The World Junior Semifinals go tomorrow afternoon with games between Sweden and Czechia and the USA and Canada! This year’s tournament has been one of the most exciting in recent memory as well as one of the closest, with many lesser teams giving the top teams all they can handle and more. Now, just four countries remain. Let’s get into the previews.
The first semifinal will be the second meeting of the tournament between the Czechs and the Swedes. While top-seeded Czechia cruised to victory over Switzerland in the quarterfinals, the same could not be said for Sweden against Finland. The Finnish group held a 2-1 lead with less than five minutes remaining before Swedish captain Leo Carlsson tied things up at 2. Just two minutes after that, Sweden scored again on the penalty kill and ultimately won the game.
In the first matchup, Sweden gave Czechia their only loss of the tournament so far in a 3-2 overtime win. Carl Lindbom showed why he’s the best goalie in the tournament, making 33 saves on 35 shots while Ludvig Jansson scored once in regulation and once in overtime to grab the victory. For the Swedes to make it out of this game with another win, they’ll have to get another stellar performance from Lindbom. The Czechs are probably the better team, but elite goaltending can often make a difference in a winner-takes-all game.
Tomorrow’s second semifinal should be a great one. Canada and the U.S will play each other for the first time this year with a trip to the gold medal game on the line. After the Americans fell in the quarterfinals to Czechia last year, the team is back in the semis with a lot to prove. Logan Cooley leads the team with 11 points in 5 games while Jimmy Snuggerud and Cutter Gauthier have chipped in for ten and eight.
On Canada’s side, it’s still the Connor Bedard show. Bedard now has 21 points in five games and scored an overtime beauty to lift his team past a very underrated Slovakian side. Although the Canadians are still where they want to be as a team, the tournament has had its ups and downs. To beat the Americans, they’ll have to be disciplined defensively to limit the odd man rushes and high-quality scoring chances against them.
Semifinals Game Picks
We’ll take the Czechs and Canadians to win tomorrow’s semifinals and set up a rematch between the two teams for a gold medal! Czechia should be able to adjust against Sweden after the overtime loss, and Canada’s star power with the crowd behind them may be a little too much for the Americans to handle.
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