BRITISH COLUMBIA – After a very competitive round robin play, the medal round was finally here, as the eight nations would fight for a spot into the semi-finals. This meant that teams who were favoured would make it, but also teams would be upset.
Here’s a recap of all four games:
Switzerland vs. Sweden
Result: SUI wins 2-0
It’s been roughly 12 years since the last time Sweden lost a game during round robin play at the world juniors. Despite this amazing accomplishment, they only have one gold medal to show for it.
History would once again repeat itself as they would fall to the Swiss, in one of the biggest upsets at the World Juniors in a while.
Star forward Philipp Kurashev (Blackhawks) was held in check, it was Yannick Bruschweiler and Luca Wyss who would score for the Swiss, while Luca Hollenstein was phenomenal stopping all 32 shots, leading Switzerland to their first semi-final appearance since 2010.
Finland vs. Canada
Result: FIN wins 2-1 in OT
It has not been smooth sailing for Canada this year at the world juniors this season, from trouble on special teams, struggling to find the right combinations, you name it.
Both teams were looking to remove the bad taste from their losses on New Year’s Eve with a win and a trip to the final four.
With strong defensive play from both sides, it wasn’t until Ian Mitchell (Blackhawks) scored the go-ahead goal early into the second period. Canada was so close to a perfect defensive output until Eeli Tolvanen (Predators) scored off a lucky bounce to send the game into overtime.
Canada had plenty of chances to take home the victory, Maxime Comtois (Ducks) failed to score on a penalty shot opportunity, and Noah Dobson (Islanders)’s stick exploded on him, and shortly after the broken stick mishap, captain Aarne Talvitie (Devils) scored on the odd-man rush, breaking Canada’s opportunity to win back-to back gold medals.
Czech Republic vs. United States
Result: USA wins 3-1
After missing the last three round robin games due to injury, the United States would get a huge boost as projected No.1 overall pick Jack Hughes returned to the lineup.
He would instantly make an impact, setting up Noah Cates (Flyers) to give the US the 1-0 lead. University of Michigan product and newly-acquired from the Erik Karlsson deal Josh Norris scored on a breakaway to double it’s lead.
Although Colorado first-rounder Martin Kaut would cut the lead to 1, the United States would lock it down and take home the victory, defeating the Czech’s 3-1.
Slovakia vs. Russia
Result: RUS wins 8-3
After struggling to get things going offensively in the round robin, Russia finally found their touch, tallying 8 goals past Slovakia. 7 different Russians found the back of the net, while Klim Kostin had 2 goals of his own.
UP NEXT: Both semi-final matchups are scheduled on Friday January 4th, as the States play their rivals, Russia, while Finland and Switzerland will fight for the other spot for the gold medal game.