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WJHC - Day 1 Recap

by Avery Buye / Calgary Flames

Finland 1 Canada 8 (1:30pm MST @ Rexall Place)

Team Canada held nothing back in the opening game of the IIHF World Junior Championship against Finland, skating away to an 8-1 win. The loss was a tough one for Flames prospect, Markus Granlund who managed only a pair of shots for Finland.

WHL scoring leader Mark Stone proved that his impressive play in the pre-tournament (3g, 2a) would be a precursor for things to come. He wasted no time in recording the inaugural goal of the 2012 World Junior Tournament just 2:14 in as he picked up Jonathan Huberdeau’s pass in front of the blue paint and slapped it in.

The points would not stop there for linemates’ Stone and Huberdeau. Stone, of the Brandon Wheat Kings, netted two more on his way to a hat trick. Third overall 2011 NHL draft selection (Florida Panthers), Huberdeau had a five-point game for Team Canada(1g,4a).

Overall 11 players would factor into the Team Canada win. Unfortunately the Team Canada victory would be overshadowed with the injury news of Team Canada’s Devante Smith-Pelly. The Anaheim Ducks forward suffered a broken bone in his left foot after blocking a shot in the second period. Hockey Canada has since released that Smith-Pelly will be out for the remainder of the World Junior Championship.

Team Canada will play their next game on Wednesday, December 28 against the Czech Republic at 6pm in Edmonton.

Latvia 4 Sweden 9 (3:30pm MST @ Scotiabank Saddledome)

An afternoon match up featuring Sweden and Latvia opened World Junior hockey action at the Scotiabank Saddledome with Sweden coming out the 9-4 victors.

Goals were not hard to come by in the first half of the opening frame as five markers were recorded, including three on the power play. Sweden struck early as Anaheim Ducks draft pick, Max Friberg netted the first 2012 World Juniors goal on Saddledome ice just over three minutes in. Sweden emerged from the first frame on top with a 3-2 score.

The blue and yellow extended their lead to 6-3 in the second stanza and blew apart the shot differential with 17 shots to Latvia’s three. Calgary Hitmen forward Victor Rask picked up an assist on Sweden’s fourth goal of the game by linemate Sebastian Collberg.

Friberg launched himself to the top of preliminary tournament scoring, tallying four goals in the 9-4 win. Sixth overall 2011 NHL draft pick (Ottawa Senators), Mika Zibanejad contributed a pair of goals.

Roberts Lipsbergs potted two of Latvia’s four goals. Latvian netminder, Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 31 of 40 shots in the losing effort.

Denmark 3 USA 11 (6:00pm MST @ Rexall Place)

Nearly the entire Team USA roster, including Flames prospect Bill Arnold, contributed to the 11-3 onslaught against Denmark, with only two players left off the scoring sheet.

The first period started off fairly balanced for both sides, with the USA escaping from the frame with a one-goal advantage. But from there, the Americans would take full command.

Arnold, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry draft by the Calgary Flames registered a goal and assist during the six-goal USA ambush in the second frame.

USA backstop and 2010 11th overall Dallas Stars Draft pick, Jack Campbell made 21 saves for the win.

Second-year WJC player, Charlie Coyle of Boston University was one of two American players with a three-point night with the hat trick.

Nicklas Jensen played a part in every Denmark goal with three helpers.

Switzerland 0 Russia 3 (8:00pm MST @ Scotiabank Saddledome)

Team Russia proved they are still a force to be reckoned with as they topped Team Switzerland 3-0 on the back of a stellar 40-save shutout by 17-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski.

The majority of the crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome appeared to be on-side with Team Switzerland, largely due to the presence of alternate captain, Sven Baertschi, who also happens to be the Flames 13th overall 2011 NHL draft pick.

“I want to enjoy the whole thing, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself because it’s in Calgary. It’s a big Christmas gift to me to come down here again and play at the Dome,” commented Baertschi about getting the rare opportunity to play in front of Calgary fans.

Team Russia, the reigning gold medalists of the WJC, led off game scoring with an impressive display by 40th overall Boston Bruins’ 2011 NHL draft pick, Alexander Khokhlachev. He evaded the Swiss defencemen, cutting right to left in front of goaltender Tim Wolf and sniped it in the top left corner.

Baertschi was greeted with a chorus of cheers during his first shift with Team Switzerland and fought his way to the first scoring chance of the game but was thwarted by Vasilevski.

“I am really proud of the way we played today, we did a lot of good things out there, had a lot of scoring chances. We have to say that their goaltender played really well tonight, still there were a lot of chances we should have capitalized on,” said Baertschi.

Russia added a pair of goals in the second as their netminder, Vasilevski continued to put on a goaltending clinic adding 15 saves.

Baertschi was part of a three-way tie for most shots on net as he put up five of Switzerland’s 40 total shots.

The next game for Switzerland will come against Sweden on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Game time is 3:30pm MST.

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