Day three of the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton featured some close matchups – a far cry from yesterday’s blowout-city.
In the Group A opener, the Finns defeated Switzerland 4-1. This game saw the Swiss jump out to an early lead, only to have it yanked from them less than a minute later by Anton Lundell. Finland came out with the three points.
The Finns are now tied with Canada for first place in Group A, with a 2-2-0 record and six points. The tiebreaker – goal differential – goes to the Canadians, who have 19 for and only three against. Finland has nine for and four against.
Speaking of Canada, they were in action in the second game, taking on the Slovaks. Canada won 3-1 in a tight contest.
Canada got the 1-0 lead just 4:08 into the game when Jordan Spence scored – with the secondary helper going to Dawson Mercer.
It would remain 1-0 until a flurry of goals in the third frame. Philip Tomasino scored to give Canada the 2-0 lead.
With goaltender Samuel Hlavaj pulled and the extra attacker on, Martin Chromiak cut the Canadian lead in half with just under 2:30 to go. But the Canadians sealed the deal when Slovakia pulled Hlavaj again and Canada’s Jack Quinn scored into the empty net.
Canada fired 23 shots Hlavaj’s way with the Slovak goalie turning aside 21 of them. The Slovaks had 18 shots with Canadian netminder Devon Levi equal to 17 of them.
Mercer had the assist on Spence’s goal for a point, two shots on net, two penalty minutes (a hooking call that gave Slovakia a power play late in the third. They then pulled Hlavaj for the sixth-on-four advantage and scored). He was also a plus-1 in 12:23 of ice time.
Canada will next play Switzerland on December 29.
The nightcap featured Russia and the Czech Republic in Group B action. Russia seemed to be flying high after their opening night defeat of the United States. But tonight was different as the Czechs came out strong and won the game 2-0. The Czechs got on the board first when Filip Koffer scored at the 16:38 mark of the second period. The game was that close that it stayed scoreless for almost two periods.
Martin Lang would double the Czech lead, scoring unassisted in the third period. Things stayed tight when the Czech Republic’s Martin Beranek was called for a trip with 54 seconds left in the game. But the Czech penalty killers were up to the task – as they were all night – and they held on to win the game.
Lukas Parik, a gameday decision for the Czechs, turned aside all 30 Russian shots. This marked the first time the Russians had been shut out in the World Junior tournament since 2012. Parik would be named the player of the game for the Czechs.
Russian goaltending stopped 27 of 29 Czech shots.
Jaromir Pytlik did not play for the Czechs tonight. However, for Russia, both Shakir Mukhamadullin and Arseni Gritsyuk played. Mukhamadullin was a minus-1 with three shots on net in 23:59 of ice time. The defenseman Gritsyuk was an even plus/minus in 13:57 of time on ice.
Russia tries to get back on track when they face Austria on the 29th while the Czechs try to keep their momentum going against the USA on the 29th as well. Tomorrow will see Alexander Holtz and the Swedes against Austria as the only Devils-centric game being played. See you then!