Everything You Need To Know About The 2018 World Junior Championships
Beginning today, the eyes of the hockey world turn to a city known more for its brazen football tailgating fanatics than its hockey prowess, for the largest hockey tournament outside of the Olympics. Today marks the beginning of IIHF 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY and the United States’ quest to repeat as World Champs. For those who identify as average hockey fans looking to take their fandom to the next level and evaluate the next wave of NHL talent, or die-hard nutbags like myself, this tournament is much watch hockey.
The World Junior Championships feature the best talent from around the world under the age of twenty. That’s right folks, these kids are going head to head in the name of international dominance and can’t even enjoy a few legal sodas after each bout. This tournament is designed to provide a spotlight for the next wave of NHL superstars, featuring ten countries and skaters from all 31 NHL teams. You will get a rude introduction into international hockey as well as a health check on the future of the NHL.
Playing for the second time in Buffalo and the fifth time on American soil, team USA is looking to repeat as World Champions, a feat never before achieved by an American juniors team. Sorted into Group A alongside Canada, Finland and Slovakia, the U.S. is returning seven players from their 2017 Gold Medal roster and adding five skaters from the United States U-18 Gold Medal squad. With a total of twenty NHL prospects, the United States sets its sights on a deep run and the expectation of hardware.
A single word to describe 2018’s roster: WINNERS.
Team USA begins pool play this evening against Denmark, but those of us familiar with the competition have our eyes on the third game of pool play against Canada’s finest. A rematch of last years gold medal game, the IIHF is pulling out all the stops for this matchup, moving the game from KeyBank Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres to New Era Field, the outdoor, open air home of the Buffalo Bills. This will be the first outdoor game in World Juniors history and provides a glimpse into the growth and gravity of this tournament.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 22, 2017
Tournament MVP Prediction
Kailer Yamamoto – Team USA – Spokane Chiefs – Edmonton Oilers
As the 22nd overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 NHL draft, Yamamoto is geared up to show the world his NHL caliber abilities. After a stunning pre-season, Yamamoto made Edmonton’s opening day roster and skated in his first nine NHL games earning three assists in that time. The Oilers front office sent him back to Spokane to further fine tune his craft with his WHL franchise. In thirteen games with the Spokane Chiefs, Yamamoto has tallied 12 points and looks to be on track for another 90 point season (99 Points during 2016-2017 season). With superior speed and quick hands, I fully expect Yamamoto to fill the stat sheet this tournament and lead the US to another gold medal finish.
(Main photo credit: David Banks/USA TODAY Sports)