Tampa Bay Lightning prospects at the World Juniors: Five play for medals

Team Canada plays for the gold and Libor Hajek plays for the bronze.

Today five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will try to help their countries medal at the 2018 World Junior Championships.

Bronze Medal

Czech Republic vs United States of America
Time: 4:00PM
Place: KeyBank Arena, Buffalo, NY
How to Watch: NHL Network, TSN, TSN GO

Libor Hajek and the Czech Republic lost to Canada last night, so they will play the United States at 4:00PM for the bronze medal. With the Czechs upsetting the Finns in the quarter-finals, this will be their first chance at a medal since 2005 when they defeated the Americans for the bronze medal. Hajek is leading the tournament in defender scoring, with one goal, five assists in five games.

The Czechs finished with a better record than the Americans with a 3-0-0-1 vs the USA’s 2-1-0-1. Most people will favour the Americans in the game - they beat Canada, they’re historically stronger, they have home ice advantage (in theory) - but the Czechs have done this before, upset the Americans in the bronze medal game on home ice. The Americans may also be missing a key piece in Oilers prospect Kailer Yamammoto after he took a viscous, unnecessary slash from Oskar Steen in the final seconds of Sweden’s semi-final victory.

Gold Medal

Sweden vs Canada
Time: 8:00PM
Place: KeyBank Arena, Buffalo, NY
How to Watch: NHL Network, TSN, TSN GO

There are four Lightning prospects playing for the gold medal today. Brett Howden, Taylor Raddysh, Cal Foote, and Boris Katchouk will suit up one last time for Canada in this tournament and try to take out the pre-tournament favourites, Sweden.

Canada has been scoring by committee, so Brett Howden is Canada’s leading scorer with six points (3G, 3A) putting him 10th on the scoring leaders list, four points behind USA’s Casey Middlestadt who has 10 points (4G, 6A). Boris Katchouk and Tyler Raddysh each have five points (2G, 3A), and Cal Foote has one assist.

The Swedes didn’t lose a game in the round robin, they won three in regulation and one in overtime. Canada lost one game, in overtime to the United States. Canada had a +15 goal differential, while Sweden finished the round robin with a +13. Sweden had a harder challenge in their semi-final game defeating the USA 4-2, while Canada easily cruised past the Czechs 7-2, as with the quarter finals where Sweden narrowly defeated Slovakia 3-2 and Canada walloped Switzerland 8-2.

Sweden last played in the gold medal game in 2014, when they lost to Finland on home ice, Canada lost the gold medal game to the United States last year. The last time these two teams faced off in the gold medal was back to back tournaments in 2008 and 2009, Canada won both of those meetings.

Since the tournament became official in 1977, Canada has faced and defeated Sweden five times in the gold medal games. This year is Sweden’s best chance to finally beat the Canadians. Will Canada win gold, or face the second gold medal loss in a row in front of an arena (semi) full of Canadians.