2016 World Juniors Report (Day 1)

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The World Juniors are underway as the best young players from around the world have gathered in Finland to determine the best hockey system.

There were some surprises in the first day as the two games that were supposed to be the closest ended in slight upsets.

The Canadians lost their first game of the tournament to the USA for Canada’s first opening game loss since 1998.

The Russians were not going to dominate Czech Republic but they were supposed to get by them fairly easily.

That didn’t happen as the Czechs pushed the Russians to a tie and lost in a shootout, taking a point away from one of the best teams in the tournament.

As for the two fan favourites in the tournament the games were fairly easy with the Finns taking a 6-0 win over Belarus while their neighbours the Swedes won their game 8-3 against Switzerland.

Although these games were not very competitive one of them provided the biggest storyline of the day.

The Swedish team went into that first game with what was essentially as close to a sure win as they were going to get.

Switzerland is not a terrible hockey nation but they are not at the level of the Swedes and they knew that.

They are not a team that can win on talent alone and so they use their size to make things tough on other teams.

That was the strategy against the Swedes in their first game of the tournament but when playing that way there is a fine line.

There are plenty of teams that can play a physical game that grinds on their opponents.

Play that game a little too physical though and all of a sudden the penalties begin to pile up and you find yourself on the wrong end of power plays.

What is worse is what the Swiss did throughout their game against the Swedes as they played physical but hit everyone no matter how clean they could get the player.

The result was multiple big injuries for Sweden, a team that needs their best players down the stretch of the tournament.

The Swedes are also a team with a lot of NHL prospects on their team and one that had seen some debate by NHL teams to let their young stars leave for the tournament.

Two such players were a big story for the game as Adrian Kempe and William Nylander both went down.hockey-sidebar

For the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, Nylander, it was a high hit in open ice that sent him out of the game.

For Kempe, a Los Angeles Kings prospect, it was a hit from behind against the boards that ended his game early.

Both were supposed to be major parts of a deep offensive team, Nylander had already scored a goal in the game.

Now both are an unknown for the rest of the tournament as both could have head injuries by the way they were hit.

It is the dangerous side of the sport in general but in a game that was out of hand quickly between two teams fighting for different things.

While Sweden is looking towards gold Switzerland is trying to just stay in the tournament.

The Swiss may have had a chance at an upset but the fact is they were easily beaten in the game.

Now the Swiss look ahead to trying to get a win mainly against Denmark to keep them out of relegation the Swedes look to move on without two of their best players.

Worse than just the Swedes is the fact that both players have NHL teams watching closely and now worrying that these injuries could have bigger effects.

The IIHF will look into both hits along with some other hits throughout the game and suspensions will likely be handed out.

More than anything this is a showcase of what happens when two very different teams face off in an international tournament with the lesser team looking to find ways to win.

It doesn’t always have to be dangerous but in Day 1 that is exactly what it was as Sweden now has to move on possibly without two of their best players.

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Day 1:
Russia 2 – 1 Czech Republic (SO)
– The Russians were expected to take their opening game again in a weaker group but they were not expected to have this close of the win as the Czech Republic sent a message that they are ready to compete taking a point and pushing the Russians to a shootout

Sweden 8 – 3 Switzerland
– It was a physical game that saw a number of questionable hits and two top Swedes leave the game early but the Swedes still took an easy win putting up eight goals to move to the top of the group after their first

Finland 6 – 0 Belarus
– Things didn’t start well for the Finns as they couldn’t find a goal in the first period but they figured things out in the second and put up the numbers they were expected to against Belarus taking their first win of the tournament

USA 4 – 2 Canada
– It was a tight game as they all are when USA and Canada play each other but that tight game opened up as the game ended with two American goals coming thanks to some poor defensive play as the Americans took a very important group win

Day 2:
Slovakia vs. Belarus (Sunday December 27th; 9:00 am ET)
– Slovakia finished last year with a Bronze medal and now they will look to repeat that performance as they open up their tournament against the Belarusians who will likely be focused on the relegation series if they can’t take a win in their second game

Switzerland vs. Denmark (Sunday December 27th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Swiss have already shown everyone how they plan to play the entire tournament and now they play what could be their biggest game of the year against Denmark as the loser could be headed to relegation at the end of the tournament

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