Photo: Team Russia forward Yevgeni Svechnikov (L), shown here competing at last year’s U18 tournament, has been the top offensive player for Russia at the 2014 U18 World Championship (courtesy of ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship is over and the playoff match-ups are set. Despite the odd surprise performances to start off the tournament, the teams have finished off group play in a manner conducive with most expectations coming in. Take a look at who’s up against whom in the playoffs and who you should expect to move on to the next round.
Photo: Gatineau Olympiques forward and 2014 prospect Vaclav Karabacek turned in a solid rookie season in the QMJHL, scoring 21 goals and adding 26 assists for 47 points in 65 games (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
The Czech Republic has so far had a bit of a mixed bag at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship, but they are very much in the mix to battle for a medal. After three games, the Czechs have five points off a regulation win, an shootout win, and a loss that places them fourth in Group B.
Photo: Gatineau Olympiques forward and 2014 prospect Vaclav Karabacek is comepting for the Czech Republic at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship in Finland (courtesy of Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
Twelve months ago in Sochi, the Czech Republic's U18 squad was at the beginning of what could be a beautiful ride that could see the Czechs finally grabbing a medal at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. This year's U18 team from this Central European nation has grown and matured since last year's competition, and is now looking more like a medal contender.
Photo: HC Litomerice forward Martin Prochazka (L) was one of the more effective offensive performers for the Czech Republic at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
At the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmö, Sweden, the Czech Republic had a simple goal of reaching the quarterfinals, at the least. That mission was accomplished and it was a successful tournament for the Czechs, even though it looked at times like they could have gone farther.
Photo: Karpat forward and Nashville Predators prospect Saku Maenalanen (R) has been the top goal-scorer for Finland at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of ANDREAS HILLERGREN/AFP/Getty Images)
The second quarterfinal contest taking place on Thursday at the 2014 World Junior Championship features Finland facing off against the Czech Republic. Finland was probably the more accomplished of the two teams during the preliminary round, but not by so wide a margin that a Czech victory is unthinkable.