The GIFies: Historic Win on Day 2 of the World Juniors

Rachel Doerrie Dec 27, 2023

It was a historic day at the World Juniors today! There were tightly contested games, duelling hat-trick, upsets, great saves and a lot of off-pitch singing. Day 2 was a fun one, let’s get to the good stuff…hopefully it goes smoother than the opening of the Finland-Germany game.

Gigantic Gajan

If you missed the game that started before dawn, you missed a helluva performance from Adam Gajan. The Slovakian goaltender shutout the Swiss in a 3-0 win.

That sums it up well. A 36-save shutout for Gajan gives Slovakia back-to-back wins to start the tournament after taking down Czechia yesterday. The Slovakian’s are well on their way to 2nd place finish in Group B and if the Americans take them lightly, there’s a chance they beat them, t00.

The Only 1 That Matters

Germany was 0-25 against Finland at the World Juniors heading into today’s game. ZERO and TWENTY FIVE. Well, they are now 1-25 after defeating Finland 4-3 on Wednesday. Gone are the Stützle’s, Draisaitl’s and Peterka’s to carry the team. This is a more balanced German squad backed up by a quality goaltender. Phillip Dietl made 40 saves, including 33 straight to preserve the first IIHF u20 win against Finland in the nation’s history. Look what it means!

It means more. Wins like this get the attention of the government. Germany has produced two NHL stars in recent years and quite a few quality NHL players. Combine that with a historic win, that’s the kind of thing that goes a long way to growing interest in the sport and receiving government funding. Interest in the game has never been bigger in Germany and this will only boost that.

Finnish Flash

It’s been a tough 24 hours for Finland, losing to Canada yesterday followed by their first loss to the Germans in World Junior history. One of the lone bright spots was this goal off the rush from Tommi Mannisto.

He blew by the Germans, turned on the after burners and made a great backhand-forehand move to beat Philip Dietl.

Captain Czechia

Jiri Kulich, on loan from the Buffalo Sabre’s AHL affiliate was having none of yesterday’s loss to Slovakia and showed up with vengeance today against Norway. The captain of the Czech team scored two goals in the first period, and Czechia never looked back. He completed his hat-trick in the third period for good measure.

Not only did Kulich lead his team to victory today, he broke the points record at the World Juniors for the Czech Republic. He’s likely to break Michael Frolik’s goals record, too. That patented one-timer of his is coming to an NHL rink near you in the not too distant future. The guy has an absolute cannon and Sabres fans are salivating at the idea of him and Benson playing together in the near future.

Duelling Hat-Tricks

Another Czech player of extreme importance is Eduard Sale. After a down tournament last year that caused his draft stock to tank, Sale looked solid today for Czechia. He and Kulich scored duelling hat-tricks in the win against Norway. Not a bad day for the fellas.

Sale showed strong habits that will serve him well as he climbs the pro ranks, too. His strong forecheck led directly to a turnover on the first goal. He made a quick move to the backhand to beat the surprised goaltender. His second goal was the result of him following the play to the net and finishing it off. Good forechecking and taking the puck to the net are habits that will serve him well at the NHL level in the future.

Everything To Plan

Canada played their second of a back-to-back today against Latvia and everything went according to plan. Canada trounced Latvia 10-0. If you want the Cole’s Notes, Canada scored four goals in four minutes in the third period to salt the game away.

Canadian fans were in the singing spirit from the holiday season because as Ty Nelson’s penalty was being reviewed, they voiced their desire to know what the heck was taking so long.

I’m on the side of assessing the major and reviewing. The review of the Nelson hit for a knee, when it was a very obvious hip check, took far too long. You need one, maximum two, looks and it is clear that no penalty should be assessed. They got it right, but let’s put a little pep in that step, please.

Welcome to the Mack Attack

Macklin Celebrini put on a clinic today, tallying 5 points. The Canadian record is 7, which Connor Bedard put up last year against Germany. Can you imagine the point tally if he was at the tournament? LOL. While that’s impossible to replace, “Mack” Celebrini is doing his best to show that he’s every bit the part in Bedard’s absence.

Mike Johnson doesn’t get audibly impressed a lot, but it has happened a few times through two games with Celebrini. This pass didn’t result in a goal, but holy moly, it was jaw dropping.

The guy is a SLAM DUNK to go first at the draft in June. He’s dominating the World Juniors as a near double under-ager. He drives the bus for Canada offensively and it isn’t all that close. Against teams like Latvia, you expect the gaudy point totals, we’ll see what happens against Sweden. I wouldn’t count of Celebrini as an MVP candidate. Players like him find a way.



Save of the Day

In a 1-0 game, this is a turning point. Instead of 1-1, Gajan slams the door early in the third period. Slovakia rode the momentum of that save all the way to a victory.

Play of the Day

There were many candidates for POTD today, there could be an entire section dedicated to them. Duelling hat-tricks, incredible goaltending performances, but we go to the young star…

Nutmeg on the pass reception at full speed, attack the line with speed, deceptive pass on the tee for a goal? Yup, that’ll do.

Best High Five

When you’re a top player on the team that is about to upset a country at the tournament for this first time in history, things can be a little nervy in the penalty box. Alas, Julian Lutz’s teammates held the fort down and he made sure to celebrate with everyone…including the penalty box attendant.

Best Trying To Stay Involved

Slovakia’s backup probably won’t see a lot of playing time with how Adam Gajan is performing, so he’s finding ways to be part of the conversation by taking an interference penalty…on the bench.

Kidding! He didn’t actually take the penalty, it was. scorekeeper error. However, we’re talking about him!

Best Equipment Malfunction

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Germans. Generally speaking, you need a blade in your skate to play the game. Especially if you’re the goalie.

Skate blade or not, Dietl was fantastic! Someone get the man a really good dinner!

Keep Your Teeth To Yourself!

I’m not sure what’s happening here, but tooth removal is really not what I had in mind when I turned on the game, today. Let’s keep those gibs in your mouth, okay?

Moment of the Day

They definitely don’t have a future in singing, but there’s nothing like an off-time rendition of the national anthem after a major upset.

The looks on their faces say it all. Well done, boys! Auf geht’s!

Rachel Doerrie

Rachel Doerrie is a sports media personality, businesswoman, and former NHL front office member. Doerrie began her career as a consultant for several teams before joining the New Jersey Devils and, later, joining the Vancouver Canucks as an analyst and video coach. In media, Doerrie has written for some of the top outlets in the industry such as The Athletic, EP Rinkside, and The Hockey News. She created the hit Staff & Graph podcast that has grown into the streaming and video spaces and continues to consult with professional sports teams on data analysis and communications.

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