Merry Christmas and a big happy holidays to everyone! The 2020 World Junior Championship got underway today in Trinec and Ostrava, Czech Republic. With five players representing four teams, the Devils are well represented in this tournament.
The first game we will get to involving a Devils prospect was the host Czech Republic against Daniil Misyul and Russia. Misyul did not play and Russia fell to the Czechs 4-3. We will see if Misyul plays on Saturday when the Russians take on Canada in Group B action.
Group B consists of Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, the United States and Germany. Group A features Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Finland, Slovakia and Sweden. Group B is playing at the Ostravar Arena in Ostrava and Group A at the Werk Arena in Trinec.
In Group A, Switzerland and Akira Schmid took on Kazakhstan. Once again in this game, Schmid – the Devils prospect – was not dressed as the Swiss coach Thierry Paterlini went with the goaltending tandem of Luca Hollenstein (the starter) and backup Stephane Charlin. The Swiss won the game 5-3. Switzerland will next play Sweden on Saturday, the 28th.
Now on to two games that did feature Devils prospects playing in them. Sweden versus Finland featured forward Nikola Pasic playing for Sweden. He finished with two shots on goal in 14:47 of total ice time. Sweden won the game 3-2 in overtime as Sweden’s Alexander Holtz scored with five seconds to go in the extra session. For Sweden, this was their 49th straight win in pool play at the World Juniors.
Sweden outshot the Finns 48 to 25 as Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt made 23 saves in getting the victory. Sweden plays Switzerland on the 28th.
Next up, the big one for us in the US, as Canada defeated the Americans 6-4.
Canada has two Devils prospects playing for them, defenseman Ty Smith and the newly-acquired (in the Taylor Hall trade) defenseman Kevin Bahl. Smith had an assist and two shots on goal in 19:13 of total ice (which led all Canadian defensemen). Bahl had two shots in 17:10 of ice time.
This was a good game as Shane Pinto of the USA had the opener when he scored just 3:10 in on the power play to make it 1-0 US. Zac Jones and Bobby Brink had the assists on the goal. Before the end of the first, the US doubled their lead when Arthur Kaliyev from Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte at the 18:32 mark. This one also came on the man advantage.
Canada began their comeback in the second when they scored three unanswered. Connor McMichael scored from Akil Thomas just 3:31 into the second frame. Barrett Hayton scored at the 6:34 mark of the second on the power play from Alexis Lafreniere to tie things.
Nolan Foote scored on the power play at 13:03 to give the Canadians their first lead on the night. He got an assist from Smith for his first point of the tournament.
In the waning seconds of the second, the Americans had seemingly gotten on the board again on the power play. Bahl had taken a penalty at the 19:44 mark for roughing. The US seemed to score and the referee signaled that it was a good goal on the ice, but it did not hold up in review. The off ice officials had seen that time had expired before the puck went in and the US was denied.
In the third, Barrett and again gave Canada a power play goal when he scored 47 seconds into the period from Lafreniere and Joe Veleno. Lafreniere would go on to be named the player of the game.
The US got back into things, making it 4-2 when Nicholas Robertson scored 12:45 into the third from Oliver Wahlstrom and Pinto. Pinto was named the Americans’ player of the game at the end.
Pinto would tie things at four when he scored on the power play for the Americans at 16:42 from Robertson. But the American bench only had a few seconds of celebration. Following the faceoff and a miscommunication between the d-men in the American zone, Lafreniere scored for Canada to give them back the lead, 5-4.
The US would pull goalie Spencer Knight and Canada would get an empty netter from Ty Dellandrea (assist to Lafreniere) to ice the game. Lafreniere (who is expected to go first overall in the 2020 Draft) finished the game with a goal and three assists for four points total.
In goal, Nicolas Daws of Canada made 28 stops on 32 American shots. For the USA, Knight made 26 saves on 32 shots against. Canada finished the game with 33 shots due to the empty netter.
Next up for Team Canada: Russia on the 28th while the US plays tomorrow against Germany.
We will continue to have updates on the World Juniors as the tournament progresses right here for you.