Day three of the 2016 World Junior Championship was marked by a number of great goaltending performances and some tightly played matches through three of the four games on Monday. Here are eight standout performances from day three of the tournament.
1. Linus Soderstrom, Team Sweden
The Islanders draft pick stole the day. Soderstrom made 46 saves on Team USA to lead Sweden to a 1-0 win that gives them a good shot of winning Group A. It was an incredible performance with the U.S. getting a lot of quality chances, including eight power plays, over which they put up 21 shots.
Soderstrom is the MVP of day three.
2. Alex Nedeljkovic, Team USA
While Soderstrom stole the day, American goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic had another great game himself. He may have been overshadowed, but he made some difficult saves, particularly late in the game when possession started to slide toward the Swedes with the U.S. starting to play a frantic game.
He was only beaten once on 23 shots and that was a Alexander Nylander breakaway with some blown coverage by the U.S. He’s silencing discussion of whether there is a number one goaltender on the U.S. roster.
3. Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine, Team Finland
These two 2016 draft eligibles have been one of the big stories of the tournament so far. They’ve been dominant. Though Finland wound up blowing a 3-1 lead to Russia, Puljujarvi and Laine were a big part of Finland’s early success in the game, involved in each of those three goals to start the game.
Puljujarvi finished the loss with three assists and Laine had a goal and two assists. Laine also fired five shots on Russian goaltender Alexander Georgiev, tying linemate Sebastian Aho for the team lead. Laine took two penalties that hurt the team, including the one that gave Russia a power play goal where they took the lead. Nonetheless, this duo is setting the pace for Finland.
Through two tournament games so far, Puljujarvi has two goals and a tournament-leading six points, while Laine has two goals and two assists.
Get a look below at a couple of their connections, as well as a nice assist from Kirill Kaprizov, who will come up later in the list.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 28, 2015
4. Vitek Vanecek, Team Czech Republic
He may have only faced 18 shots from Slovakia, but the Czech netminder put together a strong performance and grabbed the shutout. That helps the Czech team to have points in two straight games and should ensure that they’re well clear from the bottom of the pool.
He’s allowed just a single goal in non-shootout play so far, going six periods and an overtime frame.
5. Kirill Kaprizov, Team Russia
The 18-year-old has stepped up in the absence of production from some of Russia’s top talent. He’s stepped up in the KHL as well, a pleasant surprise who is inching toward Vladimir Tarasenko’s impressive numbers for an 18-year-old KHL season.
He put in a goal and an assist against Finland, with the assist coming on Russia’s go-ahead goal. He also took a team-leading three shots in the game.
6. Mitch Marner, Team Canada
Marner was incredible for Canada in a lopsided match against Denmark. Canada came out a little slow and got out of the first period with the score 1-1, even if they were badly outshooting Denmark. Despite the slow start, Marner was the most noticeable player on the ice in the early going.
He dominated in the offensive zone, skating circles around the Danish defense like Mario with star-power any time he touched the puck. He finished with a goal and an assist, but if it weren’t for a few pretty saves he could have had more. The assist he got on John Quenneville’s goal was actually a Marner shot that deflected off Quenneville’s shin.
The goal he scored was a power play marker that was started by Marner leading a strong rush into the zone where he tried to set up Strome with a beautiful pass that didn’t go. Marner was in the corners, setting up teammates and finding the seams to get himself open throughout the game.
7. Dylan Strome, Team Canada
You could almost say all the same things about Strome that were said about Marner. They were split up entering the game, but both managed to thrive apart and then connect for a goal on the power play.
Strome finished up the game with a goal and an assist, as well as six shots. Like Marner, he could have put up a lot more if it wasn’t for a surprisingly strong performance from Denmark’s Mathias Seldrup.
Dylan Strome gettin’ real sexy for Canada’s 6th goal of the game pic.twitter.com/YcfrpYcjh8
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 28, 2015
8. Alexander True, Team Denmark
Denmark was badly outmatched on Monday, getting outshot 58-11 and not managing to take even a single shot in the third period.
Yet, True, who plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL, was a bright spot for the team. He’s having a strong season in Seattle and was clearly one of the best on the team. He stopped a Lawson Crouse effort on the goal line just 30 seconds into the game and score Denmark’s lone goal. He was one of the only players — maybe aside from Mathias From — on the Danish squad creating offense and looking dangerous when he touched the puck.
Seldrup deserves some love as well. He had a tough job and managed to keep Canada to just six goals, making 52 saves in the game.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.