World Juniors Report (Gold Medal Preview)

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The majority of the tournament is now finished as the relegation round is over and rankings have begun to fill in. The day was filled with plenty of games as teams figured out where they ranked among the rest of the teams in the tournament. The biggest part of the day would be the relegation round where Germany and Latvia faced off to stay in the tournament. The loser would go back to the second tier of the tournament while Denmark would come up to play in the 2014 tournament next year. In the end it would be the Latvians who would be forced to the second tier as the Germans would win to stay in the tournament for next year. As the relegation round finished and the 5th to 10th positions in the rankings were figured out the focus shifted to the next day. The Gold Medal game is just over the horizon as two teams that are often overlooked face off for the championship. The USA and Sweden are two of the big four teams in the World Juniors but they are often forgotten alongside the Canadians and Russians. Canada and Russia have dominated the tournament leaving many of these other teams behind but that is beginning to change as teams are all beginning to meet the level of the Russians and Canadians. The Americans were never a hockey powerhouse as the sport was just not a focus for them. Then they began to change things as more US hockey players made an impact in the NHL and the program began to grow larger and larger. As they began to put more into the program the Junior program grew as well and they became more of a contender. The Swedes had much of a similar path although they had periods of greatness winning multiple silver medals and a gold medal in 1981. They would break a long gold medal drought last year as their resurgence was complete. Now both teams are on the same path looking to be considered a true contender every year. The Americans are built from the back-end out as they have one of the best goaltenders in the tournament. John Gibson was a large reason for their win against the Canadians in the semi-finals and will be looking to play a big role once again in the gold medal game. He will have plenty of help with a good defence that was another big reason why Gibson played well only allowing 34 shots on net. The Americans offence can run dry though as they do not have the most physical team and can be out hit and shut down on offence. Meanwhile the Swedish team is built from the front end back with a very powerful offence that includes some of the top forward prospects in the NHL. The defence and goaltending are good as well, although not as good as the Americans, making them an early favorite in the game.  Both teams have their weaknesses and their strength and both did not take an easy path to get to this point. The two forgotten powers had to get through the two favorites in this tournament meaning that both are capable of winning the big game. As the Canadians and Russians face off for Bronze, the Swedes and Americans will take their moment in the spotlight for the Gold medal in a matchup of two good teams. Will it be the Swedes who are going for their second Gold in as many years or will it be the Americans who are looking to recover form a 7th place finish in 2012. There is only one game left to determine the best junior hockey program in the world and it should be a good one as the underdogs go all out for their chance at glory.

Scores

Relegation:
Germany 5 – 2 Latvia
– Both teams needed this win to stay in the top tournament as a loss would send them to the second tier and it was the Germans who came out on top to stay in the tournament in back to back years for the first time since 1998

 

7th Place Game:
Finland 11 – 4 Slovakia
– Finland wanted to make a statement in this game that they were not a relegation team and that they would be back stronger next year and they sent that message loud and clear easily beating the Slovakians for 7th place

 

5th Place Game:
Czech Republic 4 – 3 Switzerland
– The Czechs were expecting to at least make it this far but the Swiss were thinking much of the opposite but a few surprise wins put them in a position to finish fifth although they came up just short but still had one of their best tournaments ever

 

Upcoming Games

Bronze Medal Game:
Canada vs. Russia (Saturday January 5th; 4:00 am EST)
– Both of these teams were supposed to play but for a much better medal as neither expected to be in the bronze medal game only one loss away from not medaling and both teams will have a hard time getting up for a game that means nothing to the two best hockey programs in the world

 

Gold Medal Game:
USA vs. Sweden (Saturday January 5th; 8:00 am EST)
– Sweden is going for a repeat to show to the world that they are not a program to be overlooked while the Americans are on one of the biggest turnarounds after finishing in 7th place in 2012 as they go for Gold this year

 

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

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