I hope you enjoyed December 25. Today is Boxing Day and it is the first day of the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships. It’s an international tournament of under-20 year old hockey players often featuring the best from the recent draft class and a few that could be picked in June 2017. It’s often fast, intense, and great hockey. It’s worth a watch if you have the opportunity to do so. This is an open post for all to discuss the WJCs as they happen. All site rules apply; anything you want to say about the WJCs should go in the comments of this post. What will follow is a schedule, broadcast information, and why you, the Devils fan should care.
What are the WJCs?
The World Junior Championships, or the World Under-20 Championships, is an annual nation-based tournament where the players are under the age of twenty. This commonly refers to the top division; other nations play in lower divisions. There’s a group stage where there are two groups of five nations each. Everyone plays each other at least once. Wins are awarded three points, post-regulation winners get two, post-regulation winners get one, and regulation losers get nothing. The top four teams by points will move on to the playoffs, where the two groups cross each other (e.g. first place in Group A plays fourth place in Group B). The last place team in each group will play a best-of-three series where the winner will play in next year’s WJCs and the loser will be relegated to Divsion 1, Group A of the World Junior Championships and replaced by the winners of the Division 1 WJCs in the next year.
This year, Montreal and Toronto are the hosts. Here’s who will they see:
Group A (Montreal): Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland
Group B (Toronto): Canada, United States, Russia, Slovakia, Latvia
Why Should I, the Devils Fan, Care?
There will be four New Jersey Devils prospects participating in this year’s tournament. Canada has selected two forwards. The first is 2015 third-rounder Blake Speers, who started this season with the New Jersey Devils. He’s coming off a broken wrist but his talent was significant enough to warrant inclusion by Hockey Canada. The second is 2016 first round selection, Michael McLeod. His speed and two-way game should be an asset in this tournament. The United States announced their roster on Christmas Eve and 2016 third rounder Joey Anderson will line up at wing for the red, white, and blue. Lastly, 2016 fifth rounder Yegor Rykov was picked to play on Russia’s blueline. A good tournament showing will only add further reason to be excited about the Devils’ future.
Also, the Devils haven’t played well at all in December and I’m not so sure it’s going to get better anytime soon. This tourney will provide a different level of hockey that may be more entertaining to watch. That there are four prospects plus the fact is that this an international tournament so there’s plenty of root for. Plus, you may even see a few players that you may want the Devils to draft in about six months from now.
What is the 2017 WJC Schedule?
The group stage will take place from December 26 through December 31. The tournament playoffs will take place from January 2 with the gold medal finals taking place on January 5. Here’s a quick schedule for the group stage. “Home” teams are listed second.
- Denmark vs. Sweden - 1 PM ET
- Latvia vs. United States (Anderson) - 3:30 PM ET
- Finland vs. Czech Republic - 5 PM ET
- Russia (Rykov) vs. Canada (McLeod, Speers) - 8 PM ET
- Switzerland vs. Czech Republic - 1 PM ET
- Russia (Rykov) vs. Latvia - 4 PM ET
- Finland vs. Denmark - 5:30 PM ET
- Slovakia vs. Canada (McLeod, Speers) - 8 PM ET
- Sweden vs. Switzerland - 5 PM ET
- United States (Anderson) vs. Slovakia - 7:30 PM ET
- Czech Republic vs. Denmark - 1 PM ET
- United States (Anderson) vs. Russia (Rykov) - 3:30 PM ET
- Sweden vs. Finland - 5:30 PM ET
- Canada (McLeod, Speers) vs. Latvia - 8 PM ET
- Denmark vs. Switzerland - 5 PM ET
- Latvia vs. Slovakia - 7:30 PM ET
- Czech Republic vs. Sweden - 1 PM ET
- Canada (McLeod, Speers) vs. United States (Anderson) - 3:30 PM ET
- Switzerland vs. Finland - 5:30 PM ET
- Slovakia vs. Russia (Rykov) - 8 PM ET
How Can I Watch These Games?
If you’re in Canada, the TSN networks will be showing these games. Canada will get top-billing, but I believe if it’s not airing or streaming on TSN1, it would be on other TSNs.
If you’re in America, then the NHL Network is your best bet. Here’s a full schedule of what they will be airing. They will definitely cover all games that the USA and Joey Anderson are playing as well as most of the playoff games (they’re missing one quarterfinal).
The first semifinal is over. The United States beat Russia in a seven-round shootout to move on to the gold medal game. They will play the winners of Canada-Sweden, which will play later tonight.
Joey Anderson will be going for gold at 8 PM tomorrow on January 5 at the Bell Centre. Meanwhile, Yegor Rykov and Russia will play the losers of Canada-Sweden for the bronze medal at 4 PM. Rykov was quite good in the eyes of the coaches; they named him as one of Russia’s top three players:
Top 3 players for Russia at the tournament as selected by coaches: Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Ilya Samsonov (WSH), Yegor Rykov (NJD).— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) January 4, 2017
Good luck to Blake Speers and Michael McLeod later tonight.
Update #2: And Speers and McLeod (who played all of one shift) along with Canada beat Sweden 5-2. They’ll play the U.S. for the gold!