The second live game for me in this years WJC was the encounter between Slovakia and
Finland. Once again my hopes were high; Finland had surprised me in their game against Canada, and Marian Gaborik
was going to be on the ice for Slovakia. The two teams met last week in a exhibition game in Piteå, and Slovakia won the game by four goals to two. The game was very similar to last nights game between Finland and Canada. The first period didn’t provide any amusement, but the game took off in the second when Slovakia scored the prettiest goal so far in the tournament on a three-on-one, Branislav Mezei put the puck in the net, assisted wonderfully by Marian Gaborik. As in the game against Canada, the finns were forced to score in the final period, and this time they got it right, Arto Tukio scored the gametying goal in power-play. The game ended dramatically when Finlands Riku Hahl (one of their best players of the game) took a wrist shot from the blueline in the very last second that hit the bar! The game finally ended 1-1 (0-0 1-0 0-1).
The Czechs and the Americans skated to a 2-2 tie in the first game of the day, and the Finns and the Slovaks tied 1-1 after Finland almost won the game with a shot that hit the crossbar in the final second of the game.
Team USA looked good in exhibition against Sweden playing a disciplined game, and they did the same again today. They didn’t allow many good scoring chances for the Czechs and when they did goalie Rick DiPietro was there to make the save. The 1981-born DiPietro appears to have assumed the role of starting goaltender ahead of Colorado Avalanche draftpick Philippe Sauve, and DiPietro certainly deserves it. Goalies who like to handle the puck are plentiful, but goalies with the hockey sense to actually do something good with the puck and help his team out with his puckhandling are more scarce. DiPietro is in the latter group – he almost never handles the puck without purpose, which is refreshing to see. DiPietro also looks very solid making his saves, and it shows that he has earned the trust of his defense. He could well be a star of this tournament. Almost all of Team USA’s offense was generated by center Jeff Taffe and winger Barrett Heisten (Buffalo). Heisten scored the first goal of the game on a nice move in close on the power play, and the pair seemed to have good chemistry all game. Taffe is tall center with good puckhandling skills, and Heisten more of a shooter. For all of the third period they got a defenseman for a left winger as defenseman Pat Aufiero (Rangers) lined up besided them. The Americans also recieved good penalty-killing a che Read more»
The first World Junior Championship game I ever witnessed live
was the encounter between Finland and Canada on Christmas Day. My hopes for the
game were extremely high, but were tainted a bit by the absence of candians John Erskine, Ross Lupaschuk, Ramzi Abid, Kris Beech and Michael Henrich, players I had been looking forward to seeing. Canada finally won the game 3-2 (1-0 2-0 0-2) after a strong third period by the finns. The result was probably a bit unfair, as Finland was the better of the two teams, but Team Canada played a solid defensive game and didn’t allow the finns to score in the first two periods despite numerous power play opportunities. I was dissapointed by the power-play efforts from both of the two teams, especially the finnish power play. They didn’t create any serious goal-scoring opportunities in the second period, despite almost three minutes 5 on 3.
#30 Maxime Ouellet G – Maxime displayed a solid performance, the two finnish goals came from goal-mouth scrambles and was not his fault. Good positional play throughout the game.
#3 Jay Bouwmeester D – I had high hopes about for the very first time seeing the two canadian 16-year olds Bouwmeester and Spezza. Jay didn’t have much ice time, but he showed up a solid play with very few mistakes
After the first day of any competition there shouldn’t be any dramatic
conclusions drawn, but often there are signs that point in certain
directions. In the first day of Group A action from the Junior World
Championships in Skellefteå it seems that the team who wants to beat the
Czechs must stop their powerful powerplay unit lead by Michal Sivek, Milan
Kraft and Martin Havlat. That is the strongest impression that the first day
of competition left. Game-summaries at the bottom of the page.
The Czech’s beat Slovakia 5-2, after a hat-trick and one assist from
Penguins firstround pick Milan Kraft, who also serves as captain. The
Czech’s played a typically european game almost to perfection while the
Slovakian team went more for emotion and enthusiasm in the early going. The
Czech team seemed very confident in their style and play a calm and patient
game. The deciding factor in this game, just like in so many other games was
the special teams. A mild judgment of the Slovakians powerplay is ”not
good”; the only time they generated anything that resembled offense was when
17-year olds Marian Gaborik and Tomas Kopecky was on the ice, but that line Read more»