The 2018 World Junior Championship continued today with three games featuring New Jersey Devils prospects.
First up, one of the early games at Harborcenter saw Russia taking on Switzerland. The Russians won 5-2. The Devils prospects in this game included defenseman Yegor Zaitsev and forward Mikhail Maltsev. Zaitsev’s stat line read: two penalty minutes (an elbowing penalty taken in the first period), one shot on goal, a plus-1 rating all in a total of 17:23 of ice time. Maltsev had two shots on goal and was a minus-2 in an even 18:00 minutes of ice time. Russia, with that win, now stands in second place in Group B with a win and a loss for three points and a plus-2 goal differential. Russia next faces Belarus on Friday.
The team that stands above Russia in Group B, Sweden, took on the Czech Republic today and won 3-1. Sweden features two Devils prospects in Jesper Boqvist and Fabian Zetterlund. Boqvist, a forward, had two penalty minutes (a holding call in the second period), a shot on net, was an even plus/minus rating in just 9:50 of ice time. Zetterlund, also a forward, had a shot on net, was also an even rating and played 11:47 of the game. The Swedes stand in first place in Group B with two wins for six points. They also sport a plus-7 goal differential. They next play on Saturday against the Swiss.
To Group A we go, with Joey Anderson and the US playing Marian Studenic and Slovakia tonight at Key Bank Center. This was the later game and a warmup for Team USA as they get ready for the outdoor game at New Era Field tomorrow against Michael McLeod and the Canadians – although the Slovaks are not to be taken lightly as they showed when they scored the first goal of the game 4:52 into the second period. Filip Krivosik had that one which held up for about seven or so minutes until Brady Tkachuk, son of former NHLer Keith and brother of current Calgary Flame Matthew, scored the equalizer. He got assists from Ryan Poehling and Joey Anderson, so the Devils prospect registered an assist on the game tying goal.
The game had no score after one period and was deadlocked at one after the second. The third period would be decisive in the US keeping pace with Canada going into tomorrow’s North American showdown. Slovakia grabbed the lead back in the final frame with Krivosik scoring his second of the game with just about four minutes left to play in the game. All seemed lost for the USA until Casey Mittelstadt became “Johnny on the spot” stealing the puck in the neutral zone and making a one-man effort and a nice move around Slovak goalie Roman Durny, which knotted things at two.
But the resilient Slovaks would would not be deterred. Samuel Bucek scored with just about two minutes left in the game. Like Mittelstadt’s goal, it was a nice individual effort that benefitted from the US having a defensive breakdown. That was three goals scored in less than three minutes, for those keeping score.
The USA got the extra attacker on when they pulled Joseph Woll with about one minute left but it was not to be. The loss for the US snapped an eight game winning streak that they held from last year’s tournament.
So now the US will face Canada in under 24 hours outdoors (the game takes place at 3 PM Friday in Buffalo, this game ended about 10:30 PM Thursday). It will be a tough road for the Americans, but we will find out tomorrow afternoon if they have it in them to get back into things and defeat the Canadians. This becomes almost a must-win for the US in terms of medalling in 2018.
Stats-wise for the two Devils picks playing in the game, Joey Anderson had an assist for one point, four shots on goal, an even plus/minus rating in 15:04 of ice time. The future Devil playing for the Slovaks, Studenic had two shots on goal, was a minus-2 in 13:23 of ice time. Of note in this game was that the USA outshot Slovakia 45 to 25. Slovak goaltender Durny stood on his head to keep them in it and played a wonderful game, deserving the win.
Looking forward, again, the Americans will look to knock off the Canadians in Group A preliminary play tomorrow. Canada currently stands atop Group A with two wins for six points and a plus-8 goal differential. The US has one win and a loss for three points and a plus-8 goal differential. Tomorrow should be a good one.