2019 World Juniors Report (Quarterfinals)

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Lessons were learned on Quarterfinal day in the world Juniors and overall the major lesson was that the separation between teams is beginning to go away.

There will always be an issue when it comes to hockey as the difference between teams will always be there.

Teams like Canada and Russia have such a head start on everyone else and they will likely stay ahead of the game.

When the sport is among the favourites throughout the country they often get the best athletes to play the sport.

With the best athletes playing the commitment is there to be great and find the best techniques to remain the best.

It will take a long time for the rest of the countries to catch up but as the sport continues to grow and the blueprint is seen by everyone the division is shrinking.

For decades every international tournament really only involved a few good countries who held all of the talent.

The Juniors were even worse with Russia and Canada counting as the only good teams and everyone else falling far short.

They were really the only teams who put any kind of focus on the young talent in their countries while everyone else was trying to catch up on the men’s side of the sport.

It was a long time until the men’s teams began to catch up but there are more competitive teams now than ever before.

That is beginning to show in the Juniors as countries are realizing the value in developing these players from a younger age.

The entire sports landscape is shifting younger and hockey is no different with better and more mature players coming through to the NHL.

More and more countries are realizing that and so they are helping to develop these young players giving them plenty of players to choose from when creating the Junior team every year.

This coupled with more players making the trip to North America where they can take advantage of the best development program in the world, the CHL, gives teams more talent developed to be better.

That development has already made itself known as Canada or Russia winning a gold medal is far from guaranteed.

Only a few years ago it wasn’t too strange to see Canada make a run at five straight titles and having a good chance of doing it.

Now it is just tough for them to get one gold medal and repeat the next year with more and more competitive teams.

The other big teams were the first to start seeing the change as Sweden and the USA were the teams to begin seeing more and more talent develop at a young age.

Recently the Finns have seen a resurgence with more young talent than ever before giving them a serious run over the last few years.

Other teams that are never considered much of a power are beginning to see more of a chance year after year.

Teams like Slovakia and Switzerland continue to sit in the top tier of the tournament and both have beaten the best teams on a regular basis.

So far this year the difference was seen pretty easily as the best team rose to the top of the groups while everyone else fell to the bottom.

Everything finished predictably throughout the group stage but those games don’t really matter at the end of the day.hockey-sidebar

The playoffs are all that matter and in the quarterfinals, it is all about who can take that one game and play for a medal.

This year things went a little differently than expected and it started with the first quarterfinal matchup.

That is where Switzerland was able to eliminate Sweden continuing one of the most unfortunate trends in the Juniors.

They are one of the best group stage teams ever winning 48 straight games in the group stage and yet they have only won one gold medal in the last decade.

This year they will get no medals as the Swiss took a 2-0 win in the first quarterfinal setting the tone.

The next game up provided its own surprise as the Canadians will go without a medal for the first time ever in this tournament.

After leading for the entire game the Canadians allowed a goal off of the skate of a Finnish player with less than a minute to go.

The game went to overtime and despite two great chances, the Canadians couldn’t score while the Finns buried the game-winner.

Last year’s two gold medal game participants are now out of the tournament and won’t even play for a medal while the Americans and Russians get their shot in the semi-finals.

A new champion will be crowned and there may be some surprises left as the gap continues to close and getting a medal becomes tougher every year.

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