The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship is now in full swing after kicking off on Boxing Day. And when it comes to exciting hockey, few other events can compare to the WJC.
The Dallas Stars usually have a few different prospects in the tournament, and this year is no exception, with forwards Ty Dellandrea (Canada), Albin Eriksson (Sweden) and Oskar Back (Sweden) all in action.
Dellandrea is easily the most high-profile of the trio. He started the event in a dedicated shutdown role, but with an injury to Alexis Lafreniere and a suspension to Joe Veleno, he began taking on more ice time in other situations. Through three games he has two goals (both empty-netters) and an assist, and has spent a lot of time killing penalties. Overall, he’s looked quite good on the ice, aside from getting whistled for a few careless penalties. Despite a blowout loss to Russia, Canada still remains a strong contender to win gold.
The Germans allow #CBJ Liam Foudy to walk in and snap one by Hane to give Canada a 2-0 lead. Nice shot to the far side, Ty Dellandrea picks up the primary #WorldJuniors #WJC2020 pic.twitter.com/AflXpDmXsh— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) December 30, 2019
Both Eriksson and Back play similar defensive roles for Sweden, which includes time on the penalty kill. That’s always been Back’s bread and butter, and he truly does excel in that role, while Eriksson is more of an offense-oriented forward who has been refining his defensive game in his recent time with Sweden’s national program. Neither player has produced a point through three games, though Eriksson has had some scoring chances. Sweden might not be a favorite to win gold in this year’s tournament, but they’re certainly considered a strong medal threat.
Both Eriksson and Back scored goals Monday morning in Sweden’s win over Slovakia:
Sweden quickly goes up 2-0 thanks to Albin Eriksson, just 15 seconds after their first goal! pic.twitter.com/VVyRsfno9I— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 31, 2019
While their roles and results might not be the most exciting to follow, the World Juniors always has a lot of potential to provide a boost to a prospect’s development, especially if winning a medal is involved.
North American Juniors
Riley Damiani had himself a big game on Saturday evening, scoring two goals and two assists to help his Kitchener team defeat the London Knights 7-2. Unsurprisingly, he was named the game’s first star for his efforts. Highlights of the game are here.
The Texas Stars continue to stockpile points after a disastrous start to their season, winning 3-2 in the shootout on Friday before falling 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, with both games coming against the San Antonio Rampage. They’re still sitting last in the AHL’s Central Division, but with a 6-3-1 record in their past 10 games they’re at least trending in the right direction.
Joel Kiviranta’s game-tying goal early in the third period on Friday helped pave the way for Jason Robertson’s eventual game-winning snipe in the shootout. Jake Oettinger stopped 21 of 23 in regulation and overtime before going a perfect three-for-three in the skills competition.
On Saturday night Tye Felhaber found the back of the net for his first-ever AHL goal, which was a long time coming after 21 prior scoreless contests, while Riley Tufte had two assists. But Texas got blown out in the third period, getting outshot 20-2, and they wouldn’t have gotten as far as overtime were it not for some heroic goaltending from Landon Bow.
Center Joel L’Esperance continues to be a major difference-maker for Texas, picking up three points in the two matches. He has 19 points in his past 18 games, a scoring tear that has pushed him into the sole spot for the team’s lead in scoring.
Defenseman Jakob Stenqvist added his fifth goal and 13th point of the season for Assat in the Liiga on a nice individual effort. Highlights of the goal come at the start of the video linked here.
Samuel Sjolund, who was selected by the Stars in the fourth round at 111th overall in the 2019 draft, scored his first professional goal in his 17th game of the season with AIK in the Allsvenskan. Those are some nice hands in tight.
For a full database of the organization’s prospects and their stats, check out the Stars’ “In the System” page on Elite Prospects.