Friday, 25 December 2020

Merry LiveBlogMas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your celebration is going well and that you made enough Nice Lists to get everything your heart desired this holiday season! Thanks to my local government's mandate of no gatherings, I am not celebrating Christmas with family or friends as I want, but I'll take a healthy country over my own personal wants on this day. That being said, it's time for an annual tradition to get underway as the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship begins today! I'm going to live-blog the early game today between Switzerland and Slovakia to get me into this tournament, so feel free to follow along as I break down this game in my own peculiar way!

We kick the tournament in Edmonton off with a Group A battle between Switzerland and Slovakia, and TSN has predicted that both teams will make the medal round but neither will bring home a medal. This first game will be important for both teams in terms of their standing in the group play, so let's get this live blog rolling!


  • TSN's James Duthie welcomes everyone to Edmonton, Bob McKenzie runs down a few key points about the tournament, and TSN's broadcast schedule is shown.
  • TSN reports that Germany will skate just 14 players - nine forwards and five defenders - in their game against Finland. If Germany is within a goal by the time the third period starts, the IIHF should give them a point in the standings for just keeping it close.
  • James Duthie drops a late Christmas gift for everyone by informing us that Dennis Beyak gets the call in the first two games. For the life of me, I cannot understand why TSN isn't using Dustin Neilson or someone else in Edmonton to call these games. Anyone but Beyak. I don't need this on an already-weird Christmas.
  • Before you jump all over me, yes, I know Beyak is the B-Team guy for TSN. My question is why. Always will be. He's not good at his job.
  • The annual check-in with Wayne Gretzky is happening.
  • I can honestly say, having gotten to know him a little, Wayne Babych is an absolute beauty.
  • While I think Canada will miss Kirby Dach in its lineup at times, using the Germany-Slovakia-Switzerland games to really refine the lines for chemistry will benefit Canada greatly. Spreading the scoring amongst the lineup will prove beneficial for Team Canada.
  • TSN confirms Devon Levi will start in net for Canada. No problem with that choice.
  • I have wanted referees mic'ed up in Canada West for a while. I think we'd learn so much more about the interactions among the players, coaches, and officials with that. Maybe we'll see if this is something we can add in the future on Bisons hockey broadcasts.


  • TSN has already ruined this broadcast with yet another song by The Reklaws. It's time to find a band to hitch your country music wagons to, TSN. Enough already.
  • Samuel Hlavaj will start for Slovakia today, and it's his third World Junior Championship competition. Hlavaj is very good, but he's going to need help today. If his defence can handle the Swiss attackers, Slovakia has the ability to win this game.
  • Thibault Fatton gets the start for the Swiss. Fatton is playing with the U20 Lugano squad in Switzerland where he's 9-3-0 in 15 appearances for the club. He'll need to be sharp against some of these Slovakian shooters.
  • It should be noted that Carter Sandlak, one of the referees in today's game, is the son of former Vancouver Canucks forward Jim Sandlak who played for Canada at the World Junior Championship!
  • Two minutes in, and it seems the Swiss an Slovaks are going to focus on the defensive side of the coin early as they look to establish their repsective game plans.
  • The first big hit is delivered by Switzerland's Valentin Hofer behind the Slovak net.
  • Apparently, the Slovaks aren't starting Hlavaj. Simon Latkoczy is in the blue paint for the Slovaks. TSN's Beyak and Craig Button speculate on a possible injury or tweak.
  • Craig Button is entirely right in that Slovakia seems to play with zero urgency in shutting down opponents. This was their entire issue against the Czechs in the pre-tournament game, and it's happening again here against the Swiss.
  • Switzerland's Nathan Vouardoux is assessed the tournament's first penalty for a cross-check. Slovakia to the power-play!
  • The Slovakian power-play is moving the puck well, but the players are fairly stationary. I'd like to see more flashes to the middle of the ice by the weak side players to open more cross-ice seams for a backdoor feed.
  • The Swiss penalty expires, and there's no harm done by the Slovaks.
  • Halfway through the opening period, and it's still 0-0 with the Slovaks leading in shots by an 8-1 count over the Swiss.
  • If Esso, who really needs no advertising since we all know what they do, invested the money they put into World Junior Championship ads into women's university hockey, we could have a heckuva U SPORTS broadcast platform. Just sayin'.
  • Noah Delemont is sent off for interference as Slovakia goes back to the power-play. They are oh-fer-one with the man-advantage today.
  • Again, still too stationary for the Slovaks. They need to cause chaos on this power-play through movement and shot selection.
  • The Swiss play a tight triangle in front of their net. Flashing players through that triangle will disrupt it, and the backdoor pass will be there. Slovakia needs some video work done during the intermission to recognize this.
  • Dear Skip the Dishes, the UMFM broadcasts of Bisons hockey would be a great place to invest some money since you have your headquarters in Winnipeg. Think about it.
  • The Swiss have been playing three players down below the hash marks in their defensive zone. If Slovakia wasn't playing such a passive forecheck, the Swiss transition game would nearly be non-existent as they break out two-on-three for most of the period.
  • Last minute of play in a rather uneventful first period.
  • Switzerland's Dario Allenspach is called for a trip. Slovakia will heead to its third power-play of the first period.
  • The first period comes to a close with a 0-0 score intact, and with Slovakia leading over the Swiss 12-5 in shots.


I'm making some lunch. Back for second period action shortly!
One grilled cheese sandwich and some veggies later, and we're back for second period action!


