Eoth 2022 World Juniors Day 1 Recap: Game summaries, top performers

The 2022 World Juniors started off with some explosive games, but largely expected results with most of the favored teams finding a way to get in the win column.

The first day of any tournament is always difficult to get a gauge on teams. They’re all still trying to find their way and slow starts can be the norm even for the most talented teams. With only one pre-tournament game for each team — with the exception of Czechia, which had its pre-tournament game cancelled due to COVID concerns for the Swiss team — there’s not a great chance to get a feel for the pace and physicality of the WJC until you get there.

There’s still plenty that can be learned as you watch teams improve over the course of a game. Canada had a rocky start, but settled in and put together a dominant win. Sweden had a great start and got a little soft in the middle before finishing strong. Meanwhile, Finland and the United States had their hands full with opponents not expected to challenge top teams as much as they did.
Let’s take a look at how everything shook out on Day 1 and I’ll also share some of my top performers and some pertinent news and notes from around the WJC.

Finland 3 – Germany 1

It was a bit of an uneven start to the tournament for Finland, but it managed to control a good chunk of the game to earn a 3-1 win over Germany, which is playing without its three best players in the age group. The Finns got a fluky goal when 2022 draft-eligible Brad Lambert’s shot hit a few deflections before ultimately going off of Samuel Helenius (LAK) and past German goalie Nikita Quapp (CAR).

In the second period, both teams traded goals, with University of Vermont teammates Luca Münzenberger (EDM) for Germany and Joel Määttä for Finland. In the third, Helenius saved a goal at one end, then raced down to the other to provide the 3-1 dagger.

Players of the game: Luca Münzenberger, D, Germany (EDM); Brad Lambert, LW, Finland (2022 Draft)

Sweden 6 – Russia 3

In an eventful game in a budding rivalry in this event, Sweden got off to a strong start in the tournament by riding its special teams to a 6-3 win over Russia.

The Swedes scored three power-play goals, including two with the two-man advantage and big defenseman Simon Edvinsson (DET) scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov (NSH) was pulled ahead of the third period and 2023 draft-eligible phenom Matvei Michkov scored twice 41 seconds to pull Russia back in the game.

But a neutral-zone turnover sparked a rush that Theodor Niederbach (DET) finished with a low-hard shot. The Swedes added an empty-netter to take the early lead in Group B.

Players of the game: Matvei Michkov, RW, Russia (2023); Oskar Magnusson, RW, Sweden (WSH)

Canada 6 – Czechia 3

On the strength of an Owen Power (BUF) hat trick, Canada earned a 6-3 victory after surviving a tricky first period that had seen Czechia take an early 3-1 lead.

Czechia got itself in penalty trouble in the second period, having to kill consecutive 5-on-3 power plays, where Power connected first on a short-side one-timer on a great feed from Cole Perfetti (WPG) and then collected a rebound at the side of the net to make it 5-3.

Canada never looked back from there. Five of their six goals came from defensemen, with Donovan Sebrango (DET) and Olen Zellweger (ANA) also scoring, while Mason McTavish (ANA) had a goal and an assist to open his World Junior account.

Players of the game: Stanislav Svozil, D, Slovakia (CBJ); Owen Power, D, Canada (BUF)

USA 3 – Slovakia 2

At one point, it looked like the U.S. was going to run away with the game, scoring twice on the power play in the opening period and then outshooting Slovakia 23-2 in the second period alone.

After power-play markers from Matthew Knies (TOR) and Mackie Samoskevich (FLA) in the opening frame on back-to-back power plays, Landon Slaggert (CHI) scored the only goal of the second period to give Team USA a seemingly comfortable lead.

In the third period, Slovakia’s Martin Chromiak (LAK) scored on an early power play, then made the Americans sweat with a late goal in the third with the extra attacker out. In the closing minutes, Slovakia had a couple of great looks at the net, but U.S. goalie Drew Commesso (CHI) stood tall and shut the door in a 23-save performance over the game.

Slovakia goalie Simon Latkoczy made 39 saves to keep his team in the game.

Players of the game: Martin Chromiak, RW, Slovakia (LAK); Drew Commesso, G, USA (CHI)

Top Performers of the day

Owen Power, D, Canada (BUF): If you can make history of any kind as a member of a Canadian World Junior team, it’s impressive. This one was really hard to comprehend though. Power became the first defenseman in Team Canada history at the World Juniors to record a hat trick. There have been a lot of all-time greats that have played in this tournament, but none from the back end had ever scored three in one game, while Power did it in just two periods. He dictated every shift, played well offensively and defensively, and appeared to be in complete control. He looked as dialed in as any player could and that’s bad news for the tournament field.

Simon Edvinsson, D, Sweden (DET): With a shorthanded goal and two assists, Edvinsson was a dominant performer against Russia. On top of that, he made so many clutch plays in the defensive zone, evading pressure and getting pucks up the ice. He led all Swedes with 23:43 of ice time despite not playing on Sweden’s power play.

