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World Junior Championships 3 Stars: McTavish, Mazur, and Kulich Star on Day 3

The best game of the World Junior Championship came on the third day of play, while Canada and USA had performances to remember. Tony Ferrari returns for his three stars of the day.
WJC 3 Stars

The World Junior Championship had possibly their best game of the tournament thus far followed by two massive blowouts. 

The Czechs narrowly fell to the Finns despite outstanding efforts on booths sides. The Canadians obliterated the Slovaks on the back of their captain’s massive night. The Americans manhandled Switzerland after the game stayed fairly tight and competitive throughout the first 30 minutes.

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: C Mason McTavish, Canada

What a dominant performance by Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish. Four goals, six points, and a blowout win are all perfect ingredients for the first star of the day’s action. Captain Canada was all over the ice, blending elements of power and creativity, showcasing the chemistry he and Connor Bedard have together. McTavish did everything in this game from set up teammates as he did on a beautiful give-and-go resulting in a Bedard goal or attempt “the Michigan” before sending a pass out front when it failed. McTavish was all smiles, all night long.

The most outstanding part of McTavish’s four-goal night though was that each of the four was scored differently. His first was a four-on-none breakaway where McTavish took it up the ice, decided not to pass, and beat the goalie clean. His second came on a nice drop pass by Brennan Othmann before McTavish cut to the middle, dangled a defender, and roofed it backhand. The hat trick goal came as he was the off-puck man on a two-man breakaway when Joshua Roy passed off to him before McTavish snapped it by the goalie. Goal number four came off an excellent play by Othmann and Bedard. Othmann laid a hit, passed, grabbed the loose puck, and found McTavish alone in the slot. Four goals, four different ways.

McTavish had an unreal night, as many Canadians did against Slovakia. The Canadian captain tied the record for goals by a Canadian in a single world junior game, becoming the seventh player to do so with the most recent being Connor Bedard at the canceled December event. The historic night led the Canadians to a second straight victory to open up the World Juniors and has them in the driver's seat of the group as Czechia and Finland went to a shootout to decide their game earlier in the day.

Second Star: RW Carter Mazur, USA

The final score of the U.S. game against the Swiss was expected but the fact that the game was tight through the first half of the second period was unexpected. By period two, Carter Mazur had collected two goals and an assist, factoring in on three of the first four American goals in what ended up being a 7-1 blowout. The Detroit Red Wings’ prospect scored the games opening goal on a great play where Luke Hughes kept the puck in by an inch at the blueline and Thomas Bordeleau made a great play along the way to poke the puck to Mackie Samoskevich below the goal line. Samoskevich sends a pass out to the slot where Mazur cashes in by being at the right place at the right time.

He scored again on another play, showing off his instinctual off-puck movement. While all of the action was happening on the right side of the offensive zone, Mazur was skulking on the backside awaiting a loose puck or a pass. Landon Slaggert was battling in front and sent a pivoting pass to Mazur waiting in the weeds. While the Americans had several impressive performances, Mazur was the player to kick off the American offensive onslaught after a stagnant start.

Third Star: C Jiří Kulich, Czechia

Kulich, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, was an offensive chance generation machine in this game. Finishing with a goal and an assist while carrying a significant load of the transition game, Kulich shone for the Czech U-20 squad. His team may have lost in the shootout but he was the best player on the ice for big chunks of this game. He led all skaters with eight shots on goal, accounting for about a third of his team’s total output. Kulich scored on the power play for Czechia, using his massive cannon off the faceoff to put the puck past the netminder in a flash.

Kulich has been one of Czechia’s best players along with captain Jan Myšák, creating offensive chances for himself and his teammates. Kulich plays a smart and decisive game at both ends of the ice. The young Czech forward made several small plays in the defensive end to disrupt a pass to an open man or cut off the skating route of a player through the slot forcing his opponent to adapt. Kulich got an assist on the game-winner when he took a shot from the top of the faceoff circle while getting hit. The shot was low creating a rebound and then after a scrum in front, the game-tying goal was put in the net off the goalie. Kulich always seems to find a way to get into the action offensively and he played a big role in Czechia pushing the Finns to their limits. 

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