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 USA and Latvia. Be sure to check out the other games for today.
2023 World Junior Championship Predictions
USA vs Latvia
It’s the opening Group B game for both teams, as they both look to get off to a solid start. The Americans are looking to wipe the sour taste of winning their group, but crashing out at the quarterfinal stage to Czechia. Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold will try to improve on the Americans fifth-place finish. Pecknold has been a solid coach and won a number of regular-season and playoff titles in the ECAC with the Bobcats. A medal is what the Americans are seeking and they would love it to be gold again.
Latvia finished third in Group A and gave Sweden a major headache before losing, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. They may be unheralded, but the Latvians won’t roll over for the United States. Their main goal is to try and avoid the relegation playoff, which has not been in play the last few years. However, relegation is back and the Latvians would like to stay away from having to play a best-of-three series to stay in the top-tier of the World Juniors tournament.
The Americans are on a mission to get back on the podium. There are some heavy-hitters on the U.S. roster like Logan Cooley and captain Luke Hughes. Team USA will want to get off to a fast start and try to put the game out of reach early. The Americans have looked good in the pre-tournament matchups, but this is where the real money is made.
Trey Augustine, Andrew Oke and Kaidan Mbereko are the three young goalies that will be tasked with keeping the opponents off the scoreboard. There may be some questions about their age, but American goalies have been pretty solid in the last few tournaments.
The Latvians proved they could thrive in the WJC with their solid showing. Relegation is back this year, but Latvia proved it could handle itself. Patriks Berzins is the lone returner in goal and should get the shot against the Americans. Team Latvia does have a history of solid goaltending.
Sandis Vilmanis will be one of the focal points of the Latvian offence. He’s a fifth-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers and got an assist in five games last tournament. Niks Fenenko will be the main man on the team’s defence and has experience in the QMJHL. Latvia hasn’t bee able to stay at the top tier of the WJC ladder for more than two years and getting any sort of points against the Americans would help that cause in a huge way.
Whoever scores early will get to dictate the pace. The Americans scoring the opening goal(s) would mean Latvia would have to come out of its shell and play offence. Team USA is great at scoring goals while the Latvians want to slow things down and keep things tight. Both teams will be feeling each other out, but the United States should pull away in the later stages of the game. The Americans have just enough weapons to get the victory.
Prediction: Team USA wins 4-1.
Be sure to check out our World Junior Championship predictions throughout the upcoming days.