World Junior Championship (Day 1)

The World Juniors got underway on Boxing Day as the 2012 tournament had their first four games this year. With all of Canada, and some of the other countries, glued to the TV eight teams faced off for their shot to become the next World Junior Champions. The best young players came out to show their stuff and many were here to prove that they are among the best young players in the world. This day featured the host country taking on a potential contender while the border team took on a relegation frontrunner in Pool B. In Pool A the defending Champions took on another team seemingly bound for relegation while a new team took on the Scandinavian powerhouses. With plenty of action on the first day of the tournament there was plenty to look at with the first of daily World Junior Updates.

 

Pool A:

 

Pool A saw two games in the first day as the two powerhouses took on two teams that are usually at the bottom of the pool. First the Swedish team took on the Latvians as the power from Scandinavia took on the little team from just south. The Swedes were granted a great performance by a relatively unknown player. Max Friberg quickly became the new superstar for the Swedes as he scored four goals in their game against the Latvians. It was not all Sweden though as the game remained close at the end of the first period with Latvia scoring two goals in the period. The score was 3-2 at the end of the third with the Swedes not looking as dominant as they should have. The Latvians looked to Roberts Lipsbergs who scored twice for the Latvians. The Swedes began to pull away in the second as they put it on in the second period scoring another three goals to Latvia’s one. The end of the second saw the Swedes ahead 6-3 and continuing to roll into the third period. In the third period the Latvians scored one more goal to Sweden’s three in the period. With the game over Sweden had a five goal win as they started their tournament off well but a little scary. They were not expecting the Latvians to score as many goals as they did with only a few shots. Johan Gustafsson did not have the best time in net as the Latvians only took 13 shots all game but scored 4 goals giving Gustafsson only 9 saves for the game. Sweden will need to improve this aspect of their game if they hope to compete with the top teams in Pool A. One of these top teams is Russia who was also in action in the first day of the tournament as they took on Switzerland in their opening game. The Russians did not have the greatest output on offence that they are used to but instead the story became their goaltending. Andrei Vasilevski stopped all 40 shots from the Swiss in a great performance by an undrafted Russian. Vasilevski could end up being the Russians X factor is he continues to play like he did this game as he overcame a lack luster offensive output. The Russians are used to having the best offensive team in the tournament and are almost never known for their defensive prowess. Their defence was not much better allowing 40 shots but with Vasilevski at the back-end all of the Russians issues were masked. The Russians looked good again as they have added what could be a great goalie to an offence that should get better with more time together. With Pool A under way the Swedes and Russians took home the wins and the first points of the tournament but it was clear that both teams had their holes and issues that could be taken advantage of.

 

Scores:

Sweden 9 – 4 Latvia

Russia 3 – 0 Switzerland

 

Pool B:

 

Pool B started with the biggest draw of the day in the host team facing off for their first game of the tournament. The Canadians took the ice for the first time in front of a very loud crowd as they looked to get on the right track to win another Gold Medal. They would take on the Finnish team who have the ability to win games in the tournament and were looking to get off to a great start by beating the Canadians. The Canadians started the game off well as they scored their first goal two minutes into the game. From then on the game seemed to be in their hands as they scored their second goal shortly after. Going into the second period the Canadians had a 2-0 lead and looked in control. In the second period the Finns showed signs of life as Alexander Ruutu scored the first goal for the Finns reducing the Canadian lead to only one. The comeback did not last long as Mark Stone scored his second goal of the game and from then on it was all Canada. Stone scored one more in the third period to give him a Hat Trick in the first game as he looks to be an impact player for the Canadians in the tournament. The Canadians finished off Finland with an 8-1 victory that would be a message to all teams that the Canadians are ready to go. They did get some bad new though as physical leader Devonte Smith-Pelly broke his foot during the game and will be out for the rest of the tournament. They will need to move on without him as they hope to continue their strong start into the gold medal game. After the Canadians proved their dominance the Americans took the ice to take on the team from Denmark. The Americans have one of the biggest teams in the tournament and would put their great defence and suspect offence to the test against a team that is just hoping to stay out of relegation. The Americans opened the scoring but were quickly matched by the Danes. Then the game quickly turned to the Americans as they scored another two goals but the Danes were not out as they closed out the first period with their own goal. The Americans took over the game in the second period scoring six unanswered points to put the game away. The third period saw the Danes show a little life but it was too little too late as the Americans had taken the game in an offensive explosion of the second period. The USA proved that they have some offence as they exploded behind Charlie Croyle’s hat trick and a number of points from team captain Jason Zucker. The Americans did show a little weakness in their vaunted defence as the Danes were able to score three goals against what was supposed to be the best defensive team in the tournament. Although they did have some issues the Americans still took home a dominant victory over Denmark as they joined the Canadians at the top of the pool after day one.

 

Scores:

Canada 8 – 1 Finland

USA 11 – 3 Denmark

 

Standings:

 

Pool A:

1. Sweden (3)

2. Russia (3)

3. Slovakia (0)

4. Switzerland (0)

5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:

1. USA (3)

2. Canada (3)

3. Czech Republic (0)

4. Finland (0)

5. Denmark (0)

 

Day 2:

Denmark vs. Czech Republic (December 27th; 8:00 pm)

– Denmark is coming off of a domination by the Americans where they allowed 11 goals and things will not get easier as they play their second game in as many days against the Czech Republic in their first game of the tournament

 

Latvia vs. Slovakia (December 27th; 10:00 pm)

– Latvia showed some signs of life against the Swedes scoring four goals on just 13 shots and will take on the Slovaks in their second game in as many days as they look to build on their successes and try to earn the upset

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