What a day of hockey at the 2020 World Juniors. Kazakhstan staved off relegation with a win over Germany, Russia and Sweden played an incredibly exciting game that saw Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Hugo Alnefelt make highlight reel saves, and Canada shutout Finland one year after the Finns eliminated them in the quarterfinals.
Relegation Round: Kazakhstan 4, Germany 1
The biggest news of this game was that 2020 top prospect Tim Stutzle missed this game due to an illness.
Facing relegation, Kazakhstan played their best game of the tournament, opening up a 4-0 lead on Germany and cruising to an easy victory. Germany came alive in the final two minutes of the second period, but couldn’t find the back of the net to bring the score closer.
Which means both teams will head to the final relegation game today in the best-of-three series. Vladislav Nurek was fantastic in goal for Kazakhstan today. Moritz Seider (DET) played nearly 30 minutes on the blueline for Germany, and expect him to play similar minutes today.
Game One: Russia 5, Sweden 4 (OT)
SOG: RUS — 44, SWE — 25
PP: RUS — 2/6, SWE — 3/4
Players of the Game: RUS — Yegor Sokolov, SWE — Rasmus Sandin (TOR)
RUS Players of the Tournament: Yegor Zamula (PHI), Dmitry Voronkov (CBJ), Grigori Denisenko (FLA)
SWE Players of the Tournament: Rasmus Sandin (TOR), Samuel Fagemo (LA), David Gustafsson (WPG)
This game was just chaos. There was just some sort of frenetic energy about it. There was an ejection, so many penalties and powerplays, and ridiculous saves.
Rasmus Sandin (TOR) opened the scoring 16 seconds into the game:
Russia tied the game on the powerplay when Vasili Podkolzin (VAN) fed Ivan Morozov (VEG) in front of the net:
Then, things got ugly. Nils Hoglander (VAN) delivered an elbow to Grigori Denisenko (FLA), which led to Hoglander’s ejection and a five-minute powerplay for Russia:
Russia only scored once on the five minute powerplay, but they would take the lead 2-1:
Yegor Sokolov made it 3-1 Russia after Hugo Alnefelt (TB) botched a clearing attempt:
Samuel Fagemo (LA) brought Sweden within a goal:
And Sweden nearly tied the game a few minutes later, if not for the heroics of Danila Zhuravlyov (COL):
All of that happened in the first period. What chaos.
The second period became the Hugo Alnefelt show, but I’ll get to his saves after all of the goals. Sandin tied the game with his second of the night (the lone goal of the period):
Nils Lundkvist (NYR) made it 4-3 on the powerplay:
But Russia responded, as Sokolov’s second of the game tied the game again at 4:
Regulation ended and we needed overtime to solve this game. There was 10 minutes of 3-on-3, but Ivan Morozov scored the game-winner to send Russia to the gold medal game.
And Sweden’s gold medal drought will continue — their last one came in 2012. They will play for bronze instead.
The Hugo Alnefelt Show
Alnefelt didn’t have a good first period. He was beat fairly easily on Russia’s first goal (five-hole) and obviously messed up the clearing attempt on the 3-1 goal. But he was a different netminder in the second period.
Alnefelt channeled his inner Andrei Vasilevskiy on this no-look, behind the back save:
Then, he one-upped himself with this brilliant save, robbing Kirill Marchenko (CBJ) of a wide-open cage:
Alnefelt made 39 of 44 saves and finished the game with an .886 save percentage. That’s obviously not a stellar stat, but the game wouldn’t even have gotten to overtime had he not made those two ridiculous saves in the second period. He was under siege throughout the entire game. Hopefully he gets the start again in the bronze medal game.
Game Two: Canada 5, Finland 0
Players of the Game: CAN — Joel Hofer (STL), FIN — Mikko Kokkonen (TOR)
CAN Players of the Tournament: Barrett Hayton (ARI), Alexis Lafreniere (2020), Liam Foudy (CBJ)
FIN Players of the Tournament: Justus Annunen (COL), Patrik Puistola (CAR), Kristian Tanus
This game was basically over before we were even halfway through the first period. Canada struck early and often to shut down the defensively-lauded Finns and earn redemption after they were eliminated by Finland in 2019.
Connor McMichael (WSH) beat Justus Annunen (COL) to make it 1-0:
Not long after, Alexis Lafreniere (2020) made it 2-0 off a beautiful backhand — shoutout to Nolan Foote (TB) for the excellent fake-shot pass on this goal:
Jamie Drysdale (2020) made it 3-0 Canada and that ended a pretty disastrous four minutes for Finland:
Late in the first, Ty Dellandrea (DAL) buried the puck into a wide open cage after Annunen bobbled the puck, and it was 4-0 after one period:
After an offensive onslaught in the first, the second period was relatively quiet. Lafreniere scored his second of the game on the powerplay. It was just an absolute bullet:
Finland would press in the final frame, but Hofer was stellar in net for Canada. They’ll play Sweden for bronze, while Canada will take on Russia for gold.
Foote finished with one assist (on Lafreniere’s first goal), three shots on goal, and played 14:19. He did play with a couple of different linemates once Canada’s top center Barrett Hayton (ARI) went down with an injury late in the third, including Akil Thomas (LA) and Ty Dellandrea (DAL).
There are likely to be some changes to the forward lines if Hayton is unable to play in the gold medal game. On the broadcast, they were mentioning that Foote can play center if they really need him to, but I can’t imagine that the Canadian coaching staff would move him off the wing. There are other players who are more comfortable playing down the middle, and Foote has shown some chemistry with both Dylan Cozens (BUF) and Joe Veleno (DET), both of whom are candidates to slide into Hayton’s spot.
Medal Games Schedule
(All games ET, teams with Bolts prospects in bold)
Bronze Medal Game:
9:00am — Sweden vs. Finland
Gold Medal Game
1:00pm — Canada vs. Russia