WORLD JUNIORS DAY 2 RECAP: Switzerland keep it close

Day two of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships got underway with an early face-off between Russia and Denmark, with four games on the schedule again that ended with Finland taking on Kazakhstan who returned to the top division for the first time since 2009.

Russia V Denmark

Russia had their rest day on the opening day of the tournament while Denmark came in licking their wounds following a massive 14 – 0 defeat to Canada on day one.

The Russians had disappointment last year where they were knocked out in the quarterfinals, the first time they’ve failed to earn a medal since a 6th place finish in 2010.

Denmark started strong, an early opportunity saw them force two big saves in the opening minute from Danil Tarasov who didn’t see too much rubber on the night but stood strung when he did.

It didn’t take long for Russia to open the scoring, Vitali Kravtsov finished off some pretty passing with a goal off of an excellent feed in front by Grigori Denisenko.

With the Russians leading 1 – 0, it took a while for them to double their advantage. In the second they had a goal washed out for goalie interference, but then later in the period defenseman Alexander Romanov drove a bullet from the top of the circles to double the advantage.

In the final period, Pavel Shen made it 3 – 0 before an empty net goal by Ilya Morozov stuck the final nail in the coffin to give Russia a 4 – 0 win in their opening game, and subject Denmark to their second loss with the team still searching for their first goal.

Slovakia V Sweden

Next on the billing was a meeting between Slovakia who had held it close with the USA on day one, and Sweden who picked up a narrow win over Finland.

Erik Brannstrom was the go to guy for Sweden in game one, but in game two more of their weapons offensively chipped in.

Lucas Elvenes opened the scoring for Sweden in the first period, roofing his shot on a two-on-one but Slovakia responded quickly through Adam Liska who put his shot shortside on Adam Ahman to tie things up with a powerplay marker, but before the period was through, Sweden regained the lead as Emil Bemstrom jumped on a loose puck and buried his chance late in the frame.

After regaining the league, Sweden never looked back, Bemstrom added his second of the night early in the second before Erik Brannstrom made it 4 – 1 with his third goal of the tournament. Slovakia did pull one back with Milos Fafrak getting credit for a bad bounce after Filip Sveningsson tried ringing the puck around the boards but instead sent it goalwards and off Ahman and into the back of the net.

Sweden recovered and added a fifth to keep their impressive group stage record in tact ahead of their next game where they meet the USA on day four.

Switzerland V Canada

After running riot against Denmark, Canada found themselves in a very different situation when they met Switzerland.

You could think Canada were about to do it again, just 36 seconds in Cody Glass opened the scoring with as he was left way too much space out in front, burying his one time effort off of a pass by Nick Suzuki.

For the rest of the period however, Canada couldn’t find a way past Akira Schmid in the Swiss net, and early in the second period it was Switzerland celebrating. Philipp Kurashev blasted one home on the powerplay to tie things at one, but Canada responded shortly after through MacKenzie Entwistle.

Half way through the second, Canada extended their lead through Noah Dobson, but couldn’t solve Schmid again who stopped 29 of 32 shots in the contest.

Despite their best efforts, Switzerland couldn’t mount a comeback, the closest they got was through a late powerplay strike by Kurashev again, but it was too little too late as the Canadians maintained their perfect record for a 3 – 2 victory, but a performance the Swiss can be very proud of.

Finland V Kazakhstan

After sitting out day one, it was finally time for the return of Kazakhstan, but it went more or less how they hoped it wouldn’t be we all thought it would.

Finland were on the wrong side of a narrow 2 – 1 scoreline in their first meeting with Sweden, but in game two they made their chances count against a team returning to the Top Division after a 10 year absence.

Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 18 stops for a shutout on the night, while on the other end of the ice in the Kazakhstan net David Yeremeyev stopped 51 shots on the night, but that didn’t stop Finland from cruising to victory.

Finland struck twice in the opening frame through Otto Latvala and Aarne Talviite scoring on two of their 17 first period shots. In the second, they opened up a three goal cushion through Samuli Vainionpaa for his first of the tournament.

In the third period, Finland added two more, with 2019 Top Prospect Kappo Kaako netting his first of the tournament after registering an assist in the opening game, before star forward Aleksi Heponiemi made it 5 – 0 in a convincing win for Finland that moves them into third spot of Group B.

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