The holiday season for Canadians means family, food, drink, a break from work, and junior hockey. With its traditional start on Boxing Day and winding its way just past the New Year, the traditional hockey countries of the world send their best U20 players to compete for pride and glory.
For its 41st edition and for the second time in three years the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships will be co-hosted by the cities of Montreal and Toronto. It is Canada’s 12th time hosting the tournament. Canada’s preliminary games will all be in Toronto with the medal and relegation games taking place here in Montreal.
Ten nations are involved – Canada, United States, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia, and Slovakia. Finland is the defending gold medalists. It is hard to predict who will win a tournament like this due to the young age and unpredictability of the players. You would have to believe that Latvia and Slovakia will be the teams battling it out not to be relegated. After that it is anyone’s game with Sweden, Finland and Russia being the odds on favourites.
On the Canadian squad we have five returning players from last year’s team, which did not medal (finished a disappointing 6th). Dylan Strome leads a group that also includes Matthew Barzal, Julien Gauthier, Thomas Chabot, and Mitchell Stephens. For Habs fans a player you should be watching carefully defenseman Noah Juulsen, a Canadiens’ 2015 draft pick. Head coach is Dominique Ducharme and he will try to live up to the weighty expectations of a hockey mad nation with a name short on top shelf names.
Canada will play a pretournament game on December 19 versus Finland at the Bell Centre. Their tournament begins for real on December 26 against Russia. In what has become a tradition Canada will face the United States on New Year’s Eve. Games are carried by RDS and TSN.
-Dates: December 26, 2016 – January 5, 2017
-Venues: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Bell Centre – Montreal
-Ticket Purchase: www.evenko.ca