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Joni Jurmo and Jacob Truscott come up with wins on day 1 of 2022 World Juniors

The Vancouver Canucks' two prospect defencemen at the World Junior Championship cruised to easy victories with Finland and Team USA.
USA vs Germany, 2022 World Junior
Team USA faces Germany in their first game of the rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championship. Vancouver Canucks prospect Jacob Truscott was in the lineup for Team USA.

Hockey in August? That’s a rare treat.

The rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championship kicked off on Tuesday and two Vancouver Canucks prospects were in action: Joni Jurmo for Finland and Jacob Truscott for USA. The two defencemen — and their respective teams — both came away with wins.

How did the two prospects perform? Let’s start with Jurmo and Finland.

Finland 6 - 1 Latvia

Jurmo’s first World Junior game was a mix of highs and lows.

Jurmo started the game on Finland’s second pairing with Kasper Puutio. A few early errors for Jurmo, who was perhaps feeling the nerve of representing his country for the first time at a major tournament, saw him benched for a long stretch of the first period.

That said, with the World Juniors allowing teams to dress seven defencemen, it appeared to be the plan for Jurmo to rotate with seventh defenceman Aleksi Heimosalmi. The two split time as Puutio’s partner, with Heimosalmi also subbing in on the third pairing at times. Because of that rotation and because Jurmo didn’t play on either side of special teams, Jurmo finished the game with just 10:34 in ice time.

When he didn’t have the puck, Jurmo played quite well, putting together a solid defensive game. He closed quickly on opponents with his strong skating and wasn’t afraid to use his 6’4” frame to take opposing forwards into the boards to take them out of the play. Even when he had an awkward pivot late in the third period, Jurmo (#4) recovered with a great stick to knock the puck to the boards to erase the opportunity. 

With the puck on his stick, however, it was a bit more of a mixed bag. Several passes were off the mark and in his teammate’s skates and he had a few unforced puckhandling errors, one that led to a turnover in his own zone and two others that caused him to lose the blue line and force Finland to regroup in the neutral zone.

To Jurmo’s credit, he recovered well from each of these mistakes, using his strong skating and big body to recover and protect the puck, but it was still surprising to see someone with such good hands struggle this way.

Jurmo also improved as the game progressed, cleaning up his passes and using his strong skating to drive the puck up ice through the neutral zone. On one aggressive skate early in the second period, he drew a holding penalty on a Latvian skater that couldn’t keep pace.

He also activated well in the offensive zone, jumping up the boards on one play to win a battle and go for a skate with the puck, then stepping into the slot on another play to get a grade-A scoring chance that forced a blocker save. He finished the game with three shots on goal.

Overall, it was a decent international debut for Jurmo. There were times, particularly early, where he seemed to be surprised by the pace of the game and freeze, which jibes with scouting reports that say he needs to improve the speed at which he processes the game. But Jurmo settled in as the game progressed and impressed me with his defensive game. 

The next step for Jurmo will be proving himself against tougher competition than Latvia.

USA 5 - 1 Germany

USA utterly dominated Germany in the final game of day one, to the point that it was hard for a defenceman like Truscott to stand out. His forwards seemed to have the puck all game, giving Truscott comparatively little to do. By the end of the game, shots on goal were 50-to-11 for the USA.

Truscott, a left-handed defenceman, played on the right side on the second pairing with Wyatt Kaiser, though he took some shifts on the left side with seventh defenceman Ian Moore as well. With Germany getting into penalty trouble and Truscott not play on the power play, his minutes were a little more limited than they might otherwise have been, finishing with 14:26 in ice time. 

When Truscott was called upon, he was quietly effective. He had several nice keep-ins at the offensive blue line and he made short, simple passes to move the puck to teammates in good positions. His passing was crisp and I particularly liked this pass from Truscott (#17) spotting his defence partner Kaiser jumping up the middle of the ice, which led to a chance in transition.

Defensively, Truscott didn’t have a lot to do, but he made use of his mobility to win races to loose pucks and quickly turn the puck up ice. On the few occasions where Germany was able to get some zone time, Truscott showed strong positioning and kept his head on a pivot to keep track of everyone on the ice.

It was encouraging to see Truscott playing such an effective game while on his off-side. That versatility to play either side could make him a useful player in the future and increase his chances of cracking an NHL lineup.

Of course, it would mean more if Team USA were playing a stronger opponent. If Truscott can be as effective against tougher competition, that would be a good sign.

The most bizarre moment of the game came in the second period when Matthew Knies knocked a puck down with a high stick and Matt Coranato shot it in. The goal was immediately waved off for the high stick but they then reviewed the play.

And reviewed it and reviewed it and reviewed it.

The video review lasted 8-and-a-half minutes and somehow concluded that Knies hadn’t knocked the puck down with a high stick after all and it was a good goal.

But then German head coach Tobias Abstreiter challenged the goal for goaltender interference, arguing that Knies had hit goaltender Nikita Quapp in the head, which he did. Somehow, determining this blatantly obvious fact required another three-minute review, after which the goal was overturned.

Or, as the referee put it, “The call on the ice stands, we have goalie interference, no goal.”

Incredible.

In total, from the whistle blowing the play dead to the puck dropping for the subsequent faceoff, the review took just a few seconds short of 13 minutes, all to end up with the exact same call the referee made in the first place.