The first day of the World Juniors ice hockey championships in Finland 2016 featured one of the most interesting games: The North American derby between team Canada and team USA. In order to avoid teams like Finland and Russia it is important for the teams in group A (Sweden, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark) to avoid being placed to far down in the table.
High paced north – south Ice Hockey
Both Canada and USA started in a high pace. The first period featured very few game breaks and the teams traded chances with each other, going north south for twenty minutes of hockey. The feeling was that USA was the team with more puck possession while Canada was taking advantage of fast counterattacks. In the end of the period, USA’s Alex DeBrincat got called for a spearing, getting a five-minute major penalty. However, Canada failed to convert on the power play in both the first and second period. Instead, they scored 1-0 on the counterattack five minutes into the second period. After Canada’s goal, USA put on more pressure through the line with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk) and Auston Matthews. Team Canada defended themselves efficient though. The pressure soon shifted and team Canada established their offense in USA’s zone. However, it was team USA that got the second goal of the night when Colin White took advantage of a bounce behind Mason McDonald in Canada’s goal. 1-1 at the end of second.
In the third period, Canada got a penalty for goaltender interference. On the power play, team USA’s team captain Zach Werenski scored 2-1. However, a while later, he caused a penalty through a slashing and had to sit and watch while Dylan Strome scored 2-2. With minutes to go of the game, many thought that this show would be sent into overtime. USA got two quick, decisive goals in the end of the period though. Both 3-2 and 4-2 came from loose pucks put on net, bouncing of defenders before finding their way behind an unlucky McDonald. Tough for the goalie who is seen as number two behind Mackenzie Blackwood who is suspended for two games in the World Juniors because of a slashing incident in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League).
Other results, day one:
The home nation Finland easily won a comfortable 6-0 victory against Belarus.
Sweden also got an easy win, 8-3 against Switzerland, but at a heavy cost: Forward William Nylander, son of Michael Nylander and currently playing in the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, got injured after a nasty checking to the head. The Swiss played a reckless hockey with lots of high sticks and ugly hits.
Russia defeated Czech Republic after a shootout. The game ended 1-1 after full-time and Maxim Lazarev scored the game winning goal for Russia.