Sunday is the first day of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.
On Tap for Day 1
All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN and RDS in Canada
Finland vs. Germany (2 p.m. ET) — Finland will enter the Group A game at Rogers Place with two of the top prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft in forwards Joakim Kemell and Brad Lambert, who are teammates with JYP in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. Kemell has a dynamic shot and has scored 12 goals in 21 games. Lambert is regarded as a great skater with high-end hockey IQ. Finland also returns the top defenseman from the 2021 WJC, Topi Niemela (Toronto Maple Leafs). Germany will have a tough time repeating its quarterfinal run from 2021, and will lean heavily on Florian Elias (2022 draft eligible), who centered their top line last year but won’t have linemates Tim Stutzle (Ottawa Senators) and JJ Peterka (Buffalo Sabres).
Russia vs. Sweden (4:30 p.m. ET) — The winner of the opening game of Group B at WP Centrium will have a big advantage in finishing first in the group. It could be a goaltending duel between first-round picks Iaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators) of Russia and Jesper Wallstedt (Minnesota Wild) of Sweden. Those goalies will get tested, however. Russia will be led by forwards Marat Khusnutdinov (Wild), Fedor Svechkov (Predators) and Matvei Michkov, already a contender to go No. 1 in the 2023 NHL Draft. Sweden has four first-round picks among its top forwards: Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils), William Eklund (San Jose Sharks), Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins) and Isak Rosen (Sabres).
Czechia vs. Canada (7 p.m. ET) — Dylan Garand (New York Rangers), the backup goalie for Canada at the 2021 WJC, will start the Group A opener. It’s been a big few days for Garand, who agreed to an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Thursday. Key for Czechia as it tries to improve on its seventh-place finish from 2021 is its group of defensemen, including top 2022 draft prospect David Jiricek, who plays for Plzen in Czech Extraliga, the top pro league in Czechia.
United States vs. Slovakia (9:30 p.m. ET) — The United States has six players back from its 2021 championship as it starts play in Group B, topped by forward Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken) and defenseman Jake Sanderson (Senators). Drew Commesso (Chicago Blackhawks) is expected to replace Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) as the starting goalie. Keep an eye on Slovakia forward Juraj Slafkovsky (6-foot-3, 218 pounds), a 2022 draft prospect playing with TPS in Liiga, the top league in Finland.
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