World Junior Championship (Semi-Finals)

The Playoffs continued in the World Juniors as the Semi-Finals stepped up the competition with the four best teams in the tournament facing off. The Quarter Finals had some of the best games in the tournament but the Semi-Finals did not disappoint. At least one game did not disappoint as the second semi-final disappointed many in Calgary but did not disappoint the hockey world with a down to the wire finish. The relegation round continued as well with an unlikely relegation team exploding a little too late in the tournament. The Semi-Finals featured the best four teams in the tournament as all four had great tournaments and looked dangerous enough to win the gold. With the playoffs close to done the only thing left is to position the rest of the teams. We could see a repeat champion as well with one team looking very good in a rematch of a great game earlier in the tournament. The rest of the tournament should be fun with the medal rounds up next.

 

Playoffs:

The Playoffs featured the four best teams in the tournament that would face off in two traditional rivalries. The first game up was the Scandinavian rivalry as the Finns took on their neighbours the Swedes. Sweden had gotten to the semi-finals by winning their pool with a big win against Russia. Meanwhile the Finns took a longer way as they recovered from an opening game loss to earn the second place spot and then beat the Slovaks in the Quarter-Finals. The two longtime rivals would face off for a chance at the gold medal with both teams showing they had the ability to win the game. The Finns came out determined with the Swedes looking a little slow after their one game off. Finland opened the scoring in the first period as Alexander Ruuttu scored just at the end of the period to put them ahead 1-0. The second period saw the same thing as both teams played a close game until the Finns broke through near the end of the period when Joel Armia put one in the net. Meanwhile Sami Aittokallio was standing tall for the Finns as the Swedes started putting on the pressure but could not get by the Finnish goalie. The third period saw the Swedes continue to put pressure and this time they finally broke through as they tied up the game with a late goal by standout Max Friberg as the game went to overtime. No goals were scored in overtime forcing the game into a shootout as the two standout stars from Sweden, Sebastian Collberg and Max Friberg, scored in the shootout while Mikael Granlund could not tie it up as the Finns took the loss. The Swedes will move on to the Gold Medal game and the Finns would go to the bronze game as they waited for their opponents in the second semi-final. The Canadians and Russians faced off once again in a game that meant everything especially after last year’s Gold Medal Game where the Russians came back from a 3-0 deficit to score 5 goals in the third period and win gold. This game looked almost like a repeat of the gold medal game but had a different outcome. The Canadians were all over the Russians in the first period but the Russians took advantage of their limited opportunities as they earned two goals in the first period, although both were off of a Canadian defenceman. The Canadians looked to fight back in the second as Brett Connolly opened the scoring in the second period to reduce the lead by one. Then the Russians began taking over as Yevgeni Kuznetsov scored two goals giving him a hat trick after opening the scoring in the first period. The Russians added another in the second period putting them ahead 5-1 as the Canadians looked to be out of it as they continued to pepper Andrei Vasilevski with shots but thanks to some brilliant goaltending they could not break through. The Canadians continued to take bad penalties and give the Russians opportunities into the third period. Then the Russians scored again as they seemingly put the game out of reach going ahead 6-1. Then it happened as Dougie Hamilton scored Canada’s second goal giving some life to their offence. Then Jaden Schwartz got a lucky bounce off of a Russian defender to score the third goal and bring the game within three. The game still seemed out of hand as the Russians had three goals with only half of the period left. The Canadians would not give up though as they scored yet another goal continuing their comeback. With the game 6-4 The Canadians added another goal to bring the game within one goal with 5 minutes left. It started to look like the Canadians would be making the comeback this time as they continued to pressure the Russians and continued to break through and scored. It was not to be though as the Russians held off the relentless Canadian attack and won the game 6-5 as they move on to defend their gold medal. The Canadians ended a streak of ten straight years in the gold medal game as they will go to the Bronze Medal Game.

Scores:

Sweden 3 – 2 Finland (SO)

Russia 6 – 5 Canada

 

Relegation:

The Americans were the surprise team in the relegation round as they have been one of the better teams in the World Juniors in the last few years. This year the Americans were depending on their big defence and the play of Jack goaltender Jack Campbell. The Americans did not get the performances they were looking for and their offensive production was not able to match the other teams. The Americans lost two key games that sent them into the relegation round where they took on the Latvians who they had not faced yet. The Latvians had fought hard in the tournament but had not been able to get a win. They were hoping to stay out of the relegation game this year by taking advantage of a reeling US team. The game did not start well for the Latvians as with the Americans opening up their scoring as they looked to prove that they still had a goal scoring touch. Leading the charge was Austin Watson as he scored three goals in the first period with Jason Zucker adding another to put the Americans ahead 4-0. The Latvians struggled the entire night as they were outmatched by the Americans who were breaking out a little too late in the tournament. The second period continued the trend as the Americans added two more in under a minute of the second period. The Latvians finally broke through when Zemgus Girgensuns scored just over 2 minutes into the second. By then it was too late though as the Americans were already up 6-0 before the goal. The Latvians could not get anything else in the period as the Americans added another 5 goals in the second period. The third period was much the same with the Americans ahead 11-1. The defence was a little more stout though as both teams added another goal each. The game ended with the Americans taking the win 12-2 and moving on to the 7th place game as they avoid any scare of relegation. The Latvians will take on the Danes in one final game to determine who will get relegated to the lower division as the winner will stay in the top division tournament.

Scores:

USA 12 – 2 Latvia

 

Relegation:

Latvia vs. Denmark (January 4th; 1:00 pm)

– Latvia has been up and down in the tournament while Denmark has only been here once before and both teams will be looking to stay around next year by winning their final game and avoiding relegation

 

7th Place:

USA vs. Switzerland (January 4th; 5:00 pm)

– USA has had a disappointing season but they broke out for another offensive explosion against a weak team and they hope to continue this against a very feisty Swiss team as they play for the 7th place spot

 

5th Place:

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic (January 4th; 9:00 pm)

– A matchup of European rivals the Slovaks and Czechs will look to gain some redemption in the tournament by beating their bitter rivals in the last game and earning the 5th place spot in the tournament

 

Bronze Medal:

Finland vs. Canada (January 5th; 9:00 pm)

– The Finns were blown out by the Canadians in the first game of the tournament but will be looking for revenge against a team that wishes they were in the Gold Medal game with both teams coming so close to the gold this will be barely a consolation

 

Gold Medal:

Sweden vs. Russia (January 5th; 8:00 pm)

– In a rematch of one of the best games in the tournament the Russians will take on the Swedes as they hope to repeat their win against the Russians from earlier in the tournament while the Russians look to repeat as gold medalists after surviving a tight game against the Canadians

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