2017 World Juniors Report (Quarter-Finals)

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The quarter-finals are over and the medal teams have been determined as four teams are left to fight it out for the gold.

The first round of the playoffs certainly served a purpose this time around but it wasn’t necessarily one that the IIHF wanted to see.

The first round this year has produced a very familiar group of medal teams as there won’t be a lot of change when the medals are handed out.

There is an overwhelming theme through the last few years of international hockey and that has been the growth of the sport around the world.

There were always the powerhouses in hockey and for a very long time they were the only teams that needed to show up for any tournament.

No other countries could even come close to the major powers in hockey and it made from some boring round robins in the major tournaments.

When these teams got to face each other with bigger stakes that is when the tournaments actually took on a much better look.

There has been a rise in recent years though as there are more teams making a bigger impact on the world of international hockey.

The small teams that used to be overlooked because they simply didn’t have the talent to compete are now beginning to surprise teams more often.

The Juniors are a good indication of the growth as the best young players from every country find their way to the tournament and show the future of the game.

In the Juniors that growth shown by other countries is having a bigger impact than ever before and that was evident throughout the round robin.

Denmark was the perfect example as the Danes finished in second place in Group A after beating Finland and the Czech Republic on their way to their best showing ever.

Meanwhile, the defending champions were shut down by everyone except the Swiss losing three games to find themselves in relegation.

The round robin was full of surprises as teams that were never really a big part of the tournament were giving top teams some challenges.

The problem with the growth of these countries is that it is still very slow and they still lag far behind the top teams.

They did well in the round robin to make some noise and find their way to the quarter-finals with a chance at the medal round.hockey-sidebar

The round robin is where it ends though as the teams that have always been on the top remained on the top for another year.

The final four teams are a very familiar group and have all won gold medals in recent years with all also being medalists for years.

Sweden, USA, Canada, and Russia will all once again fight it out for the chance to win gold this year and that is not the best thing for the IIHF.

On one hand, it is not the worst thing as the best teams in the world face off in what promises to be another good medal round.

The rivalries will return and increase as these games have become the bedrock for all international hockey.

The top teams will always put up a good fight against each other and ultimately the IIHF wants those exciting games to get people into the tournament.

On the other hand, the fact that the usual suspects are all a part of the medal rounds again means that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Parity for every sport and every sports organisation is sometimes a double-edged sword because it lacks those dominant teams but also provides more teams competing.

For the IIHF parity is always the goal despite what it might do for the big programs to not be able to see their teams in important games.

Parity in the IIHF means that they are doing their job of growing the game in all parts of the world.

Without it, all teams in the IIHF are simply playing for personal bests rather than medals.

There are the few who will always compete for medals but some are just trying to get a win or two in the tournament for the first time.

That parity era might be coming soon and the IIHF is hoping they see it soon as they want to see more teams in the hunt for the medals.

For now that time is still some time off as the top teams from past tournaments remain the only teams in the hunt.

It means fewer underdogs to cheer for but also better games between the best teams in the world with the greatest collection of future superstars.

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