Another New Champion? (World Juniors Medal Preview)

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There is no question that there are two teams that are bigger than any other in the World Junior tournament every year. These two are the Russians and the Canadians as they have been the dominant forces in the World Juniors year after year. The tournament used to be a walk for both teams as it would always come down to either the Russians or the Canadians to see who was the best. For years Canada was the best with two periods of winning 5 gold medals in a row. Lately though the tournament has become a lot more unpredictable as it is no longer only between the Canadians and the Russians with more teams becoming powerhouses. It has now turned into a league of four with more teams beginning to creep up into the top of the tournament. It has quickly become the big four in the tournament with USA, Russia, Sweden, and Canada all looking very good. As the 2013 tournament approaches another team is looking to enter the same conversation as the Finnish team will try to earn a medal. As the big four quickly solidify themselves as the top teams in the tournament every year it becomes harder and harder for the Russians and Canadians to get back to their usual dominant performances. This has been the case in the last three years as the Canadians have not won a gold medal in the last three tournaments while the Russians have won gold once. Meanwhile the Americans and Swedes have both won Gold in the last three tournaments, the Swedes are the defending gold medalists, as the World Juniors have become much more even. Now the ten teams come into the 2013 version of the tournament with anything able to happen. Can the Russians impress their home fans and win another gold with the amazing offence power that they have on their team? Can the Canadians lean on a very good defence to get back to winning the tournament which is the only way Canadians think of the tournament as a success? Will it be the Americans who are looking to recover from a terrible 2012 tournament where they finished in 7th place just at the top of the relegation round? Or will it be the Swedes who can repeat as champions and begin their own era of dominance? Could it even be the Finnish team who has looked strong so far and could surprise plenty of people to earn a gold? All of these questions will be answered and many more as the big four look to continue their dominance while the rest of the teams look to shock the hockey world and win gold.  It is likely that the gold medal will come down to two of the big four as they all have a good shot. The best thing about the 2013 tournament is that all of the big four have something that can hold them back from winning a gold once more. This will make the tournament a very entertaining one as not every game is a lock and surprises seem to be right around the corner. It will be another great tournament with plenty to look forward to as the best young players in the world meet in Ufa to determine the best young hockey nation.

Predictions 

Quarter-Finals:
Finland 3 – 2 USA
– The Finnish team is looking for a move forward this year and they have the talent to do it while the Americans are not as good as they seem to be with an offence that will not be as powerful as the Fins in this game

Canada 4 – 2 Czech Republic
– The Canadians are on another level than the Czechs but if they start thinking that they will not win this game luckily they would have had their wake up call in the round robin season as they start becoming the dominant team they can be in the quarter-finals

 

Semi-Finals:
Canada 4 – 3 Sweden (OT)
– The Canadians will have easily gotten past their last team and jumped up competition facing the defending champions in what will be a very close game  but the Canadians will be just too much to earn a spot in the gold medal game

Russia 5 – 3 Finland
– The Russians are a good team once again this year and the home crowd will drive them throughout the tournament as they will cut the good Finnish tournament short beating them to make the Gold medal game at home

 

Medal Round

Bronze Medal:
Finland 4 – 3 Sweden (OT)
– The Swedes will have another close game after just losing to the Canadians and this time it will be against their rivals as the Finnish team seems ready to earn a medal while the Swedes are poised for a letdown after their gold in 2012

 

Gold Medal:
Russia 6 – 5 Canada
– The Russians are a very good team and playing at home will help them as they will get into a typical war with the Canadians who simply have more holes to expose than the Russians do making them Silver medalists this year and giving the Russians a Gold

 

Rankings:
1. Russia [Gold]
2. Canada [Silver]
3. Finland [Bronze]
4. Sweden
5. USA
6. Czech Republic
7. Slovakia
8. Switzerland
9. Germany
10. Latvia [Relegated]

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