The U.S. National Junior Team now knows who it will face in the quarterfinals at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship after taking care of Slovakia earlier today. Team USA will take on the Czech Republic Wednesday at 4 a.m. ET. The game will be carried live on NHL Network and stream live on NHL.com in the United States.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will meet Canada, which dispatched Russia later Monday to earn the bye to the semifinals. The U.S. team simply cannot look past the Czechs with Canada waiting in the wings.
If you’ll recall, it was the Czechs that eliminated the U.S. from medal contention in 2012 with a stunning 5-2 victory in the preliminary-round. That loss assured Team USA’s spot in the relegation round and made a New Year’s Even battle with Canada irrelevant. Jacob Trouba, J.T. Miller and John Gibson likely haven’t forgotten, but this is hardly a rematch.
In the single-game elimination portion of the tournament, the slate gets wiped clean for the U.S., which finished preliminary play 2-0-0-2. Anything can happen from here on out.
The U.S. will have its hands full with the Czech team, which have about as much skill as they’ve had in this tournament in some time. The U.S. will have to find a way to carry over its success from the Slovakia rout to the quarterfinal against a much deeper team.
Expect a detailed preview of the quarterfinal match-up between Team USA and the Czech Republic on United States of Hockey Tuesday.
After the jump, a quick preliminary-round recap and a look at the other quarterfinal match-up.
Here’s how things ended up in the preliminary round:
— Canada and Sweden earned byes to the semifinals by winning their respective groups. Canada finished with a spotless 4-0-0-0 record to win Group B, while Sweden took Group A with a 3-1-0-0 mark.
— Russia will meet Switzerland in the other quarterfinal. The Swiss actually lost three games, but earned one point in all of them by forcing overtime or a shootout in each and sneaked in one point ahead of Finland. The three point system at its finest there. The winner of Russia-Switzerland will play Sweden in the semis.
— By losing to Sweden in regulation today, Finland shockingly goes to the relegation round after finishing fourth in Group A. The Finns were stunned by the Czechs in their second prelim-round game and never quite recovered. Finland beat both the U.S. and Canada in pre-tournament games before finalizing its roster, so this might be even more shocking than Team USA’s early exit last year.
— Finland, Slovakia, Germany and Latvia are relegation-round bound. Latvia, with no points in the standings, is most at risk at getting sent down as points carry over from round-robin play. Only one team gets sent to Division I, so that Germany-Latvia game could basically be a survival match.
Final Group A Standings
1. Sweden (3-1-0-0) — 11 PTS
2. Czech Rep. (2-1-0-1) — 8 PTS
3. Switzerland (1-0-3-0) — 6 PTS
4. Finland (1-1-0-2) — 5 PTS
5. Latvia (0-0-0-4) — 0 PTS
Final Group B Standings
1. Canada (4-0-0-0) — 12 PTS
2. Russia (3-0-0-1) — 9 PTS
3. USA (2-0-0-2) — 6 PTS
4. Slovakia (0-1-1-2) — 3 PTS
5. Germany (0-0-1-3) — 1 PTS
Enjoy your New Year’s Eve and come back tomorrow for the comprehensive primer on USA-Czech Republic.