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World Junior Hockey Medal Day: Canada-Russia for Bronze, USA-Sweden for Gold

Canada will vie for bronze without Griffin Reinhart. The U.S. will try to dethrone the reigning champs.

Bruce Bennett

Today is the final day of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. Medals, finally, are to be awarded.

The warm-up match features two teams that many picked to end up in the final together. Instead, host Russia and rival Canada fight for the consolation bronze at 3:30 a.m. EST. Canada plays without Griffin Reinhart thanks to an anomalous four-game suspension due to an incident in the semifinal vs. the U.S.

The loser of the following match has that unique experience of earning the better reward than the bronze medalist yet ending its tournament with a loss. That one at the humane time of 8 a.m. EST sees growing power USA try to dethrone this year's surprise repeat finalist, Sweden.

It's not that Sweden, which won gold in 2012, was not a strong team coming in. But their run-up to the tournament featured an Islanders-like spate of injuries to the blueline. Oscar Klefbom, Jonas Brodin, Hampus Lindholm and Jesper Pettersson all went down.

Given that reality and recent form in the tournament, you'd think USA, which last won gold in 2010, would be the favorite. Their run-up to this game featured close losses to Russia and Canada but demolitions of Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic -- and even Canada in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Sweden needed shootout victories to advance.

Still, it's a short tournament played by kids, so you can't read too much into any handful of results. Instead, just watch and enjoy the games.