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World U18 Championships Day 5 Recap

The bottom end of the tournament shook itself out today, and the end result was pretty much what everyone expected.

Russia put up a touchdown to beat Latvia 7-0 and guarantee the Latvians would finish in last place in Group A and play in the relegation round. After giving an amazing performance against Team Sweden and resting against the United States to prepare for this game, Latvian goalie Marek Mitens couldn't capture the same magic against Russia. He gave up two first period goals and was pulled.

The story for Latvia is still one of missed opportunities. If they had held on to their one goal lead against Sweden in the final minute of that game, Sweden would need a win over Russia tomorrow or the Swedes would be headed to the relegation round.

In Group B, the Czech Republic defeated Denmark 8-2, which means Denmark will finish last in the group.

That means Latvia and Denmark will play a best-of-three series against each other starting Thursday, with the winner staying in the big tournament next year.

Sweden laid a beat down on Switzerland with an 8-1 victory. Alex Nylander, whose brother was concussed by a cheap shot vs. Switzerland at the World Juniors, put up six points in the game.

Canada once again struggled a bit with offense, but was good enough to managed a 3-1 win over Slovakia where they never really felt threatened.

The Canadians officially finished their roster when they added potential late-second round draft picks Boris Batchouk and Noah Gregor to the roster, and both players ended up in the scoresheet in their first game.

Speaking of late roster additions, projected third overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi will make his U18 debut vs. Canada tonight.

And there's one final possible addition to keep an eye on. Gatineau lost in the QMJHL playoffs last night, freeing up potential first round draft pick Vitali Abramov to play for Russia. Abramov is on the entry list and Russia has kept one forward spot open. That could be a game-changer if he was in the line-up for the quarterfinals.