World Junior roundup: Czechia, USA, Sweden and Switzerland win

Czechia surprise Canada with victory

The Czech Republic took advantage of numerous Canadian mistakes to pull off a solid 5-2 upset on Monday and end the first day in Halifax.

The Czechs got an early goal that was canceled due to goalkeeper interference, but they couldn’t capitalize on the momentum. At 10:33, Shane Wright swung Olen Zellweger’s point shot past Tomas Suchanek for the 1-0 goal, stealing the momentum. Brandt Clarke scored a few minutes later but that too was ruled out due to Joshua Roy being offside.

From there, the Czechs took over. At 17:48, Stanislav Svozil found David Spacek crashing and made it 1-1, with defender David Moravec scoring less than a minute later to put the Czechs ahead.

The highlight of the first, however, was Canada’s two failed lacrosse attempts. First Adam Fantilli went for it, only Spacek knocked the puck off his stick and steered him away from danger. Then, Bedard’s attempt was stopped after Suchanek perfectly covered the top left corner and kept it clear.

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A goal for Svozil just 44 seconds into second place Czechia by two, but not for long. Connor Bedard would get his first of the tournament when his release beat Suchanek over the gauntlet to make it 3-2, keeping the game close.

A game misconduct for header contact with Zach Dean early in the second blew the Canadians away. At 28:14, David Jiricek found Jaroslav Chmelar standing up front and he made no mistake knocking him through the air and passing Benjamin Gaudreau. Just 33 seconds later, Matous Mensik beat Gaudreau with a right-angle shot to give the Czech Republic a 5-2 lead.

Canada peppered the goalkeeper with chances, but the star of the 2022 tournament held firm. He made 36 saves in total to beat the goalkeeping duo of Gaudreau and Milic, with Milic stopping every shot sent his way.

USA stop Latvia despite tight first half

It was a little closer than they probably expected, but USA opened Group B with a 5-2 win over Latvia in Moncton.

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The first period gave nothing to see, even if the American Tyler Boucher got closer at the end of the period. The Americans still took a 1-0 lead with a goal early in the second period, Jimmy Snuggerud hitting a loose puck to end the stalemate.

But just four minutes later, the Latvians fought back. Rainers Rullers managed to knock Luke Hughes out of position before finding Anri Ravinskis, who hit the shot past 2023 draft hopeful Trey Augustine for the 1-1 goal.

The Americans regained the lead five minutes later when Sean Behrens’ point shot went through traffic and beat Patriks Berzins, putting the United States back in front in a game that looked definitely close.

Latvia didn’t shoot much, but they at least made their shots count. On the team’s second shot of the middle stanza, 2023 NHL Draft prospect Nils Fenenko used a heavy screen in front of the American net to tie the game at 34:24.

Another first period gave the Americans another advantage. This time, Winnipeg Jets prospect Chaz Lucius took a pass from Jackson Blake and backhanded the puck to Berzins to make it 3-2, restoring the team’s one-goal advantage. . A goal for Red Savage a few minutes later gave the United States their first two-goal lead, making it 4-2. Hughes scored a long shot from the blue line later to end the game, giving USA some relief after a tight start.

Sweden crush Austria in tournament’s first blowout

After ending the pre-tournament match with a disappointing loss to Switzerland, Sweden kicked off the main tournament with a massive 11-0 win over Austria.

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Sweden have won all four meetings between the two teams, including 6-0 in the summer tournament. Austria haven’t scored against Sweden since the two nations first met, a 7-3 loss at the 2010 tournament.

The Austrians got a good goalie from Thomas Pfarrmaier first, who made a highlight blocker save on Filip Bystedt early. But at 13:17, Isak Rosen scored on a 2v1 chance where he hinted at an assist before beating Pfarrmaier for the 1-0 goal. Four minutes later, Rosen set Bystedt up for a chance he wouldn’t miss, giving Sweden a 2-0 first-half lead.

From there, the much stronger Swedes took full control. The team scored six goals on just 13 shots in the second, with Rosen scoring his second of the night and his third point of the game just 48 seconds away.

Two minutes later, Simon Robertsson scored on a pass from Elias Pettersson, sending the puck through traffic. Milton Oscarson scored a shorthanded goal five minutes later before Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Liam Ohgren and Calle Odelius added goals to make it 8-0.

Odelius scored early in the third before Bystedt netted another to make it 10-0. Fourth row Oscar Pettersson made it 11-0 with around seven minutes remaining to give Sweden more goals than Austria had shots, finishing at 11-0.

Attilio Biasca scores the winning goal as Switzerland stuns Finland

It only took one game, but the 2023 World Junior Championship got its first clash of the tournament with Switzerland beating Finland 3-2 in overtime in Moncton.

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Switzerland last beat Finland on December 31, 2019, a 5-2 win for the brave underdogs. Their last win before that came in the 2014 tournament in the shootout.

The first half was nothing out of the ordinary, with both teams adopting a truly neutral stance. Everything changed at 22:24 when an untimely pinch from the Swiss defense, with Sami Paivarinta and Kalle Vaisanen both touching the puck before Konsta Kapanen scored on the rebound.

Despite the deficit, the Swiss definitely looked like the better team and kept the pressure on. It ended up paying off as Lenni Hameenaho gave the puck in front of the Finnish net. Lorenzo Canonica was there to capitalize, making it 1-1 with just under eight minutes left in the second.

The Swiss started strong in the third, entering with a 16-9 advantage on shots. At 44:43, Jeremy Jabola was the last to hit a shot from Mats Alge which was lost in a crowd in front of the Finnish net, giving Switzerland their first lead of the tournament. It was short-lived, however, as Vaisanen’s snipe at 48:09 forced the game into extra time.

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It didn’t take long for the Swiss to end the game. Just 41 seconds into overtime after Lian Bichsel was stopped on a breakaway, Halifax Mooseheads star Attilio Biasca was in the right place at the right time to rip a shot past Aku Koskenvuo, securing the shocking victory from Switzerland.

Three stars

  1. Filip Bystedt, F (SWE): It seemed like every time Bystedt hit the ice, the Swedes generated an attack. With two goals and an assist, he was a big chunk of it.
  2. Tomas Suchanek, G (CZE): David Jiricek and Stanislav Svozil also deserve praise, but Suchanek was rock solid for the Czechs when Canada started to press on.
  3. Isak Rosen, F (Sweden): Same line of stats as Bystedt, and nearly unstoppable in the first-half run against Sweden. There are high hopes for him this year.

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