Russia vs Czech Republic
Result: Russia 2, Czech Rep 1 in a shootout
Evgeny Svechnikov: 2 PIM, 1 SOG
The first game of the tournament was boring, sloppy, and uneventful. Neither team did a whole lot to write home about. Early in the 2nd period it appeared the Czech Republic had taken a 1-0 lead, but the goal was waived off for goalie interference on a good call by the referees. A short time later however, Michael Spacek was in on a breakaway and was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot; this time it was a good goal and the Czech's took a 1-0 lead. Russia tied the game halfway through the 3rd period. Svechnikov's teammate in Cape Breton, Maxim Lazarev scored the only goal in the shootout to give Russia a 2-1 shootout win. Svechnikov didn't have any standout moments, other than taking an offensive zone hooking penalty. The Czech player went down easier than the hook warranted, but Chevy made the poor decision to hook him and had to do his time. He finished the game with 1 shot on goal and 2 penalty minutes. It was a slow start to the tournament for Svechnikov and Russia.
Sweden vs Switzerland
Result: Sweden 8, Switzerland 3
Axel Holmstrom: 2 assists, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Christoffer Ehn: 4 SOG, -1
Joren van Pottelberghe: .909 SV%, 2GA
This game was the antithesis of the Russia, Czech Republic game, but not always for good reasons. William Nylander got Sweden on the scoresheet 1:21 into the game, a few minutes later, Joel Eriksson Ek was taken out of the game with this hit to the head (warning, there's some blood). Then with 5 minutes left in the period, William Nylander received a big open ice hit and had to leave the game. He was taken to the hospital, and while no one has confirmed publicly that he has a concussion, that's the expected diagnosis. Unfortunately that wasn't the end of Swiss players injuring Sweden's with reckless or dangerous actions.Sweden would also lose Adrian Kempe after this violent boarding that wasn't even penalized; there's a decent chance he has a concussion as well.
Okay. Switzerland needs to calm down. Kempe is definitely concussed after this hit. pic.twitter.com/azAn2p1EEu— Kyle (@KyleWIIM) December 26, 2015
After surrendering 6 goals, Switzerland pulled their starting goalie Gauthier Descloux and put in Joren van Pottelberghe. Sweden put two goals past JvP, although one of them was actually tipped in by his own player.
Axel Holmstrom assisted on 2 of Sweden's goals, centered their top line, was net front/puck retriever on the 1st power play unit, and really let some of his feisty side out; he was a lot of fun to watch.
Holmstrom 1st assist. Goal: Oskar Lindblom (Axel Holmstrom, Adrian Kempe)
Holmstrom's 2nd assist. Goal: Jacob Larsson (Alexander Nylander, Axel Holmstrom)
Holmstrom also had this nifty little steal that didn't result in a goal, but was still awesome.
After the whistle to end the 1st period, Timo Meier cross checked Axel Holmstrom, Holmstrom stood up for himself, and the teams scuffled. Holmstrom and Jonas Siegenthaler each received a 2 minute roughing penalty, and Meier received a 2 minute cross checking penalty.
There was a scary moment mid way through the 3rd period when Axel received a nasty high stick to his face/nose and he was understandably irate at the referee for not calling a penalty. Holmstrom left the ice with a trainer holding a towel over his bloody face, but he did return a short while later.
Christoffer Ehn got more ice time as the game went on and more of his teammates were taken off the ice for medical attention. True to his nature, Ehn was quietly very good, usually being the first forward back to help out defensively, as well as getting some good offensive chances. One of the things that I noticed was how fast he looked in full stride, streaking up the ice.
JvP had a solid outing given the circumstances, only playing 27:10 with no warm up. I wonder if we'll see him start the next game and be given a chance to take over as starter for the team.
Finland vs Belarus
Result: Finland 6, Belarus 0
Vili Saarijarvi: 3 SOG
There were no goals until almost the end of the 2nd period, but once Finland got going, they didn't stop. Don't let Vili Saarijarvi's quiet game on the stat sheet fool you, he had an excellent game, with both TSN broadcasters were singing his praises all game long, almost in awe of how good he is at moving the puck, his deceptive mobility, and saying he'll be a star in the NHL. It was great to hear bigger voices on a much bigger stage say the same things I've said since Vili was drafted. This kid is going to go far.
Here's just one example of his combination of vision and passing skill
Here's an example of Saarijarvi's vision, and ability to pass so well. pic.twitter.com/YmcRbLRzim— Kyle (@KyleWIIM) December 26, 2015
Canada vs USA
Result: USA 4, Canada 2
Joe Hicketts: 1 SOG, -1
Hicketts had a really good game, garnering heaps of praise from Ray Ferraro.. Right up until he accidentally tipped in the game winning goal for the US. Hicketts was on the top D pairing, the top penalty killing unit, and the 2nd power play unit. He made some really great defensive plays, blocks, a couple hits, and did a good job of moving the puck up ice. Unfortunately his performance was tainted when he perfectly tipped in the game winner with 3:20 to go in a tied game. His reaction to the goal hurts right in the feels.
Crap happens and Joe will shake it off and come back strong. He was still Canada's best defenseman and the unfortunate bounce doesn't change a thing.
There are only 2 games on tomorrow's World Junior schedule, Slovakia vs Belarus at 11:00 AM, and Switzerland vs Denmark at 1:00PM. I'm very curious to see if Switzerland goes back to Descloux for another chance, or if the Red Wings Joren van Pottelberghe gets the start.