Photo: Chad Hipolito, The Associated Press
The quebec striker Maxime Comtois is the only one to have ever worn the colors of the team in this tournament.
For more than 40 years, the world Championship of junior hockey is a tradition for the Holiday season and there is no doubt that players from Canada will want to continue their tradition of success when the tournament is presented in front of their supporters.
After having dramatically defeated Sweden in the final of the tournament, in January 2018, Canada will begin its title defence against Denmark on Wednesday at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
The least we can say is that air canada is not detrimental to the representatives of the maple leaf flag. Canada has never been ruled out of the podium in the 13 performances of the tournament in the country, winning at the passage of six gold medals. He had won the top honors in 2006, when British Columbia has hosted the event for the only time in its history.
It is, however, a group of inexperienced, who will try to lead Canada to an 18th gold medal, while the quebec striker Maxime Comtois is the only one to have ever worn the colors of the team in this tournament. Comtois has also been named captain of the team, and he is the first Quebec from Kristopher Letang, 2007, to receive this honor.
In spite of everything, head coach Tim Hunter will be able to count on players that are not in their first in international hockey. Twenty of the 22 players have already donned the uniform of the canadian tournaments of international importance, and 10 were selected in the first round of the NHL draft. Seven of them hold such as the functions of a captain in their junior team respective.
Hunter mentioned that he wanted to see his men turn that pressure into positive energy.
“These young people have grown up wanting to wear the jersey of Team Canada junior the 26 December and compete in this environment, he said. It is a privilege to be in this tournament and play for Canada. We see it as an opportunity and not as if there was a lot of pressure and great expectations. “
After defeating difficult for the Swiss in the first game of preparation, Canada has bounced back in fine fashion against Slovakia. The lack of finish and a few bumps on the special units, however, have guided Finland to a gain of 5-2 in the final part of preparation.
Nevertheless, Team Canada junior continues to improve and develop a chemistry according to forward Jack Studnicka.
“There will be so many emotions involved in this tournament, with ups and downs, has said the choice of the second round of the Boston Bruins in 2017. You need to find that emotional balance and keep the eyes on your game, and your task to accomplish. There is definitely a learning process and we start to find out a little more about the skating rink. “
During the first day of the selection camp, Hunter insisted on the fact that it was expected that the canadian team is one of the fastest of its history at this tournament. He added that he wanted his players to think and act with speed on the rink.
The creativity of Canada’s attack has rarely been questioned in the past, and with defenders Evan Bouchard, who started the season in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Noah Dobson, Ty Smith and Josh Brook, a hope of the Montreal canadiens, the puck should come out of the area quickly recovered.
The key to success, therefore, could fall on the shoulders of the guards Michael DiPietro and Ian Scott. Since 2005, each time that the keepers of Canada have displayed the best percentage of stops of the tournament (six times), the country has put the hand on a gold.
“The two guards have carried out large judgments against Finland. We have allocated five goals then it is hard to say, said Hunter about the identity of his starting goalkeeper. We are going to analyze the situation. It is for this reason that we have given the ice time to the two guards, because we believe in them. None of them is ahead of the other. “
After Denmark, Canada will turn to Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Russia, in a classic of 31 December, which could determine which of the two courses will end the first step in the Group A.
Sweden, the United States, Finland, Slovakia, and Kazakhstan make up Group B, which will play its games at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
The top four teams from each group during the preliminary round advance to the elimination phase, so that there will be a cross between the opponents for the quarter-finals. The final takes place on 5 January, at Rogers Arena.
The Canadian will be well represented
For the first time in its history, the Canadian was able to observe seven players to the world Championship of junior hockey. And this number could swell to nine if he had decided to lend the attacker Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Finland and if his compatriot Joni Ikonen had not been injured.
To the attack, Nick Suzuki (Canada) and Ryan Poehling (Usa) should be granted greater responsibility within the first two trios of their team. Jacob Olofsson (Sweden) and Jesse Ylonen (Finland) could also be of the important features in spite of their first participation in this tournament.
Defensively, Canada has high hopes for Josh Brook on the left side. The rear right-hander is likely to be afforded the full confidence of head coach Tim Hunter, who also directs with the Warriors in Moose Jaw. On the side of Alexander Romanov, who has been witnessing the wide eyes during the series, Canada-Russia in the canadian hockey League, he will now be able to show all its know-how to an international audience.
In front of the net, Cayden Primeau could inherit the goalkeeper position number one in the United States. Well-known development program in the us for a few years, Primeau will share the net with the veteran 19-year-old Kyle Keyser, but also the hope of the 17 year-old Spencer Knight, who could be selected in the first round of the upcoming NHL draft.
Faces already known
The world Championship of junior hockey is shaping up very complicated this year, because several players of the NHL and the american hockey League have been loaned to their countries. Not counting the players playing in the League of the continental Russia. Others have even played a few matches in the circuit Bettman before being returned to the junior.
Surpenamment, what are the Czechs have the largest number of players who have played in professional in North America since the beginning of the season. The attacker Filip Chytil has amassed 13 points in 35 games with the New York Rangers before being sold to the Czech Republic. The attackers Filip Zadina, Martin Necas and Martin Kaut, all of the first-round, were played in the american League.
Canada (Evan Bouchard, Maxime Comtois and Jaret Anderson-Dolan), Finland (Henri Jokiharju, Urho Vaakanainen and Eeli Tolvanen) as well as Sweden (Erik Brannstrom, Rasmus Sandin and Isac Lundestrom) follow with three players each.
Klim Kostin, Russia, and Tobias Geisser, Switzerland, also played in the american League before joining their national team.
As is the case every year, players of junior age will have to pass their turn to the rendezvous of the Holiday season. The Canadian Robert Thomas (Blues St. Louis) and Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings), the Swedish Rasmus Dahlin (Sabres Buffalo), the Finnish Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Canadian) and Miro Heiskanen (Dallas Stars) and the American Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa Senators) have not been loaned by their NHL team and they will have to watch the tournament in the comfort of their living room.
– The Sweden shows a record of 44-0 in the preliminary round during the last 11 tournaments. However, it has not won a single gold medal during this sequence, when Mika Zibanejad is hit the target in overtime in 2012.
– The United States could become the only country to win a medal at the last four performances of the tournament.
– Dominant wherever he goes, the american striker Jack Hughes will consolidate its title as the best hope for the next NHL draft. The attacker finland Kaapo Kakko and the defender Swedish Philip Broberg will try them also in a full view, even if they are older than 17 years old.
– Two players hold the attention, also in view of the draft of 2020 : the attacker canadian Alexis Lafrenière, and the attacker Finnish Anton Lundell. Both aged 17 years, Lafrenière became the ninth youngest player in the history of Team Canada in junior and he could be the first choice in total by 2020, while Lundell is already seen as a hope of the top-10.
– Led by its quartet of veterans to the attack, is that the Czech Republic could be back on the podium for the first time since 2005 ?