Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

World junior championship 3 Stars: Fucale fantastic in Canada’s tense win over U.S.

Three stars from Day 6 at the world junior championship as chosen by Buzzing The Net contributors:

No. 1 star: Zach Fucale, Team Canada

Team USA might as well stay up past midnight Malmo time on New Year's Eve since the vision of Connor Carrick's missed breakaway might keep sleep at bay. With five minutes left and Canada up a pair, Carrick was handed a gift when Canada's Josh Morrissey blew a tire while manning the point on a power play. Carrick, who played three NHL games for the Washington Capitals in October, was off to the races with time to plan a move, but Fucale flicked out his left pad for the save.

That was among several difficult stops the 18-year-old Fucale, who didn't start Canada's first two games, turned in among his 24 saves as Canada beat Team USA 3-2 to finish first in Group A. Other 'Fucale frozen moments' from an intense game include robbing Team USA captain Riley Barber on a chance from 15 feet in the first period and a big save on Hudson Fasching that kept the game at 1-0, moments before Nic Petan scored to pull Canada level.

The Montreal Canadiens draft pick and Halifax Mooseheads star also made a juggling save to steal a goal from 17-year-old U.S. phenom in the third period.

No. 2 star: Martin Prochazka, Team Czech Republic

Don't try to figure out the Czechs, who are through to the quarters after beating Canada, losing to Germany and bouncing back to beat their next-door neighbours Slovakia 4-1. Prochazka, a 19-year-old who plays for Sparta Prague, had an immediate impact on the game's first shift as he found David Pastrnak, who stuffed in the icebreaker. That seemed to buckle Slovakia, who soon went down another goal after Winnipeg Jets draft pick Jan Kostalek sprung Ondrej Kase for a breakaway and another goal.

Prochazka started the second period much the same way. Dominik Simon, who scored the shootout decider vs. Canada on Saturday, intercepted a pass and sent the puck to Prochazka, who one-timed a shot by goalie Samuel Baros. That ended Baros' day, not that it changed anything since the Czechs promptly got their fourth goal, with Prochazka drawing an assist.

No. 3 star: Lucas Wallmark, Team Sweden

Wallmark (2A, +1) copped Tre Kroner's best player award after playing a strong all-around game during the other 3-2 contest that decided top spot in a group. Sweden found a few slivers in the otherwise impenetrable fortress that is Tampa Bay Lightning goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevski, while it also withstood a desperate third period push from the Russians, who could have finished anywhere from first to third in the group.

The 18-year-old Wallmark, a forward for Lulea who was passed over in the NHL draft last summer after having an injury-riddled season, drew an assist on Sweden's opening power-play goal by Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Andreas Johnson. (Montreal Canadiens pick Sebastian Collberg created the goal by cutting off a Russian clearing attempt and zipping the puck to Johnson.)

Later in the period, Wallmark was the 'tac' in a tic-tac-toe passing play capped off by Anaheim Ducks second-rounder Nick Sorensen ripping in a shot from the slot. It's notable that Wallmark only made the age cutoff for the 2013 draft by 10 days. The TSN commentator Craig Button noted it's likely Wallmark will be drafted this summer. Scouts should just say his birthday is Sept. 25 instead of Sept. 5.

Honourable mention: Melvin Nyffeler, Team Swizterland

Switzerland's 4-3 shootout win was moot since Finland only needed the point for tying in regulation to nab second place in Group B.

Nyffeler kept Switzerland in the game by stopping 37-of-40 shots during the contest. In the circus, the 'tender really shone by facing down six Finn attempts in a row, including successive bids from Chicago Blackhawks first-rounder Teuvo Teravainen. There was a sense the proceeding might drag on long past midnight in Malmo, but Swiss defenceman Claude Paschoud tucked in the decider.

Finland played without loaned Buffalo Sabres farmhand Rasmus Ristolainen, who is suffering from illness. There is a chance Ristolainen returns on Thursday.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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