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World Junior Championship, Day 4 - First vs. Last

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Day three at the World Juniors was almost one for the ages. Plucky, upstart teams from all over Europe made life hell on the heavy favorites, but in the end the plucky kids could manage only one win and a shootout loss. The huge news of the day was Finland's upset of the United States, accomplished largely on the back of goaltender Sami Aittokallio. Aittokallio was the difference between a 4-1 U.S. lead entering the third and a tie game. He's a top-notch goaltender who might have made the difference against Canada and will have a chance to prove himself in the medal round.

The plucky Swiss, the team I thought was primed to pull an upset, nearly did so against the Swedes, but fell in the shootout. They did, however, snag a point for the shootout loss and could grab a #2 seed if someone pulls off an upset in group A. The Swiss are going to make someone very nervous in the medal round and are still due for their yearly upset.

The plucky Slovaks took the lead against the enigmatic Russians, but couldn't hold on as the Russians came back for the 3-1 well-earned victory. Unlike their opener against the Swiss, the Russians played hard and dominated play throughout.

The only game to go according to plan was the Canada vs. Czech Republic early evening tilt, a 5-0 blowout, made exciting by the goaltending of Petr Mrazek in the first period.


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Group B
Denmark (0-2-0) vs. Canada (2-0-0)
6:00 p.m. | Television - TSN, RDS
Oilers Prospects: None
Key Matchup: None

There's not much to say about this one other than the Canadians need to ensure they outscore the Danes by more than 8, so as to distance themselves in any tiebreakers should they fall to the Americans.


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Group A
Latvia (0-2-0) vs. Russia (2-0-0)
8:00 p.m. | Television - TSN2
Oilers Prospects: Kristians Pelss (F-LAT)
Key Matchup: None

The same goes for this one - the Russians have made things interesting (they are the enigmatic Russians, after all) but this one shouldn't be close. If Latvia somehow pulls off the miracle, the Russians would be in danger of being the third seed from the group.