Canadians, Americans, Russians All Win Big at WJC

It was a big day at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Most literally with big margins of victories for the winners.

We will begin with the first game on the slate: a 7-0 United States win over the Czech Republic.

Following a scoreless first period, Bobby Brink scored just 5:33 into the second period with Brett Berard picking up the lone assist.

Following matching minors to the Americans’ John Farinacci and the Czechs’ Adam Najman for roughing, we had some four-on-four hockey with more room on the ice. The US would take advantage when the tournament’s leading scorer, Trevor Zegras notched another goal, assisted by Henry Thrun to make it 2-0 US. That goal came 13:30 into the second period.

A little over two minutes later, at the 15:56 mark of the third, Brink scored his second of the night – off assists from Matthew Beniers and Ryan Johnson. It was now 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

In the third, the floodgates opened for the Americans. Zegras scored his second of the game 6:03 into the frame to make it 4-0. Arthur Kaliyev scored on the power play 8:18 into the period from Cam York and Zegras, who picked up his third point of the night. At 10:22. Cole Caufield scored, again on the power play, this time only needing about 12 seconds to do so. Zegras got another point – this time the primary assist on the goal – and York picked up the secondary.

At the 11:22 mark, Matthew Boldy scored, again on the power play, from Zegras, who is just a point producing machine right now, and Caufield. That gave us our final of 7-0. Following that goal, the Czechs pulled Lukas Parik in favor of Nick Malik and Malik ended up shutting out the US the rest of the way.

Things got a little chippy when Stanislav Svozil was called for boarding with five minutes to go in the game and also received a 10-minute misconduct to go with it.

Statistically, the US peppered Czech goaltending with 32 shots and it was close with the Czechs firing 22 Spencer Knight’s way. The difference was that Parik and Malik made 25 saves combined on those 32 shots. Knight was equal to all 22 he saw.

Patrick Moynihan had no points or shots on goal and was an even plus/minus in just 8:17 of ice time. Jaromir Pytlik did not play for the Czechs.

The Americans close out the preliminary round on New Year’s Eve against Sweden next, trying to win Group B. Czech Republic will face Austria in their prelim finale on the 31st as well.

But next on the docket was Canada taking on Switzerland and totally blitzing them, 10-0.

The Canadians scored early and (sort of) often. Philip Tomasino scored just 1:30 into the game, but that was all the scoring for the first period.

Things began to pick up in the second when Dylan Cozens scored on the power play. Then Jakob Pelletier scored. Then Ryan Suzuki scored on the power play. Then Connor McMichael scored. By the end of the second frame, it was 6-0 Canada. The Canadians had scored six unanswered, five of those in the second period.

The third just confirmed the Canadian onslaught. Quinton Byfield scored on the power play to kick off the final stanza. Then Byfield scored again. Then Cole Perfetti scored to break up Byfield’s natural hat trick bid. Then Kaiden Guhle scored. Pelletier finally put a capper on things when he scored with about 5:30 to go in the game to make the final 10-0 Canada.

The Canadians outshot the Swiss 52-15. Switzerland’s Noah Patenaude saved 42 of that blitzing while Devon Levi had a relatively easy night, stopping all 15 shots.

Dawson Mercer had a shot on goal and was an even plus/minus (no idea how that happens when you play 15:11 in a 10-0 drubbing, but he must have been busy killing penalties).


Finally, the nightcap saw Russia defeat Austria by a score of 7-1.

Russia got things started off in style when Rodion Amirov scored on a penalty shot after Jacob Pfeffer tripped him up on a clear break on goal. That gave the Russians the 1-0 lead 4:04 into the game. Vasil Podkolzin scored a little over two minutes later to make it 2-0. Podkolzin would scored one more time before the period was out when he connected on a nice passing play from Aremi Knyazev and Amirov. Marat Khusnutdinov gave Russia a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. A shot by Podkolzin dribbled by Austrian goalie Jakob Brandner and was pushed over the goal line by Khusnutdinov.

Austria got on the board 7:38 into the second when Senna Peeters scored from Kasper Marco. That made it 4-1 and things seemed to be pulling even. The Austrians played Russia well in the second, keeping them off the scoreboard. At the 8:30 mark of the period, just after Peeters’ goal, Ilya Safonov was called for boarding and received a 10-minute misconduct. He would not return until late in the second.

But the Red Machine rolled on. In the third. Artemi Knyazev scored on the power play to make it 5-1. Arseni Gritsyuk, the Devils prospect, picked up a point with the secondary assist on Yegor Afanasiev’s goal 17:44 into the third to make it 6-1 Russia.

Gritsyuk would pick up his second point of the game – this time a goal – 45 seconds later. He clanged one in off of the post to make it 7-1. Afanasiev and Roman Bychkov had the assists on his tally.

Again, the shot totals in this game were very one-sided. Russia outshot Austria 50-18. Brandner made 43 saves while Artur Akhtyamov had a light night with 17 saves.

Shakir Mukhamadullin had one shot on goal and was an even plus/minus with 19:23 of total ice. Gritsyuk had the goal and assist for two points and five total shots. He was a plus-2 in 14:02 of ice time.

Russia will close out prelim play trying to wrap up Group B when they face Sweden on December 30.

 As usual, we will see you tomorrow with coverage of that game.

2021 World Juniors Continue in Edmonton

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!