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2020 IIHF World Juniors Preview

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Several Sabres prospects to participate in tournament

Denmark v Czech Republic - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

’Tis the season - World Juniors season, that is! The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships kick off on December 26 in the Czech Republic. Here’s a little bit of everything you need to know about this year’s tournament.

TEAMS

Group A: Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia, Kazakhstan

Group B: USA, Russia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany

BUFFALO SABRES PROSPECTS

Sweden: Erik Portillo (G) has spent this season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He’s one of the top goaltenders in the USHL, with a 2.05 GAA in 15 games played. Portillo has a 12-2-1 record and .912 save percentage. The 19-year-old was drafted 67th overall by the Sabres in 2019.

USA: Mattias Samuelsson (D) was drafted 32nd overall by the Sabres in 2018. He’s in the middle of his second season with Western Michigan, where he has put up four points and 35 penalty minutes in 12 games. Samuelsson is poised to be a leader on this year’s World Juniors team; he’ll serve as captain for the United States. Jake McCabe was the last Sabres’ prospect to serve as captain of the Americans when they won gold in 2013.

Canada: Dylan Cozens (F) has been working hard this season in the Western Hockey League. He has 46 points (20-26) in just 30 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and comes into the World Juniors ready to make an offensive splash. Cozens, of course, was the Sabres’ first-round pick (#7 overall) in this year’s draft.

Czech Republic: Matej Pekar (F) has also been having a solid season with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. The 19-year-old center has 29 points, including 16 goals, in 26 games. Pekar also represented his country in last year’s World Juniors. He was drafted 94th overall by the Sabres in 2018.

SCHEDULE (times in EST)

Thursday, December 26th

9 am: RUS vs. CZE, SUI vs. KAZ

1 pm: FIN vs. SWE, CAN vs. USA

Friday, December 27th

9 am: SVK vs. KAZ

1 pm: GER vs. USA

Saturday, December 28th

9 am: FIN vs. SVK, CZE vs. GER

1 pm: SUI vs. SWE, RUS vs. CAN

Sunday, December 29th

9 am: KAZ vs. FIN

1 pm: USA vs. RUS

Monday, December 30th

9 am: KAZ vs. SWE, GER vs. CAN

1 pm: SVK vs. SUI, USA vs. CZE

Tuesday, December 31st

9 am: SWE vs. SVK, RUS vs. GER

1 pm: FIN vs. SUI, CAN vs. CZE

Quarterfinals on January 2, semifinals January 4. Bronze & gold medal games on January 5.

HOW TO WATCH

NHL Network in the United States will air some games; TSN in Canada.

Keep tabs here at Die By the Blade, as we’ll provide a daily recap of each day’s action as well as what Sabres prospects were active, and how they fared!