World Junior Championship notebook: Russians thrash Canada, Sweden's streak hits 50

Russia put an absolute beating on Canada to force a five-way tie for Group B. Plus, Sweden makes history and Germany pulls off an upset for its first round-robin win since 2013.
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Canada embarrassed in massive loss to Russia
It was the most anticipated game of the day, but it couldn't have been more lopsided. In a Group B battle between Canada and Russia, the Russians skated away with a 6-0 victory.

Canada couldn't have possibly imagined a poorer start to the game. On Russia's second shot of the game, Canadian goaltender Nico Daws deflected Alexander Khovanov's attempt up and over and into the net. At the halfway point, Pavel Dorofeyev then made a backhanded deke that fooled Daws, beating the Canadian netminder glove side to double the lead. Nikita Rtishev made the Russian lead three minutes later.

Unfortunately, things did indeed get worse for Canada. A minute into the second, Alexis Lafreniere – Canada's best player in Thursday's win against the United States – went down awkwardly after skating into Russian netminder Amir Miftakhov. Lafreniere was in extreme pain and required help off the ice, unable to put any weight on his leg. Not long after play resumed, Nikita Alexandrov skated past Ty Smith easily and beat Daws on the blocker side, ending his outing. The goaltending change did nothing to spark Canada, however, as the Russians scored twice more and skated their way to the sound victory.

Russia's victory means all five teams in Group B have now won a game. While it's unlikely Russia and Canada will drop each of its next two games, the playing field is as level as it could have possibly been after three days of action.

Sweden wins 50th consecutive round-robin game
Sweden has become the first team to win 50 consecutive round-robin games after an impressive 5-2 victory over Switzerland on Saturday.

The first period was the Samuel Fagemo Show. Three minutes into the contest, Fagemo escaped traffic to one-time Victor Soderstrom's feed home. Six minutes later, Fagemo was all alone after Nils Hoglander escaped two Swiss defenders and tapped one past Luca Hollenstein to make it 2-0.

The Swedish dominance continued in the second period. Hoglander, who scored a lacrosse-style goal against Finland on Thursday, failed to score on an attempt in Saturday's game, but he was rewarded with a power-play goal at 90 seconds into the middle frame. The Swedes then continued to control the puck, leading to Karl Henriksson's tally that made it 4-0. Lucas Raymond, who had set up Henriksson's marker, was rewarded with a goal of his own on Sweden's next power-play opportunity. Gillan Kohler and Nico Gross scored for the Swiss, but it was not nearly enough.

Sweden's victory moves them into first place in Group A and they have now won every single round-robin game since the 2007 World Junior Championship.

Germans stun the host Czechs 
For the second time in the past three meetings between the two nations, Germany has defeated the Czech Republic 4-2 thanks to a strong special teams effort.

Just like Friday, the Germans scored first on an early power-play goal. This time, Lukas Reichel was the last player to touch the puck on a scramble in front, with the Czech defenseman knocking it over the line to make it 1-0. At 7:31, John-Jason Peterka's third goal of the tournament saw the 2020 draft prospect send a quick wrist shot past Lukas Dostal's blocker to double Germany's lead. Martin Hugo Has helped the Czechs gain some momentum with a late first-period goal to cut the lead in half.

The Germans had a slow start to the second period, but they managed to regain the two-goal advantage. Dominik Bokk scored on the power play to make it 3-1 after Moritz Seider found him around the net. Bokk scored once more on the power play, giving Germany a shocking 4-1 advantage. But the Czechs weren't done. Jan Jenik scored just before the midway point of the third and Libor Zabransky scored on the two-man advantage to make it a one-goal game late. Unfortunately for the host nation, it wasn't enough for the comeback. Germany held on for the 4-3 victory.

Germany's victory alters the relegation fight as the win gives them the advantage. If neither Germany or the Czech Republic get another point in the standings, Germany owns the tiebreaker due to Saturday's victory, meaning the Czech Republic would be sent to the relegation round if Russia finishes with more points.

Finland dominant in blowout victory over Slovakia
For 20 minutes, Finland flirted with pulling away, first striking when Patrik Puistola slipped one past Samuel Vyletelka after the Slovakian goaltender fell while out of the crease, and the game remained close despite Aku Raty doubling the Finnish lead after one.

But once the second period began, Finland put things out of reach. By the midway point of the period, Joonas Oden and Aatu Raty had extended the Finnish lead to four, and it was all downhill from there for the Slovaks. Across the next 30 minutes, Aku Raty found twine once again, as did Finland's Mikko Kokkonen, Eemil Erholtz and Ville Petman. Robert Dzugan temporarily stopped the bleeding, scoring the lone marker for Slovakia in what was an 8-1 defeat.

With a win and an overtime loss, the Finns temporarily moved to first in Group A. Slovakia's win against Kazakhstan should still ensure a berth into the knockout stage, but Monday's game against Switzerland will be important for placement.

Draft Watch
With the game's opening goal, Lukas Reichel had a strong effort for Germany. While he plays a quieter game than Peterka or Tim Stutzle, Reichel has been effective. He's been dangerous around the net and was elusive with the puck. Reichel appears to be a third-round prospect, but he's been solid early on.

Three Stars

  1. Aatu Raty, Finland (1G, 1A, 2P) – Not eligible until the 2021 draft, the younger Raty showed tremendous chemistry with older Aku on Finland's dangerous fourth line.
  2. Samuel Fagemo, Sweden (2G, 0A, 2P) – Two early goals helped secure Sweden's historic victory.
  3. Lucas Raymond, Sweden (1G, 1A, 2P) – 2020 draft prospect thrived with usual international teammates Henriksson and Alex Holtz.

On Tap

Sunday – Dec. 29, 2019
Finland vs. Kazakhstan, 9 a.m. ET
Russia vs. U.S., 1 p.m. ET

Monday – Dec. 30, 2019
Canada vs. Germany, 9 a.m. ET
Kazakhstan vs. Sweden, 9 a.m. ET
Czech Republic vs. U.S., 1 p.m. ET
Slovakia vs. Switzerland, 1 p.m. ET

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