World Junior Preview (Final Look)

The World Junior Championship is one of the most interesting tournaments in the Hockey world. It features the best of the best in young talent with fans of every team getting to see the future of their teams in the tournament. The tournament is a very unique one as it has become one of the biggest tournaments for one fan base while all others seemingly ignore it. This fan base is the Canadians who cannot get enough hockey and the option of watching an international tournament with some of the best young players in the game is a very enticing one. The Canadians are expected to do one thing in this tournament and that is to win gold, which they have done more than any other team with 15 Gold Medals. When they don’t win the tournament is a disappointment regardless of where they finish. This has been the case in the last two tournaments as the Canadians have failed to earn gold in both tournaments. In 2010 the Canadians lost at home to the Americans finishing a disappointing second. Last year the Canadians finished second again this time to the Russians who scored 5 goals in the third period of the Gold Medal Game to beat the Canadians in Buffalo. This year they hope to get back to their winning ways at home in Alberta. As the Canadians pay extra close attention to their team the rest of the countries look to spoil the party. The defending champion Russians are back with a host of great players and the monsters from the USA are also back. Meanwhile the usual suspects will be mulling around as Sweden and Finland will be back with some great talent from Scandinavia. The rest of the filled will be filled out by some descending teams and some teams looking to stay out of relegation. The tournament has it’s favorites, Canada and Russia, and it’s underdogs, Denmark and Latvia, and many teams in between. The thing that makes this tournament so special is that any of these teams can win or lose on any day. Unlike the NHL playoffs the tournament is just one game against teams meaning they rarely get a rematch and never get a chance to take a game back from their opponents. Every game counts in this tournament and that means upsets can happen at any time making the tournament one of the most exciting in hockey.

This year the excitement will continue as 10 teams look for their chance to win the gold medal and enter into the books as the best junior team in hockey. There is almost always a divide in the tournament between the haves and have-nots. This year the have-nots will come in the form of two teams that earned their spot in the tournament by winning the Division I groups. Denmark and Latvia are two teams that tend to straddle the two tournaments, although Latvia is a much more dominant force in the Division I tournament. This year I wouldn’t expect them to do much as they will likely be on their way back to the Division I tournament as they do not seem to have the talent to compete with the top teams. Meeting them in the relegation round will be two teams that are continuing to slip in their Junior squads. The Czech Republic and Switzerland teams have the ability to pull off some upsets in the tournament but they will likely end up in the relegation round again. They will be talented enough to win the relegation round staying in the big tournament. With four of these teams out of the running the top six will be a very tight battle as many teams have a chance at the Gold Medal. The Slovakians and Finns will likely end up in the 5th place game as Slovakia is not as talented as the Finns with the Finns having some talent but not the experience. The Finns are more talented than the Slovaks and will take home the 5th place spot which will be disappointing for them a year before they host the tournament. In the Bronze Medal Game the big defence of the Americans will take on the North American style of the Swedes. The Swedes have more skill up front than the Americans and their style of play will match with the style of the Americans. The Swedes will take home the Bronze but will be disappointed that they could not make the Gold Medal game. The Gold Medal game will be a rematch from last year as the Canadians will take on the Russians for the championships. Both teams are clearly the all around most talented teams in the tournament and will make for a great game for Gold. I don’t think this year will see a repeat of last year as the Canadians could be more focused and if their goaltending can stand up they will be able to get back to the Gold winning ways of the past. Of course with every tournament there is no guarantee that this will happen as any team has the ability to make an upset. The most likely outlook though will be a rematch between Russia and Canada where Canada will come out on top.

 

How They Will Finish:

1. Canada (Gold)

2. Russia (Silver)

3. Sweden (Bronze)

4. U.S.A

5. Finland

6. Slovakia

Relegation

7. Switzerland

8. Czech Republic

9. Latvia

10. Denmark

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