On a day that saw the possibility of both Leafs prospects being sent home, big performances from Joseph Woll and Timothy Liljegren aided in the advancement of their respective teams to the semifinals of the 2018 World Juniors.
A shockingly close matchup between Sweden and Slovakia saw the Swedes barely escape the game with a victory, overcoming the Slovaks by a final score of 3-2. Timothy Liljegren had another good game for Sweden, though he remained scoreless through three periods of play.
Joseph Woll saw the start yet again for the Americans in their semifinal matchup against Russia, allowing 2 goals on 29 shots to help claim a 4-2 victory for the USA.
Timothy Liljegren (Sweden vs. Slovakia)
Timothy Liljegren opened the game today on a strong note, once again proving himself as a force to be reckoned with. Though his team saw a tough matchup against Slovakia, the Swedes ultimately reigned victorious and claimed themselves a spot in the semi-finals.
Liljegren is having one of his best periods of the tournament here. No points yet, but he's been extremely noticeable, and hit the post on Sweden's first powerplay
— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) January 2, 2018
Liljegren had a TOI of 18:35 on the matchup, again proving himself to be an asset to this very talented Swedish team. He continued to dangle around the opposition’s forecheck, this time breaking a few Slovakian ankles while he was at it:
— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) January 3, 2018
Liljegren had several big hits today, including this absolute rocker on Slovak forward Viliam Cacho:
Timoth the tank engine pic.twitter.com/IG8Imt8jL8
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) January 3, 2018
Though I wouldn’t say Liljegren had a significant impact on the game, he was strong and stood his own on the Swedish blueline. As the tournament progresses and Sweden looks ahead to the rest of the medal round matchups, Liljegren will continue to play a crucial role amongst the Swedish defense core, just as he has all tournament long.
Joseph Woll (USA vs. Russia)
Joseph Woll seems to officially have become the USA’s starting goaltender in the tournament, and he has quite a few notable performances that have earned him that spot. Today’s game was no different, as Woll continued to prove himself against the Russians.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) January 3, 2018
Woll’s reach across his crease is impressive. Despite his good moments, he has looked shaky at times. Russia’s first goal from today was not awful, but it would have been nice to see him stop this short-side backhander:
Sholokhov fires a backhander and ties it 1-1 pic.twitter.com/oC9Ku1yX9Z
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 3, 2018
Woll has garnered a 90.53 save percentage through four WJC games this year. He continues to make acrobatic saves at crucial moments for the USA, but at times can visibly be out of position or far outside his crease. Despite his flaws, the USA seems confident in their chosen goaltender.
Day 8 Preview
Sweden and the USA will meet on Thursday in the second semifinal matchup of the day. Both teams have a reasonable shot of advancing to the gold medal game, but the Swedes seem to have an edge in terms of talent. The USA will want to claim a victory on home soil, but their path to gold hasn’t been as easy as they probably would have liked. Nevertheless, the matchup will make for a fantastic game of hockey. Tune in to TSN on Thursday to catch the battle of the Toronto prospects – Woll vs. Timoth – in the second of two semifinal WJC matchups.