World Junior Championships (Quarter-Finals)

The World Juniors finished their round robin play on New Year’s Eve as the playoff spots were handed out in some thrilling games. With all of the seeding finished it was time for the relegation and quarter finals. The quarter finals featured the #2 and #3 teams in the pools with the crossover matchups. Two of these teams were especially good as the other two seemed to be trying to keep up but that did not stop the other teams from challenging these top teams as  the for sure picks got a scare. The Relegation round also started on the night as two teams faced off to avoid being relegated to the second division. With only one team being relegated this year the loser would move on to the critical game while the winner would move on to the 7th place game and breathe easy that they would not move to the lower division. The quarter-final day in the World Juniors was a good one as the games ramp up in intensity as all teams are now in a win or go home situation.

 

Playoffs:

The quarter finals featured two very good teams against two teams that barely made it in to the playoffs. The first of these was Finland against Slovakia as the Finns looked to be a much better team winning all but one game in the tournament. Slovakia had barely made it in the playoffs as they won their last game against the Swiss to earn 3rd place and the playoff spot. The game started as many would have though as the Finns opened the scoring although it was a lucky goal as Joel Armia scored the opening goal from a pass that went off of a defender and in to the net. The Slovaks answered with their own goal that was then answered again by the Finns. The Slovaks would not go away as they tied it up near the end of the period to make the score 2-2 at the end of the first period. The second period is when the Finns took over as the Granlund brothers broke out with Mikael breaking the tie and Markus adding another two goals to put the Finns up 5-2. The Finns added another near the end of the period and the Slovaks finally broke through at the end of the period. The damage was done though as the Finns were ahead 6-3 at the end of the second period. The Slovaks tried to climb back into the game at the beginning of the third when Martin Daloga opened the period scoring. The Finns continued to add to their lead though as they scored two more goals in the third putting them ahead 7-3 as they had put the game away. Slovakia added one more goal but the great second period by the Granlunds had put the game away. The Finns took the win and moved on to face their rivals in the Swedish team for the semi-finals. The Slovaks will move on to the 5th place game where they would face the loser of the other quarter-final game. This game featured one of the most talented teams in the tournament as the Russians took on the surprising Czech Republic. The game was a defensive battle from the start which the Russians are not used to as a very explosive offensive team. The first period saw no goals as the Czechs continued to check the Russians and not allow them much space on the ice. This caused the Russians some issues as they could not pepper Petr Mrazek with shots. Mrazek did face his fair share of shots though and denied every one of them earning a shutout in the first period. His counterpart Andrei Vasilevski was just as brilliant but did not face as many shots. With the score 0-0 after the first the pressure was on to get the first goal as it seemed like this game would be a one goal game. The second period finally saw the offence pick up but not much, as the Czechs opened the scoring when Jakub Culek scored the first goal of the game at the midway point of the period as they put the Russians down 1-0. The Russians did not take too long to respond as Daniel Apalkov opened the scoring for the Russians and tied up the game before the third period. The third began and looked like the first period as both goalies stood tall making spectacular save after spectacular save. Thanks to Mrazek and Vasilevski the game went to OT where the Russians got a penalty giving the Czechs a chance to score 4-on-3. The Czechs could not capitalize and Nikita Kucherov came flying out of the box with the puck on his stick where he sent Grigori Zheldakov a great pass as the Russians got past Mrazek to win the game. The Russians will now move on to a Gold Medal rematch from last year as they will face the Canadians in the Semi Finals. The Czechs will take the loss and move on the 5th place game against the Slovakians.

Scores:

Finland 8 – 5 Slovakia

Russia 2 – 1 Czech Republic (OT)

 

Relegation:

The Relegation round started with one game on the schedule that would feature a team that never seemed into the tournament and another that was close to making the playoffs. The Swiss team had played their way into 3rd place and a playoff spot with one game left in the round robin. The game would be against the Slovaks with the winner taking the 3rd spot and the playoff spot. The Swiss lost this game after a big collapse and were forced into the relegation round of the tournament where they would fight for their life in the top division. They would take on the Danes for a spot in next year’s tournament as they look to dominate. Denmark did not have a good tournament as they could not get a win and were outscored 38-6. The Danes were looking to stay alive though as they would try to take the win and return to the top division in back to back years for the first time ever. The game starting in a bit of a shocking matter as the Danes opened the scoring less than 2 minutes into the game as some great passing allowed Oliver Bjorkstrand to open the scoring putting the Danes ahead of the Swiss. Switzerland answered quickly as 35 second later Cedric Schneuwly opened the scoring for the Swiss. Both teams added another goal in the first to end the period in a 2-2 tie. This surprised many as the Danes came to play even though many believed that they would be dominated by the Swiss and then have a tough battle with Latvia in the key game. The Danes would not go away though as the Swiss had their work cut out for them to try to stay in the top division. The Swiss opened the second period with a go-ahead goal on a penalty shot after a hook caused Gaeten Haas to run into the boards and forcing him to leave the ice. The Swiss could not shake off the Danes though as Niklas Jensen scored his second goal of the game to bring Denmark back into a tie. The rest of the period saw the Swiss having more opportunities including a goal that was called back due to a high stick. With the scored tied 3-3 the third period was the last chance for Denmark to take three points and challenge the Swiss to stay in the top division. The Danes put the pressure on the Swiss in the third but neither team could get the advantage forcing an overtime period. The overtime guaranteed the Swiss a spot in the top division as they would get at least a point and be ahead of Denmark and Latvia in the relegation round. It did not take long for the overtime to finish as Tanner Richard netted the winning goal less than four minutes into overtime giving them the win and two points while the Danes were able to take on point from the overtime and some confidence as they finally were able to compete with another team.

Scores:

Switzerland 4 – 3 Denmark (OT)

Semi-Finals:

Finland vs. Sweden (January 3rd; 5:00 pm)

– The Scandinavian rivalry will be renewed as the Finns take on their rivals the Swedes with both teams looking great the Finns are coming off of a great offensive performance against the Slovakians but will need to hold of Max Friberg and the Swedes if they want to play for the Gold Medal

 

Russia vs. Canada (January 3rd; 9:00 pm)

– In a rematch of the Gold Medal game in 2011 the Russians will take on their longtime rivals and hosts of the tournament the Canadians as the Canadians look for revenge from the 5 goal third period in the gold medal game

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