The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship gets underway on Boxing Day and one of the opening day’s games provides a heavyweight clash between the two pre-tournament bookies favourites for the title, with Canada taking on the USA at the Ostravar Arena in the Czech Republic.
In theory, the outcome of this game could have a significant bearing not only as to who wins Group B, but who then goes on to benefit from the draw thereafter in the tournament.
Canada disappointed on home-ice in this tournament a year ago as they failed to win a medal, while the USA finished as runners-up to Finland. Even so, it is Canada who are the marginal favourites both in the outright market for this year’s tournament this game.
One year ago Jack Drury and @USAHockey🇺🇸 came up short in a heartbreaking loss in the #WorldJuniors gold medal game. Now comes the second chance to win it all.— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 23, 2019
📷 Minas Panagiotakis / HHOF-IIHF Images pic.twitter.com/uNJVKV5aqf
Canada does have quality on their roster in Alexis Lafreniere, with the left wing the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He didn’t participate in any practices during the selection camp in Oakville, Ontario, due to an ankle injury, but should be fully fit for this opening game against the USA.
Lafreniere is one of three returning players for Canada from the 2019 WJC, alongside defensemen Ty Smith (New Jersey Devils) and Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings)..
The USA has six returning players on their roster, in goalie Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers), forward Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes), forward Oliver Wahlstrom (New York Islanders), defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (Buffalo Sabres) and defenseman K’Andre Miller (New York Rangers).
Opening games in junior ice hockey tournaments are always a risk in terms of betting predictions, so the USA could be value IIHF bet as the underdogs here.
IIHF World Juniors Tip: Money Line – USA to Win @ +130 (2.30) with Betway