Day 3 action at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship featured four games in Buffalo with wins by Finland, Russia, Sweden, and an upset victory by Adam Liška and Slovakia over the United States. Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s results:
FINLAND 4 – DENMARK 1
The Finns rebounded from an opening night loss to Canada picking up their first win of the tournament in afternoon action by a 4-1 score over Denmark at KeyBank Center.
A pair of WHL defencemen starred in the victory including Calgary Flames prospect Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City Americans) and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks). The 2017 NHL Draft first rounders scored second period goals and added single assists with Jokiharju earning Player of the Game honours.
Both countries have Friday off before resuming action in Group A on Saturday when Finland faces Slovakia and Denmark meets Canada.
RUSSIA 5 – SWITZERLAND 2
The Russians broke a 2-2 tie with three unanswered goals in the final frame to get in the win column Thursday afternoon at HarborCenter defeating Switzerland 5-2.
Minnesota Wild prospect Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) and top NHL Draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts) each contributed two assists, while reigning QMJHL Player of the Year Vitalii Abramov (Victoriaville Tigres) tallied an empty-net goal to secure the victory. Russia (1-1) takes on Belarus (0-2) on Friday.
2018 NHL Draft prospect Philipp Kurashev (Quebec Remparts) and Justin Sigrist (Kamloops Blazers) each tallied single assists for the Swiss who take a 1-1 record against Sweden on Saturday.
SWEDEN 3 – CZECH REPUBLIC 1
The Swedes kept rolling in round-robin play on Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Czechs to improve their 2018 record to 2-0.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Alexander Nylander dazzled the KeyBank Center crowd with a goal and an assist earning Player of the Game honours. The former Mississauga Steelhead and 2016 CHL Rookie of the Year is tied for the tournament scoring lead after two games with four points.
2018 NHL Draft prospect Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads) continued to impress for the Czech Republic in his World Juniors debut scoring for the second straight game. Player of the Game honours were awarded to Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades) who recorded an assist. The Czechs (1-1) meet Belarus on Saturday.
SLOVAKIA 3 – UNITED STATES 2
The tournament’s first major upset came at the expense of the host United States who fell 3-2 to Slovakia in Group A action Thursday night at KeyBank Center.
Slovakia held brief 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second and third periods before former Shawinigan Cataractes forward Samuel Bucek netted the game-winner with under three minutes to play in regulation to cap a three-point night.
The Slovaks (1-1) take on Finland Saturday while the Americans (1-1) meet Canada on Friday afternoon in the highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 gold medal final to be played outdoors before an expected crowd of over 40,000 at New Era Field, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
For full coverage of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship visit the IIHF or HockeyCanada.ca.