Canada Wins Convincingly, Russians Pushed to OT in WJHC Day One

As expected, Team Canada had little trouble in turning away Germany to open the 2013 World Junior Championship.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the way with a goal and 4 assists as eight different players scored goals and 13 registered at least a point.  Mark Scheifele was the lone Canadian to beat German goalie Elmar Trautmann twice.

The first period was closer than the Canadians would have liked, but they did lead 2-1 After 20 minutes. Canada put up four more to pull away in the second, but Germany pulled back with a pair of later goals to make it 6-3, but a last second goal from Scheifele put the lead back to 4 heading into the third.  They added two more in the third to make the final 9-3.

It was a solid effort for the most part, as the offensive questions coming in were answered, at least against an overmatched German team.  Malcolm Subban played well, perhaps being busier than expected, facing 28 shots.  He had no chance on the first period German power play goal, and the third goalie was a giveaway right in front of him and he had little time to get ready for the shot.

The top line of Nugent-Hopkins, Scheifele and Jonathan Huberdeau combined for 4 goals and 10 points, and could have had more.  Three of the four lines had goals, while two defensemen also lit the lamp in a well rounded game.

Elsewhere, a somewhat shocking result as the host Russians needed overtime to defeat a surprising Slovakia team, 3-2.  Russia had a 2-0 lead, but the Slovaks tied the game with 36 seconds left to steal a point by sending the game to overtime. Slovakia outshot Russia 34-27. With the 3 points for a regulation win system in place, the Russians lost an important point in the standings and sit behind Canada after day 1.

In the other pool, the results were as expected, although the wins by Finland (5-1 over Latvia) and Sweden (4-1 over the Czech Republic ) were perhaps less convincing than they would have liked (especially the Finns, who also lost star forward Miro Aaltonen for the rest of the tournament with an injury).

On Thursday, the US will open their tournament against Germany, and Switzerland will do likewise against Latvia.

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