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Asia On Improbable Run Thanks To Pepper


Devise
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It's been an interesting World Junior Championship tournament this season, with a lively round robin that saw plenty of goals, and several upsets. But as is the case with most single elimination tournaments, anything and everything can happen in the medal rounds. All it takes is one bad game to change the fates for a team. 

 

A major story-line in this seasons tournament has been the play of Helsinki Titans and Team Asia goaltender, Alexander Pepper. Asia were underdogs entering the tournament, with pretty much less depth, star power scoring, or defensive acumen as the majority of the other teams in the tournament. However they did have a very highly touted VHL rookie who figures to be one of the better netminders of this generation at the pace he's been playing. Pepper has propelled Asia to a true cinderella story, as they upset Europe in the semi-finals despite being outshot 50-38. It was Kisshan Shan scoring a magical game winning goal, on the hat trick no less, that stunned Europe and sends Asia on to the Gold Medal game against Canada. 

 

Pepper had a godly .960 save percentage that game, and was obviously a huge difference maker. Interesting enough Pepper had an up and down round robin that saw Asia's offense needing to propel them forward for 3rd place in the standings. If not for the struggles of Team USA, Asia may have found themselves having to play in the Quarter Finals, and up against hot ranked Canada. Still, Pepper has backstopped Asia to an upset of Canada in the round robin. Game 17, where Asia won 4-2 despite being outshot 41-31. Kisshan Shan, also scored a hat trick that game. Sound familiar? It's clear Team Asia has found a recipe for success, play your heart out and wait for Kisshan Shan to send in the hats. Can they repeat that for the Gold Medal game, and stun the International hockey fans? 

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