World Junior Championship roundup: United States handles Finland

Saturday is the sixth day of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Day 6 games

United States 6, Finland 2 — Jimmy Snuggerud (St. Louis Blues) had a goal and three assists for the United States, which earned the top seed in Group B at Avenir Centre.

Logan Cooley (Arizona Coyotes) had a goal and two assists, Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils) had a goal and an assist, and Trey Augustine (2023 draft eligible) made 29 saves for the United States (3-0-0-1), which will play Germany in the quarterfinals at Avenir Centre on Monday (4 p.m. ET).

“We knew we had an opportunity for the No. 1 seed, so once that’s on the line, it’s hard not to get up for those games, especially playing Finland, too,” forward Rutger McGroarty (Winnipeg Jets) said. “They’re a good team. In the locker room you can tell the boys were ready to go, and it’s only going to go up from here. I think we’re only going to keep getting better and better.”

Lenni Hameenaho (2023 draft eligible) had a goal and an assist, Aleksi Heimosalmi (Carolina Hurricanes) had two assists and Aku Koskenvuo (Vancouver Canucks) made 24 saves for Finland (2-0-1-1), which finished second in Group B and will play Sweden in the quarterfinals at Avenir Centre on Monday (11 a.m. ET).

“We had a really really strong opponent today,” Finland coach Tomi Lamsa said. “Really, really speedy team, skillful guys, and I think they started really, really strong the first 10 minutes. We were down, but I think second period we played pretty well the last 10 minutes. I think today, our defense wasn’t strong enough. … Like six goals against, we need to help our goalie more. And also power play had one goal. If you want to win games like that, you need to score more.”

Chaz Lucius (Jets) gave the United States a 1-0 lead at 15:22 of the first period, scoring near the left post after Ryan Ufko’s (Nashville Predators) initial shot deflected to him off the end boards.

The goal came 11 seconds after a United States power play expired.

Joakim Kemell (Predators) tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 16:27.

Rutger McGroarty (Jets) put the United States back in front 2-1 with his own power-play goal at 4:57 of the second period. Hughes skated end-to-end before dropping a pass to McGroarty, who scored in the left circle.

It was the first power-play goal allowed by Finland in the tournament in 12 chances.

Snuggerud pushed it to 3-1 with a backhand from the slot at 9:02, and Hughes made it 4-1 at 14:48 with a slap shot from the right point after receiving a pass from Cooley from of the right-wing corner.

Hameenaho scored 27 seconds later on a rebound at the right post to pull Finland to within 4-2.

Cooley made it 5-2 at 3:55 of the third period when he knocked in a rebound.

Lane Hutson (Montreal Canadiens) scored on a shot from the left circle at 16:15 for the 6-2 final.

“I think we’ve cleaned up our D-zone coverage,” United States coach Rand Pecknold said. “What we’ve been better at is possession in the offensive zone. If you’re playing offense, you don’t have to defend, so that’s a big thing we’re trying to do here … get more puck possession and play fast. But when we had to defend, I thought we were pretty good. Our back checking was good. Obviously, we had a couple of huge blocks there at the end of the game, too.”

Canada 5, Sweden 1 — Connor Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, had four assists to help Canada finish second in Group A at Scotiabank Centre.

The 17-year-old forward has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in four games, tying a Canada record for points in a single WJC with Dale McCourt (1977) and Brayden Schenn (2011). Bedard also tied Eric Lindros for the most career points at the WJC with 31 (14 goals, 17 assists in 13 games).

Lindros had 31 points in 21 WJC games (1990-92).

“My dad said some stuff about [Lindros] and how good of a player he was,” Bedard said. “He was an historic talent. As I’ve said, to have my name in the same sentence as him is crazy knowing how good a player he was and how dominant he was.”

Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) scored two goals, and Thomas Milic (2023 draft eligible) made 22 saves for Canada (3-0-0-1), which will play Slovakia in the quarterfinals at Scotiabank Centre on Monday (6:30 p.m. ET).

“[Bedard] is red hot right now, so we’re lucky to have him on our side wearing the Maple Leaf,” Othmann said. “It’s good that he’s hot right now going into the important games.”

Carl Lindbom (Vegas Golden Knights) made 39 saves for Sweden (2-1-0-1), which finished third in Group A and will play Finland in the quarterfinals at Avenir Centre on Monday (11 a.m. ET).

Joshua Roy (Montreal Canadiens) scored 57 seconds into the first period to give Canada a 1-0 lead.

