WORLD JUNIORS RELEGATION GAME PREVIEW
2024-01-03 · 2 min read · IIHF World Juniors/Hockey
This year's Relegation game is between Norway and Germany. The winner will be in it next year and the loser will have to work their way back up to this top level in future seasons following relegation. Germany already has a big win in this tournament. They defeated Finland who is still alive with a chance to win it all. Norway didn't get a single win. The Germans have been coming along as a hockey country in recent years, you have to think they are disappointed to be playing in the relegation game. You would also think that they'd have the upper hand in this game based on the pedigree of each team. Team Norway knows this though and we've seen teams with chips on their shoulders shock people in this tournament. On top of this Norway has been surprisingly competitive and has more top end talent than in years past.
Norway has been in the top division of this tournament multiple times but has never staved off relegation, returning to Division 1A each time. They have been a pleasant surprise in this year’s tourney, pushing the Americans much harder than anyone expected in their first game. Team USA is a perennial gold medal contender and this game was expected to be an absolute blowout, but the Norwegians held their ground for the most part; with the final score favoring the Americans 4-1.
Team Norway has been led offensively by Michael Brandsegg-Nygård who is a top prospect in the upcoming 2024 NHL Draft, I expect him to go top 15. He has also received a ton of support from Petter Vesterheim who went undrafted in last year’s NHL draft but could earn some attention due to his success in this tourney and in the Allsvenskan (Sweden’s second-tier professional league) as a 19-year-old this season. Despite the excellent play of the above guys the breakout prospect for Norway in this tournament is Stian Solberg, an 18-year-old defenseman who has built up some real buzz as a potential second round pick in the 2024 Draft. Solberg led all players in ice time throughout the preliminary round, averaging 25:58 of play time while scoring two points in four games. He's been strong in transition and his intelligence in his own end is obvious.
Germany authored the biggest upset of the tournament when they defeated Finland 4-3. That game looked like it could upset the balance of power in Group A but it ultimately had little effect after Germany dropped their following three games in a row and ended up here in the relegation match. Despite their massive win over Finland, this year’s German group wasn’t their strongest with nobody scoring more than two points in the preliminary round. Julian Lutz, a second-round pick in the 2022 Draft by the Arizona Coyotes has had a lacklustre showing and nobody else on this German team has emerged as a real X factor. Interestingly If they had earned one more point in this tournament, they would have avoided this game altogether.
While the Germans have the upper hand when it comes to experience in the top division, I think the Norwegians have a slight advantage when it comes to talent, mostly because of the three high-end players at the top of their lineup, due to this I'm willing to back the Dawg here.
Prediction - Norway 4-2
By: Chase Howard