2007 World Junior Hockey Championship
Final: Canada v. Russia
Final: Canada v. Russia
Alright — here's the game thread, one I'll have near the top of the site until after Friday's gold-medal final at the world junior tournament.
Let's see if we can get some sort of a discussion going, starting with how the Russians have really impressed despite not having an Ovechkin/Malkin type and no one really calling them the favourites going in. Two players who have been phenomenal are goaltender Semen Varlamov and 17-year-old Alexei Cherepanov, who has been the best 2007 draft-eligible player in the tournament.
McKeen's Hockey had Cherepanov ranked 18th overall heading into the world juniors, but I fully expect him to rise considerably given he's been one of the scoring leaders so far.
As for Canada, one of the real surprises has been how hard goals have been to come by. One wonders if this team wouldn't have benefitted from having the likes of Angelo Esposito and John Tavares to add a touch more explosiveness to the lineup. (Then again, American fans are probably asking the same thing about Bobby Ryan.)
So, in that sense, Friday's gold-medal final is a matchup between one team that's had trouble scoring, and another that has had almost everything go in to this point. Russia has outscored its opposition 24-5 through five games — a total skewed just a little due to games against Switzerland and Belarus.
In goal, both Varlamov and Canada's Carey Price have been lights out, which likely means we're in for another low-scoring nailbiter.
Thoughts, rants and/or predictions?
(There's really been a lack of buzz over this tournament so far, and I haven't been able to figure out if it's because the games have all been in the early afternoon or if the lack of the marquee names has caused a sag in interest. Here's hoping it's a slow build from now until Friday's game.)
UPDATE I offer up a few more thoughts on Cherepanov.
UPDATE The talented American squad takes the bronze medal with a 2-1 win over Sweden.
UPDATE Game time.
UPDATE Canada holds off Russia to win 4-2. That's three gold medals in a row, medals in nine tournaments in a row, and medals in 14 of the past 15 years.
As Eric Duhatschek says in his postgame piece, the country's hockey youngster are in good hands.
The only real shame of this tournament, in my estimation, is the lack of interest from the host country, despite the fact the Swedes had their best showing (4th) in years.
Are Canadians the only ones that care about this event? The answer seems clearer now than ever, and my guess is the IIHF can't wait to have the tournament back in Canada when Ottawa hosts it two years from now.
And one wonders, given their dominance, if Canada will have lost a game by then.
UPDATE Here are a few thoughts from Cousin BJ, who I took in some of the 2006 tournament with in British Columbia last year:
It's funny that Sweden can't even sellout a medal game with their country playing in it .... and here in Canada a game between Uzbekistan and Eastern Zimbabwe sells out.He means Latvia and Slovakia, I think.