Day: December 29, 2020

Canada decimates Switzerland

Canada’s Philip Tomasino (left) receives congratulations from Jack Quinn after opening the scoring in an 10-0 win over Switzerland at the 2021 World Juniors

By Lukas AykroydIIHF.com

Canada’s Quinton Byfield led the way with two goals and four assists in a 10-0 victory over Switzerland at the 2021 World Juniors on Tuesday. The host nation has won three straight games, while the Swiss suffered their third straight loss.

Byfield, drafted second overall by the L.A. Kings this year, is one of six returning players from Canada’s 2020 gold-medal team, and his experience clearly paid off in this encounter.

Coach Andre Tourigny’s power play converted three times, as Canada just had too much skill, speed, and power for its opponents.

Canadian goalie Devon Levi got his first shutout, while Switzerland’s Noah Patenaude made his World Junior debut in net. Shots favoured Canada 52-15.

The Canadians face Finland on New Year’s Eve in a showdown for first place in Group A. The Finns won gold in 2019 and Canada topped the podium in 2020.

In order to make the quarter-finals, coach Marco Bayer’s Swiss boys must defeat Germany in regulation time in their final preliminary-round game on Wednesday. The Germans have two points after edging Slovakia 4-3 in overtime, and can finally ice a full roster after five more players were released from quarantine.

Switzerland, outscored 5-1 through their first two games in Edmonton, entered this game as monumental underdogs. In their 23 previous World Junior meetings with Canada, they secured just one point in a 3-2 shootout loss in Helsinki (29 December, 2015). The Swiss haven’t medaled since 1998’s bronze, and it seems unlikely their drought will end in Edmonton.

Canada got some important players back in the lineup. Defenceman Braden Schneider, after serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit on Germany’s Jan-Luca Schumacher, slotted back in at the expense of Jordan Spence. Forward Dylan Holloway, who missed the 3-1 win over Slovakia with an upper-body injury, lined up alongside Connor McMichael and Dylan Cozens on the top line.

Philip Tomasino opened the scoring for Canada just 1:30 in. The versatile Oshawa Generals forward whipped a wicked wrister past Patenaude’s blocker from the top of the right faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the tournament.

The Canadians outshot Switzerland 14-3 in the first period, but failed to capitalize with a two-man advantage for 1:12 and took three minors of their own.

In the second period, the Canadian offence came alive. At 1:40, Cozens went to the front of the net and banged in a power-play rebound for his fourth of these World Juniors.

At 8:02, Jacob Pelletier made it 3-0 on the rush, picking up the rebound from Connor Zary’s shot off the end boards and firing a bad-angle shot past Patenaude on the stick side.

Converting another rebound, Ryan Suzuki put the defending champs up 4-0 at 13:44 on a man advantage that came after the hosts had hemmed in Switzerland with relentless pressure.

Cozens forced Swiss forward Raymond Fust into a defensive-zone turnover and fed McMichael for Canada’s fifth goal at 17:53.

In the third period, the Canadians remained relentless.

Byfield was perfectly placed in front of Patenaude on the power play to tip Jamie Drysdale’s center point shot past the goalie for a 6-0 lead at 5:16. Less than three minutes later, Byfield finished off a sweet cross-ice feed from Jack Quinn.

Cole Perfetti made it 8-0 at 9:09 with a short-side snipe for his first goal of these World Juniors. Kaiden Guhle added another on a one-timer with 6:32 left, and Pelletier popped in a loose puck for his third of the tournament just over two minutes later.

U.S. on Brink of quarters

By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com

Trevor Zegras had two goals and three assists to lead the United States to a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic in the 1,300th IIHF World Junior Championship game of all time. The result puts the U.S. in a tie for first place in Group B with six points and goes a long way to assure the team of a spot in the quarter-finals that will start on Saturday.

Bobby Brink added two goals and Cam York recorded three assists in the win.

