It's the most wonderful time of the year.
When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind?
Do you think of a decorated tree surrounded by presents?
How about stockings hung by the chimney with care?
Is it time spent with family and friends, enjoying big meals and lots of laughs?
Or do you think of the World Junior Championship — the music we all know too well, late nights and early mornings, big goals and heartbreaking losses?
For hockey fans, Christmas is synonymous with the World Junior Championship, a tournament that captivates our hearts and imaginations each winter and introduces us to tomorrow's hockey superstars.
It didn’t take long for controversy to find its way onto the ice in Buffalo. Out to avenge their silver medal performance from last year’s IIHF World Junior Championship, Team Canada kicked off their quest for gold with an opening marker that in no way should have stood.
It seemed like there were more people questioning Canada’s world junior roster choices this year than in previous years. For one thing, there doesn’t appear to be as much young star power as players like Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki, both top-15 selections in the 2017 NHL Draft, didn’t make the squad while Owen Tippett, who played seven games with the Florida Panthers to start the season, wasn’t even invited to camp.
Last fall, the thought of Cale Makar suiting up for Team Canada at the World Juniors, even this year, might have seemed far-fetched since he was a relative unknown playing Junior A.
There was never going to a huge contingent of QMJHL players on the Canadian roster at this year’s IIHF U20 World Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.
A late addition from the NHL could pay dividends for Canada’s World Junior team. Victor Mete, a London Knights product who earned a spot with the Montreal Canadiens as a 19-year-old, has been loaned to Team Canada in the hopes of pushing them to gold.
Team Canada will be out for vengeance on Boxing Day. With seven players returning to the IIHF World Junior Championship from last year’s silver medal winning Canadian squad, the young men in red and white boast one of the strongest team’s in recent memory — and it starts from the goaltender out.
While it’s still an uncommon avenue to choose from compared to the CHL, there have been many NCAA players who have made an impact for Canada at the World Juniors.
The days where Canada can run away with the tournament are over. Most of us are old enough to remember Canada winning five straight golds on two separate occasions (1993-97 and 2005-09), but hockey is a much different game now and it’s clear that there are plenty of powerhouse nations who will put Canada to work. Here’s a look at this year’s competition.
They finally made it. After summer selection camp, the World Junior showcase, a much-anticipated NHL loaner in Victor Mete and a few other late additions who weren’t invited to the summer showcase, the final 22 are setting their sights on Buffalo and their first game against Finland.
This year is as tough as any to pick. Canada’s roster has seven returnees (if Fabbro can go). Ducharme is shaking things up zero draft eligible players and three NCAA players. Canada has a substantially better medal and gold medal winning percentage when the tourney is on North American ice.
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