Cole Perfetti, LW, Canada (WPG): Perfetti’s vision is on another level. His ability to find teammates in space and give them the perfect pass. He finished the game with three assists and made play after play that showed his full skillset. He’s going to collect a lot of points in this event.

Samuel Helenius, C, Finland (LAK): A pair of goals in the game made him a difference-maker, but I think the goal he saved on a back check may have really been his play of the afternoon. Helenius cut off a back-door pass that a German forward would have just had to tap in. That sparked the rush up ice that finished with Helenius scoring the insurance goal to give Finland some breathing room.

Mason McTavish, C, Canada (ANA): Boy, is McTavish going to be a handful in this tournament. He scored a beautiful goal to open Canada’s account against the Czechs and was a physical force the rest of the way. If he’s not hitting the scoresheet, he’s winning battles along the boards and displacing the opposition from the puck.

Matvei Michkov, RW, Russia (2023): Having just turned 17 three weeks ago, Michkov showed today that he might be young but he is his team’s best forward by a comfortable margin. He scored two goals in rather unconventional ways, but he wants the plays to go through him and dictates his shifts. He has a good motor and works for his offense. To get two goals without even his best game going is scary for everyone else in the tournament.

Simon Latkoczy, G, Slovakia: Under duress for most of the game, Latkoczy stopped 39 of 42 shots against including 22 of 23 in the second period alone. He kept Slovakia within striking distance of an American team that dominated stretches of their game.

Emil Andrae, D, Sweden (PHI): With a power-play goal and an assist, Sweden’s captain was very strong throughout the game at both ends of the ice. He delivered some solid body checks and played awfully poised with the puck on his stick.

Brad Lambert, LW, Finland (2022): With two assists for Finland in their opening game, the draft-eligible Lambert had a very strong performance against Germany. His speed and vision both allowed him to make an impact.

Martin Chromiak, LW, Slovakia (LAK): With two goals in the third period against the U.S., Chromiak made good on being one of the few consistently threatening forwards Slovakia had in a game where it didn’t have the puck a whole lot for long stretches. Chromiak scored his first goal on the power play on a nice one-timer and his second goal with the extra attacker out. He’s going to have to be an offensive leader for Slovakia to have some success in this tournament and he proved Sunday that he can.

Jake Sanderson, D, USA (OTT): Sanderson may not have hit the scoresheet, but it seemed like he almost never left the ice for Team USA. The American captain logged 22:24 minutes of total ice time, while making plays in all three zones. He’s on the top power-play unit, but is also a key penalty killer. When the Americans were dominating play in the second period, Sanderson was one of their most consistently noticeable players.

Drew Commesso, G, USA (CHI): With 23 saves, Commesso may not have been as busy as his Slovak counterpart, but he was especially important to his team’s chances of winning the game. Slovakia had great pressure early, but Commesso was excellent in the early goings when the pressure was on, barely had any work in the second period, then held strong as Slovakia got their legs under them in the third.

News and notes from around the WJC

COVID Update: The IIHF announced that three players and two on-ice officials were among those that tested positive for Coronavirus throughout the testing protocol. One player from Finland was isolated during the teams’ mandatory 48-hour quarantine upon entry into Canada. Beyond that, one player from Switzerland and one player from Austria also tested positive. Two on-ice officials tested positive during that same 48-hour quarantine period and have been isolated.

Austria’s entire team was in quarantine while contact tracing and further testing was conducted. They are due to play Finland on Monday. If they are unable to play, Austria will be forced to forfeit.

Players, staff and officials have been undergoing daily testing since their arrival in Edmonton and Red Deer.

Switzerland loses its captain: One of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 was going to be a big part of his team at the World Juniors. Swiss captain Simon Knak, a Nashville Predators draft pick, tested positive for COVID-19 and has been ruled out for the tournament. Knak was due to play in his third World Junior Championship. He currently plays for HC Davos in the Swiss national league. Davos recently announced a rash of positive COVID-19 tests among its players, which forced the cancellation of the 2022 Spengler Cup which is hosted in Davos annually.

No relegation in 2022: The IIHF announced Sunday that the 2022 World Juniors would not have any teams relegated, just as there was no relegation last year. The tournament initially was supposed to include a relegation round featuring the two teams that finish last in their respective groups, but given the ever-changing circumstances with Coronavirus and probably because Austria had to have its entire team in isolation this close to the tournament, the IIHF decided to forgo that option.

However, since Belarus had already earned promotion to the top level of the World Juniors, they didn’t want to take that award away from those players. So now the 2023 World Junior championship in Russia will feature 11 teams including all 2022 participants and Belarus. The IIHF competition committee will now have to figure out a way to make a tournament work with uneven teams.

Day 2 Schedule (All games on TSN in Canada and NHL Network in the United States)

Austria vs. Finland, 2 p.m. ET
Russia vs. Switzerland, 4:30 p.m. ET
Germany vs. Czechia, 7 p.m. ET
Sweden vs. Slovakia, 9:30 p.m. Et

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