Around the world it’s boxing day, but to those who love hockey above all us it’s the Start of the IIHF World Juniors Tournament. A competition held every year where ten countries send their best under the age of twenty to compete for international supremacy. This stage has proven to be a chance for young talent to make a statement. Sidney Crosby, John Carlson, Gaudreau, Taylor Hall, Patrik Laine, you name it. If your a stud in this tournament chances are your a stud in the NHL.

 

So I understand for a lot of you this will be your first time watching this tournament so here are some things to watch for.

 

First, America is really good in this tournament. Despite our inability to get it done on the international stage the American’s are consistent medal finishers in the World Juniors. In fact since 2010 no country has taken home more hardware or gold medals than the USA.

 

Second, Jack Hughes is the star for team USA, he is the projected number one pick for the 2019 draft and this kid is fun to watch. He plays center and wears number 6 for the red, white, and blue. This kid is going to be a stud not just in this tournament but for years to come at the NHL level. He plays for the National Development Program and is playing in his second world juniors.

 

Third, anyone can win this tournament, so if you cheer for another country due to heritage or that’s just where you from this tournament is fun. Similar to the unlikely Germans from the 2018 Olympics Tournament any team can medal or even win the World Juniors. Particular the Czech Republic with their big line of Filip Zadina, Martin Necas and Martin Kaut. This line gave teams fits last year and with a second year in the tournament the Czech’s look good for a medal this year.

 

Forth, another player to watch for is the projected second overall pick in the 2019 draft, Kaapo Kakko. This young Finnish star is cut from the same cloth of Patrick Laine, except he plays center. He’s a big kid with a scoring touch. He will try to lead Finland to the gold medal this year.

 

The tournament carries all the major tams you are use to Canada, United State, FInnland, Sweden, and Russia. All these teams are good and because of the way the group stages are set up all are likely to make the quarter finals causing big matchups for every knockout game.

 

Team USA drops the puck tonight at 6:30pm ECT. Make sure you tune in for their big matchups with Sweden on Saturday night at 10:30pm ECT and Monday Night aginst FInland at 10:30pm ECT.

 

I promise you these games are can’t miss.

 

Enjoy the hockey and remember, always keep your stick on the ice.

 

– Johnny V –

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Written by Johnny Violence

The lead NHL/Hockey writer for Thoughts From The Bench.

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