The final day of group play at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships understandably had most of its attention focused on the clash of unbeatens between Canada and the United States. But there was plenty of drama elsewhere as well, especially in Group A where three teams had a chance of finishing second (and thereby avoiding Canada or the USA in the first game of the knockout round).
- No reason to start with anything other than the headliner: a 3-1 win for the United States, taking the top spot in Group B in undefeated fashion. Two quick power-play goals from Jordan Greenway (Wild) and Clayton Keller (Coyotes) put the Americans up 2-0 six minutes into the game, and gave Team USA a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Greenway assisted on both of the other American goals. Canada did what they could, firing 26 shots on Joseph Woll (Maple Leafs), but it wasn’t enough as they fell for the first time in the tournament.
- Sweden joined the United States in going through the group stage undefeated, finishing their perfect start to the tournament with a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. Jonathan Dahlen (Senators) scored a hat trick with one goal in each period as the Swedes jumped out to a 5-0 lead before allowing a pair of consolation goals to the Czechs, who missed a chance to jump idle Denmark into second place.
- Finland finally got off their slide, but it took a change of coaches and an already-booked trip to the relegation round to get the Finns going. To their credit, they did it in style, shutting out Switzerland 2-0 while pouring 53 shots on the overmatched Swiss. Two second-period goals were enough for the Finns, as they prepare for their best-of-three series against Latvia to avoid relegation from next year’s tournament. The Swiss also missed their chance to claim second place, meaning surprising Denmark will continue its Cinderella run against Russia in the first game of the knockout round.
- The nightcap was another 2-0 shutout, this one for Russia over Slovakia as the Russians moved to 2-2 for the tournament and clinched third place in Group B. A power-play goal by Denis Guryanov (Stars) midway through the game was the difference, with a third-period goal from Yakov Trenin (Predators) providing insurance.
Today Tomorrow at the WJHC
Everyone gets the day off Sunday. That sets up a long day of hockey starting early on Monday: a five-game day, with the first game of the relegation round leading off.
- Finland vs. Latvia (relegation game 1): 11:00 a.m. ET, Bell Centre
- Denmark (2nd group A) vs. Russia (3rd group B): 1:00 p.m., Air Canada Centre
- Sweden (1st group A) vs. Slovakia (4th group B): 3:30 p.m., Bell Centre
- United States (1st group B) vs. Switzerland (4th group A): 5:30 p.m., Air Canada Centre
- Canada (2nd group B) vs. Czech Republic (3rd group A): 8:00 p.m., Bell Centre
All games available on NHL Network in the United States. Games will be joined in progress as necessary, although it would be no surprise to see the Sweden/Slovakia game dropped before its end in favor of USA/Switzerland.