World Junior Championship (Day 3)

Day 3 in the World Junior Tournament started the day off with a massive surprise setting the scene for a potential upset day. The first game of the day started off with a big win by a smaller team against a team who were favorites in the tournament. The next game saw a very close upset that did not pan out. Then the upsets stopped with the third game ending in a blowout by one of the favorites in the tournament. The final seemed to follow the pattern but again no upset when the final horn went off. As the Tournament progresses with most teams finishing their second games the playoffs begin taking shape and the important games start to become known. For the undefeated teams they will like to win out in the tournament and with Russia and Canada facing weak team in Day 4 they may have their biggest games on New Year’s Eve. It is becoming known that New Year’s Eve could be the biggest night of games as 8 teams will be in action. All 8 teams could be playing for something on the night as the games progress it seems to be the most important day of the tournament if the games continue on their trend. For now though many teams are just simply trying to find their way in the tournament with Day 3 done and some did it much better than others.

 

Pool A:

Pool A seemed to show who the top teams were in the first two days as Russia and Sweden have shown their strength. In day 3 both teams were in action but they did not seem to be as dominant as many had believed. In the second game of the day the Swedes took on the Swiss in a game that should have been a cake walk for the Swedes. As usual though the Swiss decided to pull out everything they could against one of the best teams in the tournament. The Swedes look to be in control in the first period as they opened the scoring when their superstar in the tournament Max Friberg scored in the first period. That was all they could muster in the first period and they got it off of a powerplay, which is 100% for the Swedes in the tournament. In the second period the Swedes were shocked as the Swiss scored their first goal of the tournament when Joel Vermin tied the game. Sweden got back on top with another goal by Joakim Nordstrom giving the Swedes the lead going into the third period. Sweden gave themselves a cushion early in the third as they scored their third goal early giving them insurance as they looked to be on their way to another win. Then the Swiss surprised everyone as Vermin netted his second goal of the game and five minutes later Dean Kukan put in the tying goal. With little time left Sweden could not get back into the lead as the Swiss forced the overtime against a very good team. The overtime period did not solve the tie as the teams prepared for the shootout to determine who would take the two points. The Swedes got goals from Sebastian Collberg and Max Friberg and the Swiss could not keep up as they fell to the Swedes. The Swiss team did take a crucial point that could help them later if they can win their next two games. Sweden just escaped with two points that could hurt them in the race for Pool A supremacy. Their biggest competition also saw a bit of a scare as Russia took on Slovakia and almost followed the trend of the day. Russia went down early with backup goalie Andrei Makarov in net for the night. The first period ended with the Slovaks ahead 1-0 as the Russians seemed to be period for the opposite end of an upset. The Russians would not let that happen though as they came back to score three unanswered goals in the last two periods to put the game away. They did not have an easy time though as the Slovaks were constantly on top of them until the end of the third when the Russians scored their third goal. The upset theme of the day did not extend to the end of the night as the Russians took over sole possession of first place in Pool A.

 

Scores:

Sweden 4 – 3 Switzerland (SO)

Russia 3 – 1 Slovakia

 

Pool B:

Pool B started off the day with a matchup between the USA and Finland in a game that many believed the Americans would win easily. The USA opened their tournament in convincing fashion as they beat Denmark 11-3. There were some issues as the apparently great defence allowed three goals against a very weak team. They would take on the Finnish team, who have the ability to be a good team but lost to Canada in their opening game 8-1. The Americans could not get ahead in the first period as the Finns kept the puck away from them and continued to attack. The quick Finnish team was able to outskate the Americans and continue their great puck possession. The Americans were able to get their own chances however but they could not break through for a goal. The first period ended in a 0-0 tie as the Finns had already surprised many by giving the Americans a tough time. The Finns looked to be poised for an upset after the first but they needed to break through the defence in order to complete the upset. They did just this as Miikka Salomaki broke the tie in the second as the Finns took the lead and held it for the entire period as the Americans still could not get past goaltender Sami Aittokallio who had 38 saves in the game. The Americans finally broke through in the start of the third as Brandon Saad scored the first American goal to tie the game. The Finns then turned their offence up a notch as Joel Armia scored twice in the third period and Mikael Granlund added another to give the Finns a comfortable lead that was enough to get past the Americans. The Finns took one of their key games which they will need later down the line as they enter into a tight race for second place. This race will now be with the Americans who will need the Finns to lose one of the next two games and will need to win both of theirs. Meanwhile they may have a shot at the first place spot but the favorite for that position will be Canada. The Canadians proved their spots as favorites in their game against the Czech Republic. Looking to Scott Wedgewood, their backup goalie, the Canadians were able to physically dominate the Czechs and were able to control the puck. Mark Stone added to his goal total in the first period while Mark Scheifele added two goals in the third period. The Czechs would have had it much worse if it was not for Petr Mrazek who saved 38 shots and made some spectacular saves early in the game to keep the Czechs in the game. The relentless attack and little help from the defence was the breaking point for Mrazek who could not do it all for his team as the Canadians took the win and took control of the top spot in Pool B. The Pool could end up being an interesting one as the second place spot could end up being the biggest battle between USA and Finland while Canada looks to take the first place spot with Denmark and USA left.

 

Scores:

Finland 4 – 1 USA

Canada 5 – 0 Czech Republic

 

Standings:

 

Pool A:

1. Russia (6)

2. Sweden (5)

3. Slovakia (3)

4. Switzerland (1)

5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:

1. Canada (6)

2. Finland (3)

3. USA (3)

4. Czech Republic (3)

5. Denmark (0)

 

Day 4:

Canada vs. Denmark (December 29th; 8:00 pm)

– Canada is looking to extend their lead in Pool B by taking on Denmark in their second game in as many days while Denmark will be looking to be on the winning end of the biggest upset in the tournament with their third game but will have it tough against the host countries

 

Russia vs. Latvia (December 29th; 10:00 pm)

– Russia escaped a small scare against the Slovaks and will take on the last place team in Pool A that should be a much easier test as the Latvians look to use their day of rest for good as they  try to stay alive and out of the relegation round

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