Finland in the second game of the day. Finland skated away with a 5-3 victory, but Germany should be commended for the effort they put forth despite the adversity they faced.

Finland jumped out to a 3-0 lead with goals from Lundell, Raty, and Pyyhita. During the second period, Germany was able to cut the lead to 3-2 with a powerplay goal from Dube and a beautiful one-timer from Stutzle. Finland regained the three-goal lead late in the second after goals from Niemela and Nikkanen. In the middle of the third, Germany was able to get one back to make it 5-3 off a goal from Elias, but that was as close as they would come.

Finland fired 50 shots on German goalkeeper Arno Tiefensee who kept Germany in the game as long as he could. Finland is a very good team but should be concerned with only the five goals. This Germany team was undermanned, and Finland should have been able to take advantage. If Finland wants to be a threat in this tournament, they need to tighten up defensively and be more opportunistic in the offensive zone.

Germany on the other hand played incredibly despite the circumstance. The team’s TOI average per player was over 21 minutes, and they were able to get three goals past Kari Piiroinen on 22 shots. Watching the game, you could tell Germany was just running out of gas at some points. They need to be careful that they don’t lose players to injury or else they could be in trouble the rest of the tournament.

Next Games:

Finland will take on Switzerland on the 27th at 12:00 MST while Germany faces Canada on the 26th starting at 4:00 pm MST.

Three Stars from Each Team:

Finland:

Ville Heinola- 7 shots, 23:16 TOI

Anton Lundell- 1 goal, 4 shots, 16:23 TOI

Topi Niemela- 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, 16:30 TOI

Germany:

Tim Stutzle- 1 goal, 1 assist, 6 shots, 26:01 TOI

Arno Tiefensee- 45 saves on 50 shots

Simon Gnyp- 2 shots, 28:53 TOI

Russia versus The United States:

Russia versus the USA is also must watch at the World Juniors and this year was no different. This game featured two of the best goalies in the tournament. Spencer Knight for the United States and Yaroslav Askarov. Both goalies were drafted in the first round, but struggled in this game turning the puck over, making bad plays in the net, and Knight even being pulled midway through the second. Russia was able to beat the US 5-3 but this was a game both teams should be worried about when it comes to their play.

Russia jumped out to an early lead when Ponomaryov was able to beat Knight with a tip-in point shot. Cam York answered a few minutes later when his shot squeaked through Askarov’s pads from his point shot. Russia then took over the game in the second period, scoring three times to take a 4-1 lead. Goals from Bardakov, Ponomaryov, and Safonov helped Russia take the lead into the third. Three of Russia’s first four goals resulted from bad passes by Spencer Knight. After the fourth goal, he was pulled in favor of Everett Silvertip’s Dustin Wolf.

Wolf coming into the game seemed to have sparked the US as they went on to score two goals in the third to shrink the lead to 4-3. The goals from Farinacci and Zegras brought them close, but Russia was able to shut down the Americans and add an empty netter from Chinakhov with 21 seconds left to seal the win.

Goaltending Concerns:

Dustin Wolf made 11 saves in relief including a breakaway that kept Team USA in the game. Wolf is scheduled to start in the American’s next game, but if he continues to perform, he could be the US starting goalie the rest of the way. As for Askarov, he made some perplexing plays in the net but was able to stand tall when his team needed him. Askarov needs to calm down in goal and stop flailing around or else it may cost his team. Russia does have a capable backup in Artur Akhtyamov so Askarov needs to prove himself throughout the rest of the tournament.

Moving Forward in the Tournament:

If the US wants to be a medal contender, they need to work on their defensive zone awareness and play. Russia controlled the puck way too easily in the offensive zone and was able to capitalize off of turnovers. Russia was able to score four times on 23 shots with the US goaltender in the net. The US forwards and defencemen need to be better at clearing the puck, and Spencer Knight needs to control the puck, and not turn it over for this team to be successful.

For Russia, they showed why they are a medal favorite. They dominated the USA in the first and second physically and on the scoresheet. The third-period goals allowed were a result of poor goaltending decisions and a desire to shut the game down. If they can keep the pressure on the entire game as they did in the first two periods, Russia will have no problem making it to the Gold Medal Game.

Next Games:

Next up the US faces Austria on December 26th at 7:30 pm MST while Russia takes on the Czech Republic on December 27th at 7:30 pm MST.

Three Stars from Each Team:

Russia: 

Vasili Ponomaryov- 2 goals, 3 shots, 8:05 TOI

Vasili Podkolzin- 2 shots, 20:21 TOI

Zakhar Bardakov- 1 goal, 4 shots, 9:52 TOI

United States: 

Cam York- 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, 22:49 TOI

Cole Caufield- 1 assist, 5 shots, 17:53 TOI

Trevor Zegras- 1 goal, 18:06 TOI

 

DUBNetwork Forums World Juniors Recap: December 25th, 2020

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