3 things learned at Day 1 of World Juniors

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Saturday is the second day of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Day 1 results 

Russia 5, United States 3
Finland 5, Germany 3
Slovakia 1, Switzerland 0

 

What We Learned on Day 1

United States still confident in Knight

Goalie Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) was pulled during the second period of the United States’ 5-3 loss to Russia on Friday after allowing four goals on 12 shots in 32:15 of ice time, including the fourth goal when he left the crease to play the puck, shot it off the glass directly to a Russia player and couldn’t get back into the net in time to prevent a goal.

Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames) stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief, and could get the start against Austria on Saturday, but United States coach Nate Leaman wouldn’t commit to a starting goalie, saying he needed to watch the game tape first.

Leaman, who coaches Providence College, said he’s seen enough of Knight in his two seasons at Boston College to know that whether the goalie starts Saturday or not, he’ll be a big part of any success the United States has during the tournament.

“I know Spencer from being in the same league (Hockey East) that he is in and I think he’s going to be fine in the tournament,” Leaman said. “He’s an outstanding goalie. I’m sure he would have liked to have that last one back. I also know he’s a good leader. I’ve seen him have a bad game before on tape in the league and then come in and shut a team out. … I don’t have any doubts about Spencer bouncing back.”

 

Canada playing for Dach

Kirby Dach was named captain for Canada for the World Juniors, and he’ll retain that title even though he won’t play in the tournament because of an injury to his right wrist sustained during a pre-tournament game against Russia on Wednesday.

“Our captain is Kirby Dach,” Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. “That’s our captain. … He’s still part of the team, he has to take care of his injury, but for me, Kirby Dach is captain of Team Canada in 2021. … I have no intention to have another captain. Kirby Dach is our captain. If we have to put a C on a jersey we’ll go through that, but our captain is Kirby Dach.”

The players said they’ll use Dach as a rallying point as they try to win the WJC for the second straight year.

“It’s tough news for sure that he’s going to be lost for the tournament, but it definitely adds a bit of fuel to the fire,” said defenseman and assistant captain Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche). “We all want to get it done for him. We know how excited he was to get to participate in the tournament after not being able to last year, so it definitely adds some fuel to the fire.”

 

Stuetzle hasn’t missed a beat

Tim Stuetzle, selected by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, had a goal and an assist and played 26:01 — including 10:04 in the third period — for Germany on Friday. It was his first game since last season, and first since surgery Oct. 15 to repair a hand injury sustained while training with Mannheim in Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany’s top professional league.

Stuetzle is Germany’s captain and will be relied on more than usual because the team is playing shorthanded with several players in quarantine.

“Twenty-six minutes for a forward is unbelievable,” Germany coach Tobias Abstreiter said. “Normally you have your top defenseman with those kind of minutes. I would say first game after I don’t know, eight, nine months for him, and after hand surgery, that says everything about our captain.”

 

On tap for Day 2

All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN and RDS in Canada

Sweden vs. Czech Republic (2 p.m. ET) — Sweden plays its first game after being unable to play a pre-tournament game because of coronavirus issues. They are expected to have a full lineup, led by defenseman Phillip Broberg (Edmonton Oilers) and forwards Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings) and Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils). The Czech Republic will be without forward Adam Raska (San Jose Sharks), who received a one-game suspension for a boarding incident in a pre-tournament game against Slovakia on Wednesday.

Germany vs. Canada (6 p.m. ET) — Germany will use the same nine forwards and five defenseman it used against Finland on Friday as several players remain in quarantine. Canada reconfigured its lines at practice Friday and likely will start with a top line of Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) centering left wing Cole Perfetti (Winnipeg Jets) and right wing Peyton Krebs (Vegas Golden Knights).

United States vs. Austria (9:30 p.m. ET) — The United States will look to bounce back from its loss to Russia with a game against Austria, which is playing at the top level of the World Juniors for the first time since 2010. Marco Rossi, selected by the Minnesota Wild with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, is expected to center their top line.

 

Quick links

World Junior Championship predictions

Group A preview

Group B preview

World Junior Championship rosters

Tournament schedule

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