December 30, 2021

Nine plays from the 2022 World Juniors you’ll want to see

The 2022 World Juniors ended prematurely.

In fact, the tournament lasted just three days for a total of nine days before being “cancelled to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

“Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in an IIHF release. “The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement when positive cases were confirmed.”

Disappointing for sure. But don’t be mad it’s over. Be happy it happened at all.

And that it left us with some memorable moments and highlight-reel plays to reflect on.

1. Leon Sommer flashes leather on phenom

Austrian goaltender Leon Sommer had himself a game in a 11-2 loss against a powerhouse Canadian team. Sommer kept the score relatively low considering he faced 64 shots. One in particular that stood out is when Connor Bedard picked up a loose puck at the top of the circle and made an incredible move through his legs to deke around a defender, then fire a hard shot glove side, only to be denied by Sommer with an amazing flash of the leather that surely prevented a goal.

2. Svozil drops jaws with dangle + snipe

Czechia wasn’t able to top Canada in their tournament opener, falling 6-3, but it wasn’t without a strong push to start — including scoring three times on the team’s first four shots of the game. None was better than this effort from defenseman Stanislav Svozil, who walked around Canadian blueliner Olen Zellweger before beating Dylan Garand. Nifty hands from the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, who had just one goal in 26 games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League this season.

3. Michkov barrels in for a dandy

A true highlight-of-the-night contender, 2023 NHL Draft eligible Matvei Michkov’s first goal of the short tournament was most definitely his best and a pure display as to why he is considered a legitimate contender for the No. 1 spot in 2023 with Bedard. Michkov slips by Swedish defender and Los Angeles Kings prospect Helge Grans before barreling into the net and bumping a puck by Minnesota Wild prospect Jesper Wallstedt for his first of two in the game.

4. Bedard nets trick with great effort

Bedard made history by becoming the youngest Canadian player to ever record a hat trick at the tournament — eclipsing Wayne Gretzky’s mark in the process — and he did it with an exclamation point. Already with two goals in his pocket, Bedard circled the high slot and faked an Austrian defender before absolutely loading up this wrist shot into the top corner for what would be his third of four goals in the game. A nifty play, to say the least, from the 16-year-old.

5. Koivunen scores from the seat of his pants

It wasn’t a tic-tac-toe finish — and Ville Koivunen had one or two of those efforts in the brief tournament — but it might’ve been his best. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect parked himself in front of the net for a chance, and when the rebound presented itself he made no hesitation to slide a backhand in. Sounds standard, right? Well, he did it from his ass, and with his back to the play, slipping one by Austrian goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz in the process.

6. Lambert dishes, Helenius finishes

Brad Lambert was buzzing throughout his two-game stint at the World Juniors, and that was punctuated by, arguably, his niftiest assist of the tournament. Los Angeles Kings prospect Samuel Helenius will probably take five of those a game. Lambert, eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft, takes a drop after gaining the German zone, and loads up for a shot before sneaking a cross-ice pass to a streaking Helenius, who taps taps taps it in for the easy marker.

7. Blank calls game

Alexander Blank took matters into his own hands. Tied 1-1 in overtime, he lifted Germany to a surprising victory over Czechia with this end-to-ender, capped beautifully by a short-side snipe over Detroit Red Wings prospect Jan Bednar to net his country a pair of points. The play started below his own goal line, and essentially ended at the other.

8. Sjoberg dances, dashes and drops one in

Albert Sjoberg shows no mercy on Denis Bakala on this one, zipping past the Slovak defender with speed and some nifty mitts before uncorking a shot that leaves goaltender Simon Latkoczy guessing wrong on the pinpoint placement in what turned out to be the tournament’s second-last goal.

9. Cooley’s no look dish feeds Knies

Logan Cooley loading up in the high slot? Feel free to forgive Latkoczy for biting on this one. Most would. But that’s what makes Cooley one of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 draft. Instead, the 17-year-old dishes off to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies, who hammers home the one-timer on the 5-on-3 power play without hesitation.

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