Slovakia – Finland (3-4)
History is not on Slovakia’s side here. The Slovaks have never beaten Finland in a World Junior quarter-final. The Finns won 3-1 in 2001, 6-0 in 2003, and 8-5 in 2012. And if you prefer recent history, this Finnish team – certainly not as glitzy as, say, the 2016 edition with Sebastian Aho and Mikko Rantanen that triumphed in Helsinki – is showing its character.
When Jani Nyman’s shootout goal lifted Finland to a 5-4 win over host Sweden, which had allowed zero goals in three previous games, it was the perfect New Year’s Eve celebration for coach Lauri Mikkola and his boys.
Canada – Czechia (2-3)
It’s a rematch of the 2023 gold medal game and Canada knows not to take this Czech team lightly. The defending champion Canadians should still be favoured. But getting blanked 2-0 by Sweden and struggling to beat Germany 6-3 (Canada led only 4-3 with under four minutes left) raises question marks for the medal round.
U.S. – Latvia (17:00, Frolundaborg)
This matchup is the most lopsided on paper. The U.S. is the tournament’s most offensively gifted team with 29 goals. Nine U.S. players – including top scorer Gavin Brindley (eight points) – have four points or more so far in Gothenburg. The Americans have never lost to Latvia at the World Juniors in four prior meetings.
Latvia, which was outscored 20-0 in its first three games before rallying to thump Germany 6-2, is appearing in a World Junior quarter-final for just the second time.
Sweden – Switzerland (19:30, Scandinavium)
The host nation needs to go out and take care of business here. To fall to Switzerland in a home-ice quarter-final would be a massive come-down. These Swedish kids are old enough to remember that in 2019, Switzerland did in fact shock the Three Crowns with a 2-0 quarter-final win in Victoria. So they should be ready.
Swedish goalie Hugo Havelid has yet to surrender a goal at these World Juniors. His uncle, coach Magnus Havelid, has gotten steady offensive production from the big guns: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Otto Stenberg, Filip Bystedt, Felix Unger Sorum and Noah Ostlund all have five or more points. Defenceman Theo Lindstein is in the all-star conversation with six points.