The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship continued rolling along on Thursday, with four more games taking place.
The tournament’s five biggest teams - the United States, Canada, Sweden, Russia and Finland - were all in action. It was business as usual for those first three, a frustrating loss for the fourth, and the fifth is now in full-blown damage control as they are fighting for the tournament lives.
Here’s how it all unfolded.
Denmark 3, Czech Republic 2 (OT)
What an incredible underdog story Denmark continues to write.
St. Louis Blues prospect Nicholas Krag tied the game late in the 3rd period before Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mathias From potted the winner in overtime, giving Denmark their second victory of the tournament. A team that most expected to fight tooth and nail just to avoid relegation has now moved on unexpectedly, but deservedly, to the quarterfinals.
Filip Hronek scored for the Czechs and led his team in ice time by a huge margin, at 25:36. Despite the loss, they continue to pick up points in the standings, as all of their games have now gone past 60 minutes.
United States 3, Russia 2
This match was the heavyweight tilt of the day, and it saw the United States come out on top over a strong Russian squad.
The U.S. held a one-goal lead to start the 3rd period and defended it perfectly, skating away with a 3-2 decision. Clayton Keller, Colin White and Troy Terry all scored for the Americans, while Tyler Parsons made 25 saves in net.
"We showed a lot of heart today and did a great job shutting them down in the third," Keller said. "All lines can score and have skill, but our best is yet to come. We're on the right track."
It was a frustrating loss for Russia, who were caught chasing the puck for most of the game. They manhandled Latvia 9-1 on Tuesday but have now fallen twice against top competition in Canada and now the U.S. They’ll need to find another gear if they hope to advance to the medal rounds.
Sweden 3, Finland 1
Buffalo Sabres 1st rounder Alexander Nylander continued to be absolutely dynamite at the World Juniors, scoring two goals and adding an assist as Sweden took down their biggest European rivals in Finland.
Beautiful play by Alex Nylander on his goal. 2nd point of the night pic.twitter.com/HXyYSgxme7— SabresFanatics (@SabresFanatics) December 30, 2016
Regardless of what happens in their game against the Czech Republic on new Year’s Eve Sweden will now come out on top of Group A. Their depth is giving other teams fits, so it will be a serious challenge for whoever eventually faces them in the elimination rounds.
Finland, meanwhile, continues to spiral down and down, losing their third game in a row. Nothing seems to be clicking for the defending champions. They’ll need a Denmark win on Friday and then a win over Switzerland on Saturday just to advance to the quarterfinals and avoid the relegation round.
Canada 10, Latvia 2
Canada made it look pretty, but it certainly wasn’t for Latvia, in the 9-2 drubbing that closed out Thursday’s games.
Canada scored early and often, including a whooping four goals from Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh, while his OHL teammate Dylan Strome picked up four assists. The Canadians unsurprisingly took their foot off the gas in the latter stages of the game, saving their energy and their emotions for what will surely be another memorable clash on New Year’s Eve against the United States.
Latvia continues to search for their first win of the tournament, and will have their best possible chance at doing that on Friday night as they take on Slovakia.
What’s Up Next:
The schedule for December 30th is as follows:
- Denmark versus Switzerland at 4:00 PM
- Latvia versus Slovakia at 6:30 PM