2016 World Juniors Report (Day 4)

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If there was a name for Day 4 of the World Juniors it would be “Trap Day” as there were some pretty, seemingly, boring games on tap.

Only two games were on the day and they featured the two best programs in international hockey against two teams just trying to stay out of relegation.

Russia and Canada have been the most successful international hockey programs throughout the history of international hockey.

That includes the World Juniors as both teams sit on the top of the all-time medal standings with the Russians earning slightly more medals and the Canadians more gold medals.

They are consistently the favourites to make the final and to win gold as the two best systems with the most talent in the world.

Meanwhile Switzerland and Belarus are on the opposite side and are both slightly different in their success at the tournament.

The Swiss are a consistent team in the top tier and have taken a bronze medal in the tournament but have fallen to the lower division every now and then.

The Belarusians are consistently fighting to stay in the top tier of the tournament and have their best success in the second tier, the tournament they won to make top tier this year.

In this tournament the Canadians were setting up to be a contender to win Group A in what was looking to be a tight race.

The Russians were leading their group and looking to put things away in their third game of the tournament.

Switzerland and Belarus were both sitting at the bottom of their groups and seemed to be set to face-off in the relegation series as their hopes of a quarter-final appearance ended with Day 2 losses.

Heading into Day 4 the Russians were taking on Belarus and the Canadians were set to play Switzerland in games that seemed like they were going to be easy wins for Russia and Canada.

That is where the trap comes in though as teams can often look past these lesser teams and to their next games or to the medal rounds.

They are expected to win and the team knows this so they sometimes relax which is not something that any team can do in this new age of international hockey.

The Russians took on the Belarusians first in the day and they didn’t seem to be looking past Belarus.

They scored three goals in the first period and took a commanding lead but it was a little surprising how it finished.

The Russians added one more goal while they allowed one goal from Belarus in a 4-1 win for Russia.hockey-sidebar

It wasn’t terrible and the Russians were never in danger but it was far from what some expected in the matchup.

Then came Canadians who took on a team that loves to upset teams and seems to do it every tournament they are a part of.

They tried to get it done again and started the best way possible scoring two goals early to go ahead of the Canadians, a team they have never beat in Junior hockey.

The Canadians clawed back but their usual dominance of teams like the Swiss was nowhere to be seen.

Switzerland was able to push the Canadians to overtime and eventually to the shootout.

The Canadians took the win but the Swiss took a point giving them some hope to stay out of relegation.

The Canadians took two points and although they clinched a playoff spot the road to first place is going to be a lot tougher as they need a lot of help and need to win against Sweden to get there.

Day 4 was the perfect set-up for a surprise that was going to change the look of the tournament in a matter of two games.

No surprises were completed during the day but there was still some concern for the two most dominant teams before their final games on New Year’s Eve.

Trap Day wasn’t nearly as successful as the smaller teams wanted but it is far from the only day were big surprises can happen.

Day 5 will feature a number of games where a big change could happen is the lesser teams play above their expectations.

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Day 4:
Russia 4 – 1 Belarus
– The Russians went ahead early and comfortably guided to another win as they sit awaiting their final game where they hope to solidify first place in Group B after a tough start to the tournament

Canada 3 – 2 Switzerland (SO)
– Mackenzie Blackwood made his return after serving a 2-game suspension to start the tournament and things didn’t go well to start with allowing two goals in the first period but standing up the rest of the way to help get the win

Day 5:
Belarus vs. Czech Republic (Wednesday December 30th; 7:00 am ET)
– The Belarusians can still avoid relegation but they will have to take on the team that has proven to be better than many expected this year in the Czech Republic who look to compete for the second place spot

Denmark vs. Sweden (Wednesday December 30th; 9:00 am ET)
– Denmark is still at risk of moving to relegation but this is not the easy path as Sweden has been one of the best teams this year and they hope to take a win that will put them in a much better position to win Group A

Finland vs. Slovakia (Wednesday December 30th; 11:00 am ET)
– The home team gets going again after dropping a close game to the Russians as they try to get back to winning while the Slovaks try to avoid the relegation series by taking at least a point from the Finns

Switzerland vs. USA (Wednesday December 30th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Swiss were able to get their first point of the tournament against the Canadians and that has given them a chance to stay out of relegation as they need to win against the Americans who are looking to keep in the hunt for first place

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