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World Juniors Recap Day 1: Everything’s on fire already

The tournament began with an absolute banger of a game, had a blowout, and then settled in with some good and tight battles

Matt Zambonin/IIHF Images

Game 1: Switzerland beats Finland 3-2 in Overtime in a shocking, convincing game

What even happened here, Suomi.

Game Notes:

  • I’m sure the knee-jerk response is to suggest that Switzerland, a team famously just good enough to survive but not buoyed much by the kind of talent that Finland has, simply got lucky in this win. That is where you’re wrong. At the end of three periods, Switzerland had nearly doubled the Finns up on shots; had mostly spent the third period coasting in a way most teams infinitely better than they usually are do when they get up on Switzerland, and completely overtook overtime in a convincing and terrifying fashion. Switzerland didn’t just look scrappy, they looked great. The Swiss made themselves must-watch hockey simply by going out there and bitchslapping a giant, and they get a hard as nails Latvia to play next. That one’s gonna be unreal.
  • Part of that of course, was the F-minus-minus effort Finland put out in front of their opponent; they got goals of course, but those came at the expense of a lot of effort, and Finland really cannot be fighting for goals against Switzerland if they wanna medal again. They’d better come out guns ablaze against Slovakia or we’re gonna be in some weird territory.
  • Jeremy Jabola had a real gritty one to tie it, and I was very interested in giving him my Man of the Match sticker, but my heart has to go to the Captain, Attilio Biasca, coming up gigantic in overtime and he wins Man of the Match for me. All credit to him.

Game 2: Austria is eviscerated in 11-0 ritual sacrifice to Ancient Swedish Demigods

This felt wrong to televise.

Game Notes:

  • Look it’s hard being “The Team marked for Relegation”. Your games usually last a lot longer than 60 minutes because you’re getting scored on so often, your single digit number of genuinely talented guys are working overtime to try and be respectable, and most of your scores look like...this one. The best we can do here is say “you did the best as could be expected.”, which isn’t much, but that’s what happens sometimes.
  • Boy Sweden sure made the right call to go all in on offense, huh.
  • Bruins in this game: In spite of the fact that Sweden utterly slaughtered the Austrians, Fabian Lysell was somehow one of the only players on Sweden’s roster not to register a point. He’s gonna need to pick it up for sure. He played 16:04 TOI.

Game 3: Latvia works hard, but USA does the “USA at the World Juniors” thing and wins 5-2.

I wanted so badly for Latvia to stun the states, man. That would’ve been so funny.

Game Notes:

  • USA once again did that thing where they become an undefeatable monster team the minute the third period started after mailing in the first two; they were already leading in shots by that point, it just had to be finished the way they felt it necessary: as overly dramatically as possible regardless of the actual gap between either team’s talent. They should try to curb their tendency for this, as it seems their group is a little more clown-nose-out goofy than initially anticipated.
  • Latvia tries, man. They try so damn hard. Thankfully it means that today’s game against Switzerland is now probably gonna be a much more fun affair; knowing what we know about both. I wish them both the best.
  • Bruins in this game: Dans Locmelis played very well, but couldn’t get on the scoresheet yet. He played a little over 18 minutes of TOI.

Game 4: Czechia catches Canada slipping and wins 5-2 in prelim stunner


Game Notes:

  • CZECHIA!!!
  • Canada tried to get real damn cute against a Czech team that knew damn well what awaited them if they didn’t climb into the game and quickly, and it cost Canada a win. Lacrosse attempts were (and already are) definitely going to hold sway over the conversation since they’re the most flashy attempts Canada tried to make, but you could see it even in their basic level passing plays and attempts were completely overdone and made it “easy” (not that Canada is ever an easy beat) for the Czechs to block shots and establish zone time. Doesn’t help that the Czechs got a lot of help from Canada’s brainfart decisionmaking that guys like Adam Fantilli really can’t be making if they wanna be in the conversation for Top 5 draft pick.
  • While we’re on the subject of decision making, let’s talk about Zach Dean’s check: while in the NHL or lower leagues in north america that hit would probably not be penalized (if at all), the IIHF is laser focused and has been laser focused on limiting checks to the head and will call big, game-swinging penalties like that every time it happens. What you think is a “clean hit” is gonna change quite a bit now that you’re under their ruleset. Sure you’re not gonna be playing under those rules all the time, but if you’re down like they were, you have to know discipline is your biggest ally and worst betrayer.
  • Top marks to the Czech defense going all out; not just in limiting as many chances as they could, but also springing many of Czechia’s goals: Spacek and Svozil in particular made some primo passes, and Jiricek had one of the prettiest passes of the early tournament after getting caught on the boards. They’re primed to be truly something special if they can capitalize!
  • Shane Wright still looked pretty good, so if nothing else I guess Seattle fans can be happy about that.

Games Upcoming:

Slovakia vs. Finland, 11am

Should I Watch?: mmm...I’m gonna say yes, or at least keep it on in the background. Finland not just getting beat but getting beat badly by Switzerland threw a wrench into a lot of predictions, and Slovakia is expected to have a better tournament than normal. If Finland isn’t up by the 2nd period? You must turn this game on and see what’s happening.

Sweden vs. Germany, 2pm

Should I Watch?: Fabian Lysell didn’t have a point against Austria, and that must be sticking in his craw while he’s in his room doing what teenagers do (Fortnite, Tiktok, Tiktoks about Fortnite), but otherwise I’m not anticipating Sweden suddenly collapsing so maybe just catch the highlights here.

Latvia vs. Switzerland, 4pm

Should I Watch?: Absolutely. These teams turned out to be way more fun than people thought they were going to be so I think, if you’re looking for a little something to keep you interested, this will help.

Czechia vs. Austria, 6:30pm

Should I Watch?: Skip it. Czechia will have their victory lap for certain and a surprising stranglehold on their division outside of Sweden, but I’d just catch the highlights.