Czech Republic 0
* The Germans upset the Czechs thanks in large part to a tremendous effort by Frederik Tiffels, who had two goals and an assist. His teammate Dominik Kahun had one and one for two, while goaltender Marvin Cupper did his part with a 40 save shutout.
That upset means that the Czechs have to beat the Slovaks to avoid relegation, but it looks like they will. They’re up 4-1 as I write this.
* Finnish goaltender Juuse Saros made 28 saves on 29 shots to help the Finns upset the Russians. The only two point performance in that game was from Teuvo Teravinen, both assists.
* The Slovaks were looking like they might upset Canada after taking a 3-1 lead courtesy two and one for three from David Griger and one and two for three from Martin Reway. But, big performances from Anthony Mantha (one and three for four) and Nick Petan (two and one for three) pushed Canada to victory. By the way, Petan had a pretty decent day, all told:
— Steve McAllister (@yahoomac) December 31, 2013
You can find more on my thoughts about that game here.
The tournament is starting to get fun. My two favourite parts about watching junior hockey both kinda come down to “weaknesses”:
* Players are more susceptible to the type of human emotions that make us make terrible mistakes…and do genius things. It takes a lot of failure and success in sports to get to the point where you can slough off the highs and lows and maintain solid, consistent play. For a teenager, it’s really hard to shake off mistakes/not get cocky depending on how your game is going. I know that’s a generalization, but I don’t think many people would argue with it. Anyway, that leaves games prone to wild momentum swings, which can be a blast to watch. Few games are truly over until the fat lady sings.
* Players make more mistakes (they’re talented, but again – still teenagers), so there’s always chances to comeback. Guys are still honing their skills. As Cam Charron tweeted yesterday, that means 3-1 ain’t no thang (my words not his, though the sentiment is the same) in junior hockey, so again – more reason to watch all 60 minutes. A game could be 3-0 with five minutes left, and unlike NHL hockey, there’s a real chance for the trailing team.
Canada vs. USA preview
The final round robin game in Group A is Canada/US, and it doesn’t come without implications. Here’s how Chris Peters – for my money, the most important World Junior hockey follow by a good distance – laid out the scenarios on United States of Hockey.com:
The game also takes on a rather significant tone as the winner of the USA-Canada game will take the top seed in Group A heading into the medal round, with a few different scenarios altering the outcome. A win of any kind gives the U.S. the group. If Canada beats the U.S. in regulation, they win the group outright. However, if the game does not conclude in regulation, the U.S. will win the group regardless of result. An overtime or shootout win is only two points, while the loser gets the remaining point. In an overtime/shootout loss situation, the U.S. would beat Canada by one point to win the group, finishing with 10 points over Canada’s nine. So… there’s your education in the three-point system.
The loser would likely have to play Russia in the quarterfinal, which is a pretty tough draw that early in the playoffs. That of course is if Sweden beats Russia, which they are favored to do, but anything can happen. Another scenario would have the loser play Finland in the quarterfinals and a highly unlikely chance of meeting Sweden. So, craziness on the last day at the WJC could change plenty.
Other notes on the game:
* Griffin Reinhart has served his full suspension, and will return to Canada’s lineup.
* The US team will have their full lineup as well.
* Canada’s goaltending has yet to be impressive. Fucale will go again today, so keep an eye on that position – it could swing the game singlehandedly.
* The US has 11(!) powerplay goals in the tournament already. They have 19 total goals, so y’know…special teams have been a big part of that. Discipline, in both systems and not taking penalties, is going to be important for both sides.
It should be a fun day at the World Juniors! Check back later for more.