2013 World Juniors Report (Quarter-Finals)

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The playoffs began on the 7th day of the tournament as games became that much more important. As these games increase in importance teams truly figure out what they are made of as they now are under major pressure. There are many teams who sit under the pressure of the tournament no matter what game they are playing. One of these teams is the Canadians who are expected to win every game on their way to the Gold Medal. There is no other option for the Canadian team as all Canadian fans expect a gold medal and anything else is a failure. The Canadians carry this pressure throughout the tournament with massive media focus on the team no matter where the tournament is. This year though, there may just be a challenger to the pressure that the Canadians are under. That is the home team as the Russians are under pressure that they do not regularly have during this tournament. The Russians are playing at home for the first time since 2001 and the memory of that tournament is still fresh for the Russian fans. The 2001 tournament was one of the worst for Russia as they would play a good round robin but lose their first playoff game. They would end up in 7th place in the home tournament as they disappointed in front of the home crowd. Now the Russians are back and are the focus of the Russian hockey world during the tournament. They are not completely used to this as the World Juniors are not the most popular tournament for many in international hockey. In fact only the Canadians take it as a top tier tournament that determines a great hockey nation. Many others consider it a big tournament but it does not mean as much as the World Championships. That is until the tournament comes to their front door and they begin to focus on it as it becomes one of the main sporting events of the year. This is where the Russians are as the Russian fans pay attention but pay particularly close attention when the tournament takes place in Russia. As the tournament got started in Ufa many looked to Canada and Russia as the two favorites to win the gold but the Russians stumbled to start the tournament. The Russians would take on the Slovakians in a game that was supposed to be an easy start to the tournament. Then the Slovakians pushed the Russians into overtime and sent a shock through Russian hockey. They were not supposed to struggle against any team except maybe the Canadians but here they were going into overtime with a team that was likely headed to the relegation round. The Russians recovered and got past the Germans and the Americans until losing to the Canadians. As they moved into the quarter-finals many assumed that they had the easier of the matchups as they would take on the Swiss who had snuck in to the playoffs after the Fins failed to take a spot. The Russians went in likely assuming that it would be an easy game but they got a big surprise. The Swiss proved to be a good opponent as they would lead the Russians with under two minutes left in the third period. The Russians would come back though and would win the game in a shootout even if it wasn’t the way they wanted to finish. You could see the looks in the crowd when the Russians were down as the thoughts of 2001 were circling in their heads. The Russians have not looked like the dominant force they have always been as they have become somewhat shaky in this tournament. The pressure may just be getting to the Russians as many of the players are trying too hard to be the guy that leads the team by themselves. The gold has not been handed out but the Russians could be greatly affected by this pressure in upcoming games where there are no more weak teams.

 

Quarter-Finals:
USA 7 – 0 Czech Republic
– The Americans were thought to have the tougher game on their road to the semi-finals but they proved otherwise beating the Czechs easily and earned a rematch against their continental rivals the Canadians

Russia 4 – 3 Switzerland (SO)
– The Russians may have gone into this game believing the thought that they would walk over the Swiss but that would be their big mistake as they were forced to score a late tying goal and then win the game in a shootout

 

Relegation:
Finland 8 – 0 Germany
– The Fins are looking to salvage something out of a very disappointing tournament as they hope to finish in 7th place above the rest of the relegation and they are on their way there after beating the Germans easily

 

Semi-Finals:
USA vs. Canada (Thursday January 3rd; 4:00 am EST)
– The Americans are the only team to give the undefeated Canadians a scare in the tournament so far and they will face off again with the Americans looking for revenge and the Canadians looking for the same result with a spot in the gold medal game up for grabs

Russia vs. Sweden (Thursday January 3rd; 8:00 am EST)
– Russia did not have the easiest path to the semi-finals as they would go into a shootout with the Swiss and they will look to recover from that hiccup to earn a spot in the gold medal against the defending champions in Sweden

 

Relegation:
Slovakia vs. Latvia (Thursday January 3rd; 6:00 am EST)
– The Latvians are in serious danger of losing their spot in the tournament for 2014 and they will need to win against the Slovakians to help them stay in the tournament or else it will come down to one game for their tournament lives

Comments
One Response to “2013 World Juniors Report (Quarter-Finals)”
  1. cflsteve says:

    Couldnt ask for a more exciting semi match up the Home Russians vs the defending champs Sweden. The US Canadian rivalry enough said

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