December 25 2013 12:20PM
Folks, Christmas time in the hockey world means there's time off to enjoy the loving embrace of kith and kin.
But it also means that the IIHF Under-20 World Hockey Championships is also upon us. Kicking off each year on Boxing Day in some exotic locale, the tournament pits the best players under the age of 20 against each other in a battle for hockey supremacy. Traditionally, the Calgary Flames have several players represented in this year's tournament. However, despite having a strong 2013 NHL Draft class, the Flames only have one prospect in the tournament, kicking off tomorrow in scenic Malmo, Sweden.
Sean Monahan wasn't released by the Flames. Morgan Klimchuk was injured. Emile Poirier had a not-great Subway Super Series. Rushan Rafikov was cut by the Russian team at the last minute. But Calgary's great hope in the 2014 World Juniors is a big hope - Jon Gillies, starting netminder for Team America.
Now, while it may be disappointing that Calgary has but one representative, it makes tracking the tournament easy.
- December 26 - 5:30pm Malmo (9:30am Calgary): United States vs. Czech Republic (live on TSN)
- December 28 - 1:30pm Malmo (5:30am Calgary): United States vs. Slovakia (live on TSN)
- December 29 - 3:00pm Malmo (7:00am Calgary): United States vs. Germany (live on TSN)
- December 31 - 5:30pm Malmo (9:30am Calgary): United States vs. Canada (live on TSN)
As you may have noticed, last year's gold medal winners (Team USA) are on live TV for all of their round robin games. While it may be a bit odd cheering for the United States in an international competition, for the sake of cheering for a Calgary Flames prospect, pretend you're watching the second Mighty Ducks movie.
Beyond Gillies, there are quite a few 2014 (and 2015) draft-eligible players in the tournament to keep an eye on. Team Canada has Aaron Ekblad (2014), Sam Reinhart (2014) and Connor McDavid (2015). Team USA has Jake Eichel (2015). Germany has Leon Draisaitl (2014). Sweden has Julius Honka (2014). Heck, even Switzerland has guys like Jason Fuchs (FOOKS) and Yannick Rathgeb (both 2014).
So from all of us at FlamesNation, best of luck to young Jon Gillies at the World Juniors. May you stop many pucks and bring back some hardware.