January 01 2017 11:56AM
Day 6 marked the conclusion of the preliminary round of this year's World Junior Hockey Championship, as the tournament's quarterfinal matchups were finally solidified yesterday night after Russia beat Slovakia 2-0 in Toronto.
Sweden's victory over the Czech Republic signified the fourth year in a row in which Sweden has gone undefeated in the preliminary round of the WJHC. The USA was victorious over Canada in the New Years Eve Classic game, ending a 6-year losing streak against the Canadians on December 31st.
Jeremy Bracco and Joseph Woll both had fantastic games for the Americans yesterday. Carl Grundstrom saw a tournament-low in ice time against the Czechs, and did not practise this morning for the Swedes.
December 31 2016 12:18AM
Though only two games were played today, Day 5 proved to be the single most eventful day of the World Juniors so far. Without getting too deep into the details, essentially here's a brief summary of what happened: Finland fired their entire coaching staff mid-game, and Latvia will take on the Finns in the tournament's relegation round.
Finland, the reigning World Junior champions, will play in the relegation round. I am repeating this only because of how ridiculous it seems. Assuming that Finland's talent graduation from last year's tournament is the main reason why the team has been losing so badly, this is a fairly detrimental situation for the Finns. I don't think that firing the entire coaching staff mid-game is the correct solution to the problem, either, but then again, maybe a major shakeup is exactly what this team needs.
All speculation aside, Latvia will be facing Finland in what's sure to be an interesting relegation round. This is not an ideal situation for Martins Dzierkals, as he and his team will now be forced to fight for their position in the tournament's top division, only one year after being promoted.
December 29 2016 11:57PM
Day 4 of the World Junior Hockey Championship was jam-packed with action, as yet again, 3 Leafs prospects took to the ice in 3 separate games. Joseph Woll did not start in net for the Americans, and despite a solid performance, Jeremy Bracco did not put up any points today against Russia. Carl Grundstrom had another fantastic performance for Sweden today, tallying one assist and prolonging a 3-game point streak. Martins Dzierkals netted a beautiful breakaway goal for Latvia, scoring one of two Latvian goals in a 10-2 loss against Canada.
December 28 2016 11:24PM
Wednesday was a relatively busy day for Leafs prospects, as 3/4 players participated in the action with their respective teams. Yet again, Carl Grundstrom had a fantastic game for Sweden, contributing two primary assists in Sweden's 4-2 win over Switzerland. Joseph Woll took to the net for the USA in their game against Slovakia, stopping 18/20 shots in a 5-2 victory. Jeremy Bracco did not have a fantastic game for the Americans today, but saw a promotion to the USA's second line, playing with captain Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway.
December 28 2016 12:06AM
Though Day 2 of the WJHC was jam-packed with action, 3 Leafs prospects saw a well-deserved break after yesterday's success. Martin Dzierkals and the Latvians took to the ice against Russia, and though the 9-1 loss was brutal, there were a few positive takeaways from the game.
I personally thought Dzierkals played a better game today than yesterday, and not just because of his beautiful primary assist on Latvia's only goal. Dzierkals was one of the only Latvian forwards who was able to properly lead a breakout, and often times by himself, while his teammates struggled to keep up. Despite this, there are a definitely a few things that I would like to see Dzierkals improve upon as he develops.