We’ve made it to the quarterfinal round and things get much more interesting. It’s win or go home for the eight teams that have made it to the playoff round. Unbeaten runs in group play are nice. However, they don’t mean anything in the elimination round. The United States vs Czechia should shape up to be another great matchup between these two hockey powers. Team USA went unbeaten in Group B, but will have to play a solid 60 minutes of hockey to advance to the next round.
2022 World Junior Championship Predictions
United States vs Czechia
The Americans have looked like the two elite teams of this tournament along with Canada. Team USA got a bit of a scare after Sweden scored twice to make things interesting in their 3-2 win in the pool play finale. Matthew Coronato scored twice for the Americans to give them a perfect 4-0 record in the group stage. Kaiden Mbereko stopped 28 shots in net to give the Americans the win.
Team USA has looked strong in all phases of the game and things are setting up for a showdown with host Canada. However, American coach Nate Leaman will make sure his team isn’t looking ahead to the winner of Finland vs. Germany in the semifinals. The Providence College coach has gotten the most out of his team but knows one game can change everything.
Player to watch
Coronato already has Calgary Flames fans thinking of the future. He’s tied with Detroit Red Wings pick Carter Mazur with the most goals for Team USA. The Huntington, NY native has already committed to play for Harvard University and former NHLer Ted Donato. He netted 18 goals in his freshman campaign and the sky is the limit for this young player.
The Czechs are limping into the elimination round after a stunning 5-2 loss to Latvia. Ralfs Bergmanis’ hat trick doomed Czechia to fourth in the group and a date with the tough Americans. The Czechs have lost three straight after opening pool play with a 5-4 win over Slovakia. Lavia scored four of the first five goals of the game on its way to victory. Czechia is going to have to find its game quickly if they want to book a place in the semis.
Player to watch
As Jan Mysak goes, so goes the Czechs. The Montreal Canadiens draft choice has been the bright spot on a team that’s sort of underperformed in the group stage. Him and Martin Rysavy are the only two Czech players among the tournament scoring leaders. There needs to be some help for Mysak, but he will be the key man to get things going. Habs fans should be impressed by the young captain’s poise and his overall game. A stellar performance by Mysak could power Czechia to an upset and a date with the semifinal winner between Finland and Germany.
Anything can happen in a one-game scenario and international hockey has proven that. The Americans have played great this tournament, but all of that can be thrown away if they lose this game. Czechia knows that there’s no tomorrow and is playing with house money. They’ve got nothing to lose and can take chances.
However, the United States is loaded with talent and has the solid leadership of Leaman behind the bench. Team USA knows it’s final or bust for this group and a showdown with Team Canada is the only way. The United States can’t get caught looking ahead, but they should take care of business. Things could be tight early, but the first goal by the USA could force the Czechs to open things up.
Prediction: Team USA wins 4-1.
— Calgary Sun (@calgarysun) August 15, 2022