World Juniors Recap: December 30th, 2020

 

December 30th was a historic day at the World Juniors. We saw a country qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time as well as the end of what may be the greatest winning streak in international hockey history. Here are the recaps from Wednesday’s three games:

News and notes:

Czech defenceman Michael Krutil (Kelowna Rockets) will miss the team’s next game against Austria. He was suspended for a slew-foot that occurred during the Czech-USA game on December 29th.

Canada and Finland will face off for the top spot of Group A on December 31st. The rest of Group A finishes with Germany in third, Slovakia in fourth, and Switzerland in fifth. Switzerland has been eliminated from the tournament. Germany will play the second-place team from Group B while Slovakia will play the best team from that group.

In Group B, here are where teams can finish depending on tomorrow’s results:

Russia- First or second

The USA- First, second or third

Sweden- First or third

The Czech Republic- Fourth or fifth

Austria: Fourth or fifth

Finland versus Slovakia:

Finland shut out Slovakia 6-0 to guarantee a top-two Group A finish. Team Finland dominated the game from start to finish outshooting Slovakia 50-12. With the loss, Slovakia will finish fourth in Group A and will play either Russia, Sweden, or the USA in the quarterfinals.

Finland opened the scoring when captain Anton Lundell scored at 8:57 of the first period. The second period saw Finland strike twice. Topi Niemelä scored his second goal of the tournament at 6:09 of the period followed by Kasper Simontaival at 8:35 to take a 3-0 lead into the third period. Finland added three more goals in the third period to take home a 6-0 win. Santeri Hatakka scored his first goal of the tournament at 6:10 of the period while Samuel Helenius potted a pair of goals back to back at 7:27 and 13:49. Finland outshot Slovakia 36-6 over the final two periods with goaltender Samuel Hlavaj making 44 saves in the loss.

Finland dominates once again:

Finland has dominated throughout the group stage. Although they did not put up huge goal totals only averaging five per game, their ability to control the puck made it impossible for opponents to generate any offense. Finland only allowed four goals through their first three games.

Now the Fins face the Canadians for the top spot in the group. This will be a battle of the two best defensive teams in the tournament. Canada and Finland have combined to allow only seven goals. They are tied in shots against with 48 and each team has recorded a shutout. Expect a low-scoring game between Finland and Canada where the winner may be whichever team scores the first goal.

A disappointing group stage for Slovakia:

After their overtime loss to Germany, Slovakia will finish fourth in Group A. They now must get ready for either the US, Russia, or Sweden. Generating offensive chances has been a major issue for Slovakia throughout the tournament as they finish with five goals scored on 92 shots. What has kept Slovakia in games is their goaltending. They finish their tournament with a team save percentage of 90.23 despite giving up 13 goals in their four games. It looks like Simon Latkoczy will be their goaltender in the quarterfinals so they will need him to step up big if they want to pull off an upset. Slovakia has a chance, but they need solid goaltending and their offense to finally start scoring if they want to move onto the semi-finals.

Next games:

Finland will play Canada on the 31st at 4:00 pm MST for the top spot in the group. Slovakia’s next game will be on January 2nd. Start time TBD.

Three stars from each team:

Finland:

Anton Lundell- 1 goal, 2 assists, 4 shots, +4, 15:54 TOI

Roni Hirvonen- 2 assists, 6 shots, +4, 15:58 TOI

Ville Heinola- 5 shots, +1, 20:19 TOI

Slovakia:

Samuel Hlavaj- 44 saves on 50 shots

David Mudrak- 2 shots, 19:08 TOI

Marko Stacha- 20:16 TOI

Germany versus Switzerland:

In what may have been the most exciting game of the tournament thus far, Germany defeated Switzerland 5-4 to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals. With the loss, Switzerland is done and will have to regroup for next year’s tournament.

Germany jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. The first goal came from John-Jason Peterka who notched his third of the tournament at 4:38 of the first. At 9:08 of the period, Tim Stützle scored one of the greatest goals you will ever see to extend the lead. Peterka found the net again at 17:16 with a powerplay goal set up by Stützle. Germany added one more goal in the second to go up 4-0. The human highlight reel Tim Stützle scored his fifth goal of the tournament on the powerplay at 13:19 of the period.

Switzerland is finally rewarded:

Switzerland came into this game having only scored one goal all tournament. They needed a miracle to come back in the third period. The Swiss kept pressing and were finally rewarded. Noah Delémont’s shot beat German keeper Bugl at 9:59 of the third period. Less than a minute later, Switzerland found the back of the net again when Ronny Dähler scored at 10:55. Down two, Switzerland pulled the goalie which lead to Peterka’s hat trick goal at 17:39 of the period.

Most teams might have thrown in the towel at this point, but the Swiss kept pressing and found the back of the net twice in less than 90 seconds to make it a one-goal game. First Noah Meier at 18:14 followed by Portland Winterhawk and team captain Simon Knak at 19:36. Although they were not able to get the equalizer, Switzerland never gave up and was almost able to send the game to overtime.

