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World junior championship: Miro Aaltonen tops WJC 3 Stars on Day 1

Finland's Miro AaltonenNo. 1 star: Miro Aaltonen, Finland

The sympathy vote gives Aaltonen the nod on Day 1, as he accumulated two goals, one assists, a +2 plus/minus and one nasty injured right ankle during Finland's 5-1 victory over Latvia.

The 19-year-old who plays for Espoo in the Finnish Elite League was the best man on the ice during the first 40 minutes of the game. Aaltonen sniped goals 3:04 apart in the first period to stake the Young Lions to an early 3-1 lead. First he tipped in Rasmus Ristolainen's long wrist shot and by getting into the dirty area to convert a centring feed from Joel Armia, who is not the only Buffalo Sabres draft choice who will be mentioned in today's 3 Stars.

In the second period, Aaltonen reciprocated for Ristolainen, outquicking Latvia's Nikita Jevpalovs on a faceoff and drawing the puck directly back to the 18-year-old defenceman for a point shot.

[Related: Finland's Aaltonen suffers gruesome ankle injury]

Aaltonen's points-per-minutes-played rate is going to be hard to match over the duration of the tournament. Sadly for him, he won't get a change to maintain or improve it.

No. 2 star: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Canada

Canada was going to beat Germany whether Nugent-Hopkins (1G-4A, +2) had zero points or four or five, so his big day gets second-star status. The 19-year-old locked-out NHLer got in rhythm with wings Jonathan Huberdeau (1G-2A, +1) and Mark Scheifele (2G, +2) to lead Canada's lopsided 9-3 win over Germany.

The only quibble with RNH's WJC debut? He was credited with just two shots on goal against a team which will be in the relegation zone. Not that anyone who watched the game from a couch should be telling him to shoot more. He was busier setting up Scheifele; the Winnipeg Jets prospect had a team-high six shots on goal.

[Related: Watch Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' 5-point effort]

No. 3 star: Filip Sandberg, Sweden

Sandberg (1G, +1) was named his team's best player by the IIHF in Sweden's 4-1 win over the Czech Republic in Group A action. The 18-year-old centre broke the game open for the defending champions with an unassisted short-handed goal 3:03 into the second period that opened a three-goal lead. Sandberg was also coach Roger Rönnberg's best man on faceoffs, winning 10 of his 11 draws.

Honourable mention: Mikhail Grigorenko, Russia

Grigorenko (1A, +1) had a solid night during Russia's 3-2 overtime scare against determined Slovakia. Russia coach Mikhail Varnakov counted on the Buffalo Sabres pick, rather than Nail Yakupov or Alex Khokhlachev, on a power play late in OT. Grigorenko delivered the goods by winning the offensive zone faceoff; seconds later, Albert Yarullin blistered the winning goal into the net.

[Related: Slovakia scares Russia]

Grigorenko also reconnected with his former Quebec Remparts junior teammate Nikita Kucherov for Russia's first goal. Replays showed the play was offside. Grigorenko was also 11-of-16 (68.8 per cent) on faceoffs.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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