World Juniors Preliminary Round Recap - Quarterfinal Matchups for Blackhawks Prospects

And Here We Go.

IHOCKEY-JUNIOR-SUI-USA
IHOCKEY-JUNIOR-SUI-USA / ADAM IHSE/GettyImages
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At the end of the 4 game preliminary round only two teams didn't have a regulation loss: USA and host country Sweden. Despite an upset of Finland, Germany is out of the Quarterfinals (as well as Norway). The stats tell a story as well for Blackhawks prospects.

Two in particular are having outstanding showings for their countries:

Frank Nazar is tied for the team lead (and second in the tournament) with 8 points in 4 matchups. With not a single goal, Nazar has shown instant chemistry (as they have in the past) with his line mates (Wolverine teammate Brindley and former linemate Isaac Howard) as they have easily been the Americans best line.

Adam Gajan of Slovakia has been playing well (as he did last year) to the tune of a 2.00 GAA (5th in tournament) and a .934 save % (3rd in tournament) for the 3-0-0-1 Slovakia team. After 4 games for each team, I still believe it's a 4 team race for gold as Canada, Sweden, Slovakia, and USA look to battle it out starting tomorrow.

There was some outstanding play from some future NHL stars on display; 2024 draft eligible Macklin Celebrini left little doubt he won't be the top pick in said draft. Celebrini leads team Canada with a 2 point per average and 4 goals. Buffalo Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich looks like a high end goal scorer moving forward into the NHL. Gavin Brindley looks like a 2nd round steal by the Blue Jackets as the diminutive forward proves he can get into the tough scoring areas and make quick decision plays.

From a Blackhawks perspective the other players in at the WJC have fared well too: Misiak has 3 points, Hayes has 2 points, while Moore and Rinzel each have an assist. Team USA will take on Latvia tomorrow while Slovakia will have a tough matchup with Finland. Canada will have more of a test as they take on Czechia looking for the upset. Sweden will face a Swiss team looking not to get blown out. Overall these 4 Quarterfinal matchups should see two easy games with 2 games that could prove to be close (Slovakia / Finland, Canada / Czechia).

Adam Gajan
Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

There will be then 3 games on January 4th to determine the Medal games on January 5th to see who takes home Gold, Silver, and Bronze in the World Juniors 2024.