2016 World Juniors Report (Semi-Finals)

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International rivalries are an interesting thing as a lot more goes into them than simply the games they play against each other.

In fact most international rivalries about everything but the game they are playing with long histories between teams.

It is not like a professional rivalry that is formed from familiarity and big games every year where legendary stories back up a hatred by each team towards the other.

The international teams rarely even see each other and when they do it is rarely the same team that they see and that each of them are playing.

There may be come great history between two teams and it is sure to provide some extra fuel to the fire but it is the history of the countries that form the base for all of these rivalries.

Histories are long and complicated as most deal with war or occupation and have a hatred that goes far beyond any field or sheet of ice.

The teams that play together now are rarely involved in the same situations as in the past and sports provides an outlet for the feelings of either country towards the other.

It is almost as if sports have taken the place as a way to prove which country is better as it is one country’s best against another country’s best.

So sports can take that place and more often than not the history between the two teams and the two countries comes through in a game that can usually get a little chippy at times.

In the semi-finals of the World Juniors two of the bigger rivalries in international sports took form in two U20 hockey teams facing off for a chance to play for the gold medal.

There was the Scandinavian rivalry between the Swedes and the Finns that seems to be taking a bigger role in every international hockey tournament.

What made it that much better this time around was the location with the two neighbouring countries having easy access to the tournament.

The Finns have come out in a big way for the entire tournament while Swedes have been right alongside them and either arena has been loud for every one of their games.hockey-sidebar

Both teams came in with talented teams but the Finns were expected to be too young to compete for the title while the Swedes were a more experienced team expected to compete for gold.

The Finns young guns that had led them to the semi-finals were shut down but the Swedes couldn’t shut everyone down and two goals in the second period led the Finns to the win and a chance at the gold medal with at least the silver medal going to the host team.

The next semi-final featured another old rivalry in the USA against the Russians that goes back to the “Miracle on Ice” and the Cold War between the two countries.

There is no love lost between the two teams and USA head coach Ron Wilson added some fuel to the fire before the game.

During an interview Wilson stated that he didn’t know anyone on the Russian team and that he didn’t know anything about the team instead choosing to focus on how the USA played.

They played well but two quick goals in the second period put the Russians ahead in a game that was more or less dominated by the Americans.

The Russians took the win with the Americans falling just short after a promising start to the tournament.

The bronze medal game will be a matter of getting motivation for both teams that were considered two of the best in the tournament.

They won’t be playing for gold but they definitely don’t want to go home empty handed and sometimes that can escape young teams who struggle to find motivation.

As for the gold the theme of rivalries will continue in a big way as the Finns and Russians do not like each other and never have.

Their first game in the round robin was one of the most physical of the entire tournament and possibly the best game of the tournament.

They will face-off again as the hosts look to make the home crowd happy while the Russians look to add to their gold medal tally as they try to catch up to the Canadians with their 14th gold of the tournament.

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