World Junior Championship (Day 4)

The World Juniors continued with another day of relative quiet with only two games on tap. These games were also not the best as the top teams in the tournament took on the worst teams in the tournament. There were some surprises though as some teams were able to play much better than expected but were still not able to provide upsets. Instead the top teams took one more step towards the playoffs while the bottom teams took another step towards the relegation round. With only two days left in the round robin part of the tournament the playoffs are beginning to take shape. With the top two teams, Canada and Russia, looking to take the top spots the real battle may be in the middle. In Pool A the Russians have made a strong case for the top spot but could still lose it depending on what happens in the last two days. In the middle of the pool Sweden, Slovakia, and Switzerland all have a shot at the playoffs with Switzerland needing some help to make it. In Pool B Canada looks to be the top of the heap but could be knocked off on New Year’s Eve. In the middle the USA, Finland, and Czech Republic will all be in a tight battle in the last two days of the tournament. As the round robin progresses every game becomes that much more important and the tournament continues to get more intense before the New Year brings the playoffs.

 

Pool A:

The Latvians were poised to complete the biggest upset in the tournament as they took on the Russians in Pool A. The Russians had not overly impressed anyone in their first two games as the usually offensive powerhouse was not as powerful as they could be. Their first game was against the Swiss where they only won 3-0 but had a spectacular performance by their goalie Andrei Vasilevski who saved 40 shots for a shutout. Against the Slovaks the Russians again could only muster 3 goals winning the game 3-1 and showing some concern for the state of their offence that is supposed to be the best in the tournament. The Latvians were hoping for the same type of output from the Russians as they looked to pull out an upset. The Latvians have looked good this tournament but have not been good enough as their first game saw them lose to Sweden 9-4 and then lost again to Slovakia 3-1. The Latvians were hoping to finally capitalize on their good play against the Russians for one of the biggest upsets. The Latvians looked like they might be able to pull it off too as they were able to fend off the Russians in the first period. Thanks to their goalie Elvis Merzlikins the Latvians were able to hold off the attack from the Russians as they only allowed one goal. With the score 1-0 the Latvians seemed to have an opportunity to get the upset. The feeling did not last that long then as the Russians scored their second goal 52 second into the second period. The Russians turned it on from there, scoring another 5 goals in the second to go up 7-0 after two. The third period did not see the Russians lift off the pedal as the offence finally showed up and they added another 7 goals in the period. The Russians got a huge effort from their only returning player as Yevgeni Kuznetsov had a total of 9 points in the game, 2 goals 6 assists, as the Russians finally showed their powerful offence. The Russians took control of Pool A as they will face their biggest test on New Year’s Eve when they take on the Swedes in a game that could be for first place in the Pool. The Latvians fought hard in the tournament but will not be in contention for the playoffs as they will likely end their tournament in the relegation round. Pool B is starting to take shape with December 31st being the big night that could see some changes in the pool but these two teams seem to have found their spot.

Scores:

Russia 14 – 0 Latvia

 

Pool B:

The Pool B game this day was not a very important or exciting matchup as the host Canadians took on the Danes. The Canadians had played two games this tournament and had won them both convincingly. Their first game saw them bowl over the Finnish team winning 8-1. The Canadians then moved on to the Czech Republic who they beat easily 5-0. The Danes have had the opposite tournament as they started their time against the USA who beat them 11-3 and then moved on to face the Czech Republic and lost again 7-0. The two teams would face off in Day 4 of the tournament with everyone assuming a win for Canada. That is exactly what happened as the Danes could not pull of a big upset. Canada started off the scoring quickly as Quinton Howden scored less than three minutes into the game to put the Canadians ahead 1-0. Shortly after Brett Connolly made it 2-0 and the romp was on as Canada continued to pour on the pressure and continued to get through. At the end of the first period Canada was ahead 4-0 with the Danes struggling to get anything going. In the second period the domination continued as Scott Harrington went to work shooting three shots from the point scoring on one and having the other two tipped in front for giving him two assists. At the end of the second period the damage done by Scott Harington was felt with a 7-0 score for the Canadians. The Danes finally showed some life in the third period when both teams combined for 5 goals. The Danes scored their first goal off of a scramble in front when Nicolai Meyer took the puck from out in front and buried it past Mark Visentin. The Danes added another goal while the Canadians added three more making the finals score 10-2.  The Canadians took control of Pool B with a perfect record and 9 points. They will face their toughest test on New Year’s Eve when they take on the USA as the try to clinch the Pool. The Danes took the loss and their hopes of staying out of the relegation round were decreased with them needed a win in their last game and a lot of help if they hope to get in the playoffs.

Scores:

Canada 10 – 2 Denmark

 

Standings:

 

Pool A:

1. Russia (9)

2. Sweden (5)

3. Slovakia (3)

4. Switzerland (1)

5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:

1. Canada (9)

2. Finland (3)

3. USA (3)

4. Czech Republic (3)

5. Denmark (0)

 

Day 5:

Czech Republic vs. USA (December 30th; 3:30 pm)

– The USA will try to get back on track after a loss to Finland that set them back in the race for Pool B supremacy while the Czech Republic is looking to take advantage and get the win to move closer to the playoffs in Pool B

 

Slovakia vs. Sweden (December 30th; 5:30 pm)

– Slovakia is still trying to stay out of the relegation round and still has a shot but they will be in tough against the Swedes who have proved to be one of the best teams in the tournament but did see a scare in their last game where they won in a shootout

 

Denmark vs. Finland (December 30th; 8:00 pm)

– Denmark will try to recover from a 10-2 loss to the Canadians but will not have an easy game as they take on the Finns who are coming off of an upset win against the USA and are looking to take hold of the second place spot in Pool B

 

Latvia vs. Switzerland (December 30th; 10:00 pm)

– Latvia and Switzerland are both looking for their first win in the tournament with the Swiss coming off of a major scare to the Swedes that gave them their one point while the Latvians are trying to show that they belong after a number of good performances that have not resulted in a win

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