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January 2, 2011
World Junior Hockey Championship
Preliminary Round Wrap-up

by Corey Pronman

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Six days and twenty hockey games later, the preliminaries for the World Junior Hockey Championship have ended. There have been some pleasant surprises, such as Finland's exceptional play in the tournament, as well as disappointments, most notably Russia for the second straight tournament before their impressive game versus the Czech Republic on December 31st. As an advocate of the tournament, we sometimes hear how the WJHC are overhyped and are just a product of the TSN machine. To a degree that may be true, but the games obviously draw the fans and ratings. If anything, the quality of play is deserving of the hype, while events like the U-17 and U-18's are underhyped.

The games may not reach the same degree of obsession as they do in Canada, but the U-20's are still noticed in other countries. All of the United States' games were televised on NHL Network while the station also carried a handful of TSN games. NTV+ in Russia broadcasted all of the Russian games and over half of the total games, MTV3+ showed all of the Finnish games, SVT caught three of Sweden's matches, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had their native stations involved and EUROSPORT showed some games. I don't think anyone is ever expecting any country or station to reach the level Canada and TSN has brought to the event, but make no mistake that the U-20's have brought global attention, even if it's not to the largest degree.

With the single game elimination round for the medal and relegation participants about to begin, here are how the standings and schedule look for the games starting on the January 2nd (top team receives a bye; bottom two teams go to the relegation bracket):

Group A
USA	4	3	1	0	0	11	15	4	 11
Fin	4	3	0	1	0	10	17	4	 13
Sui	4	2	0	0	2	6	11	13	 -2
Svk	4	0	1	0	3	2	7	19	 -12
Ger	4	0	0	1	3	1	5	15	 -10
Group B
Swe	4	3	1	0	0	11	21	9	 12
Can	4	3	0	1	0	10	28	12	 16
Rus	4	2	0	0	2	6	19	13	 6
Cze	4	1	0	0	3	3	10	21	 -11
Nor	4	0	0	0	4	0	4	27	 -23

Note that the IIHF scoring system is different; they award fewer points for an Overtime Win than one in regulation time. Also, for those new to the U-20 tournament, two teams will be relegated to the Division-I tournament. The D-I tournaments have already been completed and the promoted teams for next year will be Denmark and Latvia.

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