Four traditional hockey powerhouses remain in the hunt at the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, while the United States saw its run end with a quarterfinal elimination at the hands of Finland.
The Americans lost a tightly contested 1-0 matchup to the Finns on Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 World Juniors final, a game that was also won by Finland. In Thursday’s game, Finland scored the only goal of the game on a power play, with Joonas Oden scoring 4:23 into the third period to provide the winning margin.
Lafreniere Sparks Canadian Victory
Finland will now play Canada in the semifinals. The Canadians are favored to win the 2020 World Juniors, and are coming off a dominant 6-1 victory over Slovakia in their quarterfinal.
The Canadian victory was sparked by the return of winger Alexis Lafreniere, who is expected to be the first selection in the 2020 NHL draft. Lafreniere scored a goal and assisted on another in his return from a knee injury suffered during a 6-0 loss in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
“He’s obviously not 100 percent,” defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker told the CBC. “Still a little bit hurt, he’s still the best player out there. It’s really nice to have him back.”
Canada (-275) opened as a clear favorite over Finland (+220) in their semifinal matchup, according to odds posted by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Russia Narrowly Favored Over Sweden
Top-seeded Sweden will face Russia in the other World Juniors semifinal. Sweden had little trouble getting by the Czech Republic, blanking the hosts 5-0 on Thursday. Vancouver Canucks prospect Nils Hoglander scored twice and added an assist for the Swedes, while Huge Alnefelt saved 23 shots to preserve the shutout.
Russia faced more resistance, but was able to get past Switzerland 3-1 on Thursday. Dmitri Voronkov led the Russians by scoring two goals, both on the power play, while Gaetan Jobin scored the only goal for Switzerland. Russia outshot Switzerland 36-15 in a rematch of last year’s bronze medal game, which was also won by the Russians.
That sets up a balanced encounter in the semifinals, with Russia (-122) seen as only a slight favorite over Sweden (+100) to reach the final.
World Juniors Odds to Win Gold
- Canada (+160)
- Russia (+225)
- Sweden (+300)
- Finland (+625)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Canada is favored to take home the World Juniors title and claim its 18th gold medal in the competition. The Canadians are a +160 pick to earn gold, largely due to their favorable matchup in the semifinals. Russia (+225) and Sweden (+300) follow close behind, with Finland (+625) seen as a relative long shot.
Both semifinal matchups will take place on Saturday, with the final scheduled for Sunday.
There’s one other game of note on Saturday, as Germany and Kazakhstan will face off to avoid being relegated to the Division I level of the World Juniors alongside nations like Latvia and Norway. The two nations are in a best-of-three series to see who will stay in the Top Division, with Germany having already won the first game 4-0. The Germans are heavily favored to win again and finish the series on Saturday, with FanDuel making them a -1115 pick over Kazakhstan (+750).