2015 World Juniors Report: Day 2

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Day 2 in the World Juniors tournament saw top teams solidify themselves as medal hopefuls while the rest of the pack fought it out. As the tournament continues on there are a handful of teams that look to be true contenders for the gold medal. So far Sweden and Canada have planted themselves on the top of each group. They were expected to be near the top alongside the Americans and Russians but the latter two have struggled to start their tournament. With the Swedes and Canadians looking like they are headed towards the playoffs after two wins and the Americans and Russians seem ready to turn things around in their next three games. As these four teams seem ready to move into the playoffs the other teams fight for position to try to avoid relegation and earn a good matchup in the quarter-finals. The middle teams all fight it out and in Day 2 many of these teams had their opportunity to make moves and get closer to that better spot in the quarterfinals. After a first day where these teams had to take on the top teams Day 2 was a chance for them to face each other and gain position. That is exactly what teams did as they took advantage of facing teams that were at their same level. The day began and ended with wins by the top two teams but in the middle there was plenty of surprises. For one the Finnish team, defending champions, put up a fight against the Americans in their first game. It was much closer than most believed it as the Finns had lost some of their key players from the year before. Still they took the Americans to a shootout and gained two points in the standings. Their second game would be against the Slovaks who had lost their first game 8-0 against the Canadians. The matchup seemed like it was Finland’s to win as the Slovaks did not seem like they could compete with the former champions after a poor showing in Day 1. Then the Finns ran into a red-hot Denis Godla who put up 37 saves in a 2-1 win for Slovakia. The goaltender who allowed five goals a day before and was pulled from the game was a wall in his second start frustrating the Finns and earning Slovakia’s first win of the tournament. The loss for the Finns has set them up for a tough road in the rest of the tournament as they now have games against the Canadians and the Germans that they will want to win and avoid a low position or potentially a spot in relegation. It was the surprise of the day but it wasn’t the only one. The Czech Republic were not considered the best team in the tournament but they were supposed to be a team that competed. In Day 1 they kept pace with the Swedes until the third period where they allowed two more goals to fall behind 5-2. They took on the Swiss in their second game, one that many believed they would win, as they looked to gain their first win of the tournament. The Swiss were starting their tournament with their first game but most expected them to be fighting to stay out of relegation. The Swiss announced their arrival in their first game when they took on and beat the Czechs. Kevin Fiala was the superstar for the Swiss in this game as he showed that he is ready to be the main guy for the Swiss this year. Scoring two second period goals, Fiala kept the Swiss in it until they added three more in the second to get ahead of the Czechs. The win was a statement for the Swiss who announced that they are ready to compete. They will try to make a bigger announcement when they take on the Russians in Day 3 as they try to show that they can not only compete with the middle of the road teams but the top teams in the tournament. Meanwhile the Czechs are struggling much like the Finns as they will need to win their next two games after ending their first two days with no points. It was the middle teams in Day 2 that made the most noise as they continue to fight for position while Canada and Sweden took over the top spot in either group. As the tournament continues on to its third day the standings are looking a bit stranger than usual and if this continues it could be one of the better tournaments in recent years. If these teams continue to upset the usual balance this tournament could come down to the wire.

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Day 2:
Sweden 5 – 1 Denmark
– It was an easy second day for the Swedes as they remained at the top of the standings in Group B with an impressive win where they got out on top early and never looked back with the Danes taking their second straight loss

Slovakia 2 – 1 Finland
– The Finns looked to be in fine form against the Americans in their first game pushing a very good team to a shootout but they couldn’t repeat that performance in their second game as the Slovaks took the win, their first of the tournament

Switzerland 5 – 2 Czech Republic
– The Swiss announced their arrival in this year’s tournament as they were able to take out the Czech Republic in their first game of the year while the Czechs lost and were pushed to the bottom of the Group B standings

Canada 4 – 0 Germany
– The Canadians did not look like they did against the Slovaks as they were not as dominant but they still never looked to be in danger against the Germans who they easily got by and stayed at the top of Group A

Day 3:
Switzerland vs. Russia (Sunday December 28th; 5:00 pm ET)
– The Swiss made an early statement in their first game of the year and they will need to do that again as they face a must tougher opponent in the Russians who will try to get over their first game when they fell short of expectations

USA vs. Germany (Sunday December 28th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Americans did not have the best first outing as they were pushed to a shootout by Finland but they look to recover against the Germans in a game that should not be a major challenge for a team that is expected to compete for the gold this year

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