IHLC 2018 In Review – Junior


The International Hockey Lineal Championship saw a fair amount of movement in its 13 junior tilts in 2018, with four nations sharing title reigns across three tournaments, including the elimination round of the 2018 World Junior Championship.

The Americans carried the IHLC into 2019 with a late Quarterfinal victory over Russia, before collapsing 4-2 to Sweden on a pair of shorthanded goals in front of a stunned Buffalo, New York crowd in the Quarterfinals. But it was Canada that saved the biggest thrills of all for the Gold Medal Game, with Tyler Steenbergen’s goal with just 100 seconds left in regulation, clinching Canada their 17th World Juniors Gold and first since 2015, leaving Team Canada with the IHLC into the 2018-19 season.

Canada ran the table at August’s Junior Evaluation Camp in British Columbia, with wins over Finland, Sweden and Team USA, as well as pre-Worlds exhibition victories over Switzerland and Slovakia upon their return to B.C. in December. But Finland upended the Canucks to end the exhibition round, before falling to Sweden in the Preliminary Round opener, extending Sweden’s preliminary game win streak to 45. Sweden continued the streak with victories over Slovakia, the United States and Kazakhstan, and will now begin 2019 as the #1 seed in Group B to enter the medal rounds, searching for just their third Gold Medal in history, and first since 2012.

The following games were contested over the junior IHLC in 2018 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
503. 🇺🇸 USA 4-2 RUS 🇷🇺 – 01/02/2018 – WJC – Buffalo 🇺🇸
504. 🇸🇪 SWE 4-2 USA 🇺🇸 – 01/04/2018 – WJC – Buffalo 🇺🇸
505. 🇨🇦 CAN 3-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 01/05/2018 – WJC – Buffalo 🇺🇸 🏅
506. 🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 FIN 🇫🇮 (OT) – 08/02/2018 – NJC – Kamloops 🇨🇦
507. 🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 08/03/2018 – NJC – Kamloops 🇨🇦
508. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-5 USA 🇺🇸 – 08/04/2018 – NJC – Kamloops 🇨🇦
509. 🇨🇦 CAN 5-3 SUI 🇨🇭 – 12/19/2018 – EX – Victoria 🇨🇦
510. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 12/21/2018 – EX – Victoria 🇨🇦
511. 🇫🇮 FIN 5-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 12/23/2018 – EX – Vancouver 🇨🇦
512. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 12/26/2018 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦
513. 🇸🇪 SWE 5-2 SVK 🇸🇰 – 12/27/2018 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦
514. 🇸🇪 SWE 5-4 USA 🇺🇸 (OT) – 12/29/2018 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦
515. 🇸🇪 SWE 4-1 KAZ 🇰🇿 – 12/31/2018 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦

The IHLC Rankings for 2018 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 6 wins (104, 2nd)
02. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 5 wins (97, 3rd)
T3. 🇺🇸 UNITED STATES – 1 win (41, 5th)
T3. 🇫🇮 FINLAND – 1 win (68, 4th)

Sweden now enters the elimination round of the 2019 World Junior Championship with the IHLC, first facing Switzerland in the semifinals, again ensuring that the IHLC and Gold Medal will unify, which has been the case for every World Juniors since 2006. Sweden will look to finally shake the playoff-round jitters that have plagued them since 2012, while the likes of Canada will look to repeat, the Americans will look to exact revenge on Canada in front of their home fans, and perennial contenders from Russia and Finland will also be lurking as well, looking to be crowned kings of the junior hockey world for 2019.

Photo Credit: 2018 World Junior Championship – IIHFHHOFIOC

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