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US Junior Team Remains Strong, Despite Loss Against Canada
#11 Riley Barber celebrates his shorthanded goal against Canada during preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
‘Tis the season for the 2014 edition of the World Junior Hockey Championship games, and once again, the American team is making a statement early on. Starting the tournament off by defeating the Czech team 5-1, the team, led by this year’s captain, Washington Capitals’ prospect, Riley Barber, continued to show they’re not willing to sit back for any team.
Their win streak ended on New Year’s Eve, with their 3-2 loss against the Canadian team. While the domination so far isn’t all that surprising, it should be noted that the US team is without last year’s leaders, Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones, Alex Galchenyuk, and goalie John Gibson, who collectively led to 7 goals and 26 points and a gold medal in last year’s tournament.
That’s not to discredit this year’s team, who, despite the lack of official “star power”, has managed to show their strength through teamwork, with nearly every skater registering at least one point in their 21 goals so far this tournament. Of those, 4 goals and 7 assists were courtesy of Capitals’ prospects, Riley Barber, Connor Carrick, and Thomas DiPauli; Barber with the only goals of the three.
You can also find Capitals prospects, Christian Djoos and forward Andre Burakowsky, supporting their native Sweden, who remain the American’s biggest threat for gold. As host team, Sweden has not lost a game in the tournament thus far, and aren’t willing to give up the chance to win on home ice without a fight.
It’s clear that, despite the loss to Canada, the American team can handle their competition; however the challenge remains ahead of them, with the playoff round, where they’re set to play against either Finland or Russia for a place in the semi-finals and a chance to reclaim the gold medal.