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2021 World Junior Tournament Recap: Day Two, The Boxing Day Blowouts

The combined winning margin on the day was 31 goals.

Sweden v Czech Republic: Preliminary Round Group B - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

In tournaments like this there are going to be blowouts. That’s just the way it goes with the disparity once you get outside of the Big Five countries. Rarely do they happen on the same day, but what has been normal about this year? There were three teams that are expected to contend for the gold medal in action on Saturday and they all took care of business.

Sweden, who hadn’t played a competitive match since setting foot on Canadian soil due to positive Covid tests among their traveling squad looked rusty early on, but found their rhythm as the game progressed. Home team Canada scored early and often against a depleted and tired German squad while the United States restored a little confidence with a blowout of an overmatched Austrian team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had one of their two prospects playing as Hugo Alnefelt received the start for Team Sweden. Bolts fans tuning in to the early game had to have been pleased at the way he played.

Yesterday’s Games:

Sweden 7, Czech Republic 1

For a team that didn’t have a warm-up game it was understandable to see Sweden get off to a slow start. Luckily they had Hugo Alnefelt in net. The Lightning prospect stopped 11 of 12 first period shots (the only goal he allowed was on a Czech Republic power play). The Swedes found their legs in the second period and started finding the back of the net. A three-goal outburst in seven minutes turned a close game into a comfortable one. They added three more tallies in the third.

The Swedes generated their offense from the blueline with defensemen Victor Sodererstrom and Philip Broberg dishing out three assists. Seven different forwards scored goals for Sweden. Alnefelt stopped 24 of 25 shots including this one that came oh-so-close to crossing the line.

Canada 16, Germany 2

This one was never in doubt. Kaiden Guhle scored less than two minutes into the game and the Canadians never looked back. They scored four times in the first, seven times in the second, and five more times in the third. Dylan Cozens led with six points (three goals, three assists) and seventeen skaters had at least one point.

Germany, who played last night and were down to 15 skaters due to multiple players still in quarantine, were led by John-Jason Peterka and Florian Elias who both had a goal and an assist.

Canada’s Braden Schneider was ejected for throwing a dangerous hit on Jan-Luca Schumaker:

United States 11, Austria 0

Team USA shook off their opening day loss and throttled Austria to cap off the night of action. Trevor Zegras, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, led the way with four points (two goals, two assists) while Matthew Boldy, drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2019, had a hat trick. Nine players had multiple points while sixteen recorded at least one point.

Dustin Wolf only faced ten shots in goal and he stopped them all. Meanwhile Austrian netminders Jakob Brandner (4 saves) and Sebastian Wraneschitz (58 saves)were under a hailstorm made of frozen rubber as the Americans peppered the net with 73 shots.

The win gave the United States a much needed three points as they look to keep pace in Group B with Russia and Sweden. It was also a nice win coming so quickly on the heels of a disappointing loss to the Russians the night before.

Today’s Games:

Switzerland (0-1) vs. Finland (1-0) 2:00 pm EST NHL Network

Lightning prospects? No, but center Samuel Helenius is the son of former Lightning defenseman Sami Helenius.

Finland is expected to advance from this group along with Canada. A win against Switzerland would go a long way to helping that cause. Slovakia will be a tough game and Germany may be close to full strength by the time the two teams meet.

Switzerland is probably going to finish last in Group A, but they’re not going to be pushovers.

Canada (1-0) vs. Slovakia (1-0) 6:00 pm EST NHL Network

Lightning prospects? No.

The host country will have a slightly harder time with their second game in as many days against a team that can actually ice a full roster. They should still win easily, but then again Simon Latkoczy could have a Kristers Gudlevskis moment as well. Never underestimate the power of a goalie who is in the zone.

Canada will have to maintain their focus. Coming off of a lopsided win can be a bit deceiving. It was such a rout that they might have the tendency to think that the rest of the tournament will be a cakewalk. Slovakia may not have the firepower that Canada has, but they can’t be taken lightly.

Russia (1-0) vs. Czech Republic (0-1) 9:30 pm EST Network

Lightning prospects? Yes. Maxim Groshev who had one assist in Russia’s first game.