Photo: Although Edmonton Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov has generated a bit of offense for Russia at the 2013 WJC, he has not been the offensive force he will need to be if Russia is to take the gold medal (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
For hockey fans across the globe, the preliminary round of the 2013 IIHF WJC has been just about everything anyone had ever hoped for. There’s been no lack of tension, rivalries, intrigue and background stories that have come together to make this tournament the type that fans everywhere crave.
Photo: Sarnia Sting captain and Montreal Canadiens prospect Alex Galchenyuk has had a good offensive showing at the 2013 World Juniors (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Team USA entered their New Year's Eve showdown with Slovakia knowing that they had to win to keep their medal hopes alive. And win they did, posting a 9-3 victory over the Slovaks to ensure that the USA lives to fight another day.
Photo: Portland Winterhawks defender Seth Jones, shown here playing at the 2012 All-American Prospects Game, looks to be the best among the WHL prospects at the midpoint of the 2012-13 season (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
At the 2012 NHL Draft in Minneapolis, it was well-known in advance that the Western Hockey League contingent consisted of five top defensemen.
Photo: University of North Dakota forward and Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi has yet to light the lamp in three 2013 WJC games for Team USA (courtesy of Josh Holmberg /Icon SMI)
While he may not be one of the bigger players on any given ice surface, University of North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi is usually one of the more hard-working and talented players taking part in any game he is involved in.
Photo: Connecticut Whale forward and New York Rangers prospect J.T. Miller, along with his Team USA teammates, has found it difficult to generate offense against the stronger clubs at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Team USA hasn't played badly at the 2013 World Junior Championship, but they find themselves in a must-win situation heading into their final game of the preliminary round. The need for a win over Slovakia, a team that has played some good hockey at this WJC, has come about because of today's close but hard-fought loss against Canada.