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World junior championship: Setting up Thursday morning’s games

BU's Matt Grzelcyk still seeks to make USA's roster (Getty)

Short of Russia requiring overtime to beat an underdog Slovakian squad, the first day of the IIHF U-20 world championships passed without event or upset. The second day of the tournament has just two games, with the feature game being a Group B matchup on TSN at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, or a much more accessible hour than the televised tournament opener from a night ago.

Team Germany vs. Team USA (9:00 a.m. Eastern / TSN)

Fans will get their first look at the American team this tournament, and the Americans have yet to decide who their final defenceman will be. Pat Sieloff of the Windsor Spitfires and Matt Grzelcyk of the Boston University Terriers (aptly nicknamed 'Gralphabet') are competing for the last spot, according to Bob McKenzie.

The American forwards, not their defence, had a tough time adjusting to international ice, if their pre-tournament games are any indication. The team scored just four goals in two games against Sweden and Finland. The Canadian team was plagued with similar offensive issues coming into the tournament but blasted the Germans for nine goals in the opener, however Germany started backup Elmar Trautmann over their starter Marvin Cüpper of the Shawinigan Cataractes.

There's an awful lot of speed and skill on the American roster, but Alex Galchenyuk and John Gaudreau, two players expected to carry the load offensively for the Americans were held off the scoresheet in both games. If the Germans first game against Canada, wherein they were outshot 46-28, is any indication, it ought to give the Americans a lot of chances to get some guys on the scoresheet and showcase a dominant first line. Ultimately, the Americans' performance will be stacked up against how they performed relative to the Canadians, with no other common opponents. It's a big year for the Americans, who need to rebound after an awful 2012 tournament where they were sent to the relegation round.

The Germans looked fairly good against Canada, the most impressive being the 2014-eligible Leon Draisaitl, named Player of the Game opposite Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Draisaitl plays for the Prince Albert Raiders and, unlike most of the German players, is used to playing against high-quality competition. Tobias Reider and Nickolas Latta each scored goals and combined for nine shots on goal, being very good primary threats, creating some tense moments around the Canadian goal.

Team Switzerland vs. Team Latvia (7:00 a.m. Eastern)

It's not a particularly good day on the World Junior schedule in Ufa. Both of these teams were in the relegation round a year ago, and the Swiss beat the Latvians 5-3 in their Group A matchup. That's about as much exposition as we can provide for this matchup. Latvia dropped a 5-1 game in their opener to Finland, but kept the game at 1-1 until midway through the first. The Swiss have yet to play, and will face, presumably, a tired Latvian squad. Their goal was scored by Nik Jelisejevs and Arturs Kuzmenkovs, awarded the Player of the Game for the Latvians, recorded an assist, but failed to record a shot on net, though he did win a team-high 42% of face-offs. The Latvians recorded just 12 shots against Finland.

The Swiss of note on CHL rosters include defenceman Mirco Muller of Everett, forwards Sven Andrighetto, Lukas Balmelli, Alessio Bertaggia and Tanner Richard of Rouyn-Noranda, Drummondville, Brandon and Guelph. Richard, a select of the Tampa Bay Lightning, played on last year's squad and tied with Andrighetto for the team scoring lead with four points in the six games.

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