WJHC: The IIHF World Junior Hockey Tournament 2012

Have you been watching this year’s IIHF World Junior’s Hockey Tournament?  Watching the semi-final games today proved interesting as both games featured some heated rivalries as Sweden took on Finland in semi-final A in which the Swedes advanced to the final with a 3-2 shootout victory.  As of this writing the second semi-final is taking place between Canada and Russia with the Russians ahead 2-0 after the first period.  I love watching this tournament, in fact it is one of my favorite parts of the hockey season.  As a hockey fan there is nothing better than watching the World Junior Hockey Tournament kick off on Boxing Day, or waking up at 3 am to watch the game live as Team Canada plays when the tournament is hosted overseas in Europe.  The IIHF roots go back to when the first ice hockey games in Europe were played at the Prince’s Skating Club in Knightsbridge, England, in 1902. In 1905, Belgium and France played two international games on March 4. Three years later, the LIHG (later the IIHF) was founded in Paris, France.

There are two things however that bother me about the tournament.  The recent format is a little annoying as teams like Canada can dominate every game and not lose a game only to lose a single game in the final and settle for a silver medal.  The 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship has been interesting.    Team USA was a favorite to win the tournament finished well out of medal contention with disappointing early games include a loss to Finland.  Team USA did finish the tournament with a 12-2 throttling of Latvia in the relegation round. 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship

The other thing that bothers me about the WJHC is the fact that medal games (aka playoff games) can be decided by a shootout.  My preference would be for the games to be decided by the old fashioned way, sudden death overtime.  Regardless the caliber of hockey is usually amazing.  There is also some great intensity as evidenced in the 1987 tournament in Piešťany, Czechoslovakia where a brawl broke out between Russia and Canada.  The Canadian team is usually stocked with great players and provide a highly entertaining brand of hockey. TSN always has great coverage and some great rivalries have been established.  For me there have been some memorable players who have gone on to great NHL careers.  Canadian players of note include:

  • Jordan Eberle – who can forget his excellent performance a few years back?
  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Jimmy Waite
  • Theo Fleury
  • Eric Lindros
  • Scott Niedermayer
  • John Slaney
  • Trevor Kidd
  • Paul Kariya
  • Todd Harvey
  • Jim Sandlak
  • Jason Allison
  • Jason Spezza
  • Mike Cammalleri
  • Jonathan Toews
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Shayne Corson
  • Russ Courtnall
  • Mario Lemieux
  • Mike Moller
  • Dale Hawerchuk

Some great players have played in the WJHC, perhaps that is why it is one of the greatest hockey tournaments out there.  Go Canada Go!