World Junior Championships roundup: Behrens, Savage lead U.S. past Latvia

Monday was the first 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 1 games

Czechia 5, Canada 2 — Jaroslav Chmelar (New York Rangers) and Matous Mensik (2023 draft eligible) scored power-play goals 33 seconds apart in the second period to break the game open in a Group A game at Scotiabank Centre.

It was Czechia’s second victory against Canada, and first regulation, in 24 games at the World Juniors, including a 5-4 shootout win at the 2014 tournament.

David Spacek (Minnesota Wild) and Stanislav Svozil (Columbus Blue Jackets) each had a goal and an assist for Czechia. Tomas Suchanek (2023 draft eligible) made 36 saves and had an assist.

“It’s unreal,” Svozil said. “This was just the first game of the tournament, and we knew we had to win two games to qualify [for the playoffs], so this is nice. When we got that fifth goal and they had only two, we felt we were in control.”

Shane Wright (Seattle Kraken) and Connor Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft, scored for Canada. Benjamin Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) allowed five goals on 16 shots before being replaced in the second period by Thomas Milic (2023 draft eligible), who made 11 saves.

It’s the first time Canada has lost its first game at the World Juniors since a 6-4 loss to the United States in 2016.

“They outworked us,” Canada forward Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) said. “You can’t take any team lightly. They had a good game, so credit to them. It’s a learning curve. They say you win or you learn, and tonight it was learning.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of hype about our team, but at the same time, you want to win especially with this amazing crowd. Now we have to bounce back in two days. It doesn’t hurt to go through a game like this. Every team does. It’s good for us and a little bit humbling.”

Canada got within 3-2 on Bedard’s goal at 1:29 of the second period, but forward Zach Dean (Vegas Golden Knights) was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head at 4:21.

On the ensuing power play, Chmelar banged in a loose puck in the crease to make it 4-2 at 8:14, and then Mensik skated down the left side and found space between Gaudreau’s blocker and the post to make it 5-2 at 8:47.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: UPSET WATCH 🚨!!!🇨🇿 Czechia has Canada on the ropes with a 5-2 lead in the 2nd period. #WorldJuniors #CANCZE pic.twitter.com/KGn0tbrk5G

Wright scored on a power play to give Canada a 1-0 lead at 10:33 of the first period.

Spacek dropped down and scored backdoor after receiving a pass from Svozil to tie it 1-1 at 17:48, and then David Moravec, who plays for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, put Czechia up 2-1 at 18:23.

Szovil extended it to 3-1 with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle 44 seconds into the second.

Czechia next plays Austria on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. ET). Canada plays Germany on Wednesday (6:30 p.m. ET).

United States 5, Latvia 2 — Sean Behrens (Colorado Avalanche) and Redmond Savage (Detroit Red Wings) each had a goal and an assist in a Group B game at Avenir Centre.

Jimmy Snuggerud (St. Louis Blues), Chaz Lucius (Winnipeg Jets) and Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils) each scored, and Trey Augustine (2023 draft eligible) made 15 saves.

Anri Ravinskis (2023 draft eligible) and Niks Fenenko (2023 draft eligible) scored for Latvia. Patricks Berzins (2023 draft eligible) made 41 saves.

The U.S. broke the game open with three goals in the third period.

“We just settled down for the third and kind of played with more character,” U.S. coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought in the first two periods we were nervous and made a couple of mistakes that ended up in the back of the net. But we had plenty of chances, so we just talked about letting our character come through in the third.”

Lucius skated down the slot and beat Berzins with a backhand to make it 3-2 at 1:57.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: Chaz Lucius’ backhand gives USA a 3-2 lead 🚨#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/evhx9giewE

Savage extended it to 4-2 at 6:48 when he scored on the rebound of a shot by Dylan Duke (Tampa Bay Lightning).

Hughes, the U.S. captain, scored from the point to make it 5-2 at 13:29.

Snuggerud gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead 24 seconds into the second period when he knocked in a loose puck in the crease.

Ravinskis tied it at 4:59, finishing a give-and-go with Rainers Rullers (2023 draft eligible).

Behrens gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead at 9:17 when he one-timed a pass to the point by Savage.

Latvia tied the game on Fenenko’s goal at 14:24 through a screen.

