There wasn’t much at stake on Monday at the World Junior Tournament in Edmonton. Sweden was the only team in action that is considered a contender for the gold medal. Yet, the two games that took place were pretty entertaining. Sweden won easily, but watching Austria play a disciplined defensive game for the entire 60 minutes and force their opponents to work hard to score their four goals (two of them on the power play) was enjoyable.
Also, Sweden plays such a smooth game that they are always fun to watch. For example - look at this feed from Simon Holmstrom and the shot from Noel Gunler:
Absolute poetry on ice.
The game between Germany and Slovakia was entertaining due to the even play between the two teams. It was a back and forth affair with neither team holding a lead for more than five minutes. At the end of regulation the shots were almost even (Germany had a slight edge 27-25). Granted, Slovakia’s tendency to take penalties (they had seven on the night) helped keep Germany in the game, but all credit to the Germans for capitalizing on the power play.
Tim Stützle showed why he was the third overall pick in the most recent draft as he was all over the ice. He led all skaters with 31:01 of ice time, scored twice and added an assist. His second goal came at the end of an end-to-end rush:
Sweden 4, Austria 0
After bailing his team out early in the first game, Hugo Alnefelt was rewarded with a relatively easy shutout in the second game. The Lightning prospect faced a total of six shots, including just one in the third period, as Sweden totally controlled the game. It was apparent early on that Austria was content to play in their own zone and try to counter attack.
The Swedes fired 65 shots on the Austrian goal on their way to a 4-0 victory. Noel Gunler scored twice while Simon Holmstrom chipped in two assists. Lucas Raymond came back from a scary collision with the boards to post a goal and an assist.
Swedish forward and Red Wings 4th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft Lucas Raymond was helped to the dressing room after this awkward crash into the boards. #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/F6SbxVxPli— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2020
Austrian netminder Sebastian Wraneschitz was the star of the game as he turned aside 61 of the 65 shots he faced. Through two games in this tournament he has faced 133 shots. He may be the best goalie to post a 7.69 GAA.
Sweden sits atop the Group B standings but still have to face the hardest part of their preliminary schedule - Russia and the United States. Austria has yet to find the back of the net and is currently in last place.
Germany 4, Slovakia 3 (OT)
One of the more entertaining games of the tournament featured a weary and shorthanded German team taking on the pesky Slovaks. Thanks to three power play goals Germany pulled off the minor upset as Mario Zimmerman’s goal with less than a minute to go in overtime was the difference.
Ottawa prospect Tim Stützle had two goals for Germany while Michal Mrazik potted two for Slovakia. After a rather ho-hum first period, the action picked up in the second as the teams combined for four goals and six penalties. The action continued in the third and into the overtime period. A hooking penalty by Oleksiy Myklukha set the Germans up for the game winner.
USA (1-0-1, 3 points) vs. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 points) 2:00 pm EST NHL Network
If the USA wants to finish at the top of Group B, they need to win this game. They would need to beat the Swedes in their final preliminary game as well, but if they can’t get past the Czechs then they have no shot. It’ll also be a good test for how good the Americans are. The Czech team doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and they force their opponents to play a patient, disciplined game, something the USA sometimes struggles with.
Switzerland (0-0-2, 0 points) vs Canada (2-0-0, 6 points) 6:00 pm EST NHL Network
Canada has another tune-up game as they play a Swiss team that suddenly finds themselves at the bottom of the standings in Group A. The host team should welcome back a couple of players back as Dylan Holloway, who was scratched in the game against Slovakia. Defenseman Braden Schneider will return from his one-game suspension as well.
Russia (1-0-1, 3 points) vs. Austria (0-0-2, 0 points) 9:30 pm EST NHL Network
Lightning prospect Maxim Groshev has been on Russia’s fourth line for their first two games in the tournament. He’s also been arguably one of their best players. The Russians should win this game handily as Austria has been outscored 15-0 in their two games so far. It could be a good match-up for Russia to try and find some consistency in their game before they take on Sweden.