The second-last day of the round robin at the 2020 World Juniors had a little bit of everything. Sweden defeated Kazakhstan, Canada bounced back against Germany, Switzerland handed Slovakia its second straight lopsided loss, and the United States were nearly upset by the Czech Republic.
The IIHF announced yesterday morning that Russian forward Nikita Rtishchev had been suspended one game for his headbutt on Oliver Wahlstrom in Russia’s game against USA on Sunday.
Rtishchev will miss Russia’s final round robin game of the tournament but is eligible to return for the elimination round games.
Now, onto the games!
Game One: Sweden 6, Kazakhstan 2
SOG: SWE — 35, KAZ — 19
PP: SWE — 3/4, KAZ — 0/2
Players of the Game: SWE — Karl Henriksson (NYR), KAZ — Oleg Boiko
Poor Kazakhstan. They go winless in group play and are bound for relegation for the second straight year. They won’t know who the will face in the best-of-3 series until after today’s games end. As for Sweden, they extended their preliminary round win-streak to 51 games and look poised to win Group A.
Samuel Fagemo (LA) is having himself a tournament. For the second straight game, he scored Sweden’s first two goals:
Sweden’s two Linuses hooked up for the 3-0 goal:
Nils Hoglander (VAN) made it 4-0 with a wicked wrister:
It was a similar-looking shot from Jonatan Berggren (DET) for the 5-0 goal:
Kazakhstan got on the board in the second period, capitalizing on a Swedish miscue:
Pressured by Oleg Boiko, Broberg blows a tire on the blueline and Boiko scoops up the puck and is off to the races for a breakaway goal. Kazakhstan is on the board!— Julie Robenhymer (@JulieRobenhymer) December 30, 2019
5-1 SWE, 7 left in 2nd #WorldJuniors
Lucas Raymond (2020) finished off a great pass from Karl Henriksson (NYR):
Kazakhstan would add one more goal at the end of the game, but it wouldn’t be enough:
Maxim Musorov has his fourth goal of the tournament to make it 6-2. Scored on the rebound just near the crease. #WorldJuniors— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) December 30, 2019
Sweden took control of the game in the second period and blew the score wide open. They scored four of their six goals in the middle frame, three of which were on the powerplay. With his two goals yesterday, Fagemo leads the tournament in goal-scoring with 5 goals.
Kazakhstan’s round robin games have finished, and they’ll wait to see whether they play the Czech Republic, Germany, or another team in the relegation round (Group B is still somewhat of a mess).
Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Hugo Alnefelt had the game off, but will start today’s game against Slovakia. He was having a little bit of fun on the bench:
Game Two: Canada 4, Germany 1
SOG: CAN — 26, GER — 19
PP: CAN — 1/4, GER — 1/5
Players of the Game: CAN — Joel Hofer (STL), Moritz Seider (DET)
Canada was missing both Joe Veleno (DET) and Alexis Lafreniere (2020) in this game, down to 11 forwards, and coming off their worst loss at the World Juniors in history. Germany came into this game with the tournament’s most lethal powerplay, having just upset the Czechs.
So naturally, Canada played their best game of the tournament and Germany’s powerplay fell silent. Because hockey.
This was one of the least-penalized games of the entire tournament so far to start the game. The first penalty wasn’t called until eight minutes into the first, and Canada got the first powerplay. They weren’t able to score on it, but shortly after the penalty expired, Tampa Bay’s Nolan Foote got the puck in the slot and whipped a shot past Hendrik Hane. 1-0 Canada.
Hell of a shift by Nolan Foote. Wins a puck battle, engages physically, stickhandler through traffic, and then finds a soft spot on the ice to score. 1-0 Canada.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 30, 2019
Foote’s goal was the first time Canada scored the opening goal of the game, and Canada entered the first intermission with a lead.
A scrum near the half-wall that saw two German players tangled up on the ice allowed Liam Foudy (CBJ) all the time and open ice in the world to walk in and score the 2-0 goal:
Calen Addison (PIT) wound up for a slapshot and unloaded an absolute bomb past Hane to give Canada a 3-0 lead. Foote had the primary assist on this goal:
Canada got into penalty trouble in the third period. They took two minor penalties (one of which was by Foote) and one double-minor for high-sticking. Germany capitalized on the double minor:
Still on the powerplay, Germany pulled their goalie, but couldn’t gain possession in the Canadian zone. Ty Dellandrea (DAL) and Foudy come in on a shorthanded 2-on-0, and Dellandrea finishes in the empty net:
Foote finished the game with a goal and an assist, his first points of the tournament. Connor McMichael (WSH) took Lafreniere’s spot on the top line with Foote and Barrett Hayton (ARI), and their line was dominant for Canada all game long.
