It’s World Juniors Time Again!
It’s a tradition in almost every hockey-loving home. The IIHF World Under-20 Hockey Championship, known as the World Juniors, gets underway in Buffalo NY on Boxing Day, December 26.
The tournament is a showcase for the best under-20 aged players. For those drafted already, it gives fans of the teams that hold their rights a glimpse into the future. For undrafted players, a good performance can move him up the rankings, making scouts and GMs sit up and take notice. Some of the biggest names in hockey have played this tournament.
Team Canada enters the 2011 tournament as the defending silver medalists to the champion Team USA. Canada has won 15 gold medals at this tournament. including the 5 previous to last year. In fact, Canada has medalled each year since 1998, and 26 times since the tournament began in 1974.
Going into this tournament, the US is favored to win it again. With 8 returnees and on home ice, this squad will be expected to do very well. And there is some pedigree in this squad, as Ryan Bourque, Philip Samuelsson and John Ramage are all sons of former NHLers. As always, Canada is a favorite also. With only 3 players returning, and a more ‘workman-like’ persona, things will be different for this Canadian team than in past years where a Crosby, Stamkos, or other budding superstar would lead the way. The Swedes are also quite strong, having won bronze last year, and of course, the Czech, Finn, and Russian teams are also always tough competitors in these tournaments.
Sit back and enjoy folks. These games are often much better entertainment than the NHL, and being in North America again, it means not waking up at 4am to catch the puck drop.