Friday is the fifth day of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Day 4 results
Finland 3, Latvia 0
Sweden 3, Czechia 2 (OT)
United States 5, Switzerland 1
Canada 11, Austria 0
What We Learned on Day 4
Keeping it simple
The United States did a better job of defending and managing the puck, and it paid dividends in a 5-1 win against previously unbeaten Switzerland at Avenir Centre.
U.S. coach Rand Pecknold, whose team lost 6-3 against Slovakia on Wednesday, said the main factor for such a skilled group is not making it too complicated.
“After five games (including two exhibition matches) I’d say the key for this team is just simplifying things,” Pecknold said. “If there’s a play, let’s go make a play, but there’s a lot of times they’ve got four guys in an area or four guys on the blue line so you got to dump pucks. Even Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin dump pucks every once in a while, so we keep talking about that.
“They don’t want to do it because they’re so skilled and talented, but there’s times you just have to do it.”
Pecknold adjusted a few defense pairs to begin the game, most notably having Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils) with Sean Behrens (Colorado Avalanche). The two played together for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
“I think a huge part of the win was playing in pairs and the coach has been emphasizing that a lot to the defense corps,” Hughes said. “Just playing in pairs in everything we do. Breakouts, squeezes, neutral zone … I think we proved to ourselves that we played pretty well and are growing as a group.”
Bedard ties Eberle
Connor Bedard scored two goals to tie Jordan Eberle for most goals by a Canada player at the World Junior Championship in an 11-0 win against Austria at Scotiabank Centre.
Eberle, now in his 13th NHL season and second with the Seattle Kraken, scored 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 12 WJC games (2009-10). Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, has 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 12 WJC games.
Eberle, like Bedard, played his major-junior hockey with Regina of the Western Hockey League and had 310 points (155 goals, 155 assists) in 254 games. Bedard has 192 points (90 goals, 102 assists) in 105 WHL games.
“Tying the record is cool but I’m not going to put too much into it,” the 17-year-old center said. “Obviously he’s a former Regina Pat so it’s kind of funny. I think that’s pretty cool that he played on the same junior organization as me.”
Bedard will have a chance to become Canada’s all-time goal-scoring leader when his country plays Sweden on Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET).
Bedard is also four points from tying Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros for most by a Canada-born player in the World Juniors. Lindros had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 21 WJC games (1990-92).
Ludvig Jansson is certainly making the most of his return to the World Juniors.
The 19-year-old, selected by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round (No. 125) of the 2022 NHL Draft, is the only returning defenseman for Sweden at this year’s tournament.
He had a game to remember Thursday after scoring two goals, including the winner at 1:35 of overtime in a 3-2 victory against Czechia at Scotiabank Centre.
Ludvig, who played on the third defense pair against Czechia, had no points in four games for bronze medal-winning Sweden at the 2022 WJC. He leads his country at this year’s event with five points (two goals, three assists) in three games.
“He played great with the puck and without it, but it was more about his decisions with the puck,” Sweden coach Magnus Havelid said. “It wasn’t just about his goals, but this was by far his best game, definitely. And that’s good for us.”
Ludvig has six points (one goal, five assists) in 25 games with Sodertalje of Sweden’s second division this season.
On Tap for Day 5
All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN in Canada
Slovakia vs. Latvia (1:30 p.m. ET) — Slovakia (1-0-0-1) will look to sustain its momentum after a 6-3 win against the United States on Wednesday. Forward Samuel Honzek (2023 NHL Draft eligible) sustained a left leg laceration in the second period against the U.S. and is out for the remainder of the tournament. Forward Dalibor Dvorsky (2023 eligible) has two points (one goal, one assist) in two games for Slovakia. Latvia (0-0-1-2) lost 3-0 to Finland on Thursday and will need to defeat Slovakia in regulation to remain in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Germany vs. Austria (4 p.m. ET) — The loser likely will play in the best-of-3 relegation round beginning Monday. Germany (0-0-0-2) has been outscored 12-2 in losses to Sweden (1-0) on Tuesday and Canada (11-2) on Wednesday. Austria (0-0-0-2) has been outscored 31-0 in losses to Sweden (11-0), Czechia (9-0) and Canada (11-0).
World Junior Championship predictions
World Juniors Championship rosters
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