It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Christmas, but it’s also time for Team Canada’s junior squad to take to the ice against the world’s best hockey players. The team didn’t fare well in last year’s World Junior Championship, finishing a disappointing sixth.
In part that’s because the quality of hockey around the world is improving. In part, that’s because other countries are copying Hockey Canada’s long-term player development approach for kids in hockey. It’s why shortening the bench is so problematic and why parents need to be mindful of how they talk to their children in the car ride home after practices and games.
Only five players on Team Canada played in the tournament last year: Mathew Barzal, Thomas Chabot, Julien Gauthier, Mitchell Stephens, and Dylan Strome. Head coach Dominique Ducharme is from the QMJHL Drummondville Voltigeurs and in a release announcing the team’s final roster said, “We’ve had a great selection camp, and I can see this group of players really beginning to work together and getting better every day.”
Canada is in Group B of this year’s tournament, which means round-robin games against Russia on Boxing Day, and the United States on New Years’ Eve. Both games are being played in Toronto.
The medal games are being played in Toronto on January 5.