2015 IIHF World Junior Championship

Day in Review: Lake Placid

Saturday, August 9

Turning Point: In the second period, the Americans outshot the Czechs 12-3 and seldom saw their own zone.  But they led only 1-0. Just over five minutes into the third, the U.S. sent out a sixth skater on a delayed penalty. Outhustling the defence to maintain possession, the Americans got the puck out front, where Chase DeLeo was able to bury an Auston Matthews rebound. A two-goal deficit was massive to a Czech team struggling to generate offence of its own.

First Star: His name isn’t on the scoresheet, but Dylan Larkin was involved in every aspect of the game. All night No. 16 for the U.S. worked relentlessly in the corners to win the puck for his linemates. The centre also logged significant minutes on special teams, playing the point on the power play and creating a quality scoring chance when down a man in the first.

Goal of the Night: With the teams playing four-on-four, Ryan Collins, standing at the right point, saw an unmarked Tyler Motte in the left face-off circle. Motte took the pass off his skate, controlled the deflection and went high to the blocker side on Czech goalie Miroslav Svoboda for the game’s first goal.

What’s Next: This game brought the Lake Placid summer camp to a close. The United States opened the week with two split squads that went a combined 1-3. After roster cuts were made, the U.S. went a perfect 3-0 the rest of the way. The Czech Republic played three games in Quebec before coming south for its finale. The Czechs concluded camp with a record of 1-3.

Friday, August 8

Turning Point: With his team down by a goal and 59 seconds away from getting 1:01 of power-play time, Swedish head coach Rikard Gronborg elected to pull his goalie instead of playing four-on-four. Forty-eight seconds, some strong forechecking and a lucky bounce later, Janne Puhakka gave Finland a two-goal cushion. After nearly 58 minutes of back-and-forth play, the pendulum finally swung completely to the Finns’ side.

First Star: Fredrik Bergvik was outstanding between the pipes for Sweden. While he faced only 23 shots, he was frequently his team’s fifth man on the ice – the Swedes were whistled for 12 infractions and had to kill seven penalties in a contentious affair. His best save, however, came with Sweden up a man. Bergvik flashed the glove when a bad bounce off the side boards in the second sent Aleksi Saarela in on a breakaway.

Goal of the Night: Leon Bristedt took an open ice hit between the blue-line and face-off circle to deliver a pass to Lawrence Pilut, who was set up a few feet inside the blue-line at centre ice. Pilut faked a shot, fooling the Finnish defenceman enough to open up a better shooting lane. Pilut then beat Juuse Saros cleanly to the blocker side.

What’s Next: Sweden heads north to Sherbrooke, Que., to play Russia on Saturday night at Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet (7 p.m. ET). Finland’s summer camp is now complete; the defending IIHF World Junior Championship gold medallists went 2-2 on the week.

Thursday, August 7

Turning Point: Finland had been outshot and outplayed in the opening period, but some solid saves by Kevin Lankinen limited the damage to 2-0. Two goals in 25 seconds in the opening two minutes of the second from Tyler Motte and Kyle Connor knocked the wind out of the Finns’ sails and eliminated any inclination they may have had for a comeback.

First Star:  As impressive as the what (one goal, four assists) is, the how of Jack Eichel’s afternoon is even more so. On Tyler Motte’s first two goals, Eichel drew multiple defenders behind the net, leaving his linemate open in front for the inevitable pass. On the third one, Eichel hunted the puck down after losing a face-off and sent a backdoor pass to an awaiting Motte in the slot. His own tally saw him outwait, then outwit his defender before picking the top corner from in close.

Goal of the Night: On the game’s opening goal, Sonny Milano’s pass from the left side of centre ice found Eichel just outside the right face-off circle. Eichel, in turn, sent a spinning, backhand pass to the left side of the net, where an unmarked Alex Tuch was waiting to tap it into the net.

What’s Next: The United States gets a day off before welcoming the Czech Republic in from Montreal on Saturday (1 p.m. ET). Finland is back on the ice tomorrow at the Olympic Center’s USA Rink versus Scandinavian rival Sweden (4 p.m. ET).

Wednesday, August 6

Turning Point: Seven  minutes into the game Swedish forward Axel Blomqvist ran U.S. goalie Thatcher Demko, setting off a post-whistle scuffle and lighting an extra fire into an already charged up American squad. Twenty-four seconds after Blomqvist took his seat in the penalty box, Michael Downing cleanly beat Swedish netminder Jonas Johansson from the point. From there, the rout was on.

First Star: When you’re six-foot-four you’re bound to stand out, even when you don’t tip, tap and snipe home a trio of goals. All dimensions of Alex Tuch’s game were on display: his great touch around the net on his first two tallies; his heavy shot, which Fredrik Bergvik’s blocker stalled but didn’t stop on the last; and his strength on the puck, as he held off Swedish defenders all night long.

Goal of the Night: Just over a minute after going up 3-0, the Americans kept on pressing. Jack Eichel showed his strength on the puck by relentlessly fighting off and eventually outworking two defenders behind the Swedish net before sending a no-look feed out front for Tuch to tap in his second of the night.

What’s Next: The United States is back on the ice at USA Rink at the Olympic Center on Thursday afternoon (4 p.m. ET) when they take on Finland. The Swedes get their chance at the defending  gold medallists on Friday (4 p.m. ET).

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