Stars prospects Julius Honka, Aleksi Makela and Matej Paulovic hit the ice as the World Junior Championship got underway in Canada Friday. But all three came up short on the scoreboard.
Neither Honka nor Makela factored in the scoring as Finland lost its opening game at the tournament, falling to Team USA, 2-1, in a shootout at Bell Centre in Montreal.
“We know we have a good team and we can battle with the big countries here,” Honka told IIHF.com. “If we play like that and keep going and get better, good things will happen.”
Finland, the defending champs, grabbed the lead 1:22 into the game on a goal by Mikko Rantanen, but the USA tied it on Alex Tuch’s power play goal at 13:54 of the first. The two teams played a scoreless second period, third period and five minute overtime before the USA won it in a shootout.
Honka (Dallas first round/2014) played on Finland’s top defensive pair and logged big minutes. He had four shots on goal and had four penalty minutes, including a roughing minor late in regulation when he and USA’s Jack Eichel got in a scrum.
“That’s how the game goes,” Honka told IIHF.com. “There’s a lot of passion in it.”
Makela (Dallas seventh round/2013), who played on Finland’s second defensive pair, had two shots on goal and four penalty minutes.
Eichel, currently ranked the No. 2 prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, had the primary assist on Tuch’s power play goal and scored in the shootout for the USA.
Ville Husso, (St Louis fourth round/2014), was superb in net for the Finns, stopping 36 of 37 shots in regulation and overtime. Team USA’s Thatcher Demko (Vancouver second round/2014) made 27 saves on 28 shots in regulation and OT and two of three in the shootout.
Finland plays Slovakia at 3 p.m. (CT) Saturday. The USA plays Germany on Sunday.
Canada blitzed Paulovic and Slovakia early, scoring three goals in a 4:17 span in the first half of the first period to build a 3-0 lead and cruised to an 8-0 victory at Bell Centre in Montreal.
Paulovic (Dallas fifth round/2013) centered Slovakia’s top line. He had one shot on goal, a minus-two rating and won five of 12 faceoffs.
Robby Fabbri (St. Louis first round/2014) led a balanced Canadian attack with two goals and two assists. Seven different players scored goals for Canada, and 11 players registered points. Team Canada goaltender Zachary Fucale (Montreal second round/2013) stopped 12 shots for the shutout.
Slovakia plays Finland at 3 p.m. Saturday. Canada plays Germany Saturday evening.
Russia 3, Denmark 2 (SO)
USA 2, Finland 1 (SO)
Sweden 5, Czech Republic 2
Canada 8, Slovakia 0
Saturday’s games (Times Central)
Denmark vs. Sweden, Noon
Slovakia vs. Finland, 3 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, 4 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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.
Germany vs. Canada, 7 p.m.