Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 World Junior U18 Tournament Update

The 2017 World Junior U18 Tournament is taking place in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia.

There are ten teams competing in two groups, with Group A consisting of Canada, Finland, Latvia, hosts Slovakia and Latvia, with all games taking place at the Poprad Ice Stadium.

Group B has Belarus, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and the United States all playing at the Spis Arena in Spisska Nova Ves.

2017 U18 logo

Action in Group A saw Canada and Finland win on opening day, with Canada winning 4-1 over Latvia and Slovakia, energized by their home crowd, giving Finland all it could handle. Finland led 1-0 after one, but the second period was a wild affair. Finland scored twice to take a 3-0 lead only to have the Slovaks erupt for four consecutive goals in a span of 7:39 to take a 4-3 lead! Finland was able to stop the bleeding and tie the score before the second period ended and then win with the only goal of the third period for a 5-4 final in a wild opening day game.

Switzerland shutout Latvia 4-0 on April 14th and then lost to the Finns 5-1 on the 15th. The Slovaks were at it again later the same day, as, after being down 3-1 to Canada after one, they scored once in the second and once in the third to send the game to overtime tied at 3-3. It would take 2:38 for Stylianos Mattheos to win the game for the Canadians 4-3, but relinquish a point in the standings to Finland.

Finland had an easy time of it against overmatched Latvia, winning 7-2 on the 16th. On the 17th, Canada stayed unbeaten with a 7-3 drubbing of Switzerland while Slovakia got a vital 3 points from their 4-0 win over the Latvians.

Yesterday, the Finns won the group thanks to a 6-3 win over Canada and Slovakia delighted their fans with a tight 2-1 win over the Swiss thanks to a goal early in the third. The win gave the Slovakians third place behind Canada, while Switzerland moves on to the Playoff Round thanks to their win over Latvia, who must now play in the Relegation Round after going winless and being outscored 19-3 in their four group games.

In Group B, the United States opened with an easy 7-0 win over Belarus on opening day, followed by Russia defeating Sweden once they got their offense going with 3 goals in the third period after trailing 1-0 after two.

The only game on the 14th saw the Czech Republic open with a 7-4 over Belarus. On the 15th, the vital matchup between the United States and Russia saw the Russians up 1-0 after one, but the Americans scored 3 second period goals plus the first goal of the third to take a 4-1 lead. The teams then traded goals to make it 5-2, but Russia made things uncomfortable for the US when they scored twice within 36 seconds to make it 5-4, which created a tense final three minutes, but the Americans held on to win.

In the second game on the 15th, Sweden defeated the Czechs 3-2 in regulation for the full three points. On the 16th, Sweden won again in dramatic fashion thanks to a power play goal with just 12 seconds remaining, robbing Belarus of a point in the standings for making it to overtime.

On the 17th, the United States won 5-2 over the Czechs to remain undefeated while Russia took care of business with a 4-1 win over Belarus.

The US completed their group stage undefeated with an easy 5-1 win over Sweden, while Russia took second place in Group B after a 5-4 overtime win over the Czech Republic. Sweden finished third in the group and the Czechs fourth to advance to the Playoff Round, while winless Belarus enters the Relegation Round against Latvia.

To date, the top three leading scorers are all from Finland, led by Kristian Vesalainen, who had 6 goals and 5 assists in 4 games, the only player in double digit scoring.

After a day off today, relegation play begins on Thursday the 20th with Game 2 in the best-of-three Friday and the deciding Game 3, if necessary, will be on Sunday the 23rd with all games in Spisska Nova Ves.

Also on Thursday, all four Quarterfinals will take place, with Finland versus the Czech Republic in Poprad, followed two hours later with Canada against Sweden at the Spis Arena.

Russia will try to spoil the party when they take on the host Slovakians in the second game in Poprad, while the final game of the day sees Switzerland looking for a way to upset the United States in Spisska Nova Ves.

The Semifinals are both on Saturday the 22nd with the losing sides meeting for the bronze medal in Sunday's first game followed by the gold medal final, will the final four games all taking place in Poprad.

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