It’s the holiday season, which is often marked by rampant consumerism, eggnog, and the annual World Junior Hockey Championship. Held every year and pitting the top under-20 youngsters in the world against each other, the tournament has become a highlight of the hockey calendar – admittedly in part because TSN sells the heck out of it.
The Calgary Flames are well-represented in this event, with five recent draftees – Dillon Dube (Canada), Tyler Parsons (USA), Adam Fox (USA), Oliver Kylington (Sweden) and Pavel Karnaukhov (Russia) – taking part in the tournament. To give a glimpse at how big a moment the tournament can be for a young player, here’s a quick glance at Flames representation in recent World Junior events.
2016 World Juniors (Helsinki)
Three players represented the Flames last winter, two of which were part of Team Canada. Mason McDonald and Brandon Hickey wore the maple leaf… and finished sixth. Adam Ollas Mattsson cracked Sweden’s roster and finished just outside the medals at fourth, though he left the tournament early due to injury.
2015 World Juniors (Toronto/Montreal)
Rugged Russian Rushan Rafikov was the lone Flames pick at the 2015 tournament. He played well, but the Russians fell to Canada in the gold medal game and so he had to settle for silver.
2014 World Juniors (Malmo)
A year after representing the USA as their backup goalie, Jon Gillies took the reins as their starting netminder (and was the lone Flame representative). It didn’t go great, as the Americans finished fifth.
2013 World Juniors (Ufa)
The 2013 tournament had the most Flames representation in years, with five Flames picks spread across three national teams: Markus Granlund for Finland, Tyler Wotherspoon for Canada, and Gillies, Patrick Sieloff and Johnny Gaudreau for the USA. The tournament was a coming out party for Gaudreau, who prior to the event was viewed merely as a strong college player. He led the tournament in goal-scoring, was named to the all-star team, and helped the Americans capture the gold medal.
The 2013 tournament was the last time that Flames picks were able to capture gold.