2014 World Junior Update (Day 1)

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The World juniors would begin once again as every team would begin on an even plane as all were undefeated coming into the day. The biggest question looming over many fans’ minds was that of the breakout players. Which player would take over the tournament this year and be named the future of a team? There is a mix of players in the World Juniors and any one of them could be the breakout star of the year. There are players who have been in the biggest league in the world in the NHL while other players who have never come close and are in their own countries playing at the highest level. There are the guys that have been drafted and sent back to Major Junior hockey as they are left to be watched closely by their teams to see if they made a good choice. There are also a number of young players who are not eligible for the draft yet and are using the tournament as another way for them to increase their draft stock. Every one of these players has motivation to be that breakout star for their team and all will battle to do just that. As eight teams began their tournament the players on every team were looking to make their impact in the first game of the year. After the first day there were two players who stood out and will now look to continue their hot starts throughout the tournament. The first player would be featured in Russia’s demolition of Norway that highlighted Andrei Vasilevski. Vasilevski would step onto the ice on Boxing day and would immediately tie a record for the tournament. It would be his third tournament putting him in a club of 19 other goalies for the most tournaments played. He would also earn a shutout in the game and almost earned him his 4th tournament shutout. There is only one other goalie with that many shutouts. Unfortunately for Vasilevski he was pulled after the Russians earned a big lead as he would not earn the shutout for the game. Still it was a great performance from Vasilevski and the Russian defence in what seemed to be a shot fired for the Russian team. Vasilevski is a player to watch this year as he will look to be the best goalie in the tournament and could be just that. As a returnee fans would see just how good he could be in 2013 when thanks in large part to his goaltending the Russians won a bronze medal. Vasilevski would not be the only player that would show his ability in the first game as Canadian Anthony Mantha would begin his run to the top of the scoring charts. Mantha is an interesting case for the Canadians as he would enter the pre-tournament as one of the few players that was on the bubble for the Canadians. The Canadians went into the pre-tournament with only one cut to make as only two players would not make the tournament in a strategy to try to create more of a team than the Canadians have had in the past few years. Mantha was one of these few players on the bubble because all he offered was his offensive prowess. He was not a very good two-way player and only provided goals making him a liability in the defensive game. Yet still the Brent Sutter saw enough in him to keep him on the team and in their first game it would pay off. The offensive ability of Mantha was on full display in the first game against Germany as Mantha would score a hat trick in his first tournament appearance ever. Now he sits atop the goal scorers list and hopes to continue his hot start to the tournament with more goals in their next game. Andrei Vasilevski and Anthony Mantha have taken the first shot in the tournament to be the breakout stars. There is plenty of tournament to go as more players will have the chance to become superstars in the World Juniors this year as the tournament continues with the frantic pace that it has become known for.

 

Scores:
Russia 11 – 0 Norway
– The Russians came out in a big way to start their tournament although the competition was not up to par as they would score 11 goals led by the Osnovin-Barbanov-Zhafyarov line to get their first win of the tournament

Canada 7 – 2 Germany
– The Canadians would start of a little slow for their tournament as the nerves were clearly there when the Germans scored the first goal but thanks in large part to Anthony Mantha they would get over the jitters and get their first win

USA 5 – 1 Czech Republic
– The Americans would get a bit of a different test than many of the top teams taking on a Czech team willing and able to upset the defending champions but thanks to the powerplay USA would not let it happen getting the win

Sweden 5 – 3 Switzerland
– The Swedes would not get off to the start that the rest of the elite teams would as the Swiss would give them a challenge for their first game but it was not enough as Sweden would pick up the win despite the close game

 

Standings: 

Pool A:
1. Canada (3)
2. USA (3)
3. Czech Republic (0)
4. Germany (0)
5. Slovakia (–)

Pool B:
1. Russia (3)
2. Sweden (3)
3. Switzerland (0)
4. Norway (0)
5. Finland (–)

 

Day 2:
Slovakia vs. Germany (Friday December 27th; 9:00 am ET)
– Germany has already taken a loss but their team is looking better than their first game allows as they take on the Slovaks in a game that could mean the difference between the relegation series and the playoffs for both teams

Finland vs. Norway (Friday December 27th; 11:30 am ET)
– The Fins get their tournament started and try to show that they are a team to watch this year while the Norwegians do not get a break in their second game in the top-tier as they will look to keep the game respectable against the Finns

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