Sunday, December 27, 2009

WJC Recap: Day Two

Every spring fans of the NBA watch the NCAA's March Madness to see future superstars do battle in the annual college basketball tournament. In turn, puck heads from throughout North American and Europe tune in to the World Junior Championships each holiday season to get a glimpse of future NHL stars. You'd be hard pressed to name 10 elite hockey players who didn't play in this tourney when they were 18-20 years old. It's the best of the best and it makes for some great hockey. Here are the highlights of day two:

Sweden 7, Austria 3
For the second straight game Austria played a strong game, but took the loss in the end. Sweden continued pressuring their opponents with a roster stacked full of legitimate NHL prospects. In fact, all seven of their goals came from recent draftees: Oliver Ekman Larsson 2 goals (Phoenix Coyotes), Anton Rodin 2 goals (Vancouver Canucks), Jacob Josefson (New Jersey Devils), Mattias Ekholm (Nashville Predators) and Andre Petersson (Ottawa Senators). Not all of their top talent is offense though, they started New York Islanders draft pick Anders Nilsson in net.

USA 3, Switzerland 0
The Americans picked up their second victory less than 24 hours after their tournament opener. Most of the credit goes to the second youngest player on the team, goaltender Jack Campbell. He was a rock star in the first period, stopping all 14 shots the Swiss threw at him. This just continued his stellar play in nets when wearing USA on his jersey.

Last year at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships he was an obvious choice for the tournament's all-star team. Campbell didn't allow any even strength goals while posting a 6-1 record with a 0.75 GAA and two shutouts. Oh yea, and he was the winning goaltender when the U.S. beat Russia for the gold medal. Remember his name when the 2010 NHL draft comes along in June.

In this game, things were scoreless after one period. From that point forward, Team USA's defense kicked in (allowing just 8 shots over the final 40 minutes) and the offense did enough for the win, with goals by Chris Kreider, Matt Donovan and AJ Jenks.

The top line for USA is now being called 'the Original Six' line...because they were all drafted by O6 teams: Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadiens), Derek Stepan (NY Rangers) and Jerry D'Amigo (Totonto Maple Leafs).

Team USA is now 17-0-2 USA all time vs Switzerland at the WJC.

Finland 4, Czech Republic 3
The Fins were down 2-0 after the first and 3-1 after the second. They came storming back in the third with the unanswered goals - including a pair from Anaheim Ducks prospect Sami Vatanen - to defeat the Czechs 4-3 in a wild game. Somewhere Teemu Selanne is smiling right now.

Slovakia 8, Latvia 3
Slovakia netted five goals in the first period and never looked back. Five of their eight goals on the night came from a trio probably bound for the NHL within two years - TB Lightning prospect Richard Panik had two goals, as did 'Mr Excitement' Tomas Tatar (Detroit Red Wings) and San Jose Sharks draft pick Marek Viedensky put one in too.

On Monday Canada will play it's second game of the tournament, against Switzerland. Team USA will take the day off and prepare for Latvia on Tuesday.

The Mayor

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