It is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year.”
The NHL is preparing for the start of the 2020-21 season, which will open on January 13. Players have started returning to their home cities in advance of training camps, which will begin between December 27 and January 3.
The icing on this year’s holiday cake will be the 2021 World Junior Championship, held annually during the last week of December and first week of January. The tournament showcases some of the best of the world’s hockey talent under the age of 20.
Here is a quick primer that should give you the basics for this year’s tournament. However, should you have any questions, please feel free (as always) to reach out to us by messaging, social media or email.
10 qualified teams from North America and Europe will do battle in a round-robin and then single elimination tournament beginning this Friday, Christmas Day, at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
All teams have entered a “bubble” in Edmonton, very similar to last year’s NHL playoffs. All games will be played without fans.
The 10 teams are divided into two, five-team groups in the Preliminary Round. They include:
Group A: Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany
Group B: Russia, Sweden, United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia
After a single round-robin series in each group, the top four teams from each group advance to the Playoff Round while the fifth-placed team in each group the tournament is over. There will be no relegated team this year.
For all games points shall be awarded as follows:
- 3 points for the winning team at the conclusion of regulation time
- 1 point for both teams at the conclusion of regulation time if the game is tied
- An additional point earned for the team winning the game in a 5-minute overtime period, or the Penalty-Shot Shootout if the teams are still tied following conclusion of the overtime period
- 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time
The top four placed teams (points) from the Preliminary will play a cross-over quarter-final game: 1A vs. 4B, 1B vs. 4A, 2A vs. 3B and 2B vs. 3A. The winner of each quarter-final moves onto the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals the best-ranked team – criteria:
- 1) placement in the group,
- 2) points in the preliminary round,
- 3) goal difference in the preliminary round,
- 4) goals scored in the preliminary round,
- 5) seeding coming into the tournament – will play against the lowest-ranked semi-finalist.
The winner of each semi-final game will move onto the gold medal game, while the losers will play in the bronze medal game.
More on tournament format and rules can be found here.
The Capitals will send two prospects to this years World Junior Championship: Forward Connor McMichael, with Team Canada, and defefenseman Martin Hugo Has with the Czech Republic. Both are playing in their second consecutive World Junior Championship.
Connor McMichael had an excellent tournament last year, and was one of the top stars on Team Canada, who took home gold. McMichael recorded five goals and two assists in seven games for Canada.
Just 34 seconds after the @russiahockey goal, @con91mcmichael tips one in for @hc_wjc and we have a 3-2 game!! @capitals @GoLondonKnights pic.twitter.com/2MwwhPDIN7
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 5, 2020
Martin Hugo Has (Pronounced “Hash”) also did well in last year’s tournament, which was held in his home country of the Czech Republic. He would score a goal and two assists against Germany in the Czech Republic’s second game of the tournament.
Martin Has fires up this Czech crowd with a power play goal! #WorldJuniors @narodnitym pic.twitter.com/AjbS3S7DgT
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 28, 2019
Capitals prospect and this years first round draft pick Hendrix Lapierre, 18, did not make Team Canada’s roster and was released from Team Canada’s selection camp on December 10. He will likely get another shot next year.
You can always read more on Capitals prospects on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
All 10 teams will play one exhibition game before the start of the tournament at the end of this week.
Team USA will face team Finland on Tuesday, December 22 at 9:30 PM.
Connor McMichael and Team Canada will face Team Russian on Wednesday, December 23 at 7:00 PM.
Martin Hugo Has and the Czech Republic will face Team Slovakia on December 23 at 9:30 PM.
The tournament will commence on Christmas Day with a slate of three games, including Team USA against Team Russia at 9:30 PM ET. Connor McMichael and Team Canada will get started the following day against the Team Germany at 7:00 PM ET.
‘Here is the complete tournament schedule. [Click to enlarge].
All games will be televised on the NHL Network.
By Jon Sorensen
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