Why You Should be Watching the World Juniors (video)


Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dylan Larkin poses with team officials after being selected as the number fifteen overall pick to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bored this winter break? Don’t want to watch a ton of bowl games with teams you could care less about? Well then, why don’t you tune into the 2015 World Junior hockey tournament. It is 11 days straight of young hockey stars representing their countries in hopes of gold. Here are some good reasons you should watch.

It is hockey, when the NHL is on break until Saturday

With the holiday break the NHL doesn’t start play again until Saturday and if you really want something other than bowl games to watch, the World Juniors could be your thing. The World Juniors is a International Ice Hockey Federation tournament with players ranging in age from 14 to 18. Ten countries are being represented this year in Toronto and Montreal.

Last years tournament in Malmö, Sweden was won by the underdog Finish team with Sweden finishing second and Russia finished third. Players such as the Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg and the Detroit Red Wings Anthony Mantha played last season. This year, players such as Connor McDavid, who is returning from a broken hand and is the projected number one overall pick in this upcoming draft and Jack Eichel will being playing.

IIHF team groups. Photo credit – http://www.worldjunior2015.com/en/teams/

Detroit has Dylan Larkin playing for USA and Joe Hicketts for Canada

The Detroit Red Wings have two notable players playing in the World Juniors tournament this year. Forward Dylan Larkin who is in his freshman season at the University of Michigan will be representing the United States. Larkin, was the Red Wings first round pick in the last draft.

Joe Hicketts will be representing team Canada. Hicketts unlike Larkin was signed as a free agent by the Red Wings after he was invited to Detroit’s development camp and caught the eye of the team.

William Nylander

I know this is a Detroit sports website, and talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs team seems odd, but let me tell you about William Nylander. Nylander was taken 8th overall in the draft by the Maple Leafs and is representing team Sweden. I asked Sportsnet’s Steve Dangle what his number one reason was to watch this years World Juniors and he gave me a simple response;

While Steve is a Maple Leafs fan, he is also a very intelligent hockey guy and his response makes a lot of sense. If you are a really big hockey fan, you might have watched some Swedish league games in which you may have seen Nylander playing for Modo.

The 18 year old with his speed and quick hand is a highly talented offensive player. Watching this kid play is something else, he is predicted to be one of the next big stars in the NHL. If you have never seen him play, just watch this (or any for that matter) highlight reel.

Must watch games

Again, I went to Steve Dangle on games that were must watch and he told me all of them, because you really don’t know what will happen or who will have amazing games.

However if you want a narrowed down answer and might be able to only catch some games, here are a few you should watch. Big rivalry games are always fun, on December 31st the United States and Canada play. A good game is more than likely between these two countries. In group B, catching the December 29th game between Sweden and Russia could be a very interesting one. Russia along with Canada have dominated this tournament since it started in 1977. If these two get to play anytime after the preliminary round it would be a definite watch.

If you want to watch any of the USA games, you can find them on the NHL network along with other miscellaneous games throughout the tournament. All games can be found live on one of the five TSNs if you are in Canada. If you have neither of those, you can look to online streaming links to find games. The tournament starts today at 1pm when Russia takes on Denmark. The United States plays its first game at 3 against Finland. The tournament runs until January 5th when the gold medal game is played in Toronto.