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World Juniors Recap Day 2: Demid Yeremeyev stole the hearts of Canadians

Denmark was shut out again, Switzerland made it a close game, and Yeremeyev held his own against Finland.

Finland v Sweden - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Day two of the 2019 World Junior Championships picked up right where Boxing Day left off. While all four favourites won their respective games, the final scores didn’t really tell the whole story. Yes, Russia played well against Denmark, but they also gave up way too many scoring chances to them. Sweden defeated Slovakia by multiple goals, but the Slovaks looked as strong as they did against the United States the day before. Canada beat Switzerland, but the Swiss pushed the Canadians right up until the final buzzer. And even though Finland won handily, their goaltender was stellar and stole the hearts of #HockeyTwitter.

Game One: Russia 4, Denmark 0

SOG: RUS - 20, DEN - 21
PP: RUS - 1/3, DEN - 0/7
Players of the Game: RUS - Alexander Romanov (MTL), DEN - Andreas Grundtvig

Poor Denmark, that’s 18 goals allowed in two days for them, which can’t feel good. However, they did look a lot better, generating more shots on goal and spending more time in the offensive zone than they did against Canada. But it didn’t take long for Russia to break through.

Vitaly Kravtsov (Rangers) got Russia on the board with a powerplay goal in the first period. After that, Romanov took over, scoring late in the second with a rocket from the point. Russia went up 3-0 after Romanov drove to the middle of the ice and put a shot on goal that was tipped by captain Pavel Shen. Russia would add an empty netter to seal the game and start their World Juniors off with a crucial three points.

See Romanov’s 2-0 goal here:

Understandably, Montreal Canadiens fans were extremely excited to see Romanov star in this game. I can’t say I blame them — the best thing about this tournament is seeing fans get so excited about their favourite team’s prospects.

However, Russia took way, way too many penalties — like the Czechs on Wednesday — and that has to change when they play the Czechs Friday night. Russia took five straight penalties in the second and beginning of the third period, and had they played a more offensively talented team, Danil Tarasov may not have gotten the shutout. We’ll see which team has cleaned up their game more tonight.

Meanwhile, Denmark has a day off (mercifully, I think) and will play Switzerland on Saturday. If they are going to avoid relegation, this is a must-win for them. Head coach Olaf Eller confirmed that starter Mads Sogaard was not injured after leaving their last game, and that Denmark’s starting goalie against Switzerland hadn’t been decided yet. But whoever they do choose must bring their A-game.

Game Two: Sweden 5, Slovakia 2

SOG: SWE - 26, SVK - 19
PP: SWE - 2/4, SVK - 1/6
Players of the Game: SWE - Emil Bemstrom (CBJ), SVK - Adam Liska

For the second straight game, Slovakia put up an admirable fight against a much stronger opponent (in the second and third, they got shelled in the first period). Lucas Elvenes (Vegas) opened the scoring for Sweden after stealing the puck and ripping it high glove on Juraj Sklenar. Slovakia would tie it a few minutes later as Adam Liska scored on the powerplay, but Sweden would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after a goal by Emil Bemstrom (Columbus). Bemstrom then finished off a pretty passing play on the man-advantage in the second to put Sweden up 3-1. Erik Brannstrom (Vegas) made it 4-1 on the powerplay in the third, before something strange happened a few moments later:

Uh, yeah. That’s rough. But that own-goal won’t haunt the Calgary Flames prospect too badly, since Sweden walked away with a 5-2 victory (Anaheim Ducks prospect Isac Lundestrom scored Sweden’s fifth goal), and extended their World Juniors preliminary round winning streak to 46 games. Sweden’s blueline was just sublime in this one, controlling the play and making incredible, Erik Karlsson-esque passes up the ice:

After this game, Slovakia falls into a 0-2 hole and will need to win one of their last two games to avoid relegation. Their next game is on Saturday against Finland before closing out the round robin against Kazahkstan on Sunday. You can probably tell which game they have the best shot at winning is. Sweden also gets a day off before playing the United States on Saturday, in what will likely decide who wins top spot in Group B. Sweden has looked incredible so far, but the United States has what it takes to end their 46-game win streak.

