Slovakia got their IIHF World Junior Championship campaign up and running with a 4-2 win over Belarus ©Andre Ringuette/IIHF

Last year's bronze medallists Slovakia got their International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship campaign off to the perfect start as they claimed a 4-2 victory over Belarus in Helsinki.

Patrik Koch opened the scoring after just seven minutes as his shot found the net through a crowd of players to give the Slovakians an early lead before Vadim Malinovsk levelled proceedings towards the end of the first period.

Ruslan Vasilchuk then swung the pendulum in Belarus’ favour as he was on hand to follow up Andrei Belevich’s effort to edge his side 2-1 ahead.

But Slovakia were able to respond as Maros Surovy picked out Fillip Lestan with a sublime pass and the forward duly converted to restore parity.

It proved to be the catalyst for a Slovak victory and they retook the lead 19 seconds into the third stanza thanks to Lukas Hrusik, whose shot sailed beyond goaltender Ivan Kulbakov into the roof of the net.

That crucial goal took the wind out of Belorussian sails and Slovakia were able to wrap up the win when Juraj Siska added a fourth in the dying embers of a thrilling Group B contest.

“First win is naturally important and a good step forward,” Lestan said.

“We hope to beat the Czechs tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a good derby.”

Denmark also began with a win as they claimed a surprise 2-1 victory over Switzerland
Denmark also began with a win as they claimed a surprise 2-1 victory over Switzerland ©Getty Images

In the other match to take place today, Denmark made their bow at the event in the Finnish capital in style by clinching a surprise 2-1 success over Switzerland in Group A.

Noah Rod gave the Swiss a 1-0 advantage before a third-period rally from the Danes, which yielded goals from Soeren Nielsen and Mathias From.

The result leaves Switzerland perilously close to relegation after they suffered a heavy defeat to Sweden, fourth at last year’s World Junior Championship, in their first match.

The tournament in Helsinki continues tomorrow as Slovakia entertain the Czech Republic before the Swedes take on the United States.

Russia then go up against the host nation and Canada will be looking to bounce back from their loss to the Americans when they clash with Denmark.