Germany hangs on for the win:

Germany was outshot 35-25 in the game and may have lost if it was not for the incredible performance by Tim Stützle. Stützle has been incredible throughout this tournament. The captain of the Germans is an early front runner for MVP of the tournament and is the reason Germany finished third in the group stage. After all the adversity Germany has faced they deserve to move on. They have been fantastic on the powerplay leading the tournament in powerplay goals with eight while managing the third-best shooting percentage in the tournament at 14.89%. Germany is a dangerous team and they have the potential to do some damage in the knockout stage. If teams don’t learn how to contain Tim Stützle then watch out because Germany is here to win.

A valiant effort by Switzerland:

In the end, Switzerland just did not have the offensive capability to compete in this tournament. Their goaltending was good but nothing else seemed to have clicked. The good news for Switzerland is that they will have 14 players who can return in next year’s tournament. Maybe this experience will help them next year to at least make the medal round.

Next games:

Germany’s next game will be on January 2nd with the time TBD. They will face the second seed from Group B.

Three stars from each team:

Germany:

Tim Stützle- 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 shots, +2, 24:33 TOI

Florian Elias- 2 assists, 3 shots, +2, 23:57 TOI

John-Jason Peterka- 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 shots, +2, 24:49 TOI

Switzerland:

Simon Knak- 1 goal, 6 shots, 26:06 TOI

Inaki Baragano- 1 assist, 4 shots, +1, 24:33 TOI

Noah Meier 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 shots, 20:33 TOI

Russia versus Sweden:

Sweden’s 54 game winning streak in the group stage at the World Juniors officially came to an end after Russia’s 4-3 OT win. The last time Sweden lost a group stage game was December 31st, 2006. Some facts about the last time Sweden lost a group stage game. The number one song in the world on that day was Irreplaceable by Beyonce. The number one movie was Night at the Museum. The iPhone had not even been invented yet and all of the players on Sweden’s team were under the age of seven. It was an incredible streak that we may never see again so congratulations to Sweden on their incredible run.

A back and forth game:

Russia scored first with 7:28 gone in the first period. Yegor Afanasyev’s second goal of the tournament put the Russian’s up 1-0. Russia held its lead until Arvid Costmar tied the game at 14:33 of the period. Late in the period on the powerplay, Russia retook the lead thanks to Rodion Amirov’s second goal of the tournament at 19:14.

Russia held its lead until Sweden was able to tie it up at 15:59 of the second period when Alexander Holtz’s shot the puck off of a sprawling Yaroslav Askarov. The third period saw Russia retake the lead thanks to a powerplay goal by Kirill Kirsanov at 9:46. With the netminder pulled, Sweden tied the game with one minute left thanks to a blast from the point by Noel Gunler. The game was tied and off to overtime.

In the extra frame, Sweden’s Arvid Costmar took a holding penalty with less than 30 seconds left. Russia made Sweden pay when Marat Khusnutdinov beat Swedish goalkeeper Jesper Wallstedt with less than seven seconds to go in the overtime to claim victory for Russia.

The Russians find their form:

Russia has not been great throughout this tournament but is finally starting to find its form going into the quarterfinals. They will have to wait to see the results of the US versus Sweden game to know their seeding. Russia still has a chance to finish first in the group. They need the US to beat Sweden in overtime or a shootout to be crowned champions of Group B. A regulation win by the US and Russia will finish first. Any type of win by Sweden and Russia will finish second.

The good news for Russia is that they avoid Finland and Canada until the semi-finals. Russia needs to improve their powerplay if they want to have success. Four goals on 11 opportunities are not good enough when you consider that teams like Canada and the US are operating at above 45 percent. If Russia can draw more penalties and capitalize, they will be a difficult out for any team they have to face.

A huge opportunity missed for Sweden:

Sweden could have guaranteed their spot at the top of the group, but now have to beat the US to claim that spot. If they lose in regulation, then they will have to face Canada or Finland in the quarterfinals. Sweden was good in this game, but their penalty killing let them down. Sweden has been shorthanded eight times so far in the tournament and has given up four goals. You can’t expect to win Gold if you are running a 50% penalty kill. They also missed out on the powerplay going 0-5. Sweden has to figure out their special teams. They are too good of a team to be suffering from these problems. If they can’t fix these problems and end up facing Canada or Finland, it could spell the end of the tournament for them in the quarterfinals.

Next games:

Sweden plays the USA in the last game of the group stage on the 31st at 7:30 pm MST. Russia’s next game is January 2nd with the time TDB.

Three stars from each team:

Russia:

Marat Khusnutdinov- OT winning goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, 20:40 TOI

Rodion Amirov- 1 goal, 2 assists, 7 shots, 17:39 TOI

Vasili Podkolzin- 1 assist, 7 shots, 21:23 TOI

Sweden:

Alexander Holtz- 1 goal, 1 assist, 7 shots, +1, 21:40 TOI

Victor Söderström- 1 assist, 4 shots, 26:05 TOI

Noel Gunler- 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, +2, 16:01 TOI

 

 

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