2024 IIHF World Junior Championship

2024 World Juniors Quarterfinal Preview: Finland Vs. Slovakia

2024 World Juniors Quarterfinal Preview: Finland Vs. Slovakia

FloHockey breaks down the quarterfinal matchup between Finland and Slovakia featuring top NHL prospects like Slovak stars Dalibor Dvorsky and Adam Gajan.

Jan 1, 2024 by Chris Peters

GOTHENBURG, Sweden – The quarterfinals at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship are set and ready to be played Tuesday, Jan. 2 in Gothenburg. The U.S. and Sweden finished atop their respective groups with Team USA taking the No. 1 overall seed heading into the medal round.

The teams that win their quarterfinal matchups will advance to the semifinals, where they will be re-seeded with the top team playing the lowest-remaining seed and so on. All semifinals and medal games will be played in Gothenburg’s Scandinavium.

This year’s quarterfinal is loaded with six teams that should feel they have a legitimate shot at winning the gold medal. Even Finland, which was upset by Germany in the preliminary round, is not going to be a pushover at this stage of the tournament. They'll get their chance to prove it against a Slovak team that has some renewed confidence after winning three of their first four games in the tournament.

To get you ready for each QF matchup, FloHockey is doing a quick breakdown of each quarterfinal which will feature a number of NHL prospects and often plenty of drama. We start it off with the first matchup of the day, Slovakia vs. Finland.

2024 World Juniors Quarterfinal Matchup Schedule

Slovakia vs. Finland, 6 a.m. ET (Frölundaborg)

Canada vs. Czechia, 8:30 a.m. ET (Scandinavium)

USA vs. Latvia, 11 a.m. ET (Frölundaborg)

Sweden vs. Switzerland, 1:30 p.m. ET (Scandinavium)

No. 2B Slovakia (3-0-0-1) vs. No. 3A Finland (1-1-0-2)

On paper, this is the juiciest matchup of the quarterfinals featuring two teams that have had some nice moments in the tournament. Finland battled to a shootout win against host Sweden in their preliminary-round finale, while Slovakia scored 19 goals in the tournament – third most among all teams – including a Day 1 throttling of rival Czechia. Both teams have structure, they have skill and they have players known for stepping up in big moments.

Slovakia has experience on their side and probably have more depth of skill. Finland has good size up front and a number of players who can find goals when they need them. Defensively, neither team has been perfect, but both has a goalie they can rely on in key situations.

Slovakia likely has the advantage in net as Green Bay Gamblers goalie Adam Gajan (CHI) has been among the tournament’s best starters thus far. He is unbeaten in three starts, getting rested for the medal round against USA, and has a .934 save percentage while facing an average of 30 shots against per game. He also very nearly stole a game from Canada in last year’s quarterfinal before Connor Bedard did Connor Bedard things in OT. 

This Slovak team is missing two of its best players in the age group in Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec. Despite that, they still have depth and will lean on players like Filip Mesar (MTL), Dalibor Dvorsky (STL) and Samuel Honzek (CGY) to deliver for them offensively.

Finland has been one of the more disappointing teams of the tournament, but showed their will in the shootout victory against Sweden, where they had to come from behind late to force OT and the shootout. They haven’t been able to score effectively, but that game proved they may just be hitting their stride. 

The Finns also have a decision to make in net. Niklas Kokko (SEA) appeared to be the de facto starter for this team, but Noa Vali has had the better showing through two starts, notching both wins. It makes things a little more interesting heading into the single-elimination phase of the tournament.

Key Players To Watch In Slovakia-Finland Quarterfinal

Maxim Strbak, D, Slovakia (BUF): Strbak is going to play a mountain of minutes in this game. While the highly-skilled forwards Slovakia has at its disposal will be critical against Finland, Strbak’s ability to defend and get pucks up ice may be the most critical. I would not be shocked to see him on the ice for as many as 27-28 minutes depending on how the game goes. He’s by far this team’s most reliable defenseman and was a key player for the team last year. The Michigan State Spartan looks like a different player when he’s playing for his country.

Jere Lassila, C, Finland: Finland’s undrafted captain has played big-time minutes and made some key plays against Sweden. His effort level is never in question and he can play a solid defensive game. Slovakia has so much offensive firepower, Finland is going to need team defense to slow it down. Lassila is one of the guys that can set that tone. He’s also second on the team with five points in the tournament to date.


Slovakia 4, Finland 2

2024 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships Quarterfinals 

The quarterfinals begin on Jan. 2, 2024 with four games starting at 6 a.m. EST and the final game scheduled for 1:30 p.m. 

2024 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships Semifinals

The semifinals begin on Jan. 4 with games starting at 6 a.m. EST and finishing at 1:30 p.m. 

2024 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships Finals

The Bronze Medal Game of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships begins at 9 a.m. EST on Jan. 5. 

The Gold Medal Game is at 1:30 p.m. EST.  

World Juniors Stream In 2023- 2024

The World Juniors Championships will air the NHL Network in the U.S.. Select games will be available on ESPN+.

World Juniors Hockey On TSN In Canada

In Canada, the event will be televised on TSN and streamed on TSN+.

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