World Junior Championship (Day 5)

The World Junior Tournament is reaching the end of the round robin schedule and about to begin the playoffs. With this the playoff spots are beginning to be made and games are beginning to become more important than ever. This was true for Day 5 of the tournament as a number of teams were playing with a playoff spot on the line. One game in particular sent shockwaves through the tournament as another team was eliminated from the playoffs and their loss ended the race for the pool. The big upset featured a breakout performance by a goalie that could be the best in the tournament. The rest of the day also saw some great performances by a number of players who could be considered for tournament MVP. The upset did not start a trend like the last time as the rest of the games finished as expected with the better teams winning out. With one day left there are still a number of important games including some for pride with nothing else on the line.

 

Pool A:

Pool A did not see much in terms of upsets as teams generally followed the path that many believed would happen. With two games on tap there was something on the line for two teams as Switzerland and Slovakia needed wins to position themselves for a playoff spot with one game left. The Swiss had the easier of the two paths as they would take on the Latvians in their game. The Latvians had yet to win a game but they were not pushovers as they had played hard but not been able to keep up in offensive production. The Swiss would be trying to take the win and take over the 3rd place spot but they would need to do it without their top player in Sven Bartschi who had been injured. The first period saw both teams step up the physicality but the Swiss took the advantage as they controlled the puck outshooting the Latvians by a lot. The Swiss opened the scoring as Christoph Bertschy put in a rebound to put the Swiss ahead 1-0 at the end of the first period. The second period started with a quick goal by the Swiss to go ahead 2-0 as the Latvians seemed to be on their way out. Then the Latvians showed the fight they have as they cut the lead when Toms Andersons banged in a rebound making it 2-1. Before the period was out the Swiss added some insurance as the teams went into the dressing rooms with the Swiss up 3-1. The Latvians would not lay down in the third though as they opened the period with two goals tying the game at 3-3. The Latvians looked to be in the fight but 22 seconds after tying the game the Swiss scored to go ahead again. The Swiss added one more to make the final score 5-3 as the Latvians were forced into the Relegation round where they hope to avoid relegation. The Swiss got the win and took over the third and final playoff spot while they took advantage of the other game in the pool. The Slovaks needed a win against a very good Swedish team if they wanted to fend off the Swiss for a playoff spot. Meanwhile the Swedes needed a win to stay in contention for the Pool A title and a first round bye. The Swedes handled their business in the game as the first period saw the Slovaks hang around with their first goal making the score 2-1 at the end of the first. From then on it was all Sweden as they got another goal from breakout star Max Friberg as well as two goals each from Sebastian Collberg and Erik Thorell. The Swedes took the 9-1win as they remain in contention for the top spot in Pool A with one game left against the Russians for the top spot. The Slovaks lost the game and were moved out of the playoffs with one game left that will determine whether they enter the relegation round or the playoffs. Pool A is one of the more interesting pools in the tournament with a lot still up in the air as the tournament enters the last day with everything on the line.

Scores:

Sweden 9 – 1 Slovakia

Switzerland 5 – 3 Latvia

 

Pool B:

Pool B is now almost completely figured out and that is thanks to another big upset in the pool that involved the USA. The USA were taking on the Czech Republic in a game that was supposed to see the USA win and move on to the playoffs. It did not turn out the way they had hoped though as the Czechs surprised everyone with an amazing performance by one player in particular. The first period saw a pretty even game until Petr Straka laid an illegal hit on Derek Forborg that seemingly changed the attitude of the game. The Americans looked to punish the Czechs on the scoreboard as T.J. Tynan put one in to open the scoring. The Czechs did not let this get them down as they answered the US goal when Tomas Filippi streaked down the side of the ice and put in a weak shot. After killing a number of penalties the Czechs had survived the first period with a 1-1 tie. The Americans opened the scoring in the second period but again the Czechs would not give up as they answered the American goal to tie the game again after two periods. The third was a different story though as the Americans had a few opportunities to put the game away but could not get past Petr Mrazek. Jack Campbell came into the tournament as the best goalie in the Juniors but he was outdueled by Mrazek who had shown his skill against the Canadians earlier. Campbell fell apart in the third period while Mrazek stood tall as the Czechs scored three goals in the third with the Americans unable to get any. When the game finished Mrazek had officially faced 54 shots and saved 52 of them as he was clearly the MVP for the Czechs, although he did not get the game MVP award. The Czechs took the 5-2 win as they avoided playing in the relegation round this year and instead will move on to the playoffs. The Americans ended the game in an unfamiliar place as they would need the Finns to lose to Denmark in order to remain in contention for the playoffs. The Finns would take on a Denmark team who would be sitting many of their top players thanks to their post game antics that angered the coach enough to prevent them from playing. The Danes would be shorthanded against a very good Finnish team and the Finns took advantage. They got out to a 3 goal lead in the first period and never looked back as they went on to win the game 10-1. With the Finnish win the Americans were officially eliminated from the playoffs and forced into the relegation round of the tournament. Not only will they play in the relegation round but their loss also gave their rivals, The Canadians, a guaranteed spot at the top of the pool. With Pool B essentially figured out the only game that will mean anything with be between the Finns and Czechs who will play to find out who will be #2 and #3 in the pool.

Scores:

Czech Republic 5 – 2 USA

Finland 10 – 1 Denmark

 

Standings:

 

Pool A:

1. Russia (9)

2. Sweden (8)

3. Switzerland (4)

4. Slovakia (3)

5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:

1. Canada (9)

2. Czech Republic (6)

3. Finland (6)

4. USA (3)

5. Denmark (0)

 

Day 6:

Finland vs. Czech Republic (December 31st; 4:00 pm)

– The Czechs avoided relegation with their win over the USA and with Petr Mrazek playing great the Finns will have their work cut out for them as both teams look to take the #2 spot in the pool with a win on New Year’s Eve

 

Switzerland vs. Slovakia (December 31st; 6:00 pm)

– The Swiss are coming off of a convincing win over the Latvians while the Slovaks are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Swedes but both teams will be playing for the third and final playoff spot while the loser will play to avoid relegation

 

USA vs. Canada (December 31st; 8:00 pm)

– With Canada clinching the Pool thanks to a USA loss against the Czechs this game will have no standings ramifications but these two rivals will not let up in the least as the Americans will try to end their rivals great tournament with nothing to lose

 

Sweden vs. Russia (December 31st; 10:00 pm)

– Two of the best teams in the tournament will face off as the Swedes will look to Max Friberg and the Russians will look to Yevgeni Kuznetsov to lead their teams to a win and the sole possession of the Pool A title for a first round bye in the playoffs

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