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 Quaterfinal matchup between the host Canadians and Slovakia. Be sure to check out the other games for today.
2023 World Junior Championship Predictions
Canada vs Slovakia
It will be near impossible to not get fired up for elimination Monday. This matchup showcases a plethora of today’s top prospects, not just for each country, but the entire sport. Starting with Slovakia, their lineup includes the number two overall pick from the 2022 NHL entry draft, Simon Nemec (New Jersey Devils). The Slovaks also have one of the Montreal Canadiens top prospects, Filip Mesar. Moving on to Team Canada, who happen to have the top two potential picks for the 2023 draft in Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli. Oh yeah, and do not forget one of the Seattle Kraken top young players, in the fourth overall 2022 pick, Team Canada’s captain, Shane Wright.
Of course, all the background does not matter. It is what happens on the ice that counts. Canada is fiercely aware not to take the Slovaks easy. This could be easy based on past tournament results. Since winning Bronze in 2015, Slovakia had quarterfinal losses every year except in 2022, when they failed to make the quarters.
Slovakia has had some positive results in this year’s tournament, most notably their stunning 6-3 victory over the United States. This effort was backstopped by Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL tender, Adam Gajan. He will likely get the call against the Canadians. Additionally, Dalibor Dvorsky looks to build his stock for the 2023 draft, as he currently sits as a presumptive top-ten overall pick. One final forward to watch for is the undrafted Peter Repcik. Repcik is riding a hot hand, with three goals and two assists thus far in the tournament. A strong showing for both Dvorsky and Repcik, will not only help their Slovak team against Canada but will speak wonders for the potential NHL futures.
For Canada, the home fans are much more at ease coming off the 5-1 dumping handed to the Swedish team. After opening the tournament with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Czechia. Besides the defeat, Canada has out-scored their opponents 27-3. Furthermore, their stars seem to be shining such as Brendan Othmann (New York Rangers), Wright, and Logan Stankoven (Dallas Stars). These three players have combined for 17 points in four games thus far. In net for Canada, Thomas Milic has played very well for Canada since coming on in relief against Czechia. Milic is sporting an awesome .939 SV% and a 1.21 GAA.
Of course, for individual storylines, all eyes remain on Connor Bedard. Currently, he is tied for first all-time for points by a Canadian at a single World Juniors with 18. He is tied with Brayden Schenn and Dale McCourt, who each accomplished the feat in seven games, whereas Bedard hit that total after just four games. Also, he is tied for the all-time career World Junior Canadian record totals in goals with 14 (Jordan Eberle), and points with 31 (Eric Lindros). Needless to say, it has the makings to be a big night, and start to Canada’s medal drive.
In terms of the game itself, look for Slovakia to try and outwork Canada and simplify the game. Robert Baco, of the Moose Jaw Warriors, had some takeaways from an interview with TSN. He said he knows Bedard (Regina Pats) and that they need to try to play him physically to have any hopes of slowing him down. For Canada, they will look to ride the wave of momentum off the raucous homer Halifax crowd. Canada will look to attack with speed, early and often, and take the Slovaks out of the game. If Canada can get up a couple of goals early, look for their skill to take over, and stay ahead of Slovakia throughout.
Prediction: Team Canada wins 5-3.