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World Juniors Update: Slovakia Surprises Finland

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Less than 24 hours after getting blown out by Canada on day one of the World Junior Championship, Stars prospect Matej Paulovic and Slovakia pulled off the first upset at the tournament. Despite getting outshot, 38-12, Slovakia knocked off Finland, 2-1, at Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday afternoon.

Slovakia, coming off an 8-0 loss to Canada on Friday, got a brilliant 37-save performance from goaltender Denis Godla on Saturday.

The Finns got one puck past Godla early, taking a 1-0 lead on a Mikko Rantanen tally 7:08 into the game, but that was all they would get.

Slovakia’s Peter Cehlarik scored on the power play a little more than two minutes later to tie the game and Matus Holenda tallied what would hold up as the game-winner at 6:03 of the second period.

Finland had almost 11 minutes of power play time in the game, including a lengthy five-on-three, but couldn’t take advantage.

“We had a lot of chances on our power play, but we weren’t able to score," said Finland’s Julius Honka, the Dallas defense prospect. "We need to get better."

Paulovic (fifth round/2013) again centered Slovakia’s top line. He had no shots on goal, a plus-one rating and won three of 11 faceoffs. He came close to extending Slovakia’s lead in the third period, but his shot rang off the crossbar.

Honka, Dallas’ first round pick (14th overall) in 2014, had no points, four shots on goal and a minus-one rating. He again logged big minutes on Finland’s defense top pair. Defenseman Aleksi Makela (seventh round/2013) played on Finland’s second defensive pair. He had no points, two shots and a plus-one rating.

Slovakia and Finland will be back in action on Monday. Slovakia plays the USA, and Finland will take on Canada.

Saturday’s games

Sweden 5, Denmark 1
Slovakia 2, Finland 1
Switzerland 5, Czech Republic 2
Canada 4, Germany 0

Sunday’s games

Switzerland vs. Russia, 4:00 p.m.
United States vs. Germany 7:00 p.m.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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