It was the fourth day of the group stage in the 2023 World Junior Championship on Thursday and for Minnesota Wild prospects, that apparently meant not doing a whole lot in their respective games.
We might as well get right to it.
Liam Öhgren, Sweden vs. Czechia
Sweden faced a significant test on Thursday as they faced Czechia who, of any team, is poised to go on a Cinderella Story run since they are not being taken as seriously as countries like Canada, United States, or their opponents. It ended up being a tight 3-2 win for Sweden, so not a lot of opportunity for offensive production and numbers to grow for us to feel better about some Wild prospects.
Liam Öhgren was again on Sweden’s second forward line with Buffalo Sabres prospect Noah Östlund and Boston Bruins hot prospect Fabian Lysell. Unfortunately, that line got completely shut down, especially after Lysell didn’t return to the game after the first intermission.
Öhgren was held with zero points, had a minus-1 rating, and had two shots on goal in 18:43 TOI. Just not a lot going on.
David Spacek, Czechia vs. Sweden
Spacek has been the story of the tournament among the five Wild prospects in Halifax and Moncton. The Czech defenseman scored two goals and four points in his first two games, but against a strong opponent like Sweden the expectations were a little muted. In the end, the top-pairing defender for Czechia had his first game without a point but he still munched so many damn minutes as he played over 23 minutes facing Sweden’s top attackers.
Instead, it was top prospect David Jiricek who did all the scoring on the blue line as he left the game with a goal and an assist.
Jack Peart, United States vs. Switzerland
These Americans are having a fairly mediocre tournament compared to what was expected of this group. Luckily, they got to face Switzerland to get some confidence back and they ended up with a tidy 5-1 win where they won the shot battle 42-19. Just a little bit of offensive pressure from them.
Our boy Jack Peart did not earn any points — you can tell a theme is happening — and he was taken off the top pairing with Luke Hughes and instead played with Ryan Ufko on the second. Still, he managed to play over 18 minutes on Thursday and was a nice little plus-1 rating without anything else happening on the score sheet.
The United States have a difficult test against Finland on Saturday, so maybe Peart has been cemented on the second pairing, but he has certainly not been bad enough to remove him from the top-four.
Caedan Bankier, Canada vs. Austria
And lastly, our final pointless boy was Caedan Bankier, who, in an 11-0 win over Austria, got one shot on goal in 11:25 TOI. At least there is no Wild prospect controversy this year on this Canadian team like we had with Carson Lambos getting scratched and Ryan O’Rourke playing poorly.
There is nothing really else to say about a fourth-liner in a blowout win who didn’t get a point.
Only Servac Petrovsky will be in action on Friday, as Slovakia play Latvia. But on Saturday, there will be a whole feast of games to watch instead of doing whatever you want on New Year’s Eve.