IHLC 2019 In Review – Junior


The International Hockey Lineal Championship saw seven different champions hold the belt over the course of 21 games in 2019, including the end of the 2019 World Juniors and the start of the subsequent 2020 tournament.

Sweden carried the IHLC into the calendar year with their 48 game preliminary round win streak intact, but once again their momentum fell short in the medal round, this time at the hands of an upset at the hands of Switzerland. The Swiss were then dispatched by Finland in the Semifinals, who were riding the high of eliminating hosts Canada in the Quarterfinal to the Gold Medal Game against Team USA, who they defeated on a last minute goal from Kappo Kakko to capture Finland’s fifth World Junior title.

Finland carried the title through nearly all of the World Junior Summer Showcase, recapturing the title to open August’s Four Nations Cup in Russia. The Czechs ended that tournament with the IHLC in tow, but dropped to Sweden to open November’s Four Nations Cup in Helsinki. The Swedes were on track to start the World Juniors (and their nearly 50 game preliminary win streak) with the IHLC in hand, but were stunned by Team USA in a pre-tournament exhibition game, ensuring the title would start the 2020 World Juniors in Ostrava.

The group round of the World Juniors were a wild ride for the IHLC, seeing the title change hands three times in four games. Canada wrenched the title from Team USA on Boxing Day, only to be thrashed by Russia 6-0 two days later, their worst defeat in World Juniors history. Team USA then recaptured the belt just three days after losing it by dispatching Russia, before narrowly beating the host Czechs in overtime to ensure they take the IHLC into the medal round in 2020.

The following games were contested over the junior IHLC in 2019 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
518. 🇨🇭 SUI 2-0 SWE 🇸🇪 – 02 Jan 2019 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦
519. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-1 SUI 🇨🇭 – 04 Jan 2019 – WJC – Vancouver 🇨🇦
520. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-2 USA 🇺🇸 – 05 Jan 2019 – WJC – Vancouver 🇨🇦 🏅
521. 🇫🇮 FIN 8-1 SUI 🇨🇭 – 22 Jul 2019 – EX – Vierumäki 🇫🇮
522. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-5 CZE 🇨🇿 – 23 Jul 2019 – EX – Vierumäki 🇫🇮
523. 🇫🇮 FIN 8-3 CAN 🇨🇦 – 31 Jul 2019 – WJS – Plymouth 🇺🇸
524. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-5 USA 🇺🇸 – 02 Aug 2019 – WJS – Plymouth 🇺🇸
525. 🇸🇪 SWE 6-3 FIN 🇫🇮 – 03 Aug 2019 – WJS – Plymouth 🇺🇸
526. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-5 SWE 🇸🇪 (OT) – 23 Aug 2019 – FNC – Perm 🇷🇺
527. 🇨🇿 CZE 4-2 FIN 🇫🇮 – 24 Aug 2019 – FNC – Perm 🇷🇺
528. 🇨🇿 CZE 4-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 25 Aug 2019 – FNC – Perm 🇷🇺
529. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 08 Nov 2019 – FNC – Helsinki 🇫🇮
530. 🇸🇪 SWE 6-1 RUS 🇷🇺 – 09 Nov 2019 – FNC – Helsinki 🇫🇮
531. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 10 Nov 2019 – FNC – Helsinki 🇫🇮
532. 🇸🇪 SWE 5-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 20 Dec 2019 – EX – Frýdek-Místek 🇨🇿
533. 🇺🇸 USA 6-4 SWE 🇸🇪 – 22 Dec 2019 – EX – Český Těšín 🇨🇿
534. 🇺🇸 USA 7-1 GER 🇩🇪 – 23 Dec 2019 – EX – Havířov 🇨🇿
535. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-4 USA 🇺🇸 – 26 Dec 2019 – WJC – Ostrava 🇨🇿
536. 🇷🇺 RUS 6-0 CAN 🇨🇦 – 28 Dec 2019 – WJC – Ostrava 🇨🇿
537. 🇺🇸 USA 3-1 RUS 🇷🇺 – 29 Dec 2019 – WJC – Ostrava 🇨🇿
538. 🇺🇸 USA 4-3 CZE 🇨🇿 (OT) – 30 Dec 2019 – WJC – Ostrava 🇨🇿

The IHLC Rankings for 2019 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇫🇮 FINLAND – 7 wins (75, 4th)
02. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 5 wins (102, 3rd)
03. 🇺🇸 UNITED STATES – 4 wins (45, 5th)

04. 🇨🇿 CZECHIA – 2 wins (38, 6th)
T5. 🇨🇭 SWITZERLAND – 1 win (10, 7th)
T5. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 1 win (106, 2nd)
T5. 🇷🇺 RUSSIA – 1 win (120, 1st)

The Americans now carry the IHLC into the elimination round of the 2020 World Junior Championship, where they will face Finland in a 2019 Gold Medal final rematch in the Semifinal, once again ensuring that the IHLC and Gold Medal will unify, which has been the case for every World Juniors since 2006. Whether the Americans can avenge their heartbreaking 2019 Gold Medal loss, Finland can emerge as repeat champs, or Sweden can finally conquer their medal-round failures, it will surely be another thrilling medal round to close out the World Junior Championships in 2020.

Photo Credit: 2019 World Junior Championship – IIHFHHOFIOC

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