Belarus at Slovakia
Belarus, fresh off their opening day loss to host Finland faced off against Slovakia in the first game on Sunday.
Slovakia, who took the bronze medal last year with a win over Sweden, had to be the heavy favourites; while Belarus, playing in their first World Championships since 2007 where they finished last and were relegated to the Division I tournament, are trying to avoid that same fate this year.
Slovakia had to work for it, but they won the game 4-2 over a Belarusian team that put up a very good fight. The official IIHF recap has all the details.
Denmark at Switzerland
In the second match, last year's Cinderella, Denmark, took on the controversial Swiss team that made so much news against Sweden on Saturday. Denmark, without any NHL prospects, and missing many of the key players that helped them to 8thplace in 2015, were in tough against a much more experienced team. They also want to avoid relegation, but someone will end up out of the main tournament next year to make way for Latvia, who won the Division I tournament a few weeks ago.
Switzerland entered the game down three players as a result of penalties and suspensions from the prior game. Forward Chris Egli was suspended three games for his hit to the head of William Nylander, defenceman Fabian Heldner received a match penalty for checking to the head on Joel Eriksson Ek, and forward Calvin Thurkauf was suspended for one game for boarding Adrian Kempe.
On paper, the Danes are the weakest team in their pool, but they didn't play like it. They came out strong against the Swiss, who kept it to only two minor penalties through 40 minutes. The Danes played hard, fast and disciplined and traded chances with the Swiss, staying with them throughout the game, often doing a better job of preventing scoring chances in their own end but failing to come up with enough offensive punch to get through the tough Swiss defence.
The Swiss got one goal in the first period from Noah Rod on a very deft deflection from in tight after the Danes hadn't been making much effort to shift Rod out of the slot.
Midway through the second, Søren Nielsen thought he'd tied it up on the power play, but he ran afoul of the hardcore crease violation rule in international hockey, and the goal was waved off. The Danes came back hard, trying to take advantage of a tired Swiss team and get one past Detroit Red Wings draft pick Joren van Pottelberghe, but he had the door firmly closed on his net.
Nielsen got one that counted in the opening minutes of the third off a hard shot, and the game was tied. Five minutes later, Mathias From, a 2016 draft-eligible player, picked up a rebound and got the go ahead goal for Denmark.
The Danes fought off a strong Swiss surge for the last ten minutes, and the Swiss pulled their goalie, NHL style, with 2 minutes left and took the edge in shots for the first time in the game. Thomas Lillie was very strong in net for Denmark and a little lucky. The Danes held on to win it 2-1.
Matias Lassen took a major penalty for checking to the head on Timo Meier in the last second of play, spoiling a little Denmark's disciplined win.
The Swedish finger prints on the Danish system are obvious, and while the Danes have a lot less individual talent, their team play and systems were very much superior to the Swiss.
Both teams have an uphill climb after this game; they each play Canada in their next game, but this game might end up being the one that decides who goes to the relegation round.
Keep your eyes on the World Junior Championships Stream for all the news from this year's tournament.