Since the IIHF changed the World Juniors from a strict Round Robin format to a playoff elimination system in 1996, hockey fans have witnessed some memorable and dramatic moments in the quarter-finals.
Whether it’s a dazzling individual performance, a surprise upset, or a complete blowout, certain games tend to linger in the mind. Here are a few highlights.
Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold
1999 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada 12 - Kazakhstan 2
The Lowdown: After losing 6-3 to Kazakhstan in the Relegation Round and finishing a disappointing eighth in 1998, Canada faced the former Soviet republic once again, but this time in the quarter-finals. The red-and white squad did not want a repeat of 1998 and came out firing. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Simon Gagne scored four goals in the game, tying a national team record.
The Fallout: Canada went on to beat Sweden in the semi-finals, which set up a confrontation with a stacked Russian team. The final game turned into The Roberto Luongo Show. Canada was outshot 40-18, but the goalie’s heroics forced overtime. Artem Chubarov finally fired a perfect shot to give Russia a 3-2 win and the gold medal.
Hats Off to Phil
2005 IIHF World Junior Championship
Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
USA 8 - Sweden 2
The Lowdown: Team USA phenom Phil Kessel scored a hat trick against Sweden and propelled the Americans into the semi-finals. In total, Kessel’s team mustered 41 shots against the Swedes. Al Montoya and Patrick O’Sullivan also stood out for the American squad, with Montoya making 29 saves in goal and O’Sullivan adding three helpers.
The Fallout: Unfortunately for the Americans, they lost their semi-final encounter with Russia by a 7-2 count. Russia then got hammered 6-1 by Canada in the gold medal game.
Sweet Times for the Swiss
1998 IIHF World Junior Championship
Switzerland 2 - Sweden 1
The Lowdown: Swiss goalie David Aebischer put in a superb performance in this game. With Sweden leading 1-0, he helped his team survive a crucial 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period. The Swiss scored with about two minutes left to force overtime, and when that settled nothing, Aebischer stepped up again. He made save after save in an extended game-winning shots competition until the Swiss prevailed.
The Fallout: Switzerland lost 2-1 to Finland in the semi-finals, but bounced back to beat the Czechs 4-3 in another shootout for the bronze medal, much to the delight of American-born Swiss coach Bill Gilligan.
The Dominance of Denis
1997 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada 7 - Slovakia 2
The Lowdown: Although Canada was outshot 39-21 by Slovakia, goaltender Marc Denis shut the door and helped his squad earn a 7-2 victory. Forwards Brad Isbister and Christian Dube led the way offensively with a goal and an assist apiece.
The Fallout: Canada went on to beat the Russians 3-2 in the semi-finals, setting up a showdown with the USA. Canada ended up beating the Americans 2-0, as Denis made 23 saves for the shutout. The gold medal represented Canada’s fifth straight title and its tenth overall in tournament history.
Sad Day for Sweden
2000 IIHF World Junior Championship
USA 5 - Sweden 1
The Lowdown: Sweden had two of the tournament’s top three scorers in future Vancouver Canuck forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and was widely favoured to win gold in front of its home fans. However, the USA played the role of spoiler and hammered the Swedes, who ended up in fifth place.
The Fallout: The Americans, led by captain Adam Hall and goaltender Rick DiPietro, finished fourth after losing to Canada in the bronze medal game. The Czech Republic won its first-ever gold medal by beating Russia 1-0.