After today, two things will be behind all of us: the year 2020 and the preliminary round of the 2021 World Junior Championship.
However people define a blowout, it’s undeniable the ice was tilted for many of the early tournament bouts. Switzerland went 0-4 while being outscored 20-5. Three other matches saw one team reach double digits in scoring (while shutting out the opposition). Meanwhile, Austria had a very unpleasant time in the competitive Group B – as they were outscored 29-1 and outshot 249-49.
Even so, it’s important to realize – while we maintain this is the best annual tournament (and we can’t repeat this enough – you are missing out if you have not watched it at all this year), the performances do not guarantee success or failure of these prospects. Instead, viewers have the pleasure of watching them before they become stars in the NHL. For some, this may not be their moment to shine. Further, 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and from a hockey standpoint, some of these players may not have had much time on the ice before lacing up their skates for the tournament.
STANDINGS AFTER PRELIMINARY ROUND
2021 WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
The playoff round (quarterfinal round) begins Saturday with the following quarterfinal games:
Russia v Germany at 9 am PST
Finland v Sweden at 1230 pm
Canada v Czechs at 4 pm
USA v Slovakia at 730 pm
All games will be broadcast on NHL Network TV. Once the four games have been completed, the remaining four teams will be re-seeded and the semifinal matchups will be set.
Monday, Jan. 4
Semifinal 1, 3 pm
Semifinal 2, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, Jan. 5
Bronze Medal game, 2:30 pm
Gold Medal game, 6:30 pm
As the two teams without Kings prospects play each other in the quarterfinal, a bare minimum of two teams with Kings prospects will medal, as three will compose the four teams in the semis.
Below is an update on the Kings prospects who have had the honor to represent their home country.
BROCK FABER: Defense, USNTDP (2nd round pick in 2020, USHL)
WJC: 0 goals, 4 assists, plus-7, 0 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 11 for Team USA, Faber made his presence known on the international circle. Within the first appearance against Russia, he earned his promotion to the top pairing. The Golden Gopher has not looked back since earning the promotion. In his four games of round-robin action, he has been on the ice for only one goal against while also sitting tied for fourth overall in blueliner scoring.
I’m loving Brock Faber https://t.co/q1X916wzDq
— Davis (@davisgreen_) December 27, 2020
ARTHUR KALIYEV: Forward, Hamilton Bulldogs (2nd round pick in 2019, OHL)
WJC: 1 goal, 3 assists, plus-6, 4 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 28 for Team USA, the skilled forward found himself alongside Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte on USA’s top line. His role as a triggerman on the left wing on the top powerplay unit was a little out of his comfort zone, but he still posed as an offensive threat.
Arthur Kaliyev makes it 5-0 for USA in the third! pic.twitter.com/K8o2xTyREd
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2020
ALEX TURCOTTE: Forward, USNTDP (1st round pick in 2019, USHL)
WJC: 1 goal, 4 assists, plus-5, 0 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 15 at this year’s WJC, Turcotte wore an ‘A’ on the front of his jersey this time around. He found himself as the main pivot on USA’s second powerplay unit, but he generated many chances. If there was a statistic for missed opportunities per 60, Turcotte would have to lead. He hit numerous posts and was robbed by goaltenders and defenders (including fellow Kings prospect Tobias Bjornfot). He finally capitalized on New Year’s Eve, and was recognized as player of the game for Team USA.
QUINTON BYFIELD: Forward, Sudbury Wolves (1st round pick in 2020, OHL)
WJC: 2 goals, 5 assists, plus-7, 2 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 19 for Team Canada, Byfield kept a steady role on the third line and second powerplay unit. He mustered up an assist in a 16-2 drubbing against COVID and injury-depleted German team. He found his jam against Switzerland, piling on two goals and four helpers to earn himself player of the game. While he was blanked again versus Finland, he improved every game as the tournament continued. On top of his offensive ability, he has not been on the ice for a goal against.
JORDAN SPENCE: Defense, Moncton Wildcats (4th round pick in 2019, QMJHL)
WJC: 1 goal, 0 assists, plus-1, 0 PIM in 1 game played
Wearing No. 8, Spence has seen just slightly more ice time than the back-up goaltenders. He made the most of his opportunity as he filled in for a suspended Braden Schneider. With less than six minutes of ice time in his lone game, the fourth-round pick still managed to hammer home a rebound to open up Canada’s scoring against Slovakia. He has not played since.
TOBIAS BJORNFOT: Defense, Djurgardens (1st round pick in 2019, Sweden)
WJC: 0 goals, 2 assists, plus-1, 0 PIM in 4 games played
Bjornfot will be in No. 3 for Sweden and serves as one of the team’s alternate captains. The biggest story of Team Sweden is their unbeaten streak in the preliminary round. The run lasted 14 years and Sweden was 52-0 prior to this tournament. They won the first two games before losing to Russia in overtime and the United States in regulation. Bjornfot’s presence was mostly felt on the defensive side, yet he still contributed two helpers.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) January 1, 2021
KASPER SIMONTAIVAL: Forward, Tappara (3rd round pick in 2020, Finland)
WJC: 2 goals, 3 assists, plus-3, 2 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 29, the 66th overall pick earned himself on the top line for Finland. He finished third in scoring on the team, as he scored in every appearance except for the final preliminary game against Canada. On the top line and top powerplay unit, Simontaival showed he belonged.
MARTIN CHROMIAK: Forward, Kingston Frontenacs (5th round pick in 2020, OHL)
WJC: 1 goal, 0 assists, minus-6, 0 PIM in 4 games played
Wearing No. 8, the sniper was a welcome addition to a team missing his firepower last year. Unfortunately, the team which scored eight goals last year could only muster five this year. They were much better defensively, however – they allowed only 13 tallies as opposed to 22. From Chromiak’s stance, he provided a goal and had the team-low minus-6. His lone goal came against Canada, which was the only shot which got through Devon Levi.
LUKAS PARIK: Goalie, HC Benatky nad Jizerou (3rd round pick in 2019, Czech Republic)
WJC: 1-1-0, 3.77 GAA, .883 SV%, 1 SO in 2 games played
Parik wore No. 1 as he had a rollercoaster preliminary round. The starter, Nick Malik, had a rough outing against Sweden. Parik got the nod to start against Czech Republic’s biggest rival, Russia. The third-round pick stole the show as he posted a 30-save shutout. The following 30 shots were more forgettable – against USA, he was pulled after allowing seven goals.