No. 1 Star: Andre Burakovsky - Team Sweden
December 29th was not a day at the World Junior Championship that will have any of its games show up on ESPN Classic anytime soon. Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal pointed out on Twitter that the combined score was 18 for the Whales (Sweden and the United States) to 0 for the Minnows (Norway and Germany).
Still, it was a good day for the Malmo-born, Washington Capitals first rounder Andre Burakowsky, who paced a dominant Swedish powerplay in his team's 10-0 win over Norway. Burakowsky scored three goals on three shots—two came on the powerplay—and got a loud cheer when given the Best Player award at the conclusion of the game.
The Swedish powerplay went 5-for-8. It worked out to about a goal every 1:45 of powerplay time. While no player picked up multiple assists on Burakovsky's goals, other NHL prospects padded their stats against the Norwegians: Columbus' Alexander Wennberg, Montreal's Sebastien Collberg, Nashville's Filip Forsberg, Carolina's Elias Lindholm, Minnesota's Gustav Olofsson and Anaheim's Nick Sorensen all had three-point nights.
No. 2 Star: Vince Hinostroza - Team United States
The Chicago Blackhawks sixth-rounder and Notre Dame product had the day's high in points, with two goals and two assists in the Americans' 8-0 win over Germany. All of Hinostroza's points came on a powerplay that went a wild 6-for-10, helped out by a Leon Draisaitl hit from behind 10 seconds into the second period that earned the prospect first round pick in the most upcoming draft 5-and-a-game.
Some balanced scoring for the Americans as well. Matt Grzelcyk, who scored a very pivotal goal against the Slovakians Saturday afternoon, had another fine game with a goal and two assists. Riley Barber and Nic Kerdiles each also had two-point games, while Winnipeg 2013 fourth rounder Andrew Copp had a pair of assists and went a dominant 13-4 in the faceoff circle.The United States are now at 3-0-0-0 (with a +15 goal differential to boot) and assuming Canada defeats Slovakia tomorrow, would only need to take the Canadians to overtime to clinch Group A.
No. 3 Star: Jack Eichel - Team United States
Not for his offence, no, but Jack Eichel has been turning heads early on in the tournament thanks to his steady two-way play. The prospective 2015 NHL first rounder registered a single assist against Germany on a two-man advantage, but he was also credited with six shots on net and went 9-4 in the faceoff circle. It's an interesting contrast to see Eichel more heavily leaned upon as the tournament progresses, while the other notable 16-year-old in the tournament, Canada's Connor McDavid, may be rotated off his own team's top line.
Honourable Mentions: Magnus Hogberg - Team Sweden; Anthony Stolarz - Team United States
It's tough to give too much credit to the goaltenders. Sweden and the United States combined to out-shoot their weak opposition today 98-28, but Hogberg and Stolarz were unflappable and failed to allow any goals in what will likely be their only tournament appearances. Sweden will rely primarily on Oscar Dansk and the United States on Jon Gillies going forward, so good on these two to make the most of their Sunday starts. Hogberg stopped 13 shots, while Stolarz stopped 15, including six in the first period in which the Americans scored just twice. One flap, and that could be a much closer game at intermission.