Day one of the World Junior Championship tournament was all about rivalries. The day started with an early game against the host country Czech Republic facing Russia. These were the lineups for the game.
The big story in the game was the injury to winger Jakub Lauko (BOS) which happened in his first shift. It wasn’t a dirty play but instead an unfortunate accident.
Lauko was supposed to be one of the top players for the Czechs, so if he misses the rest of the tournament, which seems likely at this point (UPDATE: it is now confirmed that Lauko will miss the rest of the tournament), that leaves a huge hole on their roster. They have a couple of roster spots still open, and they’ll likely add winger Karel Plasek (VAN) who wasn’t part of their original roster to start the tournament.
However, the Czechs got off to a good start after the injury. They got the early lead with this power play goal by defenseman Simon Kubicek (2020). Winger Michal Teplý (CHI) got the primary assist to the goal and center Jan Jenik (ARZ) got the secondary assist.
Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov (2020) would probably want this one back because there was no screen in front of him, and even though it’s a heavy shot, it came from a distance. It wasn’t a great start for the 17-year-old goalie.
A few minutes later, the Czechs got to a 2-0 lead thanks to this goal by winger Jan Mysak (2020). It was a great shot which got past Askarov’s glove hand again. Teplý got his second primary assist on this goal. Big center Jan Sir should have been given the secondary assist but didn’t get one.
Russia got back to the game on the power play, and shortly after that had expired, defenseman Yegor Zamula (PHI) made a nice move to get past a blocker and bury the puck behind Czech goalie Lukas Dostal (ANA). Primary assist to winger Grigori Denisenko (FLA) while center Alexander Khovanov (MIN) gets the secondary.
After yet another power play had expired, Russia took advantage of that momentum and tied the game with this goal by winger Vasili Podkolzin (VAN). Winger Kirill Marchenko (CBJ) gets the primary assist and defenseman Alexander Romanov (MTL) gets the secondary.
Winger Matej Blümel (EDM) started the game on the fourth line but with the injury to Lauko early in the game, Blümel got to play on the second line as well. He took advantage of that increased opportunity and put the Czechs up 3-2. Askarov should have stopped this one. The goal was unassisted.
When Russia needed a hero, it was time for Zamula to step up once again. He joined the rush and got a great pass from forward Dmitri Voronkov (CBJ), and put it past Dostal for his second goal of the game. Voronkov, who got the primary assist, was a very pleasant surprise in this game – he’s a big guy who skates pretty well and showed decent skill as well. Center Nikita Alexandrov (STL) got the secondary assist.
It was time for the Czechs to find their hero, and it wasn’t a surprise who it was. Jenik is arguably their biggest star, and he showed his great wrist shot on a two-man advantage to give the Czechs a 4-3 lead late in the second period. Teplý got his third primary assist here. Sir got the secondary assist by winning the faceoff – he won 14 out of 20 faceoffs in the game.
The Russians made a goalie change for the third period, replacing Askarov with Amir Miftakhov but it wasn’t enough – no goals in the third period, and the Czechs got a crucial win which could have big implications on group standings. Zamula and Mysak got the Best Player selections and deservedly so but Dostal, Teplý and Jenik were also crucial parts of the win for the Czechs, whereas Podkolzin and Voronkov were great for the Russians.
It’s easy to blame Askarov for the loss but I wouldn’t be too hard on him. It wasn’t a good game from him but the Russians also took way too many penalties which ended up being costly for them. Two of the goals were scored on the power play and one was scored from a two-on-one rush. The only one he definitely should have stopped was the third one scored by Blümel. Of course he could have stopped all of them but it wasn’t his day.
In case you’re curious, these were the power play units Russia used:
Yegor Sokolov-Ivan Morozov-Kirill Marchenko
Grigori Denisenko-Pavel Dorofeyev-Alexander Khovanov
The top power play unit for the Czechs was:
Michal Teplý-Jan Sir-Jan Jenik
Their second unit had Matej Pekar (BUF), Jan Mysak, Jaromir Pytlik (2020), Libor Zabransky and Martin Hugo Has (WSH) but I wasn’t able to catch their positions because they were never really able to set up in the offensive zone.
And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Feel free to add comments below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
Main picture courtesy of WHL.ca