The 2016 IIHF World Juniors eventually became a tale with a happy ending for the host nation Finland. After the group phase they eliminated team Canada in the quarterfinal, their nordic rivals Sweden in the semifinal and in the final against Russia, Hartwall Arena exploded when Kasperi Kapanen scored the decisive goal in sudden death.
Finland won a dramatic final
However, it was Russia who got the early lead through Vladislav Kamenev 4:50 into the first period. Both teams had their chances in the first and second period, but both goalies played a solid game. In the third period, Finlands best offensive line woke up though. Patrik Laine scored the equalized just 24 seconds into the period. They were also close to gaining the lead, but instead, Russia scored 2-1 on the counter attack. Finland tied the game once again, this time through Sebastian Aho, assisted by Laine and Jesse Puljujärvi. With only 2:09 left on the clock, many thought that Mikko Rantanen would be Finland’s golden hero with his 3-2 goal. Russia managed to tie the game to 3-3 with only 6,9 seconds left on the clock though and this show went to overtime. One and a half minute into sudden death, Kasperi Kapanen rounded the Russian goal and scored the decider. This was Finland’s second gold in three years, both gold medals gained through overtime victories.
Team USA won the bronze
Sweden did not manage to recharge and motivate themselves after the loss in the semifinal against Finland. USA got the early 2-0 lead. Sweden quickly tied the game in the first period, but most of the remaining game was all about USA who won comfortably 8-3. This year’s version of Sweden’s national team Three Crowns was about all-or-nothing. They went for the gold, and when this goal was out of reach, they failed to recharge. The World Juniors is a hard tournament to win with all the best players participating. In the playoffs there are three elimination games that have to be won in order to become the world champions. Sweden will have to go back to the drawing board and find new ways of winning important games. The next year they will have a new coach since Rikard Grönborg is going to coach the senior national hockey team, starting with the World Cup of Hockey.
World Juniors 2017
The World Juniors 2017 are played in Canada and these are the groups:
Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland
Canada, Russia, USA, Slovakia, Latvia
A hockey tournament in Canada means small ice and a dedicated crowd. It will be a blast! In the 2012 World Juniors, the tournament was hosted in Calgary and Edmonton. Then, Sweden won the gold by defeating Russia in the final. Mika Zibanejad scored the decisive goal in overtime. Maybe we will see something similar happening next year. One can always hope!
The all star team 2016:
Goalie: Linus Söderström, Sverige
Defenders: Olli Juolevi, Finland, Zach Warenski, USA
Forwards: Patrik Laine, Finland (MVP), Jesse Puljujärvi, Finland, Auston Matthews, USA