It’s been a busy last two days at the World Junior Championships with the round robin wrapping up earlier today. Yesterday’s games made the standings even more foggy, but with the end of the round robin played today, we now know the matchups heading into the elimination round.
In yesterday’s action there were four games going on. The morning games consisted of Sweden taking on Kazakhstan and Canada facing Germany.
In the Sweden game, they used a four goal second period to blast away Kazakhstan and cruise to a 6-2 victory. Gustafsson finished with one assist and one shot on goal in 11:31 of ice-time.
Canada was up next and they bounced back in a big way after getting destroyed against Russia in the prior game. It was a classic team Canada performance as they pressured the opposition with a strong forecheck and didn’t allow anything easy on Hofer as they only gave up 19 shots against.
A consistent effort gave Canada the 4-1 victory and put them back into the win column.
The afternoon games featured a decisive victory by Switzerland over Slovakia with a 7-2 final and a surprisingly close game between USA and Czech Republic.
The USA game had tons of standings implications as Czech Republic were fighting to stay out of relegation and the USA wanting to win in regulation to try and claim first place in the group.
While the Americans have more skill then Czech Republic, the Czechs stunned the US with a third period goal to tie things at three. The game stayed tied and went to overtime which meant whoever won would only get two points and whoever lost would get one point. That’s exactly what the Czechs needed to stay out of the relegation games, but the USA weren’t too happy as an overtime would open the door for Canada to take top spot.
The US ended up winning the game, but losing the third point helped Canada.
Heading into the final day of round robin action, both Gustafsson and Heinola were in action while Canada had a chance to finish first in their group.
Sweden was up first as they took on Slovakia. The Swedes made quick work of the Slovaks and were once again perfect in round robin action as they extended their round robin winning streak to 53 games spanning 13 years. Their four wins put them on top of Group A.
Gustafsson put up four shots and had two penalty minutes while playing 15:20 in the big 6-2 victory.
Russia and Germany were up next with some really interesting possibilities from the game. If Russia were to lose the game, there was a chance that they would be sent to the relegation series. Because they had already lost to USA and Czech Republic, another loss to Germany would put them last in Group B.
Germany couldn’t quite crush the dreams of the Russians and Russia took charge and won the game 6-1 to punch their ticket to the elimination round.
In the afternoon games, the only things left to be decided was where the teams finished in the standings. It was already decided that Kazakhstan would face Germany for relegation so the only thing on the line was the seeding for the quarterfinals.
Heinola and the Finns took a surprising loss to Switzerland by a decisive 5-2 score. Switzerland scored three goals in the second period and added another two in the third to take the game and jump into second place in Group A.
Heinola finished the game with one assist and a -1 rating while playing 15:38 minutes.
The last game of the day was team Canada taking on Czech Republic. With a win, Canada would jump into first place in the group and set themselves up for an easier quarterfinal matchup.
The Czech Republic was dealing with some injuries and team Canada took advantage of their depth as they had a phenomenal opening period. This was aided by a whopping four goals on the powerplay as the Czech’s dealt with far too many penalties including a five minute major and a game misconduct for spearing.
Canada road the strong first period to victory as they finished with a 7-2 final. This win put Canada first in Group B and with this being the final game, the standings are finally set for the elimination round.
This sets the stage for the quarterfinals with Sweden playing Czech Republic, Switzerland playing Russia, Finland facing USA and Slovakia taking on Canada.
With everyone getting a day off tomorrow, the quarterfinals are set to go on Thursday.
After the round robin, both Heinola and Gustafsson are making their mark. Heinola finished with four assists in his four games and that puts him tied for third in point among defensemen. Gustafsson on the other hand has been absolutely dominant in the faceoff circle with the most faceoff wins in the entire tournament. That isn’t just because he takes a lot of them as he’s operating at a crazy percentage of 72.37% which is second in the tournament.