The first day of the 2021 World Juniors proved to be more eventful from a Calgary Flames perspective than anybody had really anticipated. Russia defeated the United States, but in a manner that saw Dustin Wolf come into the game.
Russia 5, United States 3
The story of the game was goaltending, notably a shaky performance from American starter Spencer Knight that saw him allow four goals on 12 shots – including a fourth goal off a Mike Smith-esque puck-handling miscue.
Wolf came in and played the final 26:35 of the game. He faced 11 shots and made 11 saves, helping a shaky American squad settle down. Wolf made a couple nice stops, including a pretty sold performance on a few breakaways allowed by the defense.
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) December 26, 2020
Dustin Wolf: “It’s definitely hard to come in off the bench… Knighter’s a tremendous person. In the locker room it was more of ‘hey man, keep going, you’re a tremendous athlete and person.’ I know he’ll bounce back.”
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 26, 2020
For Russia, Yan Kuznetsov was rock solid. He took an early tripping penalty that didn’t lead to much on the ensuing American power play. He was beaten to a rebound on the second American goal, though, as John Farinacci got away from him and then grabbed the loose puck.
🚨 John Farinacci
4-2 RUS pic.twitter.com/cHn8xWRxIQ
— See It Again (@HeresTheReplay) December 26, 2020
Overall he was even – on for two goals for and two goals against – and played 16:59 on the second pairing with Daniil Chayka.
The Americans are back in action on Saturday when they face Austria – it’s unclear if Wolf starts or if the Americans go back to Knight. The Russians play again on Sunday against the Czech Republic.
Two Flames prospects get their first taste of round robin action on Saturday when Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary suit up for Canada against Germany.