A Boxing Day tradition
World juniors, the best late Christmas gift you can ask for
My favourite holiday tradition has come and gone, and I cannot be happier with the result.
After disappointments since 2009, Canada took the World Juniors over Russia after a very impressive showing overall at the tournament. There’s something different about the World Juniors, whether it’s waking up early to watch Canada play or the high intensity of the tournament, something just makes this tournament special.
I’ve been lucky enough to watch every game in the tournament and the upsets in this year’s tournament have been crazy. If you think about it, Finland- the team that won this tournament last year- was just one loss away from possible relegation. The quality of the “weaker” teams has improved so much in the past few years that every game is almost a coin flip when trying to predict who will win each game.
If you were to tell me at the start of this tournament that Slovakia would be fighting for the Bronze medal, I would have told you to rethink some of your life choices. Instead, these teams are making almost every game close and entertaining to watch.
Then, there’s just the feel and the atmosphere of the tournament as a whole. It brings people who really don’t watch hockey to the edge of their seats, because it becomes a national spectacle that can only be explained for the love of hockey.
Many people have said in the past that the Canadians are the only people who literally give two shits about the tournament, but I feel like we’ve seen a change within the culture of the tournament. The success of other nations is a definite help when looking at other nations jumping on to the World Junior fan base. The gold medal drought for Canada definitely helped the popularity of this tournament. The United States, Russia, Sweden and Finland have all won the championship in the past five years and the past two World Juniors were in Russia and Sweden, respectively.
As this tournament wraps up for another year, we Canadians can finally focus back on the NHL after a two-week absence from really giving a shit about the league.
This year we can finally celebrate a Gold Medal win, but we can’t let it get to our heads as well. After not medalling in two years, Canada is finally back on top of the World Junior podium and we all know that this won’t happen every year. It may feel as such, but there will always be the memory of disappointments in Saskatoon and Helsinki.
This tournament has showed that anything can really happen when we throw ten teams of under 20 hockey players, and that’s just the beauty of this holiday tournament.