2013 World Junior Report (Day 2)

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The Juniors got through their second day as the last two teams to start their tournament with the USA and the Swiss playing their first game. Both teams would take on teams that they should have beat. That is exactly what they did as the Swiss easily handled the Latvians and the Americans walked through the Germans. That was not the biggest story of the tournament though as the focus had shifted to one of the superstars in the tournament. Nail Yakupov was the #1 pick in the 2012 draft by the Edmonton Oilers and thanks to the lockout would play for the Russian team. Spending most of his season as a part of HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the KHL Yakupov would have the chance to play once more in the Juniors. Before that point Yakupov had been a part of the Sarnia Sting in the OHL in a junior career that would help him adjust to the North American game. Without an NHL team to go to Yakupov had no problem joining the Junior team as essentially a lock to be one of the leaders of the team that would play at home. The Russians were looking forward to a home tournament where they were hoping to win the gold in front of a home crowd. One of the big steps to that would be their longtime rivals the Canadian team who would travel into their back yard as the perennial favorites. As the Canadians came to Russia they did not receive much of a warm welcome as they would play their first game against the Germans to boos from the Russians. The Russian fans would cheer for the Germans instead as the first shot was fired in the rivalry for another tournament. Then Yakupov fired the next shot after the Russians squeaked by the Slovakians in their opening game that went to overtime. Yakupov would be interviewed after the game and the New Years game against the Canadians was at the front of everyone’s mind. As the reporters asked about the difficulty the Russians had against the Slovakians Yakupov would say that the Russians knew that they needed to be more disciplined than they were in the game. He would then go on to add “I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.” He would essentially pointing out to the media that the Russians need to be more disciplined against the Canadian team who plays dirty. It highlights a fact that the Canadians have learned the hard way. The North American game is much different from the European game. In Europe the hitting is at a minimum as they focus on the skill and speed of the game. In North America the focus is on physical grind it out type of play where checking is an essential piece to the game. When these two styles meet many European fans and teams can see the Americans and Canadians as dirty teams because they play physical. The fact is though that the Canadians are simply not a dirty team. They are a physical team that needs to adjust to new rules to see how far they can go in games because the European referees are much stricter in the rules. A physical play in the CHL or NHL is a penalty in Europe and so the Canadians tend to take penalties more than other teams. This can make them seem dirty but in fact they are just playing the way that they have played since they were kids. Yes the Canadians need to adjust to the new rules but for Yakupov to say that they are dirty is not true. If he doesn’t like the way that the Canadians play that is his own problem as he will need to find a way to play around the physicality of the Canadians. It was a comment that set a lot of people off in Canada and for the Russians that may not be the best thing to do as the last thing the Canadians need is more motivation for the New Years Game. It was yet another chapter in the Canada-Russia rivalry that has built for years and will have a little extra to it this year after Yakupov fired off challenging the way the Canadians played.

 

Scores:
Switzerland 7 – 2 Latvia
– Switzerland is one of those middle teams in the tournament and this would be their biggest game as they needed this win if they hoped to challenge for the 3rd spot meanwhile Latvia saw their tournament essentially fall to the wayside as they are now 0-2 and likely headed for relegation

USA 8 – 0 Germany
– The USA would begin their tournament with a game against the Germans who were just coming off of a big loss to the Canadians and this game was no better as the Americans took the easy win sending the Germans to an 0-2 record

 

Standings: 

Pool A:
1. Switzerland (3)
2. Finland (3)
3. Sweden (0)
4. Czech Republic (0)
5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:
1. USA (3)
2. Canada (3)
3. Russia (2)
4. Slovakia (1)
5. Germany (0)

 

Day 3:
Finland vs. Czech Republic (Friday December 28th; 2:00 am EST)
– The Finnish team looks strong this year and they can continue to lead their pool if they can get past the Czechs who will be a step up in competition from the Latvians but it should still be an easy win for the Fins if they are hoping for a medal this year

Canada vs. Slovakia (Friday December 28th; 4:00 am EST)
– The Canadians will take on their second challenger in the Slovakians who are poised to have another upset filled tournament after pushing the Russians to overtime in their first game and looking to show that they are real challengers against the Canadians

Sweden vs. Switzerland (Friday December 28th; 7:00 am EST)
– The Swedes are looking to battle with the Fins for the top spot in the pool and they will try to take their next shot at the top spot against the Swiss who would love to get the upset win and make their hopes of moving past the round robin more of a reality

Russia vs. USA (Friday December 28th; 9:00 am EST)
– It will be the first big game of the tournament as the host Russians look to put their overtime game against the Slovakians in the past against one of the bigger challenges in the pool with the Americans who will look to build on their 8-0 win in their opening game

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