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2017 World Junior Championship Day One Recap: United States, Sweden, Canada Win Big

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic stun the defending champion Finns

Canada v Russia - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

In typical World Junior Championship fashion, the tournament’s opening day was not lacking for excitement and storylines. There were blowouts, physical clashes between top nations, star players shining, and even a big upset.

The United States and Sweden went on to predictable victories, the Czech Republic toppled Finland, and everything was capped off when Canada edged Russia in the marquee match of the day.

Here’s how it all unfolded:

Sweden 6, Denmark 1

It wasn’t the most exciting of games to kick off the tournament, but it did provide an opportunity to see one of the top teams flex their muscles, with Sweden skating off with a decisive victory.

Returning forward Alex Nylander scored twice, while Carl Grundstrom chipped in a goal and an assist. Also scoring a goal and an assist, more notably, was highly-touted 16 year-old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who turned heads with his play despite logging just 8:50 of ice time.

Denmark put forth a spirited effort, keeping the game closer than a meeting between these two teams usually would have gone, but couldn’t successfully punch up a weight class.

United States 6, Latvia 1

Arizona Coyotes 2017 1st rounder Clayton Keller scored two goals, but it was a complete team effort that propelled Team USA to victory in their opening game. All four lines were rolling as they out-shot Latvia by a lopsided 30-12 margin.

Like the Danes did in the game right before, Latvia kept things close and interesting all the way until the 3rd period, when the dam finally broke and the U.S. scored three goals to cement their lead.

"We take every game and team seriously," said forward captain Colin White. "We had a few days off before this game, so it took us a bit of time to get our legs going. Overall, there were a lot of positives we can take for the next game."

Czech Republic 2, Finland 1

The sole upset of the day saw a focused and composed Czech team take down the defending champions in FInland.

It was a neck-and-neck affair until Winnipeg Jets prospect Michael Spacek’s wrist shot through traffic broke the deadlock with just under two minutes left to play.

Finland, who are missing Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi and Sebastian Aho from last year’s roster, chased the puck for most of the game, getting out-shot 30-23, and look to be facing an uphill battle if they want to win back-to-back gold medals.

"We can still win this tournament," said Finnish captain Olli Juolevi. "We haven’t lost anything, kind of. It’s just one game, and we have to be ready to play tomorrow against Denmark."

Canada 5, Russia 3

The day’s games saved the best for last, with the host Canadian team defeating Russia in yet another in a long line of memorable battles between the two hockey superpowers.

Special teams were the difference-maker, as Canada scored three times on the powerplay. 2015 New York Islanders 1st round pick Mathew Barzal was in on all three goals with the man advantage and was named his team’s player of the game for his efforts.

Dallas Stars prospect Denis Gurianov had a notable game, setting up Russia’s opening goal thanks to some strong work on the forecheck, while also being whistled for a a penalty for a thunderous hit on Canadian defender Noah Juulsen.

What’s Up Next:

The schedule for December 27th is as follows:

  • Switzerland versus the Czech Republic at 12:00 PM
  • Russia versus Latvia at 3:00 PM
  • Finland versus Denmark at 4:30 PM
  • Slovakia versus Canada at 7:00 PM