'Heartbreaking for him and for us': Canada forced to move on without Dach
World Juniors Boxing Day action from the bubble in Edmonton has defending champion Canada kicking off their tournament in a Group A matchup against Germany.
All of the games can be seen on TSN and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct.
Sweden vs. Czech Republic – 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on TSN1/4/5
Like the Germans, COVID-19 nearly derailed Sweden’s journey to Edmonton. Losing head coach Tomas Monten and four key players (William Eklund, Karl Henriksson, William Wallinder and Albin Grewe) to positive tests and having two staff members test positive in the bubble, the Swedes didn’t play a pre-tournament game due to quarantine.
COVID-19 aside, the reigning bronze medallist Sweden brings a strong roster to Edmonton as they look to keep their round robin streak of 51 consecutive victories alive.
Led by two top-10 picks in forwards Lucas Raymond (4th overall by Detroit) and Alexander Holtz (7th overall by New Jersey), Sweden will not have trouble scoring. On the back end, they are led by Edmonton Oilers prospect Philip Broberg, Arizona Coyotes first-rounder Victor Soderstrom and Los Angeles first-round pick Tobias Bjornfot. In net, they boast Hugo Alnefelt (Tampa Bay Lightning) and 2021 draft-eligible Jesper Wallstedt.
The Czech Republic finished seventh in last year’s tournament after bowing out to Sweden with a 5-0 loss in the quarterfinals.
The Czechs will be led by Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Mysak with Michal Teply (Chicago Blackhawks) and Adam Raska (San Jose Sharks) also expected to have big roles. In their pre-competition match, they defeated Slovakia 6-0.
Germany vs. Canada – 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on TSN1/4/5
With 19 NHL first-round picks and six returning players on the roster, Canada brings a deep roster to the WJC as they aim to defend their gold medal.
But they were dealt a huge blow before things really even got going.
In Canada’s first and only pre-tournament game against Russia, captain Kirby Dach delivered what looked to be an innocent body check in the neutral zone in the third period. However, right after impact, it was clear something was wrong. Dach removed his glove, gingerly skated to the bench and did not return. Hockey Canada announced Dach would not play in the tournament the following day because of a right wrist injury.
Headlined by returning players Quinton Byfield, Dylan Cozens, Connor McMichael, Dawson Mercer, Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale, Canada has a myriad of options up and down the roster.
Canada defeated Russia 1-0 Wednesday night in a rematch of last year’s gold-medal final.
They will take on Ottawa Senators third overall pick Tim Stuetzle and Team Germany, who opened their tournament on Christmas Day against Finland.
The Germans are underdogs again in this tournament but the presence of Stuetzle and Buffalo Sabres second-rounder John-Jason Peterka could be the difference-maker in avoiding another showdown in the relegation round.
United States vs. Austria – 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT on TSN1/4/5
The United States beat Finland in pre-competition 3-2 with a standout performance from Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield, who had two goals in a 35-second span. The Americans look to rebound after finishing sixth in 2020 and will be relying heavily on the likes of Trevor Zegras, Spencer Knight, Jake Sanderson, Alex Turcotte and the aforementioned Caufield to carry them to gold.
On the other side is Austria, who enter the top division of the World Juniors for the first time since 2010. Coming in as major underdogs, the Austrians have a legitimate star on their side with Minnesota Wild ninth-overall pick Marco Rossi leading the way. In their only pre-competition game, Austria dropped a 3-2 decision to Switzerland.