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2024 WORLD JUNIORS CHAMPIONSHIP – December 31st, 2023 Game Recaps + Three Stars

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - DECEMBER 31: Rutger Mcgroarty #2 of USA battles for position against Peter Repcik #21 of Slovakia in Preliminary Round - Group B action at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship at Frolundaborg on December 31, 2023 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/IIHF)

USA 10, Slovakia 2

The two undefeated teams in Group B faced off for the first game of New Year’s Eve and it didn’t turn out to be the nail biter that was expected. The USA squad asserted their dominance by beating the Slovaks 10-2 in this lopsided game, although Slovakia’s top goaltender Adam Gajan did not dress in order to rest for their quarter final matchup on January 2nd, 2024. Slovakia outshot the Americans 20-11 in the second period, but the US side tamed the onslaught with some great goaltending by Trey Augustine who finished the game allowing only 2GA with while facing 40 SOG. USA clinches first place with the win ahead of Sweden in the preliminary round. Rutger McGroarty earned himself a hat trick, leading the way for the Americans on the scoresheet. USA will meet up with Latvia in the quarterfinals and Slovakia will face off against Finland on January 2nd, 2024.

Sweden 4, Finland 5 (SO)

The Swedes secured first place in Group A, even with the shootout loss to Finland in the final game of the preliminary rounds. The Finns forechecked hard all game and didn’t allow team Sweden to gain any momentum throughout the entire 60 minutes of relegation play. The Finnish side pulled their goalie early with 2:35 left in the third period and the team responded with a nice goal from Jani Nyman who scored with only 92 seconds left in the game to secure the tie and force the game into overtime. Nothing was settled in OT, so the game would be determined by a shootout. Nyman would also come up big in the shootout by scoring on the last attempt to secure the win for Finland. Sweden will now face Switzerland in the quarterfinals next game.

Czechia 4, Switzerland 2

The game between Czechia and Switzerland started out lopsided with the Czechs outshooting the Swiss 14-5 in the first period, and were only able to get one shot by Swiss goaltender Alessio Beglieri from a power play goal from Matyas Sapovaliv. The Swiss side stuck around all game, but the Czech side iced it in the third period when team Captain Jiri Kulich buried his fourth goal of the tournament into a wide open net after a great individual effort and pass from 2024 NHL Draft prospect Tomas Galvas. With the win, Czechia ended up in third place in Group B, while the loss secures them fourth place. Czechia will now play against Canada in the quarterfinals.

Canada 6, Germany 3

Canada, coming off a 2-0 loss to Sweden two days prior needed to rebound in order to place themselves in a good playoff position. Team Canada started the game on their heels when Conor Geekie was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for a hit to the head only 11 seconds into the game. The Germans managed to capitalize during the five minute power play and scored a goal at 2:57 from Arizona Coyotes 2022 draft choice Julian Lutz. For most of the game the Germans stuck around until the third period when Jordan Dumais broke a 3-3 tie with a power play to help Canada move on to a 6-3 win over Germany. Macklin Celebrini again looked very good on the Canadian side and notched two goals to help Canada secure second place in Group A. The loss forces Germany into a relegation match against Norway on January 4th, 2024.

Three Stars of the Day

#1 – Rutger McGroarty – Forward – USA

The 14th overall Winnipeg Jets draft choice in the 2022 NHL Draft was buzzing all game and was rewarded capturing a hat trick against the Slovak side. McGroarty opened the scoring with a nice wrap around goal at 6:21 of the first period. He added another goal near the end of the second to help the American side go up 5-2. McGroarty completed the hat trick at the beginning of the third period which helped seal the win.

#2 – Jani Nyman – Forward – Finland

Nyman was the difference for the Finnish side by coming up big when his team needed it. The second round selection of the Seattle Kraken in 2022 has been red hot in the Liiga posting 22 points in 28 games. Nyman showed off his offensive prowess in this game by scoring the tying goal with the empty net, then followed that up with an impressive deke in the shootout to secure the win for Finland.

#3 – Macklin Celebrini – Forward – Canada

The potential first overall prospect of the 2024 NHL Draft displayed his skill yet again at this tournament potting two goals to help Canada win an important game after a loss against Sweden the game prior. The young Boston University forward was the best player on the Canadian side and came up big when the game was on the line, especially early on. He got behind the German defense to set himself up for a breakaway and buried it on the backhand to tie the game in the first period. He followed it up with some nice hustle to beat the opposing goaltender to a loose puck and bury one into an empty from an impossible angle. The win helped Canada secure second place in Group A.