Home Ice and Advantage? (2015 World Juniors)

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The Finns did not necessarily take home the title on home ice last year but it was close enough as they took home the gold in Sweden. Next year they will get the chance to win on home ice when the tournament goes to Helsinki. Before they get the chance to win on home ice the Canadians will get the chance as Montreal and Toronto. They are once again a team that on paper seems to have almost everything to win gold at home. Then again that story has been written many times before for the Canadians and in the last five years it has never come true. They have remained out of the gold medal position as other countries get better and can challenge the Canadians. This year will be much of the same with plenty of teams willing to compete with the Canadians. The usual suspects will be in the mix this year again and the separation between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow. The five countries that all have a shot at the gold this year will include Canada along with defending champions Finland, as well as Sweden, Russia, and the USA. All of these five teams have the talent to win the gold medal and all will make a challenge, although all do still have their downsides. The Canadians themselves have a deep pool of talent both on the blueline and on offence but their goaltending might end up being their weak link in a close game. The Russians are still a team that can win it all but their usual forward depth that has caused so many issues for other teams in the past is no longer there. The Americans are once again a deep team with good goaltending that can take out most of the top teams in the tournament. Still they do lack the experience on the blue line that has carried them to the top of the tournament. The Swedes are another deep talented team but their back-end is lacking in experience with three inexperienced goaltenders trying to get the starting role. Finally the Finnish team is still a talented team but without the top players that led them to the gold in 2014. Every team has the talent on their teams to win the gold medal but the difference will be whether or not their issues show up at the wrong times. As these five teams fight for the medals two teams will be fighting to stay in the top tier of the division. The Germans and Danes will end near the bottom of the tournament as they try to avoid being relegated. As they face-off it will be a close battle but only one team will stay among the best. The Germans will come out on top in the relegation round staying in the top division for another year while the Danes fall short and return to Division I A. In terms of the medals, one of the big five teams will not be in the hunt and for this tournament it will be the Russians who don’t seem to have their usual power to win a medal this year. Instead the big four will be the Canadians, Americans, Finns, and Swedes. In the end it seems like it will be the North Americans that will square-off for the gold in Toronto. The Scandinavian countries will face-off for the second year in a row this time for the bronze with the Finns coming out on top. In the gold medal game the Americans and Canadians will have a rematch from the New Year’s Eve game in what should be another great game. The Canadians will come out on top in the game as they break their five year goldless streak and do it at home. They just seem to have too much talent this year and although their goaltending could be a weakness they do seem to have more talent in that department this time around. It won’t be easy for the Canadians as they will struggle through parts of the tournament but they will come out on top as this seems like the most talented team that the Canadians have put together in a long time, one that is worth a gold medal.

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