World Juniors Championship Underway

Oh-Canada Dec 27, 2021

Three Things We Learned on Day 1 of the World Juniors....


Power showed why he stayed in school

When Owen Power opted to play another season at the University of Michigan, rather than sign with the Buffalo Sabres after they selected him with the No. 1 pick of the 2021 NHL Draft, he said one of the biggest reasons was the chance to play for Canada at the World Juniors.

But even he couldn't have expected to become the first Canada defenseman to score a hat trick at the World Juniors.

"I think it's a dream of every kid who grows up in Canada to play in the World Juniors," Power said. "Definitely tonight was awesome to play in. And definitely, to have some fans in and fill the building, it was real fun."

Power said he tried to keep his expectations low, and that helped him stay calm in the moment and do the things that make him successful.

"He came as advertised," Canada coach Dave Cameron said. "His poise with the puck, he's got a real low panic threshold, he can protect pucks. ... The passing, skating, shooting speaks for itself; it's elite. It's his confidence. It's the whole balance that he brings.

"It's the ability to play the high-performance game with a calmness. I'm not sure you can teach that."

Lambert dazzles in second WJC appearance

Finland forward Brad Lambert, a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft, looks ready for a lead role at the World Juniors after playing a supporting role at the 2021 tournament.

Lambert had two assists and was named Finland's best player in its 3-1 win against Germany on Sunday.

"He was so good today," Finland coach Antti Pennanen said. "He has good confidence at the moment and he's kind of fearless, especially with the puck. We all know he's a gifted and talented player."

Lambert scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games at the 2021 WJC, and said he feels more comfortable now, and ready to showcase himself for NHL scouts.

"I just try to take it day by day and just try to get as much better as I can, do the best I can every day, improve as a player and as a person," he said. "I think it will come like that. But for sure you're also trying to trying to prove yourself."

No relegation round

For the second straight tournament, there will be no relegation round.

The IIHF announced Sunday that the 2023 World Juniors in Russia will feature 11 teams. Belarus, which went 5-0-0-0 to win the Division I Group A tournament in Denmark on Dec. 18, has been promoted to the top level.

How the 11 teams will be divided will be decided at a later date, according to the IIHF.

The 11-team tournament will only be a one-year affair, with the 2024 WJC in Sweden going back to 10 teams.

On tap for Day 2

All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN and RDS in Canada

Austria vs. Finland (2 p.m. ET) -- Finland looks to improve to 2-0-0-0 in Group A after a 3-1 win against Germany on Sunday at Rogers Place in Edmonton. It will be interesting to see who starts in goal, Juha Jatkola (2022 draft eligible), who was the backup to Leevi Merilainen (Ottawa Senators), or Joel Blomqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins), Finland's only goalie back from the 2021 WJC who was scratched. Keep an eye on Austria center Marco Kasper, an A-rated player on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for the 2022 NHL Draft, who plays for Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League.

Russia vs. Switzerland (4:30 p.m. ET) -- What will Russia forward Matvei Michkov, the 17-year-old top 2023 NHL Draft prospect, do after scoring two goals against Sweden in its Group B opener at WP Centrium in Red Deer on Sunday? Switzerland wasn't able to set its roster until Sunday because of COVID-19 issues that prevented it from playing a pre-tournament game. They have one NHL-affiliated prospect, defenseman Brian Zanetti (Philadelphia Flyers).

Germany vs. Czechia (7 p.m. ET) -- Germany doesn't have its top forwards from the 2021 WJC, so getting offense from defensemen like Luca Munzenberger (Edmonton Oilers), who scored Sunday, will be key. Czechia's strength is its defense but it could be without David Jiricek, one of its best defensemen, for its Group A game at Rogers Place. The top 2022 draft prospect left in the second period Sunday, unable to put weight on his left leg after a collision with Canada forward William Cuylle (New York Rangers). Coach Karel Mlejnek said Jiricek would be evaluated further Monday.

Sweden vs. Slovakia (9:30 p.m. ET) -- Usually teams don't change their lineup after scoring six goals in a win, but for its Group B game at WP Centrium, Sweden could insert dynamic forward Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins) after the No. 21 pick of the 2021 draft was out Sunday because of an illness. Slovakia will look to play more consistently than it did against the United States when it had 11 shots on goal through the first two periods, including two in the second, but 14 in the third.

Note:  Monday is the second day of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is currently being held in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.