2013 IIHF World Junior Championships: Recapping Day 2 in Russia

Chris Blanchard@@BlanchardNHLContributor IIIDecember 27, 2012

USA's Alex Galchenyuk
USA's Alex GalchenyukBruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a spectacular opening day, the World Junior Championships continued Thursday with two more games. While six of the tournament's 10 teams took the day off, Team USA and Team Switzerland began their medal quests. 

Here's a recap of today's action in Ufa:

Game One:

Switzerland 7 - Latvia 2

Switzerland surprised many with a spectacular effort in their first contest. Latvia, on the other hand, is reeling after their second loss in as many days. After losing to Finland 5-1 on Wednesday, Latvia will have a fight on their hands to avoid elimination. 

Early on, it actually looked as if Latvia might take the game, as Nikolajs Jelisejevs scored his second goal of the tournament just 2:45 into the first. From that point on, however, it would be all Switzerland. 

The Swiss got on the board with a Christoph Bertschy goal late in the first period. Four minutes later, Mike Kunzle gave Switzerland the lead heading into the intermission.

Three second period goals broke the game open, giving the Swiss a 5-2 lead after two frames. Mike Kunzle's second goal and another from Alessio Bertaggia sealed the blowout victory in the third. 

Far from favorites in a tough Group A, Switzerland's rout comes as a bit of a shock. Plenty of questions about the Swiss will presumably be answered when they meet defending champion Sweden on Friday. An upset over Sweden would definitively convert Switzerland from pretender to contender in the eyes of many, but such a victory will be hard to come by. 

Latvia will be ecstatic to get the day off tomorrow after being dominated for two straight days in Russia. They will return to action against Sweden on Saturday. 

Game Two: 

USA 8 - Germany 0

Team USA got off to an excellent start in their first game of the tournament, completely dismantling a weak German squad. The Germans failed to bounce back from a 9-3 loss to Canada on Wednesday, and they now look dead in the water in a difficult Group B. 

Sean Kuraly gave the United States a lead just 19 seconds into the game with the help of linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Barber. The American top line of Kuraly, Galchenyuk and Barber was excellent all day, with each player finding the back of the net. 

Having scored the early goal, the United States played a nearly perfect first 10 minutes, scoring two more from the sticks of Jacob Trouba and Galchenyuk. 

The second and third periods were more of the same, as the Americans threatened constantly and rarely gave the German's any offensive opportunities. Eight different players scored goals for the US, including Seth Jones who played an excellent game while auditioning to become the top pick in the 2013 NHL draft. 

Nicknamed "The German Gretzky," Leon Drasaitl tried to find cracks in the American defense similar to the ones often present against Canada but none materialized. On the few German scoring chances, American goalie John Gibson came up huge, maintaining the shutout for two periods before being relieved by backup Jon Gillies. 

American coach Phil Housley will be very encouraged by his team's performance, as his squad excelled in every phase of the game. They will face a much stiffer test tomorrow against Team Russia in a pivotal Group B clash. 

Germany will have the day off to recover from two brutal losses. They will take on the Russians on Saturday, in what will likely be a third straight rout. 

Three Stars:

1. Seth Jones - USA

Seth Jones lived up to the hype in Team USA's victory over Germany. The big defenseman quarterbacked the American power play throughout, making very smart passes to create numerous scoring chances. In the second period, one of those killer passes was whipped into the net by Shayne Gostisbehere for a pretty one-time goal with the man advantage. Jones also scored Team USA's seventh goal with a big blast from the point. He was physical and dangerous, while simultaneously playing responsible hockey. The American blue-liner has the early lead in the race to be this tournament's breakout player. 

2. Alex Galchenyuk - USA

Drafted by Montreal with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, Galchenyuk was Team USA's most dynamic offensive force. He looked excellent playing along the wing with new linemates Sean Kuraly and Riley Barber. His first period goal was as pretty as they come, and he assisted on two more. 

3. Alessio Bertaggia - Switzerland

Brand Wheat Kings (WHL) forward Alessio Bertaggia had an excellent game for Switzerland as they blew out Latvia. Bertaggia assisted on Christof Bertschy's first period goal and scored his own in the third. He was a plus-3 on the day. 

Group Standings:

Switzerland 1 1 0 0 0 7 2 3
Finland 1 1 0 0 0 5 1 3
Sweden 1 1 0 0 0 4 1 3
Czech Republic 1 0 0 0 1 1 4 0
Latvia 2 0 0 0 2 3 12 0
USA                 1 1 0 0 0 8 0 3
Canada 1 1 0 0 0 9 3 3
Russia 1 0 1 0 0 3 2 2
Slovakia 1 0 0 1 0 2 3 1
Germany 2 0 0 0 2 3 17 0


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