With the loss the Czechs slip to 1-0-2 and remain in fourth place of a crazy Group B. They have but three goals in as many games.

Spencer Knight earned the shutout for the Americans by stopping 22 shots.

“We tried to prepare for today’s game in the same way we prepared for Russia, but it didn’t work,” said Czech forward Adam Raska. “We need to do better for our last game. We had some chances to score but we didn’t, and really there’s nothing else to say.”

Both teams came into the game under difficult circumstances. The Czechs had the near impossible task of trying to replicate their emotional high during their 2-0 win over Russia two days ago, while the Americans had to take their game up a serious notch after a very easy 11-0 win over Austria.

In the end, the Americans prevailed despite the Czechs’ effective strategy of collapsing five men around their goalie Lukas Parik and blocking every pass and shot possible.

Both teams now get a day off before their final preliminary round games on New Year’s Eve. The Czechs take on Austria in a critical game to begin that day, while the Americans will play Sweden in the final game of 2020, one that might very well decide top spot in the group.

This game began with two very different kinds of energy. The U.S. had territorial advantage for much of the opening period but didn’t create many great chances. When they did, goalie Parik was solid.

The Czechs, on the other hand, continued their strong defensive play while patiently waiting for their offensive chances. They had two or three great opportunities but couldn’t connect, leaving the game scoreless through 20 minutes. Both teams also had a power play but it was the p.k. that dominated in both cases.

But the Americans remained patient and aggressive, finally breaking through the Czechs’ group defence with three unanswered goals in the second. They opened the scoring at 5:33 when Brett Berard fired a shot at goal that was blocked. He followed the play in and got his own rebound, but as the puck trickled between Parik’s pads Karel Klikorka swept the puck off the goal line, only to have Brink push it home.

Eight minutes later, Trevor Zegras scored his tournament-leading fourth goal during a four-on-four. Jake Sanderson made a sensational no-look pass to Zegras while Parik overplayed the shot, and Zegras had an easy shot into the open cage.

Then, at 15:56 Brink was at it again from in close. This time he got his stick on the ice and went to the goal, redirecting a hard pass from Matthew Beniers behind Parik.

The U.S. didn’t quit, keeping the pressure on as the third began. They were rewarded at 6:03 during a delayed penalty when a loose puck came to Zegras at the faceoff dot. He wired a quick shot over Parik’s glove, his fifth of the tournament.

Two minutes later, the Americans got their first of three quick goals on the power play to put the game well out of reach. First, Arthur Kaliyev ripped a shot short side past Parik. Then, Cole Caufield scored on a shot off the rush. And, finally, Matthew Boldy scored from in tight.

Germany gets first win in OT

Germany celebrates during a 4-3 overtime win over Slovakia on Monday at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton

By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com

Mario Zimmermann scored the overtime winner as undermanned Germany defeated Slovakia 4-3 for its first win of the 2021 World Juniors on Monday. German captain Tim Stutzle had two goals and an assist and top defenceman Simon Gnyp added three assists.

The winner came on the power play at 4:01. Zimmermann scored on a wrister from the high slot with traffic in front of the Slovak net.

In regulation time, Florian Elias added a goal and an assist for Germany.

“I think we have a good spirit in our team and we wanted to win this game,” said Elias. “In the locker room we were so hot. I think that was the reason why we won.”

Michal Mudrik scored twice for Slovakia. Oleksiy Myklukha, who was in the box for hooking when the overtime winner was scored, had the other goal for coach Robert Petrovicky’s team.

“To be honest, we wanted to take the three points today,” said Mudrik. “So it’s kind of disappointing.”

The win is an important boost for Germany’s quarter-final hopes. Both these teams have one preliminary-round game left. On Wednesday, Slovakia battles Finland, while Germany faces Switzerland.

