Landon Slaggert, USA Roll to Opening Night Win at World Juniors

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Landon Slaggert, USA Roll to Opening Night Win at World Juniors

Chicago Blackhawks

The United States opened their title defense at the World Junior Championship after what felt like two years. After the tournament was postponed in December because of COVID, new rosters hit the ice in the tournament in August (the next tournament is still slated for around Christmas).

In the first game for the US, Blackhawks prospect Landon Slaggert made an impact early and often.

Slaggert, an alternate captain for the US who will return for a third season at Notre Dame this fall, was slotted on the top line. He was a member of the gold medal-winning team in the last WJC and that experience showed in his performance on Tuesday night.

He picked up the primary assist on the first goal of the tournament for the US, finding Luke Hughes for the snipe.

There was a bit of a scary moment involving one of the other Blackhawks prospects on the US roster. Dominic James, who also had a strong game, appeared to lost an edge as he beat German defender Bennet Rossmy to the puck. Rossmy checked him high and was sent to the box. After a lengthy review, he received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the head shot. James, thankfully, was okay and didn’t miss a shift; in fact, he jumped back to his feet and was getting into the ongoing play when the whistle sounded.

The US scored once on the power play (Logan Cooley put it home). But just a few seconds after the power play expired early in the second period, Slaggert added a goal to his resume.

Red Savage scored 36 seconds after Slaggert’s goal to give the United States a 4-0 lead early in the second period. In the final minute of the second, Riley Duran extended the lead once again and James picked up the second assist, his first point of the tournament.

After 40 minutes of hockey, the United States had a 5-0 lead and had controlled almost every aspect of the game. Shots showed the US leading 34-6, an overwhelming gap that was indicative of how one-sided the play was on the ice.

Defenseman Wyatt Kaiser looked really good… when he had the chance to move the puck and skate but the US did a good enough job keeping the puck in the offensive zone that he didn’t need to play the defensive zone that much.

The guys on the broadcast on NHL Network (in the US) had a nice conversation about Kaiser during the third period and what he brings to the table. Kaiser is going to be a really good defenseman for the Blackhawks but he got worked by Joshua Samanski late in the third period as the Germans were able to score on their first power play of the game and end the shutout bid.

Though the one goal didn’t look great for Kaiser, he had a good night overall. James was on the receiving end of the big hit early but skated through and had a good night. And Slaggert was one of four Americans with a two-point night to open the World Juniors.

Victor Stjernborg (Sweden) and Ethan Del Mastro (Canada) are in action on Wednesday. The United States is back on the ice against Switzerland on Thursday night.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab