The Boxing Day tradition is here, as the 2022 IIHF World Under 20 Men’s Hockey Championships begins today in Edmonton and Red Deer. Canada is looking to win gold for the first time since 2020, and they’ll start this tournament with a tough matchup against Czechia. These teams met in last year’s quarter finals, which saw Canada advance with a 3-0 win, and they have a 17-1-2 record lifetime against Czechia.
Canada’s going to be led by some pretty impressive prospects again this season, including the guy most likely to go first overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Shane Wright.
The starting goaltender will be Kamloops Blazers G Dylan Garand. Fresh off signing his first NHL contract with the New York Rangers, Garand is looking to follow in the footsteps of goalies like Carey Price, Felix Potvin, Devan Dubnyk and Dan Cloutier, all gold medal winners for Canada at the WJC.
The first line of Wright with Cole Perfetti and Xavier Borgault will be one to watch, as will the second line of Mason McTavish, Kent Johnson and Mavrik Bourque. The Czechs are no slouches though, and will be led by Hamilton Bulldogs F Jan Mysak, who was named team captain for the tournament.
There’s four games in all to start the tournament, beginning with Germany and Finland, who are playing as we write this. Down in Red Deer is a battle between Sweden and Russia, followed by Canada/Czechia and the USA opening their title defence against Slovakia in Red Deer.
Canada has a day off Monday, then will take on Austria Tuesday night at Rogers Place, and then go up against the Germans on Wednesday night. The big New Years Eve matchup sees them taking on Finland this year, in the final game of the preliminary round. The medal round begins Sunday January 2nd, and the gold medal game is set for Wednesday January 5th.