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Sweden and Canada are on their way to group domination at the 2017 World Juniors

Finland is heading some other direction. Catch up on Thursday’s action and see who the top lines are at this year’s tournament.

Canada v Russia - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship

Group A Games

Czech Republic at Denmark: 3-2 Denmark in OT

This first game of the day on Thursday was the one that will have the most repercussions. That’s how these tournaments work. By winning two games, Denmark has put the Finnish feet to the fire more than they already were. By taking it to overtime, the Czechs got a point, and that put them in a good position no matter what other teams do.

This was a very unexpected win, and is Denmark’s fourth ever at the WJC. They didn’t even use the same goalie that got them the win against Finland! They were outshot by the Czechs 34-22, and 12-6 in the third period, but the Danes got the only goal in the third to tie it up.

If Switzerland loses their game today against Denmark in regulation or overtime, and the Finns beat the Swiss in their final game in regulation, the Swiss end up in relegation. This is possible, but not probable, but then getting to this point wasn’t probable either. If the Swiss don’t lose to the script, the Finns will go from champion to relegation round in one year.

Sweden at Finland: 3-1 Sweden

All of this relegation angst came about because Sweden got the job done against a much tougher Finnish team than the Danes faced. Never let it be said the Finns didn’t come to play this one. They outshot Sweden in every period and played every second of the game like they thought they could win. This very young Finnish team learned their lesson, just a bit too late.

Finland opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period and they held that lead for half of the game.

In the second period, the Swedes got into penalty trouble, Carl Grundström took two, but they killed them all, and that may have won them the game before they ever scored a goal.

Draft prospect Lias Andersson got the first Swedish goal to tie the game, and the third period became the decider.

The man who made the decision was Alex Nylander who scored from Grundström (he played with Nylander and Joel Eriksson Ek most of the game) and then capped it off with the empty net goal. Nylander is the best player on the Swedish team this year, edging out Eriksson Ek and Oliver Kylington who seems to be in on every good thing that happens on the ice.

Group B Games

USA at Russia: 3-2 USA

In a somewhat surprising development, Russia lost to the USA in a game where they never seemed very competitive.

However, the Russians are unlikely to finish last in their group; the winner of today’s Latvia-Slovakia tilt will likely have that sewn up (the loser will go to the relegation round). The Russians also cannot finish first, since they lost to Canada on the first day, and counting on a USA win over Canada to open things up seems like faint hope.

So making a massive effort to beat the USA and finish second instead of third when the choices of opponents in Group A for the quarterfinal seem equally mediocre, doesn’t look like the efficient way to win a medal in this tournament. Seeming to lazily back into the semifinals and then surprising everyone with the quality of the team does seem very Russian though.

For the USA, they are tied with Canada right now with 9 points each, and the game tomorrow between these two will determine the winner of Group B.

Jeremy Bracco had two shots on goal in this game for the USA, and no points. So for in the tournament, he has one goal. Joseph Woll was the backup and did not play.

Canada at Latvia: 10-2 Canada

Canada stomped the Latvians, who played a much better game than Slovakia did while receiving their stomping.

Martins Dzierkals got the second goal for Latvia, unassisted, late in the game. Latvia needs to beat Slovakia today to stave off a trip to the relegation round.

In the scoring list so far, you can see the new top Swedish line penetrating the higher ranks. Grundström is tenth right now. The Russian, Canadian and USA lines that are driving play make up the rest of the top ten. The Swiss star, Nico Hischier makes the top 20, but no Czechs or Finns do, showing those two teams are really lacking in star power.

2017 IIHF WJC Scoring on December 30

Name Team Pos GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Name Team Pos GP G A PTS PIM +/-
KAPRIZOV Kirill RUS F 3 5 3 8 2 4
NYLANDER Alexander SWE F 3 4 3 7 0 8
STROME Dylan CAN F 3 2 5 7 0 1
RADDYSH Taylor CAN F 3 5 1 6 2 3
BARZAL Matt CAN F 3 3 3 6 4 4
RYKOV Yegor RUS D 3 1 5 6 0 4
VOROBYOV Mikhail RUS F 3 0 6 6 2 4
ERIKSSON EK Joel SWE F 3 3 2 5 0 7
KELLER Clayton USA F 3 3 2 5 0 3
GRUNDSTROM Carl SWE F 3 1 4 5 4 5
WHITE Colin USA F 3 3 1 4 2 4
POLUNIN Alexander RUS F 3 2 2 4 4 1
TERRY Troy USA F 3 2 2 4 2 3
HISCHIER Nico SUI F 2 1 3 4 2 1
RIAT Damien SUI F 2 1 3 4 4 1
CHABOT Thomas CAN D 3 1 3 4 4 0
DUBOIS Pierre-Luc CAN F 3 0 4 4 0 1
THURKAUF Calvin SUI F 2 2 1 3 2 -1
BLICHFELD Joachim DEN F 3 2 1 3 0 1
CIRELLI Anthony CAN F 3 2 1 3 2 4