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Boston College at World Juniors: Group Stage Recap

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The World Juniors tournament started late last week, and here at BCI we were very excited to watch the four Eagles that were representing their countries in Edmonton. If you missed the preview from last week, here’s a little tl;dr — Matt Boldy, Drew Helleson, and Spencer Knight are representing Team USA in Group B, and Alex Newhook is representing Team Canada in Group A.

Throughout the week, I watched the games I could & followed the ones I couldn’t — and wrote up a little recap after each one (and there were some opinions, here & there).

December 25:

USA faced Russia in its first group stage game on Christmas night, and fell 5-3. Fortunately for BC, forward Matt Boldy was one of the best players on the ice — earning an assist on an early goal to tie the game 1-1, and making his presence generally known (Minnesota, please look away). Unfortunately for BC, goalie Spencer Knight had an uncharacteristically rough night — giving up four goals on 12 shots, two of them coming after playing the puck in his own end. He was pulled from the game after the fourth goal, leading to far too many takes on twitter dot com about Knight’s abilities.

As we — folks that regularly watch and keep up with BC hockey — know, Knight is particularly good at bouncing back from rough performances, which we’ve seen time and time again (for example, letting in six goals at home in November 2019 and then going on an absolute tear the rest of the semester). Folks who don’t regularly watch BC games might not be familiar with this, which is understandable — I guess. In my biased opinion though, I believe if you’re going to make judgments on a young hockey player’s entire career projection, it should be based on their entire career and not just a thirty minute performance during a 10-day tournament. And especially one that’s happening during a global pandemic in which players haven’t been able to see their families for the holidays. Knight doesn’t need an excuse for his play, but come on. We know firsthand he’s a good goalie! Whatever happens with USA going forward, he’ll be fine.

December 26:

Canada faced a depleted German team in its first group stage game, and absolutely obliterated them 16-2. Forward Alex Newhook, who is yet to suit up for the Eagles (soon hopefully!) scored two goals in the win, his first coming off an incredible solo effort. While Canada has a stacked roster, his line continues to shine (Colorado, don’t interact).

Side note: can you tell I’m American based on the length of these recaps?

USA faced Austria for its second game in as many days, and also obliterated them 11-0. Knight didn’t start this game, and Nate Leaman had made it clear beforehand this was because they were sticking to their original plan to split starts between Knight and Dustin Wolf. Drew Helleson was moved up to the first d-pair with UND’s Jake Sanderson and scored the first goal for the USA, though that was a point of contention for a bit as the scoring credit was changed three times — first it was given to Cam York, then Alex Turcotte, then finally Helleson. Boldy was, again, one of the best players on the ice, getting a whole hat trick (!) in the rout (seriously, Minnesota, look away!).

December 27:

Canada played its second group stage game on Sunday, taking on Slovakia and eking out a 3-1 win in a game much closer than the two goal lead suggests. Canada was short handed this game — Dylan Holloway out with an upper body injury & Braden Schneider suspended for the game due to a hit he made in the game against Germany — and Newhook didn’t get on the scoresheet, but had two shots on goal and was plus-one for the 16 minutes he was on the ice.

December 29:

Remember when I said that Knight is super good at bouncing back? Most of the takes on twitter dot com were rescinded or regretted as Knight pitched a shutout for a 7-0 win against the Czechs, who were coming off a huge 2-0 win themselves against Russia. He made 22 saves, and was solid in net for the USA. Yes, even though Helleson accidentally did this to him during warmups.

Helleson was solid through this game, and Boldy scored the seventh goal, a beautiful between-the-legs one on the power play.

As for Canada, Newhook collected two assists in their 10-0 rout of Switzerland, bringing his point total to five points through three games (2g, 3a).

Here is a fun video of Newhook and Team Canada teammate Dawson Mercer explaining Newfoundland slang:

December 31:

The universe needed to remind us that it was still 2020 here on the east coast & in Edmonton as Newhook was injured after a clean hit in the first period of Canada’s game against Finland. He remained on the ice for another shift but went straight to the locker room afterwards and didn’t return for the rest of the game. There were no updates on his status right after, which Canada won 4-1.

USA came away with a huge 4-0 win against Sweden, Knight getting his second shutout in a row with 27 saves. He also became the first American goalie to record back to back shutouts at World Juniors! Helleson scored the first goal in the win, giving him a total of three points in four tournament games. This win gave USA the top spot in Group B play as well.

Since both teams finished at the top of their respective groups, the only chance we’d get to see the Eagles on rival teams play against each other is if USA and Canada make it to the gold medal game.

January 1:

There were no games on New Years Day, but Canada’s coach gave an update on Newhook & said that he was day to day, and it was nothing long term. He might even get to play on Saturday!

Canada begins the quarterfinal round against the Czech Republic, and the USA will take on Slovakia; both on January 2nd. Canada’s game is at 7pm & USA’s is at 10:30pm ET.