World Junior Championship (Day 6)

The World Junior Tournament has finished the round robin phase of the tournament with a wild finish. New Year’s Eve in the tournament has traditionally been one of the most important days of the tournament with a number of important games scheduled. The games that are scheduled for the last day of the tournament are usually made with the top teams in mind. This year was the same as there were many important games on New Year’s Eve that had a lot of meaning. In Pool A the Swedes took on the Russians with the winner taking home the first round bye and first place spot in the pool. The second game was Slovakia and Switzerland as the two teams played for the last playoff spot. In Pool B the consequences were much different as the pool had already been found out. Canada and USA would face off in a classic rivalry with the Americans playing for pride and to end Canada’s perfect round robin as USA had already been eliminated from the playoffs. The Finns and Czech Republic would face off as well with playoff positioning at stake. The New Year’s Eve schedule was a good one and there were a number of tight games making the day one of the best in the tournament again this year.

 

Pool A:

Pool A has been the most interesting of the two pools with the playoff positions and playoff spot all up for grabs in the last day. The biggest game for Pool A on New Year’s Eve would be the game between Slovakia and Switzerland Both teams were on the edge of the playoff spot. They would face off on the last night with the winner taking a playoff spot and the loser moving in to the relegation round. The game started with Slovakia opening the scoring from the opening draw as Matus Chovan started the game with his first point in the tournament. The Swiss then took over as they scored two goals in the first period as Joel Vermin opened the scoring for Switzerland. With the score 2-1 at the end of the first period Switzerland was in the lead but did not seem comfortable as the Slovaks continued to pressure. The second period opened with another Joel Vermin goal as he helped put the Swiss ahead 3-1. The Slovaks would not go away though as Chovan came up big again for his team scoring their only goal in the second period to reduce the lead. The second period ended with the Swiss ahead and the Slovaks sticking around as the game never seemed to be in control of the Swiss. The third period started the same as the second with the Swiss extending their lead again after a Tanner Richard goal making the score 4-2 and giving the Swiss some breathing room in the last period. Then the Slovaks had their familiar fight back with a Tomas Matousek goal but the Slovaks didn’t stop there. They continued to roll scoring another three goals in the period including Matus Chovan’s thrid goal of the game that put the Slovaks ahead. With their four goals in the third period the Slovaks took the win as the Swiss could not keep up with the offensive explosion. The Swiss took the loss and were forced into the relegation round while the Slovaks will move on to the Semi Finals against the winner of the Pool B game between Finland and Czech Republic. Russia and Sweden both had successful seasons and would face off for the first place spot in Pool A. The Russians were the favorites in the game as one of the best teams in the tournament while the Swedes had a chance at the win but were not considered as good as the Russians. The game started as many had thought with the Russians taking an early lead scoring three goals in the first period. The second period saw no scoring as both teams went back and forth but neither could take the advantage. Then the Swedes took control as they finally answered Russia’s goals with three of their own in the third period to tie the game and force overtime. Less than three minutes into the overtime period Sweden finished their comeback as Joakim Nordstrom ended the game to give the Swedes the first place spot and a bye past the first round of the playoffs. Russia’s loss ended their perfect tournament and forced them into the quarter finals where they will take on the Czech Republic.

 

Scores:

Slovakia 6 – 4 Switzerland

Sweden 4 – 3 Russia (OT)

 

Pool B:

Pool B was not as thrilling as the other pool in the tournament as the playoff spots had been decided before the last day. Canada had taken the pool and the first round bye after beating everyone they faced in the tournament. Finland and the Czech Republic would also be in the playoffs although they did not have their positions yet and would play for second place in the pool. The Americans had been eliminated from contention with their loss to the Czech Republic and will play in the relegation round. That did not stop them from having motivation to beat their longtime rivals the Canadians in the traditional New Year’s Eve game. The Canada vs. USA game was simply for pride as nothing would change no matter what the result was. Both of these teams did not want to lose this game though as they are both longtime rivals who do not like each other and are familiar with each other as many play in the same leagues. The game started with Canada dominating play as the Americans seemed to lack the motivation in the first period. The Canadians won most of the battles in the period and that resulted in the Canadians going ahead 3-0 in the first period. The Canadians looked to walk all over the Americans with the USA not playing as hard as they are used to. The Second period saw no goals by either team but the Americans began showing signs of life for the first time in the game. The USA began pushing back and getting much more physical with the Canadians. The game began stepping up as both teams started playing better and the game started looking like past games between these two teams. The third period saw the Americans begin to take over as the Canadians seemed to slow down and continued to take bad penalties. The USA finally broke through Scott Wedgewood as Charlie Croyle scored to reduce the Canadian lead. Shortly after Croyle scored the Americans added another goal by Jason Zucker. Canadian fans had images of the 2011 Gold Medal game flashing through their head, the Canadians went ahead 3-0 against the Russians and allowed 5 straight third period goals to lose the game. The attack continued but the Canadians were able to hold them off and win the game but were scared from that third period. The Canadians took the win and got a bit of a wake-up call before the semi-finals as they will wait to see who they will face after the quarterfinals. The USA will move into the relegation round where they will face Latvia on January 3rd to try to avoid being relegated. The other game in the pool was for second place as the Finns took on the Czech Republic who were coming off of a big win against the USA. Petr Mrazek could not repeat his performance against the USA as the Finns did not have a hard time against the Czechs. From the start of the game the Finns took over as they continued to surge after opening the tournament with a loss to the Canadians. The Finns took the win 4-0 against the Czechs and took the 2nd place in Pool B meaning they will face the Slovakia in the quarter finals while the Czechs will be forced to face the Russians in the quarter finals.

 

Scores:

Finland 4 – 0 Czech Republic

Canada 3 – 2 USA

 

Final Standings:

 

Pool A:

1. Sweden (10)

2. Russia (10)

3. Slovakia (6)

4. Switzerland (4)

5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:

1. Canada (12)

2. Finland (9)

3. Czech Republic (6)

4. USA (3)

5. Denmark (0)

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