After a brief hiatus, we’re back with updates from the World Juniors. We’ve seen our first forfeiture due to COVID-19. We’ve also seen some terrific on-ice performances from the games that did take place on days two and three. There’s also a couple of suspensions that need to be talked about as well.
From shutouts to shutdowns, let’s get caught up with our updates from the World Juniors.
US Forfeits Game Against Switzerland Due To Positive COVID Tests
Instead of burying the lead, let’s get to the biggest news of the tournament so far. The United States had to forfeit their game against Switzerland on day three of the tournament (Tuesday) after two players tested positive for COVID-19 late Monday night.
As per the tournament protocols, if players on any given team test positive for COVID-19, the entire team is immediately placed into quarantine. A team cannot be released from quarantine until all players (excluding those who initially tested positive) return two negative tests within a 24-hour window. As we mentioned briefly in our day one recap, any team unable to play a game due to positive tests will be forced to forfeit the said game. As a result, Switzerland was awarded a 1-0 victory.
What Happens Next
As mentioned above, once the tests for the two players came back positive, the entirety of Team USA was placed into quarantine. What that means is the two players who tested positive, as well as their roommates, are given rooms to themselves to isolate. The rest of the team and staff are confined to the rooms that were assigned to them for the tournament. US players and staff will undergo two more tests: one that was already administered earlier Tuesday morning, and another test to be administered late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Should both rounds of tests produce negative results, the team will be released from quarantine. If that’s the case, the US will likely be able to play their next scheduled game, which is Wednesday evening against Sweden.
In the event that either round of testing returns any positive tests… well, that’s where things get a little murky. In the case of another positive test (or more), a board of doctors affiliated with the IIHF will determine the viability of allowing the US to continue to compete. There are a couple of cases where the US can still compete despite further positive tests. For example, if one of the two roommates of the players who initially tested positive produce a positive test themselves, the board may determine that the new test does not affect the US’s ability to compete further since those players have been in isolation.
Whatever happens next, positive tests and forfeited games are an unfortunate reality of playing hockey in the midst of a global pandemic. Keep checking in with CSM. We’ll monitor the situation and provide updates as they come.
Day Two Games
Let’s briefly touch on all four games that took place on day two of the tournament:
- Finland 7, Austria 1– Obviously, this was a one-sided game. But frankly, it could have been worse. Finland peppered Austrian goalie Sebastian Wraneschitz with 48 shots. Five Finnish players tallied multi-point games, with Ville Koivunen and 2022 NHL draft prospect Brad Lambert scoring three points each.
- Russia 4, Switzerland 2– Russia entered the game as the heavy favorite. However, Switzerland played hard to keep the game close. Russia has yet to really hit their stride, giving up six goals in their opening game and playing inconsistently against Switzerland. However, Matvei Michkov has been as-advertised. The young phenom has three goals in two games so far.
- Germany 2, Czechia 1 (OT)– The closest game of the tournament from start to finish, Germany was able to nab an overtime victory over Czechia to continue their impressive play. This game was likely to determine third place for group B. Alexander Blank scored both goals for Germany, including the OT winner about a minute and a half into the extra frame.
- Sweden 3, Slovakia 0– The score of this one is pretty misleading. Slovakia owned play for most of this game, putting 48 shots on the net. Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt played the kind of game in net that made the Minnesota Wild select him in the first round of the 2021 draft. He frustrated the Slovakians at every turn and allowed Sweden to avoid an upset. Slovakia certainly has a nice game to build from. Sweden, however, will need to clean a couple of things up going forward. Slovakian defenseman Simon Nemec took a questionable hit in the third, but more on that later.
Czechia’s David Jiricek Out For Tournament
Czechia’s David Jiricek will be out for the tournament after sustaining a lower-body injury against Canada on Sunday. It’s a big blow for Czechia, as Jiricek figured to be their top defenseman at the World Juniors. Further, Jiricek is a top prospect for the 2022 NHL draft. This year’s World Juniors was a great chance for Jiricek to gain exposure on the world stage and raise his draft stock.
Through the first two days of tournament action, a few questionable hits took place that drew supplementary discipline. Let’s touch on the suspensions announced so far.
- Canada’s Justin Sourdif was suspended one game for a hit to the head of Czech defender Jiri Tichacek. The one game missed was Canada’s game against Austria on Tuesday.
- Czechia’s Michael Hradek also received a one-game suspension. Once again from the Canada-Czechia matchup on December 26, Hradek was suspended one game for a cross-check to the head of Canada’s Kent Johnson during a scrum. Hradek missed the Czech game against Germany on Monday as a result.
- While no suspension has been announced, we can expect discipline to be handed out to Sweden’s Leo Loof. Loof delivered a check to the head of Slovakian defender Simon Nemec on Monday night. He was ejected from the game. Though Nemec was able to continue playing, we have already seen head contact met with suspensions. Expect Loof to miss Wednesday’s game against the United States (should it take place).
Day Three: Canada 11, Austria 2
With the cancellation of the US-Switzerland matchup, there was only one game played on day three of the tournament. As one would expect, Canada handled Austria quite easily. They became the first team in the tournament to score double-digit goals in a game this year. While there isn’t much worth analyzing deeply, there are a couple of impressive performances that should be mentioned.
The first came from Canada’s 16-year-old sensation Connor Bedard. Bedard scored four goals against Austria, tying a Canadian World Juniors record for most goals in a game. Though it did come in a blow-out, it is still impressive nonetheless. On display was Bedard’s sublime hockey sense to position himself to score, as well as his impressive shot. Bedard currently leads the tournament in goal-scoring.
Also worth mentioning is the performance by Austrian goaltender Leon Sommer. Sommer faced a ridiculous 64 shots while receiving very little help defensively. Though he did give up double-digit goals, making 53 saves in a game against a stacked team like Canada is something worth mentioning.
- United States
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