2011 World Junior Wrap-up

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The 2011 IIHF World Under 20 Hockey Championships are over. Team Russia takes home the gold, Team Canada collapsed in the final and Team USA leaves with the bronze. Over the past 11 days, we witnessed some amazing hockey by the best young hockey players in the world.

The four strongest teams going into the tournament ended up in the four top spots in the end. Just not in the order they were predicted to be in. Most predicted a Canada – USA final with the gold up for grabs with Sweden and Russia being strong threats to challenge them.

Leading up to the final, Team Canada beat USA and Russia but lost to Sweden. Team USA lost to Canada but beat Sweden. Team Sweden beat Canada but lost to USA and Russia.  Team Russia lost to Canada but beat Sweden to get into the finals. In the games leading up to the finals, the Russians rallied in both their playoff games to win them.

In the gold medal game, Canada had a dominating 3-0 lead going into the third period, and had a nation celebrating as it was just 20 minutes away from the gold. But the pesky Russians stayed true to their name, ‘The Comeback Kids’, and staged the greatest comeback in the history of the tournament.

Scoring five unanswered goals in the third period to caputure gold, Russia is the new king of the castle.

Looking at the state of junior hockey, this tournament has seen three different champions in the last three tournaments. The competitiveness has increased as there are four super powers in Canada, USA, Sweden and Russia and secondary powers such as Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia that can all challenge for medals. This tournament is arguably the best hockey you will see outside the NHL playoffs.

Congratulations to all the kids who participated in the tournament and for putting on a good show. And to Team Russia, enjoy the year as champs, because next year, Canada is coming for you.