Welcome to the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions. Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down and give our 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships predictions for each game in the tournament. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Sunday, January 5th’s featured game is the gold medal game of Russia vs Canada. This is the ninth and final day of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships.
2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions
Kazakhstan vs Germany
Records: Kazakhstan (1-5-0) Germany (2-4-0)
Team Kazakhstan and Team Germany are tied 1-1 in the relegation round after Kazakhstan took the second game on January 4th. In a shocking turn of events, after being shutout by Germany 4-0, Kazakhstan took the second game and was led by Stalinslav Alexandrov with two goals and Maxim Musorov with two assists. In a complete swing from the first game, it was Vladislav Nurek that stood on his head and kept Kazakhstan in the tournament. Making 43 saves on 44 shots, Nurek was a large reason for Kazakhstan’s success.
The German team, on the other hand, was still able to generate over 40 shots this game and kept the opposition to just 22. Sometimes you can be the better team and just run into a hot goaltender and there is nothing you can do about it. Luis Schinko scored the lone goal for the German team, giving him the first goal of the tournament. While Germany’s leading scorer Dominik Bokk was unable to get on the scoreboard, he was still very active in generating seven shots on goal. With four goals and two assists through six games, Bokk has been the go-to-guy for Germany, along with 2020 draft-eligible prospect John-Jason Peterka, who has four goals and one assist through the same amount of games.
It seems that Kazakhstan was able to win game two through an incredibly strong goaltending performance, but that should not be counted on for game three. Germany was still able to generate a high number of shots. It seemed like it wasn’t their play that had diminished. With goaltending being such a random factor, it seems like Germany should be the favourites moving into game three. Bokk and Peterka both generated chances and will be looked to by the German team to solve Nurek in net.
Prediction: Germany wins 3-1
Sweden vs Finland
Records: Sweden (5-0-1) Finland (3-2-1)
A rivalry as old as time. The showdown of Scandinavia is once again going to be a heated battle on the World Junior stage. Sweden is just coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Russian team. Sweden defenceman Rasmus Sandin was a shining star for Sweden in their most recent game. Registering two goals and two assists against Russia. With nine points total in the tournament so far, Sandin has been a force this tournament. Along with team Swedens leading scorer Samuel Fagemo, the two of them were a big part of why they were in the semi-final game for so long and were able to take it to overtime. Allowing 44 shots on goal, however, was not a good look for Sweden. They have dynamite offensive players, and that’s what has made this Sweden team so good.
Finland just came off a 5-0 shutout from Canada in the semi-finals, and will face Sweden who they lost to at the start of the tournament. Finland has made a name for themselves this tournament with phenomenal goaltending. Justus Annunen has been fantastic through five games this tournament, sporting a 0.921 save percentage. That’s even with allowing all five goals against Canada. The Finns have a number of strong defencemen with them as well, including Mikko Kokkonen, Ville Heinola, Lassi Thompson, and Anttoni Honka. Finland will have to count on players like Patrik Puistola and Joonas Oden to score in the bronze medal game.
Typically a strong defensive team, it will be interesting as the Finns go up against the high flying Swedes to fight for the bronze medal. Last time these two met, Annunen stood on his head in a losing effort for the Finnish team. Sweden will have to count on being able to override the Finnish defensive play with their fast and high.
Prediction: Sweden wins 5-3
Canada vs Russia
Records: Canada (5-1-0) Russia (4-2-0)
Speaking of old rivalries, Russia and Canada will face off in the gold medal game once again to see who will win the entire tournament. The Russians just beat the Swedish team in the semi-finals. They have been the only team to beat Canada this tournament. Handing Canada their worst loss in World Juniors history with a 6-0 victory, they have the head to head advantage. Russia plays an aggressive style of hockey, and this game is no different moving forward.
Canada will not be quite the same as the last time these two teams met, however. Team Canada has been going with Joel Hofer in net after Nico Daws let in four quick goals against Russia. Alexis Lafreniere also was injured partway through the game against Russia, so having a full game of the top prospect for the 2020 draft will change things. The biggest question for Canada is captain Barrett Hayton. Late in the game against Finland, Hayton went into the boards weird and seemed to injure his left shoulder. The details of the injury have not been released. We do not know yet if he will play against Russia.
These two teams are incredibly close in skill. With there being question marks for Canada, it’s difficult to see a clear cut winner moving forward. Canada has looked like a new team since their loss, and are looking to redeem themselves. Russia has been consistently in contention this tournament, and it doesn’t look any different here. It should be a close game no matter which team wins.
Prediction: Canada wins in overtime 3-2