2016 World Juniors Report (Day 3)

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International hockey can seem very funny to most North American fans as the wider ice and smaller players makes everything a little different.

The reputation that this different style of play gets is that they are faster than most other styles and that the action is much easier to see.

The other reputation is that international hockey is full of players with a lot less tough players that aren’t willing to hit.

After all they don’t need to hit to be successful in their games because the concentration is on skating and puck control.

If someone tries to launch a big hit on that big ice it is pretty easy for the other team to gain a massive advantage skating down the ice.

It is a tough thing to miss on a hit and allow a two-on-one breakaway when there is so much ice to cover.

So the hitting part of the equation is rarely a big part to the international game.

Meanwhile in the NHL the toughness factor has taken a hit with the reduction in fighting and the concern over head injuries but hitting is essential.

The ice is much smaller and therefore the physical aspect of the game is essential.

More than ever the NHL is looking at smaller players that can find their way to the net around the big players.

There is also a concentration on finding those bigger players that can launch the big hits and grind out offensive pushes.

The difference has always been a big one through North American and European hockey and was noticed every time either sides got together.

The American and Canadian teams were more than willing to lean on European players and get them off of their game.

They were able to find ways to get physical and even if it didn’t work at the start of the game eventually it wore on their opponents.

It was a big reason for Canadians being so successful in the international game as when they got the best players on the ice they were bigger and tougher and played a grinding game.

That has all changed recently though and there is no tournament that it is being seen more than in the World Juniors where every generation of European players is getting bigger and tougher.

It is one of the big reasons why the tournament has been better than in years past as the Canadians and Americans need to adjust to a much more balanced team.

During the 2016 tournament this new generation of European players is making itself known as European teams are quickly becoming the toughest in the tournament.hockey-sidebar

First it was the Swiss who decided to try to outhit the Swedes in their opening game of the tournament.

They tried to be the tougher team and with a size advantage and although they took things too far and saw three of their players suspended for the physical play.

In Day 3 the new generation was expressed in a big game in Group B when the Russians and the Finns faced off in what was essentially a battle for first place in the group.

Neither team was ever known for being tough, in fact the Russians have often been known for being the exact opposite in international tournaments.

Neither team showed much of that in their Day 3 game though as it was easily the roughest game of the entire tournament so far.

Both teams were flying all over the ice looking for that big hit to get the puck back and wear down their opponents.

The Russians came out on top as they seemed to be the more physically successful team in the game and the Finns seemed to be worn down by the end.

The reason for this new physicality among European players is a fairly simple one, the Canadian Hockey League.

There are more players in this tournament from the CHL than from any other league around the world.

The Canadians are made up almost entirely of CHL players and a good portion of the USA team is from the same league.

More European players are entering the league because it has become the best way to earn a spot in the NHL.

The CHL is also a North American brand of hockey with tighter checking and tougher play which means that the European players need to adjust to be successful.

They are doing just that and the results are being seen in the Junior tournament more than ever.



Day 3:
Czech Republic 2 – 0 Slovakia
– The rivalry continued as the Slovakians and Czechs faced off with the Slovaks looking for their second win in the tournament but it wasn’t to be as the Slovaks took the loss to the Czechs who are still in the hunt for first place

Sweden 1 – 0 USA
– It was an important game for the group as both teams needed a win and the Swedes got one thanks in large part to their goaltending that was able to shut down the Americans and provide a potential three way tie for first place

Russia 6 – 4 Finland
– It was a fight for first place in Group B and both teams were ready to get the fight going as this was a physical affair that saw the Finns take the lead but blow it letting the Russians get the win and take over first place

Canada 6 – 1 Denmark
– The Canadians began their tournament with a loss to their rivals and their next game that was supposed to be an easy win didn’t start out that way as the Danes went ahead early but couldn’t withstand the constant attack as the Canadians got the win

Day 4:
Russia vs. Belarus (Tuesday December 29th; 9:00 am ET)
– Russia has faced what looks to be their toughest test against Finland and now they will try to add to their lead in the group when they take on the winless Belarusians who have small hope of providing the biggest upset in Junior history

Canada vs. Switzerland (Tuesday December 29th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Canadians are back on the winning track and they hope to stay their against another team that should be an easy win as they take on the winless Swiss team who will try to out physical a very physical team

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