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 Slovakia. Be sure to check out the other games for today.
2023 World Junior Championship Predictions
USA vs Slovakia
Going into each team’s second game of the tournament, they are each looking to make very different statements. For Team USA, with the home-side Canadians floundering to Czechia in their first game, they want to make their bid as tournament favourites. A strong showing in game two, especially between the pipes, will go a long way in proving their dominance. Meanwhile, for the Slovaks, they want to prove their country’s hockey development is producing on-ice results.
The talent pool is deep on this American team. In their first game against Latvia, they had a tough start against the notoriously tough-checking team. However, by the third, they were able to come together as a group, and cruise to a 5-2 victory. This type of play is what the Team USA brass will be hoping for. Not only in the game against Slovakia but throughout the tournament. The Americans need to play their game in order to use this game as a springboard for results throughout the tournament, especially in the medal round.
For Team USA, if their stars can get some momentum, they will be hard to stop. Look for players like captain Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils), Chaz Lucius, or smooth skating defenceman Sean Behrens (Colorado Avalanche) to continue their good start. Each of the three had goals against Latvia, and Lucius, the Winnipeg Jet prospect, had the game-winner.
The questions remain about their goaltending. Trey Augustine’s 15-save performance against Latvia was not a good predictor of future outcomes. Therefore, some of Slovakia’s snipers should put the USA goaltending to the test. The Americans can also play a physical game, with players like Tyler Boucher (Ottawa Senators) and Cutter Gauthier (Philadelphia Flyers) on the team.
Slovakia needs a strong game against Team USA to put themselves in the mind frame to compete in this tournament. They failed to qualify for the playoff round in the 2022 tournament in August. They started the tournament with a disappointing 5-2 loss to Finland. Even more disappointing about that is, Finland is not projected as a strong team in this year’s tournament. For these reasons, playing a tight game with the Americans is crucial.
Team Slovakia does have the high-end talent to succeed in this tournament, but they lack the depth needed. Players like Filip Mesar (Montreal Canadiens) and Simon Nemec (New Jersey Devils) will carry the offensive load against the Americans. If they are to surprise, secondary players, like top-ten 2023 draft prospect, Dalibor Dvorksy need to contribute. Also, the undrafted, Peter Repcik, currently of the Charlottetown Islanders looks to ride the hot hand, with two goals in the team’s first game. In goal, Matej Marinov should get the call, after a solid relief appearance in game one stopping seven of eight shots.
It will be difficult for Slovakia to find themselves on the right side of the final scoreboard. They will need to play an aggressive game, to disrupt the Team USA rhythm. If they are unable to do that effectively, and the Team USA offence gets firing, look out. Slovakia will likely struggle with the high-end talent, and having a strong defensive structure required to slow down the American offence.
Prediction: Team USA wins 7-3.