2016 World Juniors Report (Medal Day)

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Medal day in the World Junior tournament has come and gone as four teams were left trying to win their last game of the tournament.

For two of those teams the biggest challenge wasn’t even their opponents as the Swedes and the Americans had a much tougher fight on their hands.

The bronze medal game is not the game that either team wanted to be in this year as both were looking squarely at the gold medal.

They got close too as both teams played well throughout the tournament and both were seen as favourites to make it to the gold medal game.

They found themselves in the semi-finals but despite two good performances they couldn’t get the win they needed.

Both teams lost by only one goal to their long-time rivals. That is where the real battle begin though as both teams are still in the tournament which is not a familiar feeing.

Usually a loss means that the tournament is over and there is nothing left to play for.

Instead there is a medal to play for and although to some teams that is a great motivating factor to two teams that were supposed to compete for gold the bronze is a terrible consolation prize.

The heartbreak of losing a close game is always hard to deal with as it is the lowest point that many players will see for the entire tournament.

Then they have to get up to play another competitive game for a medal that they don’t even want when they initially are put into the game.

The problem with it though is that when the tournament ends no player wants to have lost their last game and going home with something is better than going home with nothing at all.

It doesn’t come through for many before the game but when everything ends it is only a worse shot to the gut going home with two straight losses and nothing to show for the hard work throughout the tournament.

Both Sweden and the USA were heading into the bronze medal game with that problem of getting motivated hanging over their head.

The Americans clearly didn’t let it affect them while the Swedes, for the second year in a row, couldn’t get past that motivation factor.

The Americans put up eight goals against a Swedish team that allowed three goals only once in the tournament and never any more.hockey-sidebar

They simply didn’t have the motivation and they lost their second bronze medal game in as many year while the Americans were clearly ready to compete for a medal no matter what colour the medal was.

As for the other game on the day there was not lack of motivation to be seen as the Finns and the Russians were ready to compete to be the best junior team in the world.

For the Russians it was a chance to take home a gold and inch closer to the most gold medals in tournament history.

For the Finns it was a chance to win the gold at home and take their second gold in three years.

The game was a tight one as both teams weren’t willing to give in but the Russians seemed to be in control.

They scored first and kept the lead until the third period when the Finns seemed to finally wake up.

Not long into the third the Finns tied the game only to see the Russians go ahead again shortly after.

Finland wasn’t going to give in though as they tied it once again and then late in the period went ahead for the first time all game.

Not to be outdone the Russians stayed in it and with only seven seconds left in the game scored the tying goal to send the game to overtime.

Both teams went back and forth again in the overtime period but a quick move from Kasperi Kapanen saw the young Maple Leafs prospect work around the net and put the puck in to win the gold medal.

The Russians suffered a heart breaker but continued a streak of six straight tournaments with a medal even if it wasn’t the colour they were looking for at the end.

The Finns took home the gold in front of a crazy home crowd and proved that the rest of the world is still competing.

It was their second gold in three years but in this version of the team draft eligible players led them the entire way.

Unfortunately the performances could mean that the majority of this team will not be back next year as many could be playing the NHL.

For the Finnish program the future is very promising with more talent than ever coming out of the country and a Junior win is only the beginning of what could be a tough few years for everyone else in international hockey.

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