3 things learned at Day 5 of World Juniors

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Day 5 results

United States 7, Czech Republic 0

Canada 10, Switzerland 0

Russia 7, Austria 1

 

What we learned on Day 5

Checking line fuels United States

The line of center John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes), left wing Brett Berard (New York Rangers) and right wing Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers) has been a pleasant surprise for the United States during its consecutive shutout wins.

The energy line, which started a game together for the first time in an 11-0 win against Austria on Saturday, was in top form in a 7-0 victory against the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Brink scored two goals, Berard had an assist and two shots on goal, and Farinacci had three shots and won nine of 13 face-offs for the United States (2-0-0-1, six points).

“Farinacci wins draws, Berard hunts down pucks and Brink is gritty — and when Brinker is gritty, he’s really effective,” United States coach Nate Leaman said. “They’re a good forechecking line but can get to a lot of pucks, and when they have the puck, they’ve done a good job keeping it simple and attacking the net.

“They’re not scared and that’s probably an attribute I missed in the beginning; they’re fearless. They pay the price and I like the karma of that line right now.”

In addition to creating offense, Berard, Farinacci and Brink have provided toughness down low and in the trenches for the U.S., which clinched a berth in the quarterfinals by defeating the Czech Republic.

“I think we just try and keep it simple,” Brink said. “We’re not going to try to complicate things and know that we’re all fast and hard-working. We’ll get in on the forecheck, and I think that we’ve just been playing to each other’s strengths and not trying to be something that we’re not. That’s helped us be really successful.”

 

Canada’s Byfield showing maturity

Quinton Byfield (Los Angeles Kings) said scoring his first two goals for Canada at the World Junior Championship was a big relief.

Byfield, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, entered Canada’s game against Switzerland on Tuesday having scored no goals in nine career WJC games. He scored six points (two goals, four assists) in a 10-0 win and is third in tournament scoring with seven points (two goals, five assists) in three games.

“Not playing hockey for 8-9 months (due to the coronavirus) … it affects you a little bit and I just had to ease myself back into it,” Byfield said. “I finally found my footing and am just enjoying it. Everything just kind of happened (Tuesday). I think me and [forward Jakob Pelletier] had a good connection on some goals; we were getting the bounces.”

The line of Jack Quinn (Buffalo Sabres), Byfield and Pelletier (Calgary Flames) combined for 11 points (four goals, seven assists) against Switzerland.

Byfield was the youngest player on Canada’s roster when it won the tournament last year and is again the youngest player on this year’s roster.

Despite his age, Canada coach Andre Tourigny said the 18-year-old center has proven to be a great student of the game.

“He’s really coachable and he wants to do what’s right,” Tourigny said. “It started right from the get-go in Red Deer (Alberta) at selection camp. I told every returning player that I’d be hard on them and demand more from them than any other. Right from the first practice, I was on [Byfield] in a sense of demanding a lot, and he responded well. He paid attention when we asked certain things — managing the puck in a different way and making some adjustments on the defensive side of the puck.

“He’s a more mature man than last year, is easier to coach and really receptive. I think last year as a 17-year-old, it can be a tough situation. But even if he’s the youngest guy in the team this year, he’s really easy to coach.”

 

Matthews tweets Zegras

Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) is gaining quite the following as the leading goal-scorer at the World Junior Championship.

The United States forward, who scored five points (two goals, three assists) in the 7-0 win against the Czech Republic, has even impressed a few former U.S. National Junior Team standouts, including Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, who congratulated the 19-year-old on his effort via his Twitter account on Tuesday with a simple message: ‘zegras niceeeeee with it.’

Tweet from @AM34: zegras niceeeeee with it 🇺🇸😤

“That’s pretty cool,” said Zegras, the tournament scoring leader with 10 points (five goals, five assists), said when told of Matthews’ tweet. “I know a bunch of guys in our locker room look up to him and obviously what he’s done for USA Hockey, so that’s definitely pretty cool and something I’ll remember for a while.”

Matthews scored 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 12 WJC games (2015-16). He led the tournament with seven goals to help the United States to a third-place finish in 2016.

Zegras also is tied for second with Doug Weight (1991) on the U.S. all-time list with 14 career assists in eight WJC games. Weight scored 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in seven games at the 1991 WJC. Forward Jordan Schroeder (2008-10) ranks first with 20 career assists in 19 games.

“That goes to show that I’m playing with some really good players, because without a goal-scorer on the other end of the line … it’s my job,” Zegras said. “I’m playing with some very good players and they’re putting the puck in the back of the net from me.”

 

On tap for Day 6

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

Slovakia vs. Finland (2 p.m. ET ) — Finland (2-0-0-0; six points) needs a win to keep pace with Canada (3-0-0-0; nine points) for the top seed in Group A. Finland has been led offensively by captain Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers), who has three points (two goals, one assist) and averaged 16:42 in ice time in two games. Defensively, Ville Heinola (Winnipeg Jets) leads Finland in average ice time (24:20) and Topi Niemela (Toronto Maple Leafs) leads the team in scoring with four points (one goal, three assists). Slovakia (1-0-1-1, four points) lost 4-3 in overtime to Germany on Monday.

Germany vs. Switzerland (6 p.m. ET) — Germany captain Tim Stuetzle (Ottawa Senators) scored two goals and had an assist in an overtime win against Slovakia on Monday and has five points (three goals, two assists) in three tournament games. The 18-year-old has averaged 26:24 of ice time for Germany (0-1-0-2, two points), which has had to use the same nine forwards and five defensemen in its three Group A games because several players were in quarantine. Germany’s best finish at the WJC was fifth in 1981 (as West Germany). Switzerland (0-0-0-3, 0 points) is last in Group A and has been outscored 15-1.

Sweden vs. Russia (9:30 p.m. ET) — Russia (2-0-0-1, six points) can clinch first place in Group B with a victory but may be without forward Yegor Chinakhov (Columbus Blue Jackets), who is doubtful after sustaining a lower-body injury in the first period of a 7-1 win against Austria on Tuesday. Sweden (2-0-0-0, six points) defeated Austria 4-0 on Monday to extend its winning streak in the preliminary round to 54 games. That streak includes 47 wins in regulation, three in overtime and four in shootouts. Sweden’s most recent preliminary-round loss was 3-2 in overtime to the United States on Dec. 31, 2006. Sweden will play the United States (2-0-0-1, six points) on Thursday.

 

Quick links

World Junior Championship predictions

Group A preview

Group B preview

World Junior Championship rosters

Tournament schedule

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