Before he scored the opening goal, Foote actually powered himself down the ice alone on a breakaway. He outskated Moritz Seider (DET), which isn’t something I expected him to do given that Foote’s skating isn’t the fastest (and Seider is a great skater) and got off a shot before tripping over the goalie’s pads and falling awkwardly into the boards. He was fine, though.
Foote also had a couple of good one-time shots on the man-advantage, one from the slot, and the other from the right half-wall. Although he didn’t capitalize, and wasn’t passed to that often, it was good to see him taking more shots on the powerplay. His teammates need to pass to him more.
Heading Into New Year’s Eve
Germany’s powerplay struggled tonight, especially to get set up in the offensive zone. When they were able to set up, they looked overwhelming, but just couldn’t finish. A lot of the time, though, Canada just did a masterful job of clogging up the neutral zone or blueline to prevent zone entries.
Group B is still very much in flux, but Canada’s win puts them firmly in the driver’s seat to win the group. As long as they defeat the Czech Republic, first place will be theirs. They played their best game of the tournament today and were rolling all game long, despite missing two of their better forwards. Joel Hofer (STL) was fantastic in goal, stopping two German breakaways and shutting the door when Canada did allow Germany the occasional scoring chance.
It’s a little more complicated to determine Germany’s placement, though. Their win against the Czech Republic was huge, but they really could’ve benefitted from at least a point against one other team. They’ll head into tonight’s game against Russia looking to pull off another upset.
Game Three: Switzerland 7, Slovakia 2
SOG: SUI — 26, SVK — 29
PP: SUI — 2/6, SVK — 1/7
Players of the Game: SUI — Gilian Kohler, SVK — Martin Fasko-Rudas
This game had pretty important implications for Group A, even though neither team had to worry about playing in the relegation round. The loser of this game would finish fourth in Group A and likely play one of Canada or USA in the quarter-finals, something both teams wanted to avoid.
The first goal wasn’t scored until almost eight minutes into the period. Gilian Kohler banged in a rebound on the doorstep to open the scoring for Switzerland:
Kohler gives Switzerland the opening goal against Slovakia and breaks out the Kuznetsov celebration pic.twitter.com/QT7XVWMfDi— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 30, 2019
With Switzerland on the powerplay about two minutes later, Kohler blasted one-timer past Slovak goalie Samuel Hlavaj to give Switzerland a 2-0 lead:
Valentin Nussbaumer (ARI) made it 3-0 with another one-timer, this time from the slot, and that would be the end of Hlavaj’s night. Samuel Vyletelka would enter the game in relief.
Switzerland wasted no time in the second period increasing their lead. Simon Knak (2020) beat Vyletelka on a great individual effort, cutting into the slot:
Slovakia got on the board about five minutes later. They were on the penalty kill, had cleared the puck, and Swiss goalie Luca Hollenstein had left the goal to play the puck. Oliver Okuliar stole it and passed off to an incoming Martin Fasko-Rudas, who buried the puck into the wide open net to make it 5-1:
Swiss Goalkeeper Luca Hollenstein gifts Slovakia the first goal with a big mistake pic.twitter.com/iRIKt84l2T— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) December 30, 2019
Switzerland responded just over a minute later with their sixth goal of the game. Captain Sandro Schmid tipped home David Aebischer’s point shot:
Slovakia scored its second goal of the game when Tampa Bay prospect Maxim Cajkovic made both an excellent zone entry and a perfect cross-ice pass to a wide-open Robert Dzugan, who beat Hollenstein:
Switzerland wrapped up the game with two more goals, a powerplay contribution from Mika Henauer and an even-strength tally by Matthew Verboon to win the game 7-2.
Although I wasn’t blown away by Cajkovic in the first period, I definitely thought he got stronger as the game got on (which was impressive given that Slovakia was getting shelled on the scoreboard).
He tried to rally the bench after they went down early:
Maxim Čajkovič was screaming on his bench at his teammates to wake up. He is extremely angry. I dont blame him. He is only one that is showing something. Tampa has a good one!— Samuel Tirpák (@SammyT_51) December 30, 2019
Many were impressed with his performance today:
At least Cajkovic didnt disappoint, he's so shifty, has good hockey IQ, skill...Tampa has a good one, might be a steal in few years as a 3rd rounder— Majo (@MajlooSK) December 30, 2019
And Cajkovic had a couple of good shifts that led to scoring chances as well:
Cajkovic feeds Okuliar with a pass and it looked like he rang it off the post #GoBolts— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) December 30, 2019
On a Swiss delayed penalty, Cajkovic rips a shot high and wide. Berni heads to the box.— World Juniors Lauren (@laurkelly24) December 30, 2019
But I have to say, his assist on the Dzugan goal was fantastic. He was able to read and react to the Swiss defenders trying to close him off the puck, evade them, and execute a seamless, flawless pass across the ice, through multiple players, while falling. He was one of the more dynamic players in this game, for sure.
