With Austria and Switzerland finally getting in on the action, all 10 teams have now played at least one game at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Finland picked up right where they left off on Boxing Day and cruised to a decisive 7-1 victory. Austria will wish they had fared better in their first game, but they had no answer for the dominant play of Finland’s third line.
Meanwhile, Russia rebounded from their opening day loss with a 4-2 win over Switzerland. Their blue line had some costly defensive lapses, but their young stars came through offensively when it mattered.
Goaltenders Jan Bednar (DET) and Florian Bugl stole the show in the third game of the day. It was a tight battle for most of the game, but Germany outlasted Czechia to pull off the 2-1 upset victory in overtime.
But the tournament saved its best game for last, as Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt was sensational in a 3-0 win over Slovakia.
Here are the three best individual performances from Day 2 of the World Juniors.
3rd Star: Ville Koivunen, Finland
Samuel Helenius (LAK), Ville Koivunen (CAR) and Brad Lambert (2022) may have played the least amount of minutes among Finnish forwards, but they made their shifts count.
The line combined for four goals against Austria, and Koivunen scored two of them.
Finland initially started the game slowly, but it was Koviunen who opened the scoring three-and-a-half minutes in with a one-timer in the slot.
That goal gave Finland life, as they pulled away from Austria and the shot clock became more lopsided.
Koivunen picked up his second point of the game with a sweet, no-look feed from behind the net to Helenius in the slot, which gave Finland a 2-0 lead.
He wouldn’t reach the scoresheet again until the third period, when Koivunen managed to corral the puck while lying on the ice and beat Austrian goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz with a slick backhand.
Koivunen was named player of the game for Finland, and made a tremendous impact at both ends of the ice despite playing under 12 minutes. His five shots on goal was tied for first in the game along with teammate Roni Hirvonen (TOR).
2nd Star: Florian Bugl, Germany
While it was Blank who sealed the victory for Germany, they would not have won this game without the heroics of goaltender Bugl, who was named the team’s player of the game.
Bugl, who made 31 saves through two periods alone, was nearly unbeatable as the Czechs continued to pepper him with shots all game long.
He was perfect in the first period, and the only goal that beat him was an unlucky deflection off a defender’s skate in the second period.
When it looked like his team was collapsing in front of him on some shifts, Bugl was the one constant, making save after save, unfazed after allowing the tying goal.
Bugl stopped 39 of 40 shots to deliver Germany its first win of the tournament, and the first upset of the 2022 World Juniors.
With the victory, Germany is now in a strong position to finish third in Group A, but they will be hungry for more success now. Their next opponent is a daunting one, but they have a day off to prepare before facing off against Canada.
Meanwhile, Czechia will also have a day off, as they hope to find a way to bounce back against Finland.
1st Star: Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden
On any other night, Bugl should have been the first star.
But what Jesper Wallstedt (MIN) did to Slovakia tonight was nothing short of remarkable.
All Sweden’s goalie did was make clutch saves all game long as his teammates collapsed in front of him.
Slovakia stormed the net relentlessly to start the game, firing 13 shots on Wallstedt in the first period alone, before following up with 17 shots in the second period.
Wallstedt saved his best for the final frame, though. He was a huge reason why Sweden killed off a five-minute major and a 1:10 6-on-3, as Slovakia pulled their goalie on the two-man advantage.
Had Slovakia managed to score on that extended power play, this could have been a very different game.
Wallstedt made 48 saves for his first-ever shutout in his World Juniors career and was the obvious choice for ‘player of the game’. Thanks to his clutch performance, Sweden is off to a 2-0 start at the World Juniors.
Slovakia deserved a better fate in this game. They have some time to figure out what went wrong tonight before taking on Russia in a couple of days.
Sweden will have a day off before facing the United States in their third game of the round robin, which will be their biggest challenge. But if Wallstedt’s play was any indication, they might be all right.