The 2022 World Junior Championship (WJC) continues apace in Edmonton, and most teams have two games left in the qualifying round. Two of the squads playing their penultimate game on Saturday are the tournament’s two favorites, Canada and the United States. Let’s take a closer look at the action.
Austria vs. United States (2:00 PM)
Austria: Team Roster
United States: Team Roster
Austria has had a tough tournament so far, scoring just two goals to their opponents’ 10, suffering a loss to Germany and a 6-0 bludgeoning by Sweden. The road doesn’t get any easier from here, as the United States are one of the favorites in the whole tournament. Austria will continue to look for strong performances from Senna Peeters, who has a goal and an assist so far. The 20-year-old forward is a team leader who has played three seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads.
The heavy favorites here will be the Americans, led up and down the ice by Luke Hughes. The 2021 fourth-overall pick is considered one of the best NHL-drafted prospects anywhere right now, and he’s excelled at both ends of the ice, leading all American players with five points (a goal and four assists). Not far behind him are the trio of Carter Mazur (Detroit Red Wings), Landon Slaggert (Chicago Blackhawks), and Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks). The three twenty-year-old forwards have four points apiece, leading the deep American attack.
The United States has found scoring all over the ice, collecting a 5-1 win over Germany and a 7-1 win over Switzerland. They’ll once again be heavy favorites entering this game against Austria. Traditionally a team that has often started slow or hit a skid in the qualifying round continued dominance by the Americans could be a very good sign for their gold medal chances.
Favorite: United States
Players to Watch: Senna Peeters, F (AUS); Luke Hughes, D [NJD], Carter Mazur, F [DET] (USA)
Canada vs. Czechia (6:00 PM)
Canada: Team Roster
Czechia: Team Roster
If Canada entered the tournament with any weight on its shoulders, you wouldn’t know it by its results. On Thursday, the Canadians shredded a Slovakian team that had looked like a tough challenge, scoring 11 goals. Mason McTavish, a top prospect of the Anaheim Ducks, led the way, tying a Team Canada record with four goals and two assists. 14 different skaters reported a point in the contest, with McTavish being the only multi-goal scorer.
No conversation about Canada at this tournament would be complete without mention of Connor Bedard, the dynamic 17-year-old forward projected to go first overall in next year’s draft. He opened the scoring with a goal six minutes in and added an assist on McTavish’s hat trick goal. Canada games are appointment viewing for Bedard alone. But the team is loaded with stars.
Czechia has had a great tournament so far, grabbing a 5-4 win over their rival Slovakia in Game 1 and forcing Finland to a shootout in a Game 2 loss (4-3). Jan Myšák, a forward prospect for the Montreal Canadiens, has led the way with three goals and an assist. He could compete for a spot on the Canadiens this season. It’s unfortunate for Czechia that they have to go up against Canada when the host nation looks so red hot, but don’t write them off entirely. They’ll be heavy underdogs, but there have been crazier upsets before.
Players to Watch: Mason McTavish, F [ANA], Connor Bedard, F (CAN); Jan Myšák, F [MTL] (CZE)
Germany vs. Switzerland (10:00 PM)
Germany: Team Roster
Switzerland: Team Roster
Germany managed a commanding 4-2 win over Austria in Game 2, giving them some breathing room in the tournament. But they’ve got a real chance to cement themselves with another win over Switzerland. Alexander Blank is having a terrific tournament so far, with three goals and an assist. He has never been drafted, but the 20-year-old forward is certainly drawing some eyes this week. Not far behind him is Joshua Samanski, another undrafted 20-year-old who has played with the Owen Sound Attack before and has managed a goal and two assists. Without the star power of recent WJC teams, Germany is making do with a scoring-by-committee approach, and they’re having a terrific qualifying round so far.
Switzerland’s Attilio Biasca and Joel Henry each have a goal and an assist, but their country is without a win so far. They gritted out a tough matchup against Sweden in their first game, losing 3-2 after scoring two late goals. But the United States made quick work of them. Now, they’ll look to bounce back against Germany, but the Germans are hot and enter as the clear better team. It should be a fun matchup in the late-night slot, and a German-speaking nation is almost certain to win.
Players to Watch: Alexander Blank, F, Joshua Samanski, F (GER); Attilio Biasca, F, Joel Henry, F (SUI)
Canada and the United States Look to Keep Rolling
Saturday’s action will be all about whether the Canadians and the Americans can continue to put on showcases. They are loaded with star power and seem destined to be in the finals against one another once again. But never underestimate the upset potential in the WJC. Though there are always clear “haves” and “have nots,” the tournament is the height of many of these players’ hockey careers, and they will always be looking for the big moment and shocking upset, especially over the top teams on the planet.
|Team Canada||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team USA||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Austria||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Czechia||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Finland||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Germany||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Sweden||Players to Watch||Roster|
|Team Switzerland||Players to Watch||Roster|
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
Stephen Ground is a veteran of over three years at THW, focusing on the St. Louis Blues, NHL goaltending, and the annual World Junior Championship. He is the co-host of the Two Guys One Cup Podcast, a hockey podcast focused on the Blues.