It’s that time of the year again. The 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Junior Championship is set to get started on Monday in Moncton, New Brunswick and Halifax, NoVa Scotia.
It’s the third consecutive year that the IIHF’s World Junior Championship will be hosted in Canada. This year’s tournament was originally scheduled to be hosted by Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, but Russia’s hosting rights were pulled in February 2022 in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
And while it may seem we just finished a World Juniors tournament, (we did, back in August, for the Covid-rescheduled 2022 tournament), the IIHF will now attempt to get back on it’s regular schedule this week and next week for the 47th international tournament for under-20 players from around the world.
RYAN CHESLEY, TEAM USA
Defenseman Ryan Chesley (Team USA) will be the only Capitals prospect participating in this year’s World Junior Championship. Chesley, drafted by the Capitals in the second round (#37 overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft back in July, is a 6’-0″ right-shot defenseman currently playing in his debut season with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Chesley scored his first goal for the Gophers just days before departing for Team USA’s training camp.
His first #Gophers goal 🥲
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) December 10, 2022
A native of Mahtomedi, Minnesota, Chesley had stints with Shattuck-St. Mary’s Development program and the United States National Team Development Program, with whom he recorded 44 points in 85 games played with the U.S. Development team and National Under-18 Team.
In August, Chesley spoke about his experience during the Capitals’ prospect development camp in July, calling it a “fun week.” “It’s been awesome getting here, getting to know the guys, getting to know the staff, and getting on the ice with them…I knew it was going to be a hard time here, just a lot of work, it’s been a grind so far, but it’s been fun. A lot of the on-ice stuff has been challenging, which is good. I think it’s really helpful.”
Chesley, 18, was invited to Team USA’s selection camp that began in early December and has made a solid impression right from the start. Team USA’s head coach Rand Pecknold commented on Chesley during the first few days of selection camp.
Rand Pecknold on @ryanchesley_: “He fits well in the style we’re going to play. He’s been great here for two days . . . He’s trending in the right direction. He’s a man. He plays hard. Great shot. He’s got that physicality. He plays bigger than his size. I’ve been really happy.”
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 13, 2022
Chesley scored in Team USA’s first tuneup game against Team Finland earlier this week.
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) December 20, 2022
Chesley has played on the second defensive pairing with Lane Hutson, who was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, also in the second round (#62 overall) of this years draft. Hutson is currently playing college hockey for Boston University.
TEAM USA SCHEDULE
Team USA will compete in Group B along with Finland, Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland during preliminary round action at the Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick. Group A includes Austria, Canada, Czechia, Germany and Sweden, who will compete at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. [Click to enlarge]
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 26, 2022
Team USA gets it started at 4:00PM ET on Monday against Latvia and then will face Slovakia on Wednesday at 4:00PM ET. All games will be broadcast on the NHL Network. Full tournament schedule here.
NOTABLE PROSPECTS NOT COMPETING
Capitals forward prospect Haakon Hanelt was looking to anchor the top line center position for Team Germany, but a late foot injury during preparations for the tournament will sideline him once again this year. (More here.)
Forward prospect Alexander Suzdalev, who is off to an outstanding start to his season for the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League, was considered by many to be a fringe possibility to make this year’s Team Sweden roster. However, Suzdalev was not invited to Team Sweden’s camp. Suzdalev, just 18, will likely be a favorite for next years Team Sweden roster.
Ludwig Persson, 19, was drafted by the Capitals in the third round (#85 overall) of this year’s draft, participated in Team Sweden’s preliminary evaluation camps but was not invited to Team Sweden’s final camp.
And finally, the U.S. will host the 2026 IIHF World Junior Championship and it is anticipated USA Hockey will begin accepting bids from those interested in hosting later in 2023. The U.S. last hosted the World Juniors in 2018 in Buffalo, N.Y.
By Jon Sorensen