Othmann made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 2:08, and Tyson Hinds (Anaheim Ducks) scored his second of the tournament to extend the lead to 3-0 at 11:45.

Ludvig Jansson (Florida Panthers) got Sweden to within 3-1 at 16:21 when his slap shot from the point made it through a screen on a power play.

Sweden had a chance to cut the lead again, but it failed to convert on a 5-on-3 power play for 53 seconds late in the second period.

Othmann then scored 35 seconds into the third period to make it 4-1 before Kevin Korchinski (Chicago Blackhawks) converted on a snap shot from the right circle at 12:42 for the 5-1 final.

Czechia 8, Germany 1 — Jaroslav Chmelar (New York Rangers) had two goals and an assist in Group A play at Scotiabank Centre.

Gabriel Szturc (2023 draft eligible) and Martin Rysavy (Columbus Blue Jackets) each had a goal and two assists, David Spacek (Minnesota Wild) had a goal and an assist, and Jake Brabenec (Vegas Golden Knights) had three assists for Czechia (3-0-1-0). Tomas Suchanek (2023 draft eligible) made 18 saves.

“I think we played pretty well,” Spacek said. “It was a good team effort out there, and it worked out pretty well today. We worked really hard on the ice.”

Czechia finished first in Group A and will play Switzerland in the quarterfinals at Scotiabank Arena on Monday (1:30 p.m. ET).

“I think we just eliminated our turnovers and our making our game a little bit easier, more simple,” Spacek said regarding the team’s difference from the 2022 WJC in August, when Czechia finished fourth. “Maybe we’re getting lucky, too. If you score a lot of goals, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll win and we’ve been doing that.”

Veit Oswald (2023 draft eligible) scored for Germany (1-0-0-3), which finished fourth in Group A and will play the United States in the quarterfinals at Avenir Centre on Monday (4:30 p.m. ET).

Simon Wolf (2023 draft eligible) allowed six goals on 28 shots. Nikita Quapp (Carolina Hurricanes) allowed two goals on 26 shots.

Switzerland 4, Slovakia 3 (SO) — Rodwin Dionicio (2023 NHL Draft eligible) scored the deciding goal in the 10th round of the shootout in Group B play at Avenir Centre.

“I came from the right side and stick-handled and took it one hand five-hole,” Dionicio said. “I actually saw that move before from the Nashville Predators camp over the summer. … Joakim Kemell did it at camp. I saw it and I just took it off from him and it worked, so that’s all that matters.”

Liekit Reichle (2023 draft eligible) had a goal and an assist, and Kevin Pasche (2023 draft eligible) made 29 saves, including eight more in the shootout, for Switzerland (0-3-0-1), which finished fourth in Group B and will play Czechia in the quarterfinals at Avenir Centre on Monday (1:30 p.m. ET).

“I think it says that we never give up,” forward Lorenzo Canonica (2023 draft eligible) said regarding each of Switzerland’s wins coming in overtime or a shootout. “We’re a tough team to play against and never give up in any battle. We battle hard, so that’s our team spirit. We want to be the hardest team on the ice.”

Servac Petrovsky (Minnesota Wild) scored twice, and Filip Mesar (Montreal Canadiens) and Libor Nemec (2023 draft eligible) each had two assists for Slovakia (2-0-1-1), which finished third and will play Canada in the quarterfinals at Scotiabank Centre on Monday (6:30 p.m. ET). Adam Gajan (2023 draft eligible) made 32 saves in his third straight start.

“It was a tough game for us, we’re all disappointed,” Petrovsky said. “We should win this game, but it happened and we have to move on. Before the tournament, we would be happy with seven points, but now we’re disappointed. So we have to prepare for the quarterfinals.”

Mischa Ramel (2023 draft eligible) cut it to 3-2 at 2:20 of the third period after receiving a pass from Reichle in the high slot. 

Canonica tied it 3-3 at 8:40 on a power play, scoring with a wrist shot from the right face-off circle.

Adam Sykora (New York Rangers) gave Slovakia a 1-0 lead at 4:11 of the first period. He picked up the puck behind the net and skated into the slot before jamming a shot over the line.

Reichle tied it 1-1 at 1:07 of the second period on a wrist shot from the slot.

Petrovsky scored his first goal of the tournament on a snap shot from the slot to put Slovakia back in front 2-1 at 17:20. He then scored with a wrist shot from almost the same spot 49 seconds later to extend it to 3-1.

Quick links

Dave Starman’s 3 keys for USA vs. Finland 

World Junior Championship predictions

World Juniors Championship rosters

Tournament schedule

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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