Preliminary round pool play at the 2016 IIHF World U18 Championships completed on Tuesday and the brackets were set for the quarterfinals of this year's tournament.
Starting at the top of the bracket, the United States, winner of Group A will take on the Czech Republic, who finished fourth in Group B at 7:30pm at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The US cruised through pool play, as expected, winning all four games and outscoring opponents 30-4 over the course of the four games. The Czech Republic is a decent opponent, but one that should be beatable for the United States. I would have thought the Czechs would have finished third in their group, but they lost a close game to Slovakia on the last day of prelim play to fall to fourth. The strength for the Czech Republic is on the blue line where they've got a couple mid-round-ish potential draft picks that are big and can really skate. Offense has been a real struggle for them in this tournament with their best threat being 2018 NHL Draft prospect Filip Zadina, who is a real force around the net.
The winner of that game will meet the winner of Finland, second in Group B and Russia, third in Group A. That game will be played at 12pm at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Russia put together a pretty respectable team for this tournament, all things considered, but it's hard to imagine them having enough firepower to match up with Finland in this game. The Finns are a real dark horse in this tournament now, especially since adding Jesse Puljujarvi late in the prelim round.
The bottom half of the bracket is led by Group B winners Canada, who will take on Switzerland, the fourth place team in Group A. That game will be played at 3:30 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Canada was undefeated in the prelim round, including a nice win over Finland. Their offense hasn't been overly explosive yet, but it's hard to imagine them having too much trouble with Switzerland.
Finally, the winner of that game will face the winner of Sweden, second place in Group A and Slovakia, third place in Group B. That game will be played at 6pm at the ICON Sports Center. Sweden was blown out by the US in the prelim round, but have since added goalie Filip Gustavsson, who is Central Scouting's top-ranked goalie. They should have no trouble with Slovakia and should give Canada a serious battle for the right to play in the gold medal game.