World Junior Championship

One of the greatest traditions over the holidays is cheering on the home nation as they compete in the annual World Junior Hockey Championship. This year, the tournament will take place in Czech Republic, as Team Canada begins its quest for gold in an opening matchup with rival, Team USA, on Boxing Day.

Last year, Team Canada failed to make it past the quarterfinals. They will be looking for a chance at redemption as they will be out to prove they are the best hockey nation in the whole world. Canada last won the gold medal in 2018, and after a sixth place finish last year, they will look to get back in the medal rounds.

It won’t be easy as Team Russia, Team USA, Team Sweden, and Team Finland all look very dangerous. Team Canada’s coach, Dale Hunter of the London Knights, has put together a team that is highly skilled and swift. Two players from his Knights team, Connor McMichael and Liam Foudy, have both made the team after sensational starts to their season in the OHL.

Here is a look at the final roster.

Two players to watch out for on the team are, Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield. Both players are projected to be taken top-three in the NHL draft next summer, and are both highly skilled forwards. Lafreniere leads the entire Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points this season, as he has put up a ridiculous 70 points in 32 game so far for Rimouski. He is the consensus number one NHL draft pick for next year and made Team Canada last year as a 17-year-old.

Byfield is a physical specimen at six foot five and 215 pounds. He has excellent skating abilities for a big guy and is a true workhorse on the ice. Playing in his second year for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, Byfield has put up 57 points in 30 games. Look for Byfield to develop chemistry with Barrett Hayton, who was released by the Arizona Coyotes to play in the tournament for the second year in a row.

It appears that goaltender Nico Daws of the Guelph Storm has won the goaltending battle going into the first game on December 26th. He has had a phenomenal season in the OHL, leading the entire league in save percentage, and shutouts, with four.  Daws did not allow a single goal to Finland or Switzerland in the exhibition games this week.

There are a few Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects to keep an eye on this tournament. Nick Robertson, who was taken in the second round of last year’s NHL draft, will suit up for Team USA and play a pivotal role. Robertson plays on the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, and is absolutely lighting it up this year. He has averaged more than a goal per-game, and has bounced back from a broken finger he suffered a couple months ago.

Rasmus Sandin, who saw some action on the Maple Leafs last season, will lead Team Sweden’s defence. He has played very well for the Toronto Marlies in the AHL this season, putting up 12 points in 19 games. It is likely that Sandin could get another call up to the Maple Leafs later this season. Sandin was taken in the first round of the NHL draft in 2018, and the Maple Leafs will hope this tournament helps propel him to another level.

References

The Canadian Press.(2019 December 23) Key Players to Watch at the World Juniors | TSN. Retrieved from

https://www.tsn.ca/a-look-at-some-of-the-players-to-watch-at-the-world-junior-hockey-championship-1.1417459

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My name is Nic Turner, and I was born and raised in Owen Sound, Ontario. I moved away in 2007 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. After graduating, I took a post-grad at Conestoga College in Public Administration – Municipal Services. This led me to my first job at ICAS of Canada in Guelph. We are a credential service that assesses foreign education and gives the comparative levels in Canada. Sports writing has always been a hobby of mine, and recently, I have picked up a couple freelance jobs. I write on the PGA/NHL for BettingPros/FantasyPros.com, and am a Toronto Maple Leafs writer for the hockeywriters.com. When I’m not watching sports, I enjoy going to the gym, listening to music, or golfing. I was recently married this July, and own a German Shepherd.

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