2017 World Juniors Report (Day 3)

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After only three days the World Juniors are beginning to take shape but it is not in the image that many had thought.

At the top, the usual suspects are hanging around waiting for their biggest games to truly decide a winner.

What is more interesting though is the fight at the bottom of the standings where the stakes are a little more serious.

Of course winning the gold is the ultimate goal for every team and in some cases, it is the only result that is acceptable.

It is a major goal for everyone but in the end whether someone finishes first or fourth they will remain in the top level and continue to fight for another year.

They will be back and despite the criticism, they will face for winning they will get another chance a year from now to win another medal.

What is more concerning for teams is the dreaded relegation where a team is forced into that second tier of teams and has to fight their way back to the top tier.

It is never a good thing for a team to be relegated as they go from being one of the top teams with real recognition to essentially a forgotten team.

The other tiers of the tournament are not nearly as recognisable as they are played around the world and yet are rarely talked about.

Nobody knows who wins these tournaments aside from the Division I where one team makes their way to the big tournament every year.

That is one of the ultimate losses as a team can find their way to the second tier and may not find their way back for years.

That puts them out of the limelight and could ultimately make potential players choose another sport because they don’t get to see their own countrymen play.

That is the risk that many teams continue to play year after year as they fight for their life in the top tier time and time again.

This year the usual teams are sitting near the bottom again and fighting to stay a part of the top tier for 2018.

Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia are all teams that have been used to relegation and the issues that come with relegation.

Latvia was just in that world as they had been a part of Division I for three years before finally finding their way back to the top tier.

They haven’t made a good run of it so far losing both of their games so far by a combined score of 15-2 and sitting at the bottom of their group.

The Swiss just avoided relegation a year ago as they were able to beat the Belarussians in the relegation series last year.

This year they are sitting right on the edge after an overtime win in their first game giving them two points but they are far from guaranteed a spot in the top tier next year.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has not been in Division I for a number of years but they always seem to be right on the edge only one bad game away from reaching that series.

They are sitting right there again after losing all of their first games and are only above the Latvians for their goal differential.hockey-sidebar

The one surprise though has been the Finns who have lost both of their games so far this tournament and sit just below the Swiss.

If they cannot get a regulation win in one of their next two games, against Sweden and Switzerland, they will then have to fight for their spot in the top tier.

That could be a massive failure for the program and the country as they have looked so good at every level in recent years.

To go from gold to relegation would certainly be a disaster for the Finns as they seemed to be growing but this will be a setback.

The fight at the bottom of each group is getting interesting and it is setting up for some very important games in the next few days.

The final games between these teams are often meant for these big games despite the lack of big-name talent.

At first look, they are not necessarily the best match-ups with the best players and the most talent but when you put a berth in next year’s tournament on the line things get much more interesting.

That could be the case this time around as the final games are looking like they could mean the difference between a team moving on in the top tier or finding themselves in Division I.

standings-day3-fw

Day 3:
Sweden 4-2 Switzerland
– The Swiss were trying to follow up their first two points after an overtime win with a massive upset against the swedes but it wasn’t to be as Sweden continued their run through the tournament with their second win

USA 5-2 Slovakia
– The Americans continue what have been essentially warm up games before a very tough finish against two of the top teams but they took care of business in the first two taking a good win over the Slovaks

Day 4:
Denmark vs. Czech Republic (Thursday, December 29th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Danes are quickly becoming the darlings of the tournament for the second year in a row and there will be plenty of fans cheering for them as they take on the Czechs hoping to solidify a spot in the playoffs

Russia vs. USA (Thursday, December 29th; 3:30 pm ET)
– An old rivalry renewed once again as the Americans start their toughest part of the tournament playing the Russians and hoping to take a win to stay on top of the group and set up what could be another classic New Year’s Eve border war

Finland vs. Sweden (Thursday, December 29th; 5:30 pm ET)
– The Finns and Swedes were supposed to be fighting for the top of the group with this game but it hasn’t turned out that way as the Finns are at the bottom of the group hoping to get their first win while the Swedes are hoping to secure the top spot

Latvia vs. Canada (Thursday, December 29th; 8:00 pm ET)
– So far it has been a good campaign for the home team as the Canadians have taken two wins and they will try to continue to take wins but the Latvians have made a habit of surprising the Canucks which they hope to do again

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