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2013 U18 WJC Preview: USA, Russia expected to lead competitive Group A

by Radoslav Vavrina
on
2013 U18 WJC Preview: USA, Russia expected to lead competitive Group A
Photo: Perennial rivals Russia and the USA will do battle on the first day of the 2013 U18 WJC (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The 2013 IIHF U18 World Junior Championship gets underway on Thursday. The teams are ready in Sochi, Russia, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held next year. Group A of this U18 features much anticipated matchups between the hosts of the event, Russia, a perennial contender and winner of four past WJC's at the Under-18 level, and the United States, powered by their smart National Team Development Program (U.S. NTDP).

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2013 U18 WJC Preview: Switzerland looks to build on recent U20 success

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2013 U18 WJC Preview: Switzerland looks to build on recent U20 success
Photo: Swiss defenseman and 2013 prospect Mirco Mueller (#5), shown here competing at the 2013 CHL Top Prospects Game, will be a key player for the Swiss at the U18 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

For two years running, Switzerland’s U18 team hasn’t been able to prevent itself from winding up in relegation round play. Once there, the teams have been able to finish on top and thus, seventh overall in the tournament. This year’s team is confident it can get over that hump and it will look at the performance of its U20 team in Ufa for inspiration.

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2013 U18 WJC Preview: Sweden should again be a medal contender

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2013 U18 WJC Preview: Sweden should again be a medal contender
Photo: Swedish defenseman and 2013 draft prospect Robert Hagg captained Sweden’s Four Nations squad, and will be counted as a leader for his country’s U18 team (courtesy of Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Team Sweden can proudly look back upon three straight silver medals. What has certainly left a very bitter taste in the program’s mouth is the fact that all three have been pushed upon them in the gold medal game by Team USA, who has accordingly won three straight gold medals. It isn’t enough that several of the current team’s players not only experienced last spring’s 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Team USA, but several others also found themselves subjected to the 3-1 gold medal game loss to the US at the WJC this past winter.

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2013 U18 WJC Preview: Avoiding relegation is Slovakia’s main goal

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2013 U18 WJC Preview: Avoiding relegation is Slovakia’s main goal

Photo: Slovakia will be short on offensive firepower for the U18 WJC, and may be even more so if Gatineau Olypiques forward Martin Reway is not able to participate (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Coach Ernest Bokros has been double-shifting this winter as the U20 and U18 Slovakia national team coach, but he’ll only be bringing one player to the upcoming U18 who was also with him at the WJC, namely forward Martin Reway. And that’s only if Reway is healthy enough to go. What he’ll also be bringing along with him are three of the five oldest players at the tournament as well as the tournament’s youngest participant.

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2013 U18 WJC Preview: Germany hopes to build on improved U18 play

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2013 U18 WJC Preview: Germany hopes to build on improved U18 play

  Photo: Diminutive forward Dominik Kahun of the Sudbury Wolves will be one of the players that Germany will look towards for offense at the U18 (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

In the past two years, Germany has managed to ice a U18 tournament entry that has competed strongly in finishing a solid sixth on both occasions. Along the way, the team was able to grab the odd unexpected point or push a favorite to the brink of defeat, for example, when it beat Russia 4-2 in 2012 or in its 5-4 and 4-3 losses to Russia and Canada respectively in 2011.

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