2018 World Juniors Report (Medal Day)

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The two toughest games in any international tournament take place on the final day when the medals are determined.

Both the gold medal and bronze medal games are far from easy to win but they are difficult for very different reasons.

In the bronze medal game, neither team wants to be there as they have already fallen short of their ultimate goal.

No team heads into a tournament looking to play for the bronze medal as most are hoping for gold even if the chances aren’t very high.

When they get to the semi-finals the chances become a lot better and they are only two wins away from taking the top prize.

Losing those semi-final games takes that dream away and then they have to get up and ready to go for another game that means a little less.

It can be tough for a team to get back to that killer instinct in a game that they don’t want to be a part of and that lack of motivation shows constantly.

It can be a strange game most of the time as both teams might be completely unmotivated to play or motivated to at least end the tournament with a medal.

This year in the World Juniors it was a little of both as one team clearly showed up to ensure they weren’t going to leave without something to show for their efforts.

That was the Americans while the Czechs struggled to find any energy after a great tournament that where nobody expected them to even be playing for a medal.

The Americans took the convincing 9-3 win and took home a medal to save some face in a tournament that they hosted and were favourites in.

It wasn’t an easy game to get up for but the Americans did it and came out with the bronze while the Czechs failed to get going and ended their tournament with nothing but a fourth-place ranking.

Although the bronze is a tough game simply because of the lack of motivation to play the gold medal is a different beast entirely.

The gold is the exact opposite of the bronze as motivation is a problem for another reason, there is so much of it.

More often than not the gold medal game features two teams with the most talent in the tournament and essentially the most talent in the world at that level.

These teams often come into the tournament as the teams that not only want but expect to win gold.

That was the case this year when the Canadians and Swedes faced off with Canada always expected to win gold and Sweden as one of the early favourites.hockey-sidebar

Both teams came into the game knowing that losing was not going to go over well in their respective countries.

They wanted the win and that made everyone play that much better pitting two of the best junior teams in the world against each other with a lot of motivation to play their best hockey.

That is what the fans got as they both came out playing tight hockey and going back and forth between looking overwhelmed then doing the overwhelming.

The Canadians took an early 1-0 lead in the second round only to see the Swedes knot the game at one a piece with a shorthanded goal later in the period.

They continued to play a tight game throughout the third until the final two minutes of the game when one of the only players that hadn’t scored for the Canadians finally put in his first goal.

Tyler Steenbergen scored to go ahead 2-1 late in the third period and gave the Canadians the lead they needed.

After adding an empty net goal not long after the Canadians had insurance and rode the two-goal lead to the end of the game.

The Canadians finished on top yet again and are now the best junior team in the world for another year.

They did it with what was the most balanced attack in the tournament with every Canadian except Dante Fabbro putting up at least a point throughout the tournament.

This could possibly go down as the most balanced team Canada has ever had without big names or stars coming into the tournament.

They are often anchored by a major name that is either expected to go early in the draft or did go early and found himself on the roster.

This year that guy didn’t exist and although the team was full of future NHL talent with every player on the team drafted and almost all in the first two rounds.

They didn’t have that one guy that needed to perform as they relied on a team instead and it took them to the gold medal to take their second title in four years.

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