World Junior countdown

I smile for gold and nothing less

I smile for gold and nothing less

Just three more weeks, people

Article: Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor

For hockey fans, Christmas starts on Dec. 26.

That’s when the World Juniors U-20 tournament begins, and Canadians gather to cheer on their favourite team to a gold medal victory – at least that’s how it used to be.

As I write this, I am gritting my teeth and squinting my eyes so that I don’t have to see myself type that Canada used to be good at the World Juniors. Team Canada was on one hell of a streak from 2005-09, when they had won the gold medal five times in a row and were just one gold medal victory away from beating their personal best.

A team that sported the likes of future first overall draft pick, Taylor Hall, Pats boys Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert, and countless other future NHL greats were supposed to be unbeatable. In reality, everyone thought that we already had the tournament locked up with our junior star-studded roster, it was ours to lose, and that we did.

And where did that streak come to an end you ask? Why right here in Saskatchewan, in typical heartbreaking fashion because Saskatchewanians do not know how to lose any other way.

But, possibly an even more devastating, and definitely much longer, streak came to an end just last year in Ufa, Russia. Since 1999, Team Canada has medaled in the World Juniors, but not 2013, as the team took home a measly fourth-place finish.

In total, there has been 36 World Juniors, and Canada has taken home the gold in 15 of them, more than any other team.

And while we should still be proud of our boys for finishing as high as they do, Canadians expect nothing but gold.

But this year has all Canadian fans biting their nails; for once we are worried about not placing for a second-year in a row–something that hasn’t happened since 1979-80. Is our hockey supremacy slowly slipping away? I sure as hell hope not.

This question was asked multiple times on Monday morning as the selection camp roster was finally announced, but Regina Pats fans were disappointed.

For the second year in a row, there were zero members of the Regina Pats on the roster, despite having sent the most players to the tournament in its history.

However, the roster did have a few players worth mentioning; one in particular is 16-year-old Connor McDavid.

McDavid has the intense pressure of being touted as the next “great one” and is currently lighting it up in the Ontario Hockey League, and already racked up 45-points in 27 games.

Another notable, Matthew Dumba, the only current NHLer on the selection camp roster is someone that Canadian fans will be happy to have. His NHL club, the Minnesota Wild, have agreed to loan him to the World Juniors. In the past, members who have been on loan have not returned to their NHL club, and have been told to instead to return to their junior clubs after the tournament. It may suck for his NHL future this year, but it’s great for Team Canada’s.

Whatever the case may be, just two forwards, and one defenseman from the list of invitees will not make Team Canada.

And when the final roster is announced, and the tournament is underway, Canadians will come together once again, hopefully rejoicing at getting back to where we belong, on top.

[button style=”e.g. solid, border” size=”e.g. small, medium, big” link=”” target=”new window”]Image: Wiki Commons[/button]

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