From streaks to seats: What to watch for at the world junior hockey championship

Some of the world’s best young hockey talents go head-to-head in Victoria and Vancouver next week

Team USA’s Jack Quinn, left, along with his brother Quinn Hughes, 24, take part in the during pre-game skate at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C. on Tuesday July 31, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett)

Team USA’s Jack Quinn, left, along with his brother Quinn Hughes, 24, take part in the during pre-game skate at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C. on Tuesday July 31, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett)

Some of the world’s best young hockey talents will go head-to-head in Victoria and Vancouver next week.

The 2019 world junior hockey championship kicks off on Tuesday, featuring dozens of athletes likely to carve out careers in the NHL.

Here are five storylines you’ll want to watch at this year’s tournament:

THE BROTHERS HUGHES

Hockey fans will get a peek at the teen who’s expected to go No. 1 at next year’s NHL draft — and he’ll be playing with his older brother.

Both Quinn and Jack Hughes will be key pieces for the U.S. team.

Seventeen-year-old Jack has already earned a reputation as a speedy, highly-skilled and high-scoring centre. Currently playing with the U.S. development team, he’s an early favourite to be the first overall draft pick in June.

Nineteen-year-old Quinn was taken seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks last year.

He’ll be one of three returning defencemen for the U.S. junior team, and has spent this season as a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Quinn already has three goals and 17 assists for the Wolverines this year, closing in on the 29 points he tallied in his rookie campaign.

The Hughes brothers shared the ice at the world junior showcase in Kamloops, B.C., last summer, connecting on some highlight-reel worthy goals.

U.S. junior team coach Mike Hastings said at the time that the pair have obvious chemistry, talent and passion for the game.

READ MORE: 6 more cuts made to Canada’s prospective world junior team, more await

SWEDEN’S STREAK

It’s been a long time since last year’s silver medallists lost a match up in the group stage — 11 tournaments (or 44 games) to be precise.

Though Sweden has dominated in round-robin play, they have captured just one gold medal in the same stretch, taking the championship title in 2012.

Keeping the streak alive may be difficult this year. The Swedes are in a group with the United States, Finland, Slovakia and Kazakhstan.

They’ll also be without 18-year-old defenceman Rasmus Dahlin, who is busy tearing up the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres.

Timothy Liljegren of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies won’t be in the lineup after he suffered a high-ankle sprain earlier this month.

But the Swedes will still get some solid defensive play from Liljegren’s Marlies teammate Rasmus Sandin, and Adam Boqvist, who’s with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

CANUCKS IN THE CREASE

Mike DiPietro used the disappointment of being cut from last year’s junior squad as fuel as he evolved into one of the best netminders in the Canadian Hockey League.

After selection camp, he set an alarm on his phone that would periodically blast a stark message on to the screen: “Got cut from world juniors.” The message motivated the Vancouver Canucks prospect to push a little harder when he returned to the Windsor Spitfires.

It worked. DiPietro’s performance in net earned him goaltender of the year honours from the Ontario Hockey League last season.

His success has continued this year, first with the Spitfires and now the Ottawa 67s. He’s posted a 12-8-0 record with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

Now the 19-year-old Amherstburg, Ont., native will be one of Canada’s two goalies in this year’s tournament.

The other is Calgary’s Ian Scott, who has been a brick wall for the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. He boasts a 23-2-0 record this season with a 1.61 goals-against average and a stunning .943 save percentage.

Earlier this month, the 19-year-old signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

KAZAKHSTAN’S BACK

Yes, Kazakhstan has a junior hockey team.

While the athletes making up the squad aren’t necessarily household names, many play in the Kontinental Hockey League’s feeder league, known as the MHL.

Hockey fans may be surprised to see the Central Asian country listed among the tournament contenders, but this isn’t the first year the Kazakhstanis have participated. They were last in the tournament in 2009.

And they have played giant-killer before, upsetting Canada 6-3 in the 1998 world junior championship in Finland.

While Canada is a perennial world juniors powerhouse, some other countries come and go, depending on their performance the year before.

After round-robin play, the two last-placed teams play a best-of-three relegation series where the winner retains their spot in the tournament. The loser is sent down to play in Division I Group A.

Germany won the lower tournament earlier this month, earning a spot in 2020’s main event.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Veale, seen here at Brookswood Secondary School on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, has been coaching girls basketball for more than 20 years (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Coach Chris Veale backs his players

When the gym closed, this dedicated basketball coach found another way

Tabor Village took to social media on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 to share what it meant to them to have Langley Lodge staff visit and provide support. As of Tuesday (Dec. 1), the outbreak at Tabor had resulted in a total of 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4. (Tabor Village/Facebook)
Langley Lodge shows ‘solidarity’ by visiting staff of B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak

As of Tuesday, Abbotsford facility recorded 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4

Brian Lott, of the Rotary Club of Langley Central, emceed the prize draw on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley woman wins $73,615 in first ever Langley Rotary Mega Draw

After months of ticket sales, the draw was livestreamed from the Rotary Interpretive Centre Thursday

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
‘No smoke, no fire’ defense says in conflict case that could kick three off Langley Township council

Lawyers argued there’s no evidence of any conflict or vote-for-money deal

Kanata Soranaka became a Belmont bulldog this school year, and has used technology and innovation to continue to bring music to students despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley teacher finds new ways to keep the music playing during COVID

Kanata Soranaka and her music cart a common sight around Belmont Elementary

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Most Read