Playtime is nearly over at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo and its now time to see the cream rise to the top. Team Canada laid a beating down on the Czech Republic and Norway in the last two nights to leave them atop Group A with 3 wins and set up a huge game to decide the group winner against a very tough and talented Swedish team on New Years Eve. But don’t get ahead of yourselves fans, this tournament is far from over, in fact its really just beginning.
From the get go it looked like this tournament would be one that came down to four real contenders, Canada, Sweden, Russia and the defending champions USA. So far the Finns have been the surprise and the Russians, who have dropped their first two games to Sweden and Canada respectively, have fizzled, but are not out of it, as a win against the Czech Republic and Norway should put the Russians into the medal rounds. The United States got off to a slow start against Finland but regrouped very well after that in manhandling the Slovaks in their second game. Sweden has gone about their business quietly, as per usual, and will look to knock off the Canadians in their showdown on Friday afternoon to win the group. However an injury to Gabriel Landeskog may damper the hopes of the “Tre Kronor” in this quest. Landeskog is a highly touted pick and will be missed up front for the Swedes.
Canada meanwhile has issues of their own as Buffalo Sabres Top Prospect, Zack Kassian was suspended two games, including the one against Sweden, for his head shot on Czech Forward Petr Senkerik. Calvin DeHaan and Jaden Schwartz may be back in the lineup on Friday night after both suffered lower body injuries during the Czech game. These are a couple of key components on this team who will be needed in the lineup on Friday night, and hopefully they can return.
One thing Canada hasn’t had trouble with is scoring goals. The Red and White have been lead by Brayden Schenn, who has 12 points in the first 3 games. The task at hand will be if Schenn can continue this torrid pace against the Swedes and in the remaining medal rounds. Ryan Ellis leads all tournament defenseman in scoring with 8 points and his play has been the model of consistency in this tournament.
Now Canada needs to focus on Sweden and the game at hand to earn a much needed bye into the Semi Finals on Monday. A few extra days of rest is needed for this team that is a big banged up to get healthy for a busy week ahead of games that matter the most.
- Emerson Etem of the United States heard the boo’s rain down on him during the Slovakia game. Etem tweeted that “Buffalo was a ghost town and that it made Medicine Hat look like Paradise” Needless to say Buffalonians were not happy with this and showered him with boo’s, even after he scored in the US win over Slovakia….I can only imagine how bad it will be when he gets back to Medicine Hat. Gotta love good old California born hockey players
-As of Thursday there were still tickets left for the Canada/Sweden game and for the Semis and Finals. Other than Canada games all other game are available at the box office or for much less than face value from brokers. One broker on the street by the HSBC Arena was offering “Buy 1 get 6 Free” tickets for the USA/Slovakia game
- If you plan on going down to the games in Buffalo when Canada plays bring your wallet. Parking has been skyrocketing anywhere between $20-$60, where its regularly $5-$20.
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis