Welcome to our 2023 World Junior Championship predictions. We’ll take an in-depth look at each game taking place in the Canadian Maritimes. These looks will happen for each game until the gold-medal game. We’ll try to give you the information you need to get an edge. We take a look at the Group B matchup between Team Finland and Switzerland. Be sure to check out the other games for today.
2023 World Junior Championship Predictions
Finland vs Switzerland
It’s the opening game of the tournament and both teams will want to get off to a great start. Finland was runner-up to 2022 champion Team Canada in Alberta. The Finns are looking to erase the sting of that overtime loss to the Canadians in the gold-medal game. Brad Lambert and Joakim Kemell are two of the more experienced forwards on the roster. Seattle Kraken draft choice Niklas Kokko will likely get most of the starts in net for the Finns.
Switzerland reached the quarterfinal round last tournament before losing to host Canada. The Swiss have a main goal of avoid relegation and playing in the main tournament for a 14th straight season. There’s a mix of players that are already playing in the Swiss National League and draft-eligible players. Dallas Stars draft pick Lian Bichsel is the one to watch on the blue line for the Swiss.
The Finns are pretty business-like and don’t usually get tripped up by the upset bug. However, there’s always some worry when playing in the opening game of any major tournament. Finland did drop a game to the United States in pre-tournament play, but the Americans are a favourite to medal after last year’s disappointing outing.
Lambert has been off to a slow start with the Manitoba Moose, but a tournament like this could do wonders to jumpstart his season. The Finns are looking to add another medal to the trophy cabinet and a good start against a solid opponent is needed. Kokko may not have the strongest numbers in his domestic league, but has put together some good games in goal.
Switzerland may be the underdog going in, but they’re not to be underestimated. The program has made great strides at all levels and that’s started at the U20 level. Bichsel did sit out the summer tournament, but is ready to go for the 2023 WJC. The Stars draft pick is relied upon to make plays in all phases of the game. He’s solid of the power play and the penalty kill.
Philadelphia Flyers draft choice Brian Zanetti of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes will also be called upon to take the load off Bichsel. He’s still trying to fill out his large frame, but can handle the puck and will also feature in man-up situations. Switzerland will have to cash in when it has them in order to stay in games with the traditional powers.
Finland was moments away from claiming the gold before Kent Johnson sealed the deal for Canada. There are a number of players that experienced that painful loss and want to get that gold. This is one of the reasons that Finland will likely finish in or near the medals once again.
Switzerland has simpler goals like reaching the quarterfinal round and avoiding getting sucked into the relegation playoff. The tournament has been without the threat of relegation the last few events, but it’s back for this year’s edition. There may be a feeling out process, but Finland should get the victory to open its campaign.
Prediction: Finland wins 4-1.
Be sure to check out our 2023 World Junior Championship Predictions in the upcoming days.