  • Slovakia starts this period with 1:18 remaining on the power-play.
  • The power-play nets zero goals, and Slovakia is now oh-fer-three with the man-advantage.
  • Raymond Fust whiffs on a shot and clips Marko Stacha with his stick for a high-sticking penalty. Slovakia goes to their fourth power-play opportunity!
  • Juraj Slafkovsky is whistled for goalie interference, and that will end the Slovakia power-play. Four-on-four hockey for just over a minute!
  • The Swiss now have an abbreviated power-play as Fust leaves the box. Five minutes gone in the second period.
  • Far too many white jerseys around the Slovakian goal, and the Swiss won't find much success in scoring goals with those numbers.
  • The Swiss power-play comes to an end, and we're still tied at 0-0.
  • Switzerland's first good chance of the second period is denied by Simon Latkoczy. Lionel Marchand with a nice burst of speed to create space, but the Slovakian netminder is equal to the task.
  • Swiss are showing some life here in this period at the midway point, but we're still scoreless with the Slovaks holding a 16-9 edge in shots.
  • Craig Button has already waxed poetic about Juraj Shefkovsky, but he reminds me of Miroslav Satan in how he plays the game in the offensive zone - head up, aware of passing lanes, and will shoot if given the chance. Based on how Satan's career went, let's hope Shefkovsky can find the same success.
  • Despite Switzerland coming on in this period, I've been very impressed with Latkoczy in terms of his readiness for any and all shots coming his way. He's showing some great concentration.
  • Seeing the reverse angle on that rush by the Slovaks showed that Fatton really does have good lateral movement while staying big. Mrazik's shot wasn't the greatest, but Fatton stayed big in sliding across the crease and took most of the net away.
  • Good hand-eye coordination leads to a chance for Oleksiy Myklukha, but he made one too many moves on the play. Had he put the shoulder down and drove across the net, we might be talking about the first goal. That comes with experience, but Myklukha has to open up Fatton on that play.
  • Last minute of play in the second period.
  • An excellent save with 3.1 seconds remaining by Latkoczy in coming out past the top of the crease to eliminate any angle for Switzerland's Simon Knak. Again, Latkoczy has impressed me so far for what he's done in the Slovakian net.
  • That'll do it for 40 minutes of play with the teams still tied at 0-0 and Slovakia still leading in shots 21-15.


Having seen the images of Kirby Dach's broken wrist, I won't post them here for those who may not have the same strength of stomach, but there's zero chance of him returning for anything in this tournament but a medal ceremony. Let's hope he's not out long for the Blackhawks because he's definitely going to need some time to recuperate.


  • Craig Button's question on hand-pass vs. glove-pass is what we in the business call "filler". It's the same thing, Craig.
  • Slovakia gets a chance off a broken play, but a good challenge from Fatton at the edge of his crease prevents any opportunity for a scoring chance for the Slovaks.
  • Six minutes into this period sees most of the period being played passively by both sides. Lots of play along the boards and in the neutral zone with dump-and-don't-chase being employed.
  • Did that Skip the Dishes commercial just tell me to "taste" the World Junior Championship? Terrible choice of wording in a panedmic of a highly-transmittable virus, Skip.
  • Switzerland's Cedric Fiedler is called for interference in front of his own net, and the goalless Slovakian power-play returns to the ice.
  • Again, good puck movement for Slovakia, but the two best opportunities came when they were moving players around the zone. The penalty does expire, though, and Slovakia is now oh-fer-five on the day with the extra player.
  • 8:19 remaining in regulation time, and this game feels like its headed to extra time based on how these two teams are playing.
  • Slovakia takes a timeout after an icing with 7:49 remaining. As Button points out, this is not allowed in the NHL, but the IIHF has no such rule.
  • Simon Nemec throws a puck to the front of the net that Fatton kicked out, but Roman Faith is right there to corral the puck and fire it home!
  • SLOVAKIAN GOAL AT 5:43 - Roman Faith from Simon Nemec and Michal Mrazik. SLOVAKIA LEADS 1-0!
  • Slovakia's Samuel Knazko is given a 2+10 penalty for boarding, meaning his day is over. The two-minute boarding penalty will be served by Martin Chromiak as the Swiss go to their second power-play of the day.
  • WHAT A SAVE! Switzerland's Inaki Baragano had a yawning cage only to have Latkoczy slide across and rob Baragano with the glove!
  • The penalty will expire, but the Swiss will go back on the power-play after Marko Stacha is called for tripping.
  • With 1:20 remaining, Thibault Fatton heads to the Swiss bench for the extra attacker, making it a six-on-four advantage as the power-play ticks away.
  • A couple of off-setting penalties were called in a scrum as Switzerland's Keanu Derungs was called for slashing while Slovakia's David Mudrak was called for roughing.
  • Simon Latkoczy makes a big save, and then looks to score on the empty net! However, his efforts were thwarted by the officials' whistles.
  • Time hits 0.0, and Slovakia emerges with a 1-0 victory! Latkoczy makes 27 stops for the shutout win!
  • Switzerland's Thibault Fatton and Slovakia's Simon Latkoczy are named as the Player of the Game for each team in an all-goaltender ceremony.
Slovakia captures the opening three points of Group A as they take this game by a 1-0 score off Roman Faith's lone goal. This might be the most important win of the group stage for Slovakia as they were expected to compete with Switzerland for third-place in the group.

The Swiss will need to regroup and find points against a depleted German team when they play to avoid the non-relegation relegation games. If the Swiss can somehow gets points against the Finns or Canada, there's still a chance they could finish in third-place in the group, but it's a tough ask for a Swiss team that seemed overwhelmed at times today.

I hope you enjoyed the live-blog of this game! Stay tuned for more World Junior Championship action over the next two weeks! Canada and Germany goes tomorrow, so let's get pumped for that!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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