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World Juniors

5 Things learned from Day 5 of World Juniors

U.S., Canada play for first place in Group B; Finland in relegation round after winning gold at 2016 tournament

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Friday was the fifth day of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held in Toronto and Montreal.

See the full schedule here.

 

Results

Switzerland 5, Denmark 4 (SO)
Slovakia 4, Latvia 2

 

Five things we learned

 

Rivalry renewed: Canada vs. United States

There's more at stake than just first place in Group B of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship when Canada plays the United States in each team's final preliminary-round game at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN).

National pride also is on the line.

"It's us against the whole country of Canada," U.S. defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) said. "We know that going in and we're not expecting much love. But in our room we'll be mentally prepared."

Canada has defeated the United States in five of the past seven WJC games, but the U.S. won the most recent one, 4-2 in the preliminary round of the 2016 WJC on Dec. 26, 2015. Canada has won 32 of 43 games between the rival countries, and there have been three ties.

"It's a rivalry that has gone back a long time [since 1977], and when you think of the World Juniors you think Canada and the U.S. on New Year's Eve," Canada captain Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) said. "The story is there; we just have to write it, so it should be fun."

Canada leads the tournament with 20 goals and a 57.1 percent efficiency on the power play (8-for-14). The U.S. has allowed two power-play goals in 10 shorthanded situations (80.0 percent). U.S. coach Bob Motzko said his players need to embrace the moment.

"Don't make it bigger than it is because fans overreact to the big hit, the close scoring chance," Motzko said. "The building gets amped up but it's hockey. You have to live through it for the first five or 10 minutes and then settle in."

The teams held practices at different locations Friday, the U.S. at Air Canada Centre and Canada at MasterCard Centre in Toronto.

"No one wants to lose and it's always a competitive game by nature," Canada forward Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) said. "You're playing for your country and you don't want to let anybody beat you."

Video: On the Fly previews Canada vs. USA

 

Boston University reunion

Canada defenseman Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators) said he wouldn't mind seeing his Boston University teammates who play for the United States skating off the ice in disappointment.

Fabbro will be one of seven players from BU playing in the Canada-United States game Saturday. Fabbro is the only one playing for Canada. McAvoy, forwards Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders), Patrick Harper (Nashville Predators), Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes) and Jordan Greenway (Minnesota Wild), and goalie Jake Oettinger play for the United States.

"[Fabbro] is a great player, great guy, and I'm very happy to see him make Team Canada," McAvoy said. "But now he's on the other side. Once the tournament is over we'll get back to being teammates."

Never before in the 41-year history of the tournament has a North American university or junior team had seven players at the same WJC.

"We're enemies now and that's kind of the bottom line," Fabbro said. "It'll be a bit weird having them on the other side of the red line but it's going to be a fun battle. I need to be able to use my skill set to diminish their chances offensively."

 

Switzerland cools Denmark

Switzerland solidified a spot in the quarterfinals after a 5-4 shootout win against Denmark in a Group A preliminary-round game at Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday.

"It's just crazy, but we just look for us," said Switzerland forward Yannick Zehnder, who scored two goals. "We wanted to get in the quarterfinals."

Denmark, which defeated Finland 3-2 on Tuesday and the Czech Republic 3-2 on Thursday, scored three goals on its first six shots to take a 3-0 lead in the first period. Switzerland, which held a 53-22 advantage in shots, came back after trailing 4-1 to tie the game in the third period. Switzerland left wing Marco Miranda scored the only goal in the shootout.

"The tank was empty," Denmark coach Olaf Eller said. "We did our very best but there was not enough gasoline in the tank for another 60 minute, full effort."

Denmark advanced to the quarterfinals for the third straight tournament.

Video: WJC Preliminary Round: Switzerland wins in a shootout

 

Finland in relegation round

Finland became the first WJC team to have to play in the relegation round after winning a gold medal the previous tournament. Coach Jukka Rautakorpi was fired and replaced by Jussi Ahokas, according to the IIHF website. Ahokas led Finland to the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Finland scored four goals in three straight losses and will open the best-of-3 relegation series against Latvia at Bell Centre on Monday. The winner will play in the 2018 WJC in Buffalo; the loser will be relegated to Division I Group A.

 

Slovakia advances

Goaltender Adam Huska (New York Rangers) made 21 saves to help Slovakia qualify for the quarterfinals at the WJC for a fourth straight tournament after a 4-2 win against Latvia at Air Canada Center on Friday.

Slovakia can finish third in Group B with a victory against Russia on Saturday. Slovakia and Russia each have three points with one preliminary-round game left.

Video: WJC Preliminary Round: SVK 4, LAT 1

 

What's next

Saturday

Sweden vs. Czech Republic (1 p.m. ET; Bell Centre, TSN) -- Sweden has clinched the top seed in Group A. Czech Republic needs to win to secure third place.

Canada vs. United States (3:30 p.m. ET; Air Canada Centre, NHLN, TSN) -- Six of the past 11 games between these rivals have been decided by one goal, three having gone to overtime and two to a shootout.

Finland vs. Switzerland (6 p.m. ET; Bell Centre, NHLN, TSN) -- Defending gold medalist Finland will play the first game of the relegation round against Latvia on Monday. Switzerland still has a chance for third place in Group A.

Russia vs. Slovakia (8 p.m. ET; Air Canada Center, NHLN, TSN) -- The winner will finish third and the loser fourth in Group B.

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