Upcoming Match-ups

2019 World Juniors Semifinals Odds & Picks: Can US Beat Undefeated Russia?

Team USA defeats Czech Republic
Team USA takes on Russia in the World Juniors semifinals after defeating the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. Photo by @usahockey [Twitter]
  • Finland and the USA are favored to win Friday’s (January 4th) IIHF World Junior Championship semfinals
  • The Finns have never finished better than third in a world junior in Canada
  • The Americans have won two world junior gold medals on Canadian ice

One of Switzerland or Finland will be poised to make history if either country wins the IIHF World Junior Championship.

Should Russia garner the gold, it will end a long drought. But if it’s the USA that emerges victorious, it will just be business as usual.

The Americans are the only country to win a medal at each of the last three world junior tournaments, including a gold medal in 2017, the last time the tourney was held in Canada.

Russia’s most recent gold medal in 2011 was also won in North America, and Russia has earned four gold medals on Canadian ice, the last time coming in 2003.

Finland has never won better than a bronze medal when the tournament was held in Canada. And the Swiss show just one world junior medal on their resume, a bronze earned at the 1998 event in Finland.

USA vs Russia Odds

Teams Moneyline Puck Line Total at Bovada
USA -140 -1.5 (+200) O 5.5 (-125)
Russia +105 +1.5 (-265) U 5.5 (-105)

*All odds taken 1/3

Start Time: 1pm EST

The Russians have earned six medals in the last eight world juniors, but none of them were golden moments – three silver and three bronze. The last time Russia won a gold medal on Canadian ice in 2003, Alex Ovechkin was on the team.

Forward Grigori Denisenko is tied for third in tournament scoring with 3-4-7 totals, while Alexander Romanov (1-6-7) tops all defensemen. Goalie Pyotr Kochetkov owns a .965 save percentage.

Goal-scoring was expected to be an issue for the USA, but that hasn’t been the case.

Ryan Poehling shares the tournament lead with five goals and is also the scoring leader with eight points. Joel Farabee and Tyler Madden each have three goals.

Jack Hughes, the consensus to go No. 1 overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft, returned from a shoulder injury to set up the opening goal in their 3-1 quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic.

Three of the last four USA-Russia games at the World Juniors were one-goal affairs, and all were in the medal round.

The Americans won 4-2 in the 2018 quarterfinals and 4-3 in the 2017 semifinals, part of a three-game winning streak against Russia. The Russians beat the USA 2-1 in the 2016 quarterfinals.

Pick: USA (-140), under 5.5 (-105)

Switzerland vs Finland Odds

Teams Moneyline Puck Line Total at Bovada
Switzerland +290 +1.5 (+110) O 6 (-110)
Finland -425 -1.5 (-145) U 6 (-125)

Start Time: 5pm EST

The quarterfinal win over Sweden was the biggest triumph by the Swiss since they toppled Russia 3-2 in the 2010 QF.

But that was followed by a 6-1 semifinal loss to Canada and an 11-4 drubbing from Sweden in the bronze-medal game.

The Finns won’t be caught with their guard down. And forward Eeli Tolvanen, pegged to lead the tournament in goals, finally got off the snide with the tying tally against Canada, and seemed to come to life after that.

Pick: Finland (-425), under 6 (-125)

Author Image

An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.