December 26, 2009
It was a day where four-goal differentials were considered close, so forwards make up the 3 stars for Day 1 of the WJHC:
No. 1 Star: Gabriel Bourque, F, Canada
Sure, his totals were part of a lopsided 16-0 score against a woefully overmatched Latvian team, but three goals and four assists are still a special night. The Nashville Predators draftee and his linemates, team captain Patrice Cormier(notes) (2 goals, 2 assists) and the diminutive Brandon Kozun (2 goals, 3 assists), spent little time without the puck and dominated down low. To top it off, Bourque even got all the bounces, as a pass with 1:32 to play bounced in off a Latvian defender's skate and into the net. He scored on every shot he took, plus one he didn't.
Another high point total emerging from a blowout, though it could be argued that Paajarvi's five-point night was more impressive than Bourque's since it came against a more formidable Czech team. The speedy Edmonton Oilers 2009 first-rounder racked up a goal and four assists as Sweden made a huge statement, opening the tournament with a 10-1 victory.
No. 3 Star: Derek Stepan, F, USA
Shortly after Slovakia's Richard Panik(notes) scored their third power-play goal of the night, the U.S. captain made a superb pass breaking down the wing to give teammate Danny Kristo one of the easiest goals he'll ever score. The play prevented Slovakia from seizing momentum, and was one of his two assists on the night. He also scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection early in the second period for a 3-2 lead, and was a model of discipline in a chippy game. His line, with Danny Kristo (one goal, one assist) and Jerry D'Amigo (one goal, one assist), took over the game and each finished at plus-4. The US rallied for the win, 7-3, after falling behind 2-0.
Honourable Mentions: D Tim Erixon (SWE) played on the top defense pair and paced the Swedish attack with a goal and two assists off of four shots on goal.... D Alex Pietrangelo(notes) (CAN) did his best Scott Niedermeyer impersonation, resulting in four assists and five shots on goal... F Kirill Petrov (RUS) ended Austria's hopes in third when he scored a shorthanded goal, to go with the two assists he earned earlier. Russia won, 6-2. ... F Radoslav Illo (SVK) led the Slovakian power play with two assists and four shots in the first period.
Hockey writer Bruce Peter will be providing coverage of the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship tournament for Yahoo! Canada and Puck Daddy, including daily recaps of game action and exclusive sights and stories from the event.