The best young hockey players (under 20) in the world have converged in Alberta for the 2012 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. Canada is the favorite to win, not only as the host country, not only as the 15 time winner, but as the most talented team. However, they haven't won since 2009.
There are two groups of 5 teams in the round-robin stage. The top 3 teams from each group advance to the elimination stage, with the group winners receiving byes to the semifinals. Here are the groups:
The US has already thrashed Denmark 11-3, while Canada dominated Finland 8-1. Also, Sweden beat Latvia 9-4, and Russia took care of Switzerland 3-0. So no surprises so far.
The US will be playing Canada on New Year's Eve at 8pm. They'll play Finland on the 28th, and the Czech Republic on the 30th.
Other things to look for include some young Bruins and a few local college kids. Russia's Alexander Khokhlachev was drafted 40th overall by the Bruins in this year's draft. 9th overall pick Dougie Hamilton is playing for Canada and scored a goal last night.
The US team has a few New England college kids. BU's Adam Clendening, BC's Bill Arnold scored last night, Vermont's Connor Brickley, and Weymouth's own Charlie Coyle, who used to play for BU until recently, who scored a hat-trick last night.
The WJHC is a fun tournament to watch. The hockey's fast, it's intense, the Canadian crowd will be into it, and the shaky goaltending and inexperienced defense leads to some wide open play and lots of scoring.
The finals will be played on January 5th.