The first day of this year’s World Junior Championships of Hockey is over, as four games took place. In total, three of the four Canadiens’ prospects were in action, including Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus), Carey Price (Canada) and Pavel Valentenko (Russia). Meanwhile Juraj Mikus and team Slovakia are still awaiting their tournament opener, which takes place tomorrow.
This however was no ordinary day by WJC standards. Today, two newcomers to the A-Division achieved monumental upsets over two powerhouses. Team USA was defeated 2-1 in overtime, as goaltender Sebastian Stefaniszin and the Germans surprised. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask allowed 4 goals on 17 shots, as Belarus defeated medal contenders Finland 4-3. Also, the Russians came back to beat the Czechs 3-2. The signature game however, was Team Sweden taking on Team Canada at home. The Canadiens however came out on top, as they shutout the Swedes 2-0.
All three of the Habs’ prospects that were in action also had a great day. Though they each play different positions, they were all instrumental in their respective team’s wins.
Carey Price: Price made a huge impact in his tournament debut today, as he started for Team Canada against Team Sweden. If anyone questioned whether or not he could he handle the pressure, they were quieted by the end of the 1st period. Carey Price looked outstanding, as he made 31 saves and shutout the Swedes. Though Canada played a sound defensive game, Price was solid and made numerous key saves to keep the Blue and Yellow off the board. It was certainly the performance head coach Craig Hartsburg wanted to set the tone in net.
Sergei Kostitsyn: Sergei continues to impress, as he enters his 2nd year at the WJC. Sergei and
Team Belarus made their debut in the A-Division today, as they took on Tuukka Rask and the Fins. Rask, a Boston prospect, was the most notable player in the game, but for all the wrong reasons. He
allowed 4 goals on 17 shots, which is certainly not to the level where he can and is expected to play at. Meanwhile, Canadiens prospect Kostitsyn would notch a goal and an assist, as Belarus upset Finland 4-3.
Pavel Valentenko: Though unheralded going into this game against the Czechs, he certainly made his name known. Though not putting up anything spectacular on the scoreboard, he played solid defensively. He was a +2, with one shot and was on the ice for Russia’s 2nd and 3rd goal. In the end, he was a huge part of Russia’s 3-2 comeback win.
Juraj Mikus: Did not play
In the end, it was a great day for the Habs. Those who played made a huge impact, as the tournament got underway. It was certainly a wacky day though, and one can only wonder if it’s a sign of things to come.