Now that the preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the World Junior Championship have all come to an end, the four Boston Bruins prospects playing for their countries all have a chance to win the bronze medal on Jan. 5.
Canada’s 5-1 loss to America on Jan. 3 was an uncharacteristically off game for the team that many people thought would be odds-on favorites for the gold. Packed with high-powered talent, including a first-overall NHL draft pick, even I figured that the Americans would put up a good fight but fall just short in the semifinal. Aside from four penalty minutes, Anthony Camara didn’t contribute much. Dougie Hamilton was out there, paired with Scott Harrington to form the -ton defense pairing, but still. Plus, Malcolm Subban was so off his game that he let in four goals on 16 shots faced and was replaced for the first time ever during the tournament.
Still, the team will get a chance to regroup and play again on Saturday. They may not want to take tomorrow off, though, and instead spend that time practicing or just generally doing something ice-related.
On Saturday, the three Canadian Bruins prospects will play against the one Russian prospect, Alexander Khokhlachev. In Russia’s quarterfinal game with Switzerland, Khokhlachev opened the scoring at about six minutes into the first period, lobbing a goal on the power play. Ah, scoring on the power play. What a promising thing the Bruins need. Khokhlachev did not participate in the shootout that decided the game 4-3, though. Yes, a shootout to decide who would get to go on to the semifinals. That’s not the outcome I would like for a game that is this important–I’d prefer overtime until a decisive goal is scored–but it did get Russia on to the next round.
In that next round, they faced Sweden for the chance to participate in the gold medal game. Guess how this one ended? Yep, another shootout! Though Russia lost 3-2 in that tie-breaking method, Khokhlachev was awarded Russia’s best player honors.
Canada and Russia’s twin losses have led to both teams being slated for the bronze medal game. So, either the host country or the favorites to take it all will go home with hardware while the other will have to settle for fourth place.
The bronze medal game will begin at 4 a.m. Eastern on Jan. 5. It will be followed by the gold medal game at 8 a.m., so you can conceivably spend the entire morning watching gobs of hockey.
Previously in the tournament: