Legendary World Juniors ends in Canadian misfortune
The ever-strengthening Americans steal gold
By Dan Khavkin, Staff Writer
As has been the story in many recent years, team Canada, a perennial tournament favourite at the IIHF World Juniors, were again unable to bring home gold.
For whatever reason, the hype surrounding the 2017 event was quiet, despite being hosted in Montreal and Toronto- usually hockey havens.
A possible reason for this was that ticket prices were at an NHL level. Would anybody want to pay anymore than $50 to watch a weekday game between weaker teams like Slovakia and Latvia? That game drew a measly crowd of 6,000 to the Air Canada Centre (half of what we see at Calgary’s annual Crowchild Classic.)
Canada’s quarter final game against the Czechs, where tickets ranged from $40 to $200, didn’t even sell out in Montreal.
Despite the disappointing size of some of the crowds, the tournament itself still ended up being a massive success.
Team Canada started their campaign with a win over the Russians on Boxing Day, setting the tone for the remainder of the tournament.
The Canadians looked skilled on paper with many players already being drafted by NHL teams. The very typical Canadian roster bolstered both offensive skill and smart defensive talent.
Team Russia, as usual in these tournaments, got better as the tournament went on. After suffering losses to the US and Canada, the Red Army, led by Kirill Kaprizov, were lucky to escape the tournament with a bronze medal win against the Swedes.
Sweden had arguably the most threatening team with players like Alexander Nylander to spark the offence. The Swedes have historically been the greatest preliminary team in the history of the tournament, winning their past 40 prelim games, but have gone just 11-12 in medal round games in that span.
Defending champion Finland had no “Finnish” all tournament and it seemed the absence of Patrik Laine, now the leading scorer for the Winnipeg Jets, was a major cause.
The Finns, in unprecedented fashion, fired their coaching staff mid tournament for the lack of performance.
In the medal rounds, Sweden cruised by the sloppy Slovaks before losing to the Canadians in a tough semi-final game.
The US beat the Swiss in a hard fought, tough loss for the Swiss. Switzerland’s heart and soul, Nico Hersh, scored twice in the contest and was robbed by American and Calgary Flames prospect, Tyler Parsons near the end of the game.
The final was one for the books in a back and forth fight between the Canadians and Americans. Each side’s goals were met with one from the other. Many were disappointed when the 20-minute overtime solved nothing, and the fate of the gold medal would rest on the result of a shootout.
The US would get the upper hand on Canada in what could be considered an individual “skills competition.” Troy Terry would be the hero for the USA, scoring the lone shootout goal to give the USA their fourth ever tournament win.