2015 World Juniors Report: Day 1

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The World Juniors is officially underway as the Boxing Day tradition continued with eight teams in action on the first day. For many of the top teams in the tournament it was not a tough start to their tournament. As usual most of the top teams faced the weaker teams to begin their tournament leaving the biggest games for New Year’s where first place in each group should be on the line. Those easy starts are not necessarily the best thing though as some teams can be lured into a false sense of security. That was shown in the first day this year when two if the top teams in the tournament struggled in their first game. The USA did not have the easiest start to their year as they would take on the defending champions, Finland. Still USA had looked like one of the best teams in the tournament both on paper and during the pre-tournament games while Finland did no look to be at their level. The Finns showed that they are ready to defend their title while the Americans were not the powerhouse that they seemed to be. With a close game from start to finish they played a close game and forced it into overtime. From there the Americans were able to get the win but lost out on three points to start the tournament. Meanwhile Finland showed everyone that despite the loss of some of their top players they are still in the hunt for a gold medal. The more surprising matchup was when Russia took on Denmark in a game that many expected to be an easy one for Russia. They are constantly favourites to win a gold medal and this year was no different, although they did have more problems than usual. Despite their issues nobody expected them to have a hard time with Denmark who had just made the top tier for the third time ever and had never won a game in the top tier before. That was why when the Danes got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. It shocked everyone, including the Russians who were caught off-guard by a team they expected to walk through. The Russians were shocked but started to come back in the second period until they finally tied the game on a controversial third period goal. The Russians eventually got the win in a shootout but the message was sent for every team in the tournament. Despite facing a team that did not seem to be headed towards the medals there is no time to take a game off. The other two top teams took this to heart in their games as they left no doubt about who should win the games. Sweden took on the Czech Republic in a game that they were supposed to win despite the Czech Republic being a respectable team. That game started with close battle between the two as Sweden got out to a 3-2 lead at the end of the second period, with the Czechs keeping pace. Then the third period started and the Swedes took over as they added two more goals and ended the game with a 5-2 win. The host Canadians took it another step forward when they took on the Slovakians in their first game. They came out early and didn’t look back as they won the game 8-0. The first day went by without any big upsets as all of the teams that were supposed to win did. Still it did show that even if a team doesn’t look like they will compete for the medals they are not to be overlooked. The upsets were not finished but they were possible and for the rest of the tournament teams must be aware to make sure that they don’t get caught by these trap games that in a single elimination tournament can mean a lot. For now the Canadians and Swedes sit on top of the standings as they avoided any surprises and will try to continue to do so as the round robin continues.

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Day 1:
Russia 3 – 2 Denmark (SO)
– The Russians were down early as Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjortkstrand got the Danes out early but the Russians were able to fight back despite a controversial tying goal as Nikolai Goldobin scored the winning goal in a shootout

USA 2 – 1 Finland (SO)
– The Finns were determined to show everyone that they were ready to defend their gold medal and they did just that pushing the USA, a team many thought to be favourites for the gold, to a shootout where Thatcher Demko made the game winning save

Sweden 5 – 2 Czech Republic
– It started out as a close game with the Swedes getting out early only to see the Czechs tie the game in the second, that was as close as they would get though with Sweden scoring three straight goals to take a convincing win

Canada 8 – 0 Slovakia
– There is plenty of pressure on the Canadians to run through the tournament and they started off with a convincing display against Slovakia scoring 8 straight goals while Zach Fucale put up a shutout in his first start

Day 2:
Denmark vs. Sweden (Saturday December 27th; 1:00 pm ET)
– Denmark sent a scare into the Russian team when they got out to an early lead and they will try to do the same but finish off the upset against the Swedes as they try to get an advantage in staying out of relegation

Slovakia vs. Finland (Saturday December 27th; 4:00 pm ET)
– The Finnish team showed that they are ready to defend their gold medal but still lost their opening game and they will try to get their first win against Slovakia who took a big loss against the Canadians in their opening game

Czech Republic vs. Switzerland (Saturday December 27th; 5:00 pm ET)
– The Czech Republic tried to get the upset in their first game but couldn’t pull it off as they head into their second game of the tournament against a team that they should beat in Switzerland

Germany vs. Canada (Saturday December 27th; 8:00 pm ET)
– Canada had a very convincing win in their first game when they put up 8 goals and they will try to have the same type of performance against another team that is not expected to finish too far up the standings

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