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  • World Juniors schedule 2017: Four games to open the tournament


    Sweden vs Denmark

    Sweden, led by Wild prospect Joel Eriksson Ek, will open the preliminary schedule against Denmark. A favorite to take the top spot out of Group A, Sweden hasn’t been able to make it into the top three in the last two seasons. A win over Denamrk should help set them up for an early spot in the medal round.

    Team Denmark is just trying to fight off relegation. For a fledgling hockey community, they’re looking for anything positive to give growth a push in the right direction. Keep a look out for Danish third year player Alexsander True. The 6’4”, 193 pound forward has been passed up in the draft and is looking to make a showing for another shot at getting noticed.

    USA vs Latvia

    Keep an eye on Karlis Cukste (Pronounced “Chook-Stah”) as the 19 year old has dotted many Latvian international rosters and has good size. Drafted by the Sharks in the 5th round of the 2015 draft, Sharks fans are hoping to see the 6’2” 193 pound defensemen make his presence felt on Team Latvia. Latvia, as a whole, has a really tough grouping as they will have to run through Slovakia, Canada, USA, and Russia at the top.

    USA is looking for much better success this year. After beating Sweden in the Bronze medal game 8-3, USA, packed with talent was hoping for gold. They lost 2-1 in the semifinal to Russia in a tight battle on the ice. The Wild has two prospects looking to shine in Luke Kunin, who was named Captain of the squad, and Jordan Greenway, who’s hulking size should provide a a sizable net-front presence. However, there’s native-Minnesotan Kieffer Bellows, drafted by the Islanders this summer, who possess one heck of sniping ability, but also Ryan Lindgren, current Gopher, on the blue line, and current UMD Bulldog, Joey Anderson. USA is hoping the match-up with Latvia right off the bat will allow them to ease into the tournament and get their feet under them.

    Czech Republic vs Finland

    The Czechs are led by defensemen Jakub Zboril, drafted 13th overall by the Bruins. The Czech Republic is no easy team to beat. They often bring skill, and usually brings some good goaltenders to the tournament. Though last year wasn’t a good showing as they missed the medal round and hope to find themselves competing deep into the tournament this year.

    Finland is the defending gold medal champions, and while they will be without Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljuljaarvi, Vili Saarijarvi should provide some leadership and talent from the blue line. The Finns are looking to be the first team to repeat as champions since Canada won five tournaments in a row from 2005 to 2009.

    Canada vs Russia

    7 PM CT

    Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

    Canada is the host country and will be test immediately out of the gates by Russia. Canada is going to have loads of pressure on them playing in Montreal and Toronto. However, Canada has been able to handle that pressure with aplomb having won the 2015 championship the last time it was held in Canada, and these same buildings. They will bring a fully talented roster that features Tyson Jost of the UND Fighting Hawks, and Pierre-Luc DuBois up front with solid defenseman talent Jake Bean and Kale Clague.

    Russia has an older roster and has a few former draft selections such as young sniper Kirill Kaprizov, who should have Wild fans excited. But there’s also German Rubtsov and Denis Guryanov who’ve been successful in international tournaments before. Russia was nearly upset in the quarterfinal round last year by Denmark, and eventually took silver after losing to Finland in the gold medal match. You can bet Russia is looking to exact revenge and get to the top.



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