How did Leafs prospects fare during Day 1 of the WJC?

After an exciting opening day of the 2017 WJHC, teams have already begun to differentiate themselves as dominant.  Both USA and Sweden won by a score of 6-1 in their respective games, and Canada looked solid against Russia in their 5-3 victory.  

Today was a pretty good day for Leafs prospects at the WJC.  Carl Grundstrom had an exceptional game for Sweden, and Jeremy Bracco netted a single power play goal for the USA. Joseph Woll did not see a start today for the USA, and Martin Dzierkals and the Latvians struggled to defend against the Americans.  

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Carl Grundstrom had a fantastic game for Sweden today, contributing both offensively and defensively.  Here are the game highlights:

Playing on both the powerplay and the penalty kill, Grundstrom netted a goal and an assist while leading all Swedish forwards in ice time with 15:29 TOI. Grundstrom showed off his puck carrying ability on Sweden’s third goal of the game, a play in which he tallied the only assist.  Though he missed his first breakaway opportunity of the game, Grundstrom quickly redeemed himself on another shorthanded breakaway that put Sweden up 4-0 in the second.  

Grundstrom is proving to be a crucial player for Sweden, as he is currently tied for the team’s lead in points with 2.  I was actually very impressed with Grundstrom’s play during this game – he is very calm and patient on the ice, yet is very skilled and dominates in the offensive zone.  

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2 Leafs prospects participated in this afternoon’s game –  Jeremy Bracco for the Americans and Martins Dzierkals for the Latvians.  Joseph Woll took to the bench as USA’s backup goalie. Here are the highlights from the game:  

Dzierkals did not stand out in this game, going pointless with 15:37 of ice time. Dzierkals played second/third line minutes for Latvia, but his team was ultimately unable to create a significant amount of offense to keep up with the powerhouse that is the American team.  It wasn’t all bad for Latvia, though:

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Bracco scored the American’s fifth goal on the power play, going five-hole on the unprepared Latvian goaltender. With 16:51 of ice time, Bracco, who played on the USA’s second power play unit, had a good showing as the Americans won the game handily by a score of 6-1.  

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Tomorrow will be a relatively uneventful day for Leafs prospects, as both Sweden and the USA enjoy a day off after their victories today. 

Dzierkals and the Latvians will face off against Russia tomorrow at 3:00pm EST in Toronto, with both teams playing on back-to-back days.  

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