Slovakia will wrap up their round robin against Sweden today, while Switzerland takes on Finland in the afternoon.
Game Four: USA 4, Czech Republic 3 (OT)
SOG: USA — 43, CZE — 29
PP: USA — 1/7, CZE — 1/6
Players of the Game: USA — Cole Caufield (MTL), CZE — Karel Plasek (VAN)
This game was just nuts. That’s all I can describe it as. The Czech fans were so loud that the broadcast audio was practically vibrating. USA needed to win this game desperately if they still wanted a chance to win the group. Likewise, the Czech Republic needed at least one point in this match to stave off playing in relegation. And both teams did just that.
On the powerplay early in the first, Shane Pinto (OTT) — who else? — took the behind-the-net feed from Nick Robertson (TOR) and gave USA the lead:
But the Czechs would storm back. With USA goalie Spencer Knight (FLA) screened heavily, Czech captain Libor Zabranksy floated a point shot on net that beat Knight and tied the game:
Zabranksy wasn’t done. With the Czechs on the powerplay at the end of the first, he snuck down towards the net and banged in a pass from Michal Teply (CHI). The Czechs took the lead for the first time:
But the United States responded early in the second. Arthur Kaliyev ripped the puck from an awful angle down by the goal line into the net. The referees would review to make sure the puck went in, and it did. USA tied the game, 2-2.
Five minutes later, the Czechs failed to clear the puck from their zone, and the puck landed on Trevor Zegras’ (ANA) stick. He made an incredible, no-look spinorama pass to Jack Drury (CAR), and he buried it past Lukas Parik (LA) to restore USA’s lead:
The Czechs thought they had scored to tie the game in the third period, but there was a length review before the referees decided to call the goal back due to goalie interference. Needless to say, Czech fans in attendance were not pleased.
But the Czechs would make up for it, tying the game once again. On the powerplay, Petr Cajka knocked in the rebound past Knight to make it 3-3:
The game needed overtime, which earned the Czechs a critical one point in the standings regardless of the outcome.
USA head coach Scott Sandelin got a lot of heat for not putting Wisconsin Badgers linemates Cole Caufield (MTL) and Alex Turcotte (LA) together at the start of the tournament, but the pair were out there in overtime (along with fellow Badger defenseman K’Andre Miller), and they delivered the game-winning goal:
Jan Jenik Injury & the Czechs’ Fate
A key Czech player was injured midway through the game. Jan Jenik, who is one of the Czechs key offensive producers and best players left the game after this collision:
It doesn’t look good for Jenik. pic.twitter.com/D3MvBZKrtb— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) December 30, 2019
Thankfully, the Czechs were able to force overtime without Jenik, but it if he is out for the rest of the tournament, it really hurts the Czechs chances.
The Czechs need a point against USA or Canada to avoid relegation round. They lost to Germany, so that's their only way out (unless Russia loses to Germany as well).— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) December 30, 2019
That's going to be even tougher without Jan Jenik. https://t.co/ICIx9MJxbm
Coach Vaclav Varada on Jan Jenik's status:— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 30, 2019
"It looks like a banged up knee ... looks pretty bad (but) sometimes miracles happens"
Hamilton forward will be reassessed tomorrow
has one spot remaining on roster & they will register a new player for tomorrow's game v https://t.co/WYsaIjvwHe
Group B Implications
USA’s round robin is over. They will wait to see whether they finish first or second in the group:
is now guaranteed a top-two finish in Group B— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 30, 2019
Americans get the top seed if loses to tomorrow
All of Russia, Germany, and the Czech Republic have a chance at playing in relegation against Kazakhstan, depending on how today’s games go:
The Czechs play the late game tomorrow, so they'll know the results of the RUS-GER game before their game starts.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) December 30, 2019
If Russia wins in OT, then the Czechs need a point against Canada. Otherwise, the Czechs have already secured their playoff spot.
So, all of today’s games are critical for finishes in Group B.
(All times ET, teams with Bolts prospects bolded)
9:00am — Sweden vs. Slovakia
9:00am — Russia vs. Germany
1:00pm — Finland vs. Switzerland
1:00pm — Canada vs. Czech Republic
This recap was compiled with information from IIHF game sheets, Twitter, and TSN.