German goalie Florian Bugl made his World Junior debut. The 18-year-old Bugl, who has a 2.07 GAA and 92.6 save percentage with RB Hockey Juniors of the AlpsHL, was unavailable for Germany’s first two games due to tournament health protocols.

Both Bugl and Slovakia’s Simon Latkoczy performed solidly as shots favored Germany 32-25.

“In the beginning, it was tough, because I only had two ice practices before,” said Bugl. “But I think I improved over the game and got more confident.”

German coach Tobias Abstreiter again played with a stripped-down roster of 14 skaters – nine forwards and five defenders. The German Ice Hockey Federation announced that Niklas Langer and Maksymilian Szuber were still not cleared to play after earlier positive tests.

The intensity and will to win was high. Coming off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to host Canada on Sunday, the Slovaks didn’t appear unduly fatigued. Meanwhile, Germany’s go-to players stepped up while logging big minutes. Stutzle played 31:01, Gnyp 28:32, and Elias 27:25.

“It was exciting, but our legs are done right now!” said Elias. “But I think we’ll get the physios and tomorrow we’re fresh again.”

Stutzle, a first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators (#3 overall in 2020) who just signed his NHL entry-level contract, drew first blood at 5:39 with impressive hand-eye coordination. Gnyp’s point shot was first tipped by Elias, Germany’s points leader, and then redirected again by Stutzle.

Mrazik made it 1-1 shorthanded at 10:07. The Slovak assistant captain jumped past the German defence, grabbed a loose puck, and flung a backhander through Bugl’s legs. Mrazik celebrated by kissing his glove and pointing skyward as his teammates mobbed him.



“My grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago, and he was my big fan,” Mudrik explained.

With under three minutes left in the first, Stutzle had another glorious chance on the rush from the high shot, but Latkoczy came out to challenge and allowed no rebound.

At 3:10 of the second period, Myklukha put Slovakia up 2-1 with his first goal of the tournament, taking a beautiful stretch pass from Jakub Kolenic and deking to the forehand before tallying five-hole.

The Slovaks faced adversity when German forward Enrico Henriquez Morales hit Slovak captain Samuel Knazko awkwardly into the boards. Knazko was helped off and received attention on the bench, but would return to the fray.

At 8:13, Stutzle notched the power-play equalizer with a blazing end-to-end rush and a bit of luck. His shot off Latkoczy’s left shoulder bounced in off Slovak defenceman Simon Becar, who was standing in front.

Elias praised Stutzle’s leadership: “I was playing with him two years, so I already learned a lot from him. In the locker room, he’s a quiet guy. He’s the captain of our team, so he wants to push us. He’s unbelievable.”

Near the midway mark, the Germans ran into penalty trouble. First, they got dinged for too many men on the ice. John Peterka nearly gave Germany the lead with a shorthanded break, stripping Myklukha at the German blueline and racing in on goal, but Latkoczy foiled his backhand move.

At 14:41, with German defenceman Jan Munzenberger off for tripping, Mrazik gave Slovakia a 3-2 lead, deftly tipping in Simon Nemec’s center-point drive.

Refusing to wilt, the Germans tied it up with the man advantage with just 46 seconds left in the second period. On a play reminiscent of Al MacInnis and Joe Nieuwendyk with the 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, Gnyp took a hard shot from the line and Elias extended his stick to tip it in.

The third period took a toll, physically and mentally. German defenceman Steven Raab writhed in pain after taking Knazko’s shot off the inside of his knee.

Bugl made a stellar save on Maros Jedlicka with under four minutes left in regulation to give Germany a chance. Moments later, off a faceoff in the Slovak end, Stutzle rang a shot off the cross bar.

Looking forward to playing Switzerland, Bugl said: “”I expect that we will win and maybe advance to the quarter-finals. And if we keep up the team spirit, we’re definitely gonna win.”

Slovakia is bidding for its third World Junior medal of all time (bronze in 1999, 2015). Germany’s best-ever finish at this tournament is fifth (1981 as West Germany).