As families gather together for the holiday season, another late December tradition begins today in Sweden. Teams from 10 nations will face-off in a grueling tournament known as the World Junior Championship. Team USA will be looking to defend its 2013 title, while Canada is looking to reach the top of the podium for the first time since 2009.
For Avalanche fans, a couple of 2013 draft picks will be manning the bluelines for their respective countries. Second round pick Chris Bigras will bring a steady presence to the Canadian defense. For his Canadian junior club, Owen Sound Attack (OHL), Bigras has 11 points in 29 games. It's unknown how head coach Brent Sutter will use Bigras; as he has been mixing and matching defensive pairings throughout camp.
Avs fifth round pick Will Butcher, snagged a spot on the US defensive corps. Butcher has had a solid start with the Denver Pioneers (NCHC) under the helm of new head coach Jim Montgomery. Butcher has chipped in four points in 17 contests for the Pioneers and his offensive instincts will be a nice compliment to a somewhat nondescript American squad.
Minnesota Gophers head coach Don Lucia will lead Team USA, who only returns three players from their 2013 gold medal team. While the Americans look to defend, Canada under coach Sutter will look to overcome a fourth place finish in 2013. It was the first time Canada had failed to medal since the 1998 tournament in Finland.
Preliminary Round Schedule
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Germany vs. Canada -- 5:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Czech Republic vs. USA -- 9:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Saturday, December 28, 2013
USA vs. Slovakia -- 5:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Canada vs. Czech Republic -- 9:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Germany vs. USA -- 7:00 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Monday, December 30, 2013
Canada vs. Slovakia -- 9:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
USA vs. Canada -- 9:30 AM MST -- TSN (Canada), NHL Network (US)