Game Three: Canada 3, Switzerland 2

SOG: CAN - 32, SUI - 15
PP: CAN 0/5, SUI - 2/4
Players of the Game: CAN - Barrett Hayton (ARI), SUI - Philipp Kurashev (CHI)

Famously, Switzerland’s head coach Christian Wohlwend said that his team had “no chance” against Canada in the quarter-finals back in 2018 (he was right). Before this game, he felt that his team could hang with the Canadians and give them a run for their money, and he was right again.

Canada opened the scoring 36 seconds into the game when Cody Glass (Vegas) finished off a beautiful pass from Nick Suzuki (Montreal). You might have thought we would’ve been in for another game like the one against Denmark, but the Swiss get full credit here. They shrugged the goal off, dug in, and proceeded to make Canada’s life miserable for the next 59 minutes and 24 seconds.

Chicago’s Philipp Kurashev tied the game on the powerplay a minute into the second. Mackenzie Entwistle, another Blackhawks prospect, restored the lead for Canada a few minutes later after a great offensive zone shift, and Noah Dobson (Islanders) made it 3-1 after driving to the net on a breakaway and going five-hole on Swiss goalie Akira Schmid (New Jersey). Switzerland had some glorious chances, including this one-timer right in front of Ian Scott:

Switzerland continued to press late in the game, as Canada squandered multiple powerplay opportunities to increase their lead, eventually leading to this with less than two minutes to go:

All of a sudden, the Swiss were right on Canada’s heels, but Kurashev boarded Maxime Comtois (Anaheim) late and that would be their last great chance. Canada escaped with the three points, but their special teams failed them on multiple occasions and the Swiss probably deserved a better fate. Scott allowed two goals on 15 shots, but he was also the reason Switzerland hadn’t tied the game.

Thanks to their overtime loss to the Czechs, Switzerland has one point (likely what they’ll need to avoid relegation) and will play Denmark on Saturday. Canada will get a night off before facing off against the Czechs the same night, and will need a better special teams performance against a better team.

Despite the loss, Wohlwend was proud of his team, and they are definitely in good hands with him:

Game Four: Finland 5, Kazahkstan 0

SOG: FIN - 56 , KAZ - 19
PP: FIN - 0/1, KAZ - 0/5
Players of the Game: FIN - Oskari Laaksonen (BUF), KAZ - Demid Yeremeyev

You know how there’s usually one game every day on the schedule you see and think, “that’s going to be a blowout”? This was probably that game.

Kazahkstan actually put up a pretty good fight at the beginning, it took Finland over 13 minutes to score. But after Kazahkstan’s goalie Demid Yeremeyev made two point-blank saves on two Finns, Otto Latvala picked up the rebound and wired the puck past Yeremeyev for a 1-0 lead. Captain Aarne Talvitie (New Jersey) made it 2-0 after picking up a loose puck in the Finnish slot and whipping it past Yeremeyev.

Valtteri Puustinen split the defense, came in on a breakaway, and was stopped by Yeremeyev, but Samuli Vainionpaa picked up the loose puck and made it 3-0 halfway through the second. But considering Canada was leading Denmark 8-0 after two periods, and that Finland had fired 33 shots on goal heading into the third, the fact that Kazahkstan was only down three goals spoke volumes of Yeremeyev’s performance last night.

Anyways, Yeremeyov allowed goals from Kaapo Kakko (2019 draft) and Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida) to give the Finns a 5-0 lead, but he was far from the reason the score got out of hand. Finland threw everything they had on net, and Yeremeyov came through as best he could for Kazahkstan. Plus, Yeremeyev robbed Eeli Tolvanen (Nashville) at least five times, and made over 50 saves. The crowd in Victoria supported him as best they could, and he was definitely the best story of the night.

Today’s Games:

  • Russia vs. Czech Republic (8pm EST/5pm PST)
    Players to Watch: RUS - Klim Kostin (STL), CZE - Martin Necas (CAR)
  • United States vs. Kazahkstan (10:30pm EST/7:30pm PST)
    Players to Watch: USA - Tyler Madden (VAN), KAZ - Demid Yeremeyev (even if he doesn’t start tomorrow)