Now that both the United States and Canada have played two preliminary-round games in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, here's a brief primer on what it all means.
The function of the preliminary round for each country is to establish seeding in each of the five-team groups, A and B. After a four-game schedule, the three teams with the most points at the end of Group play advance to the medal round at Ufa Arena beginning Jan. 2.
The first-place team earns an automatic bye into the semifinals, and the second and third place teams will play a cross-over quarterfinal-round match with the winners advancing to the semis. The loser will play a placement game. The survivor of the semifinal round moves on to the gold medal game, while the loser competes for bronze.
What does this setup currently mean for Canada and the United States?
Following two regulation victories over Germany and Slovakia, Canada sits atop Group B with six points -- a regulation win counts three points, an overtime win counts two points and an OT loss counts one point. The U.S., which has a regulation win over Germany and regulation loss to Russia, is third in Group B with three points.
Russia is second in Group B with five points following an OT win against Slovakia and regulation triumph over the United States. The team with the better goal differential gets the nod if even with another country in points.
The United States has games remaining with Canada on Sunday and Slovakia on Monday. Canada, in addition to meeting its North American rival on Sunday, will face off against Russia on Monday.
In the medal round, the quarterfinal is as follows:
3rd place Group A vs. 2nd place Group B
2nd place Group A vs. 3rd place Group B
The four teams not advancing to the medal round compete in the relegation round. The relegated teams play a single round robin format series. The three teams which finish first, second and third at the end of this round earn an invitation to the 2014 WJC. The last place team is relegated to Division 1, Group A, next year.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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