2016 World Juniors: Medal Preview

canada-celebratesThere is no doubt that the big teams are the favourites and they always will be the favourites in the World Juniors.

Every year the big six come into the tournament looking to take home that gold medal as the best junior team in the world.

Every year they come in with high hopes while the other teams look to see if they can find a way to upset the balance.

Last year the Slovakians did just that as they rode an amazing goaltending performance to the Bronze medal, their second medal ever in this tournament.

This year there are a number of teams looking to be the Slovakia of 2016 and take a surprising performance to the top of the rankings and earn a surprising medal.

From the start it doesn’t look likely though as despite the fact that every team is getting better the big six remain the steady favourites.

Chief among them have been the Canadians who won their first gold medal in five years last year and enter another tournament with another deep team full of talent.

They are not alone though as the Russians, Finns, and Swedes all have a very deep and dangerous team.

The Americans could have had one of those teams but they ignored a number of very good players in their camp and may have fallen into a trap that the Canadians did in their five-year gold drought.

Meanwhile the Czech Republic seem to be still building a system from scratch despite past success at all levels.

As a result this tournament could come down to the four teams that have always been in the hunt for the World Junior title.

The two Scandinavian teams will do well with great talent and essentially home crowds for both as the tournament takes place in Helsinki.

Unfortunately for the two teams closest to home they will fall just short of competing for the gold medal.

They have great teams and will never be an easy out but two teams look just that much better this time around.

For the second year in a row the Canadians and the Russians will rise to the top of the tournament with teams that look great again.

For Canada the concentration will be on an offence that can score plenty of goals and put opponents in bad situations.

They have been criticized for their depth this year but in reality the depth is as good, if not better, than most teams in the tournament.

It is full of top goal scorers throughout the major juniors and top talent for this year’s draft.

Their defence is talented as well and should get in on the offensive side of things while goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood seems to be ready to take over the tournament after his two game suspension.

He might be ready but he will need to be better than the Russian goaltender, Ilya Samsonov.hockey-sidebar

He is the basis of the Russian team as the Russians are the opposite of the Canadians this year.

They are built from the net forward with Samsonov being the key to this team throughout the tournament.

Their defence might be just as good as their goaltending and they will be the team that is very hard to score on throughout the tournament.

They have goal scorers as well, although they do not have as many goal scorers as they have had in the past.

When the gold medal is on the line it will be a classic battle between two of the biggest rivals in international hockey.

More than that it will be a match between two very different styles of play as it usually is when those two teams face-off.

Defence wins championships they say and although that is usually the case in championship series where grinding out wins can grind down an opponent over time.

That isn’t the case in a one-game championships as the Canadians will jump on them early and although they won’t score a lot of goals against Samsonov they will score just enough to take their second straight gold medal and begin another stretch of dominance in the World Junior tournament.

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