2013 World Juniors Report (Day 4)

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The Juniors are coming quickly to a close as teams play their last games in the tournament and with the end of the tournament comes the patterns. This tournament has seen one thing effect games more than any other as discipline has come into full focus. The tournament has seen many games come very close to upsets and a few actual upsets and one thing has become the main factor in every game. That is the special teams as teams throughout the tournament have taken advantage or been hurt by their special teams. The penalty kill and powerplay are two essential parts of a hockey team and yet they are not the most glorious of lineups. The Penalty Kill is a way that many players can make their bones in any team whether pro or amateur. It is full of grinders and tougher players who can play a great defensive game to fend off the pressure from the opponent. The powerplay is a chance for the offensive players to shine as they get their shot to move the puck almost at will up a man or two. Both are not used too often and so they fall into a separate category of hockey and are usually forgotten. In the 2013 tournament they have made an impact though as it has become the most important part to the tournament. Discipline has been a constant theme throughout the tournament for many teams and with discipline problems comes the use of the special teams. As more teams make trips to the penalty box the power play has become much more important. This year there have been a number of close games that should not have been close. In almost every one of these games a major factor in the score has been the powerplay. In the Russia-Slovakia game the Russians barely escaped an upset from the Slovaks and a big part of that were the penalties that they took. As the game came to a close the Russians were ahead 2-1 when Maxim Shalunov took a 2 minute minor for high sticking. On the ensuing power play Richard Mraz would score the tying goal to force overtime against a very good Russian squad. As the game moved in to overtime special teams played just as big of a role as it had in the rest of the game. The Slovaks would go down this time as David Bajanik would take a two-minute minor for tripping. The Russians would capitalize as Albert Yarullin scored the overtime goal avoiding a big upset in their first game of the tournament. The special teams impact would not be finished though as the biggest upset so far in the tournament would also see a powerplay goal play an important role. The Czech Republic would take on Finland in a game that was supposed to be won by the Fins who were looking very good this year. That wouldn’t happen though as the Czechs got out to an early lead that was helped by a powerplay goal. Juuso Riikola would take a two-minute minor for hooking and in no time Marek Hrbas would capitalize scoring a powerplay goal and putting the Czechs ahead 2-0 where they would not look back winning the game 3-2. The special teams in the tournament have proven time and time again to be one of the most important parts of any game. As the tournament begins to creep towards the medal rounds this become s more and more important. Teams need to figure out how to be more disciplined because the amount of penalties being handed out is great. If they cannot figure it out they will end up in the box and that is the most dangerous place to be this year. IT is especially important in the games that were not supposed to be difficult. If teams think they can get away with taking penalties against these teams they are very wrong. These other teams are looking for any opportunity to gain an advantage against a better team. If the better team gives them this opportunity they will take it and if they get enough chances they will end up scaring the bigger teams and possibly beating them. It will become a key to the rest of the tournament as the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will be the team that wins the Juniors as discipline becomes that much more important with bigger games remaining for all teams.

 

Scores:
Sweden 5 – 1 Latvia
– The Swedes just escaped with a win from the Swiss in Day 3 but they got a break before their biggest game of the tournament in facing the Latvians and easily beating them and keeping Latvia out of the win column

Russia 7 – 0 Germany
– The Germans seemed to be on their way to the relegation round from the start as they would take on the best teams in the tournament to open their schedule and that would continue when the Russians easily handled them with a big win

 

Standings: 

Pool A:
1. Sweden (8)
2. Switzerland (4)
3. Finland (3)
4. Czech Republic (3)
5. Latvia (0)

 

Pool B:
1. Russia (8)
2. Canada (6)
3. USA (3)
4. Slovakia (1)
5. Germany (0)

 

Day 5:
Finland vs. Switzerland (Sunday December 30th; 2:30 am EST)
– The Fins are coming off of a big upset loss in a game against the Czech Republic and they will try to get back on track against the Swiss who saw a bright spot when they pushed the Swedes to the limit and they will try to do the same to the Fins

Canada vs. USA (Sunday December 30th; 4:30 am EST)
– The border war is back on as the undefeated Canadians look to continue their winning streak against their neighbours to the south in the Americans who will be trying to recover from a loss to the Russians in their last game

Czech Republic vs. Latvia (Sunday 30th; 7:00 am EST)
– This is a very important game for both teams as the Latvians need one win to help them in the relegation round while the Czech are looking for that third place spot in the pool to move on past the round robin

Slovakia vs. Germany (Sunday 30th; 9:00 am EST)
– This is the game that both teams have been waiting for as both knew they likely would be able to get one of the top three spots in Pool B and so this game will be their most important as a win could keep either out of that dreaded relegation spot

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