Team USA likely entered the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship knowing they would face difficult opponents over the course of the tournament. But it is likely that they didn't expect a major challenge, let alone a tough loss, in their opening contenst against Switzerland.
Nashville has branded itself a franchise that plays a hard-hitting, battle-ready style of hockey. Finding players in this preferred style seems to rely heavily on scouts' ability to read intangibles in these young men.
For several years now, Team Germany has found a way to not only keep itself afloat as one of the top 10 ice hockey nations in the world at the IIHF U18 World Championship, but has actually managed to battle its way into the quarterfinals. This has been the case for four years running, but the last three years were due in large part to the participation of the dynamic duo of Leon Draisaitl and Dominik Kahun.
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.