Day 4 of the World Junior Championship may not feature the tournament’s most marquee teams, but there will be many important storylines. Can Sweden extend its incredible streak? Can Austria or Germany find its first win? And which of Slovakia or Germany be able to overcome tough losses against Canada to claim victory in their late-night matchup? Let’s take a look at the day’s action. All times listed will be Eastern.
Austria vs. Sweden (6:00 PM)
Austria: Team Preview
Sweden: Team Preview
Austria suffered a brutal loss against the unrelenting Americans on Day 2 of the tournament, unable to get a single goal past Dustin Wolf in an 11-0 defeat. The road won’t get any easier for them as they attempt to end Team Sweden’s unprecedented 53-game winning streak in the tournament’s preliminary round. If they are to have any hope of doing so, they will need their lone NHL-drafted player, Marco Rossi, to carry the load. The Minnesota Wild took the prolific Ottawa 67’s scorer with the ninth overall pick, and now he hopes to bring that offensive prowess to the WJC stage.
Even with Rossi, there is every reason to expect the Swedes to add a 54th victory to their streak. Edmonton Oilers prospect and team captain Philip Broberg looked dominant in game one, notching three assists and winning player of the game honors. And goaltender and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Hugo Alnefelt picked up right where he left off after a fantastic 2020 tournament, saving 24 of the 25 shots against him.
Sweden is poised to dominate during the group stage once again. Now, they need to prove that they can take the next step. Sweden has only won gold once during its incredible 14-year streak (in 2012), so they will certainly be hoping to change that this year, whether or not the streak remains unvarnished.
Players to Watch: Marco Rossi, F [MIN] (AUS); Philip Broberg, D [EDM], Hugo Alnefelt, G [TBL] (SWE)
Slovakia vs. Germany
Slovakia: Team Preview
Germany: Final Roster
The 16-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the ruthless Canadians may have seemed embarrassing for the Germans, but a victory over Slovakia would go a long way to helping them avoid relegation. Armed with the number three overall pick from the most recent draft, Tim Stützle of the Ottawa Senators, as well as a second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, John-Jason Peterka, Germany is a team on the rise looking to prove that they are more than a second-tier team in the international ranks of hockey.
Slovakia, for their part, also couldn’t overcome the hosts and favorites Canada, and will be entering without the day’s rest that Germany has. But Slovakia does have something their opponents do not: three points due to a victory over Switzerland. A win here will certainly put them out of relegation territory and could in fact make them a threat to take second place in Group A.
Slovakia were led to a shutout defeat of Switzerland by their goalie, Simon Latkoczy, in their first game. He naturally struggled against Canada but will look to get back on his feet against a German attack that has been inconsistent. Slovakia might enter the game as slight favorites, but Germany will be hungry to prove that their inclusion in this tournament was not a fluke. This is a hard contest to predict.
Players to Watch: Tim Stützle, F [OTT], J.J. Peterka [BUF] (GER); Simon Latkczy, G (SVK)
Day 4 Summary
Of the four teams competing on Day 4, only Sweden is viewed as an established WJC powerhouse. The other three will be looking to prove something as the preliminary round quickly evaporates. Low-ranked teams will be increasingly desperate to find points and avoid the relegation contest, while Sweden and Slovakia will be looking to build on early success and climb in the standings. Just two games headline Monday’s action, but they are both compelling matchups. Don’t overlook these showdowns.
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Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.