Only two games were on the schedule for the IIHF World Junior Championships Wednesday being held in Buffalo, NY. In the first game, Switzerland defeated Belarus 3-2 to earn their first win of the tournament. Meanwhile Canada scored their second in a row with an easy 6-2 rout of Slovakia.
While those four teams played in relative fair conditions, Team USA was adapting to the frigid temperatures out in Orchard Park where they held a practice in preparation of Friday afternoon’s outdoor showdown with Canada.
Rallying from a one-goal deficit, Switzerland’s Phillipp Kurashev scored the go-ahead goal with under nine minutes left in regulation. Belarus goaltender Andrei Grishenko faced 39 shots on goal.
Maxim Sushko (PHI 2017) and Victor Bovbel scored for Belarus, while Nicolas Muller (MODO), Valentin Nussbaumer and Kurashev scored for Switzerland.
Belarus falls to 0-2 in Group B standings. Attendance estimates were under 5300 spectators.
In the late game, Slovakia struggled as expected against the Canadian hockey team. Canada outshot the Slovaks 52-20, easily winning 6-0, scoring three power play goals.
Canada scored just once in the first period, an even strength goal by Sam Steel (ANA 2016) just 3:39 in.
Colton Point was making his first World Juniors start, making 20 saves to earn the shut out.
Slovakia could only slow down the Canadiens by taking penalties and they did that often in the second and third periods. Jonah Gadjovich (VAN 2017) scored two goals to lead Canada. Taylor Raddysh (TAM 2016), Jordan Kyrou (STL 2016) and Maxime Contois (ANA 2017) also scored. With his goal and assist Wednesday, Kyrou finds himself leading all scorers in the tournament.
It was the final tune up for Canada as they prepare to play Team USA on Friday at New Era Field. Canada is 2-0 in Group A.
USA Prepares for Canada
Before Canada and USA get down to business Friday, the Americans will play Slovakia at 8pm Thursday. It will be a quick turnaround for Team USA who will play Canada just 19 hours after tonight’s puck drop.
On Wednesday Team USA had their one and only outdoor practice. Weather forecasts are for temps in the mid-teens. The IIHF host committee will meet Friday at noon to determine whether or not to play the game outdoors or move it to the Key Bank Center Friday evening instead.
Ten years ago during the first NHL winter classic, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penquins. The conditions that day weren’t ideal, frigid temps and snow fell throughout the game. I expect the same Friday but can almost guarantee the game will not be moved indoors.