“We’re not proud because we lost, but we gave them a good battle,” Ravinskis said. “So it was a good game. We made some mistakes, especially the third period wasn’t the best one. But still, we’re going to keep our heads up and prepare for the next game. “

Latvia next plays Switzerland on Tuesday (4 p.m. ET). The U.S. faces Slovakia on Wednesday (4 p.m. ET).

Switzerland 3, Finland 2 (OT) — Attilio Biasca (2023 draft eligible) scored 41 seconds into overtime for Switzerland in a Group B game at Avenir Centre.

Lian Bichsel (Dallas Stars) pulled the puck out of traffic in the right corner in the Finland zone and passed to Biasca, who scored from the right face-off circle.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: ATTILIO BIASCA WINS IT FOR @SwissIceHockey IN OT 🚨#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/uYvZ83ZVN0

“Two guys were battling in the corner,” Biasca said. “I was staying a little high, and then Bichsel made a great play to me. And I tried to shoot it and it worked.”

Lorenzo Canonica (2023 draft eligible) and Jeremy Jabola (2023 draft eligible) also scored for Switzerland. Kevin Pasche (2023 draft eligible) made 14 saves.

Kalle Vaisanen (New York Rangers) had a goal and an assist for Finland and Konsta Kapanen (2023 draft eligible) scored. Aku Koskenvuo (Vancouver Canucks) made 24 saves.

“I thought we played afraid to win,” Finland forward Brad Lambert (Winnipeg Jets) said. “We weren’t attacking enough. We didn’t win enough 1-on-1 battles. We didn’t have the puck enough. We just didn’t play fast enough. We’re faster than them, but we played too slow, too careful, and it cost us.”

Kapanen gave Finland a 1-0 lead at 2:24 of the second period when he scored off the rebound of a Vaisanen shot before Canonica tied it at 12:54 with a shot from the slot.

Jabola put Switzerland ahead 2-1 at 4:43 of the third period when he poked in a loose puck in the slot.

Vaisanen tied the game at 8:09 when he took the puck off the wall, cut to the slot and beat Pasche.

Each team plays Tuesday, Finland against Slovakia (11 a.m.), Switzerland against Latvia (4 p.m. ET).

Sweden 11, Austria 0 — Sweden scored six goals in the second period of its Group A game at Scotiabank Centre.

Isak Rosen (Buffalo Sabres) and Filip Bystedt (San Jose Sharks) each had two goals and an assist, and Fabian Wagner (Winnipeg Jets) had a goal and two assists. Carl Lindbom (Vegas Golden Knights) made 13 saves and had an assist.

“We tried to pay attention to the little things and not play with the attitude that things would come easy for us, to play the game like any other game,” Bystedt said. “We have a lot of skill and offensive-minded players. We have a good mix with our defensive play as well. I think we can attack and score goals and go far in the tournament.”

Thomas Pfarrmaier (2023 draft eligible) allowed six goals on 23 shots before being replaced in the second period by Benedikt Oschgan (2023 draft eligible), who made 17 saves on 22 shots.

“I think our goal coming into this tournament was not to look at scores but just compete every night,” Austria forward Ian Scherzer (2023 draft eligible) said. “We don’t have a set goal except to do our best and see what happens. But today, we had a lot of breakdowns and gave them way too many scoring chances. We made it too easy for them.”

Rosen opened the scoring at 13:17 of the first period, and Bystedt made it 2-0 at 17:49 when he scored off the rebound of Rosen’s shot.

Sweden started its second period with a goal by Rosen 48 seconds into the period to make it 3-0.

Simon Robertsson (St. Louis Blues), Jonathan Lekkerimaki (Vancouver Canucks), Liam Ohgren (Minnesota Wild), Calle Odelius (New York Islanders) and Milton Oscarson (2023 draft eligible), who had a short-handed-goal, also scored in the second.

Wagner scored on a 2-on-1 rush to make it 9-0 at 2:45 of the third period, Bystedt scored a power-play goal at 4:06 and Oskar Pettersson (Ottawa Senators) closed the scoring at 13:50.

Each team plays Tuesday, Sweden against Germany (1:30 p.m. ET), Austria against Czechia (6:30 p.m. ET).

Quick links

World Junior Championship predictions

Group A preview

Group B preview

World Juniors Championship rosters 

Tournament schedule

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