2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 1)

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If there is a theme heading into the World Championship it is that the youth movement has reached international hockey.

For years, the NHL has been seeing younger stars take control of the league while older players seem to be sitting in the backseat unless your name is Jaromir Jagr.

Teams are getting younger but in international hockey, it always seemed to be experience that was valued over youth for the World Championship.

That has changed in a big way this year as many of the top teams are going with far younger groups than they have before.

A big part of it is the fact that many of the top young players are on teams that aren’t very good.

Young NHL players don’t get drafted to the best teams and so they are available when the NHL playoffs begin.

They are also a group of players that have the energy to play in the World Championship after an 82-game season.

After a season that long it is hard for many players to make a trip to the World Championship.

Many of the veterans are nursing wounds or just want to save their bodies for the next season.

That is a big reason why Jaromir Jagr retired from international hockey as his concentration is in the NHL and staying healthy to play as long as possible.

The younger players have more energy and don’t necessarily need to take a break to restore their bodies for another season.

Despite all of this the younger players were never the first choice for many teams as the international game is different from the one in North America.

It usually takes experience for a player to adjust quick enough to be effective in the game and experience to know what they can get away with and what is sure to be called.

Younger players can have a tougher time with this adjustment and can put their teams in tough situations with bigger ice and more penalties.

The difference now though is that the best players from every country are going through the ringer in the World Juniors where they are introduced to the international game.

They are well-adjusted to the game and are getting more of a chance to perform on the bigger stage.

Leading the way in this youth movement is the defending champion Canadians where the elder statesman on the team is Corey Perry at 30-years-old.

It is an exceptionally young team but they are not the only team with a similar makeup this year.hockey-sidebar

The Swedes have three players over the age of 30 while the Russians have only two players over 30-years-old.

What might be a bigger display of the youth movement is that some of the most important players for any team are under the age of 25.

The Americans are looking to Auston Matthews while the Finns are looking to Patrik Laine both of whom are set to be drafted this year in the NHL.

Teams like Germany and Canada will look to some big pieces like Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to help them get wins and the rest of the teams have some key young pieces.

The World Championship is getting into the youth movement and in this tournament, it will likely make the difference between winning a medal and having a forgettable tournament.

That is the way the sport is going and really the way that any sport is going.

Younger players are making a bigger impact as they are bigger and stronger at a younger age and have that ability to play with the best of them.

Whether the youth movement pays off with a gold for a team like Canada remains to be seen.

For now, though it seems to be a tournament where the reset button is being pressed and teams are looking to their next generation to lead for now and into the future as a new era for many teams starts now.

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Day 1:
Sweden 2-1 Latvia (OT)
– They were at it again as Latvia did not go away with Elvis Merzlikis saving 42 shots and giving the Latvians a chance to tie the game and take a point from the Swedes but they couldn’t get past a more talented team

Canada 5-1 USA
– The USA started out will as they put the first goal on the board but after that it was all Canada as they scored 5 straight goals to take their first win and continue a World championship streak of 11 wins

Czech Republic 3-0 Russia
– It didn’t take long for the first upset of the tournament as the hometown Russians couldn’t get past Dominik Furch who shut out a team many expected to win this game while the Czechs put up two goals and added an empty netter to take the win

Finland 6-2 Belarus
– The Finns proved that the youth movement has arrived in the World Championships with 18-year-old Patrik Laine and 24-year-old Mikael Granlund leading the way with two goals apiece to lead the Finns to a blowout win over Belarus

Day 2:
Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan (Saturday, May 7th; 5:15 am ET)
– The Swiss are hoping that they won’t be fighting with Kazakhstan at the end of the tournament but they still need this win to start off their tournament right and get an important three points towards the playoffs.

Slovakia vs. Hungary (Saturday, May 7th; 5:15 am ET)
– Hungary enters the top division once again and they won’t have to play a top team but Slovakia is far from a pushover as the Hungarians look to prove they belong and the Slovakians try to earn an important first win

Norway vs. Denmark (Saturday, May 7th; 9:15 am ET)
– These two teams may very well be fighting down the stretch so their initial game could mean a lot for the standings as both teams try to get the win and start their tournaments off the right way before facing the top teams

France vs. Germany (Saturday, May 7th; 9:15 am ET)
– A year from now these two countries will be hosting the World Championship and this game would be a dream gold medal final, albeit unlikely, but for now, they will face-off in the round robin hoping to an early boost towards the playoffs

Latvia vs. Czech Republic (Saturday, May 7th; 1:15 pm ET)
– The Latvians were once again a team that fights until the end when they pushed Sweden to overtime and now they will look to play the spoiler against the Czechs who can’t take this team lightly if they want to keep up with other teams in their group

Belarus vs. USA (Saturday, May 7th; 1:15 pm ET)
– The Belarusians showed fight in their first game but came up short against a better team while the Americans were blown out by a rival and both are looking to get on the right path as the Americans try to get past their last game and beat a less skilled team

 

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