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World Junior Championships 3 Stars: Blank, Bedard, Torgersson Shine on Day 2

Tony Ferrari breaks down the top players from the second day of play at the World Junior Championship, highlighted by a hat-trick by Germany's Alexander Blank.
2022 IIHF WJC_2

Day 2 of the summer World Junior Championship started with a true “Summer Hockey” feel, with Sweden and Switzerland playing an ugly opening 40 minutes before an exciting third-period dash.

Canada was led by young phenom Connor Bedard, as they took down Latvia in a game that was probably a bit closer than expected. The Germans won the day’s final and most competitive game, taking down Austria 4-2 after a strong second period on the back of the day’s first star.

Check out Steven Ellis's report from Rogers Place if you need a full recap. There were plenty of impressive performances throughout the day, but these three stood out among the rest:

First Star: W Alexander Blank, Germany

The Germans got a much-needed win over Austria on day two of the world juniors and Alexander Blank was the reason why. The 20-year-old German looked like Germany’s best player, as he often has recently, with his ability to affect the game in the offensive zone every chance he had. Factoring in on all four German goals, including a natural hat trick in the second period, Blank was instrumental in giving Germany a good opportunity of making the quarterfinal halfway through the team's round-robin games. 

His first-period assist came on a nice play where the young German went low to high in the offensive zone before stopping up and driving back down the wall, putting a move on a defender en route to threading a pass through traffic to the back door for a tap in.

After the Austrians took a 2-1 lead in the second Blank scored the game's remaining goals. Blank's takeover truly began when he scored his first goal off a waist-high deflection from the faceoff circle. His next goal came on the powerplay, attacking high-to-low after collecting a drop pass at the blueline. Blank ripped a shot by the netminder as he attacked the stagnant Austrian penalty kill, gathering speed. Blank’s final goal came off a nice play by teammate Justin Volek, finding Blank as he burst into space in the slot to finish the play all alone in front. Blank led the Germans with eight shots on goal in the contest and seemed all over the puck, all night long.

Second Star: W Connor Bedard, Canada

Canada’s barely 17-year-old superstar was at it again. Scoring the game’s opening goal and assisting on the eventual game-winner, Bedard also led the team in shots on goal. The young phenom had eight shots on goal and was an offensive catalyst on just about every shift he took. Bedard played on the top line and top powerplay unit, taking a leading role on both despite his youth compared to his fellow compatriots.

The favorite to go first overall in the 2023 draft is an unreal offensive player. His game is built upon the fact that he stacks speed on speed. His feet are lightning quick, his hands can keep up, and his mind can analyze and attack play without missing a beat. Bedard’s game-opening goal showcased his unreal release, firing a pin-point shot through traffic after curling and dragging the puck into the triangle between the defender's feet and stick before letting go of the shot.

On the power play, he drew attention and adapted to what the defense was giving him. His assist came on the latter, drawing two defenders down to him at the half-wall and then throwing a pass behind his back to defenseman Olen Zellweger who sniped from the high slot. 

Bedard is a special talent, and I won’t be shocked to see him among the three stars again.

Third Star: W Daniel Torgersson, Sweden

In a game that started as ugly and dysfunctional as this one, it had to be an ugly and weird goal that opened the scoring. Daniel Torgersson’s goal in the second period certainly qualified as that. Having the puck bounce around the offensive zone and back to the point eventually, the Swedish defenders went D-to-D with Simon Edvinsson taking a partially blocked shot that bounced down to Torgersson in the slot who backhand swatted the puck with his stick into the Swiss net. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Torgersson scored again in the third period, just 24 seconds into the period. Taking a shot that was blocked, following it up and beating the Swiss goaltender on his second attempt was yet another example of this game is a bit of a goofy mess. Swedish defenseman Simon Edvinsson was the game’s most consistent player but he never took over and screened his netminder on the second Swiss goal. Torgersson isn’t going to be the flashy player who dekes and dangles. Instead, he is a greasy scorer who puts away a couple of ugly ones that help win the game, just as he did here for Sweden. 

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