World Juniors Three Stars, day 2: Goaltenders Bugl, Wallstedt shines clear

With Austria and Switzerland finally in the match, all 10 teams have now played at least one match at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Finland continued right where they left off on Christmas Day 2 and crossed to a decisive 7-1 victory. Austria wished they had done better in their first match, but they had no answer to the dominant game on Finland’s third line.

Meanwhile, Russia rose from their opening day loss with a 4-2 victory over Switzerland. Their blue line had some expensive defensive lapses, but their young stars came through offensively when it came.

Goalkeepers Jan Bednar (DET) and Florian Bugl stole the show in today’s third match. It was a close match for most of the match, but Germany survived the Czech Republic to pull off the 2-1 dull victory in overtime.

But the tournament saved his best game in the end when Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt was sensational in a 3-0 victory over Slovakia.

Here are the top three individual performances from Day 2 of World Juniors.

3 star: Ville Koivunen, Finland

Samuel Helenius (LAK), Ville Koivunen (CAR) and Brad Lambert (2022) may have played the least number of minutes among Finnish strikers, but they made their shifts count.

The line came together for four goals against Austria, and Koivunen scored two of them.

Finland initially started the game slowly, but it was Koviunen who opened the scoring three and a half minutes inside with a one-hour in the castle.

That goal gave Finland life as they withdrew from Austria and the shooting clock became more skewed.

Koivunen picked up his second point of the match with a sweet, no-look feed behind the net to Helenius in the castle, giving Finland a 2-0 lead.

He first reached the goal score again in the third period, where Koivunen managed to capture the puck while lying on the ice and beating Austrian goalkeeper Sebastian Wraneschitz with a smooth backhand.

Koivunen was named the player of the game for Finland and made a huge impact at both ends of the ice despite playing under 12 minutes. His five shots on goal were a draw as the first in the match along with teammate Roni Hirvonen (TOR).

2nd star: Florian Bugl, Germany

Even if it was Blank who sealed the victory for Germany, they would not have won this match without the heroism of goalkeeper Bugl, who was named the team player of the game.

Bugl, who made 31 saves through two periods alone, was almost invincible as the Czechs continued to pepper him with shots throughout the match.

He was perfect in the first period and the only goal that struck him was an unfortunate rejection from a defender’s skate in the second period.

As it looked like his team was going to collapse in front of him on some shifts, Bugl was the scorer.

Bugl stopped 39 out of 40 shots to deliver Germany its first win of the tournament, and the first rebellion of the 2022 World Juniors.

With the victory, Germany is now in a strong position to become number three in Group A, but they will hunger for more success now. Their next opponent is scary, but they have a day off to prepare before meeting Canada.

In the meantime, the Czech Republic will also have a day off as they hope to find a way to return to Finland.

At World Juniors, one day can change everything. Stay informed with our coverage of the tournament.

1st star: Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden

Any other night, Bugl should have been the first star.

But what Jesper Wallstedt (MIN) did against Slovakia tonight was nothing short of remarkable.

The only thing Sweden’s goalkeeper did was make clutch saves throughout the match, as long as his teammates collapsed in front of him.

Slovakia relentlessly stormed the net to start the match, firing 13 shots at Wallstedt alone in the first period before following up with 17 shots in the second period.

Wallstedt, however, saved his best for the final frame. He was a big reason why Sweden killed a five-minute major and a 1:10 6-on-3 as Slovakia pulled their goalkeeper on the two-man advantage.

Had Slovakia managed to score on the extended powerplay, this could have been a very different match.

Wallstedt made 48 saves for his first shutout ever in his World Juniors career and was the obvious choice for the ‘player of the game’. Thanks to his coupling performance, Sweden gets a 2-0 start at the World Juniors.

Slovakia deserved a better fate in this match. They have some time to figure out what went wrong tonight before taking on Russia in a few days.

Sweden will have a day off before meeting the United States in their third match in round robin, which will be their biggest challenge. But if Wallstedt’s play was any indication, they could be in order.

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