No NHL? No problem. Thankfully the 2013 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships will be taking place in Ufa, Russia at the end of this month and will carry over into the new year.
To be more specific, the tournament will start on December 26th, 2012 and the gold medal game will be played on January 5th, 2013.
Buzz is starting early for this years tournament because of the current NHL lockout and the fact people are dying for good, fast, passionate and competitive hockey. However, even when the NHL is playing the World Junior Championships is always some of the best hockey played during the year. But the fact the NHL is locked out we may get the pleasure of seeing some players participate that would otherwise not be allowed to by their respective NHL club.
The U-20 top division features the games that will be televised and it will contain some of the best young talent from around the world. The division will be broken into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A consists of Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia. Group B will be composed of Russia, Canada, Slovakia, United States of America and Germany.
While both divisions should prove to be highly competitive, I’ll be keeping my eye on Group B with teams like Russia, Canada and the United States. As an American I’ll obviously be pulling for the USA but their road is as tough as it comes with superpowers like Russia and Canada headlining Group B. USA is a long-shot to make it out of this group and into the medal rounds for obvious reasons. Either way Group B is going to be a battle featuring a lot of skill and a lot of hitting. If European style hockey is more your thing, well then Group A may be the group for you to follow.
If you can’t wait until the end of the month for more on this tournament, Canada will be holding its selection camp December 11th through the 15th at the Winsport Athletic and Ice Complex in Calgary, Alberta. TSN plans on covering the camp every step of the way as Canada looks to mold their roster and revenge last years bronze medal. While most countries would be very happy with a bronze, it was the first time in 11 years that Canada failed to reach the finals.
All countries must submit their tournament rosters to the IIHF on December 25th. Considering the NHL is locked out countries will be allowed to add players to their rosters should the lockout end and some players be summoned immediately to their NHL clubs.
I only have one question, is it December 26th yet?