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: Kamloops Blazers defenseman and 2014 prospect Edson Harlacher spent the past three seasons in the Kloten organization before heading to North America for the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Switzerland notched an early, surprise win at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship but wasn't able to fully capitalize on their upset win over the USA. As a result, they will open the U18 playoff round against the defending gold medalists from Canada.
Photo: U.S. NTDP forward and 2016 prospect Auston Matthews competed in 20 USHL games this season, scoring 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points on the season (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
After dropping their opener at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship, Team USA has strung together three straight wins to finish the preliminary round as the top team in Group B. This could have the U.S. on a collision course with Canada in the gold medal game, which would be a rematch of last year's U18 finale.
Photo: Maine’s Devin Shore had a breakout season in 2013-14, registering 43 points in 35 games as a sophomore (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
On the back of a first line and a first-rate goaltender, the Dallas Stars have found themselves in the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Photo: Forward Jason Akeson had a breakout 2013-14 season in the AHL, posting 24 goals and 40 assists in 60 games. Akeson made his NHL playoff debut on April 17th, 2014. (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
Some of the Philadelphia Flyers prospects, such as Scott Laughton and Shayne Gostisbehere, used the 2013-14 season to demonstrate continued improvement. For others, including Michael Parks and Taylor Leier, the 2013-14 season served as a breakout year. Other prospects however, like Marcel Noebels, Petr Straka, and Brandon Alderson, struggled while with the Adirondack Phantoms this season.