MVPs come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a team’s leading point producer, a goaltender who stands on their head or a defenceman who shuts down the opposition night after night. In this article, we look back at the 2022 World Junior Championship and try to determine who each nation’s MVP was.
There were some tight battles this year, not just between countries, but to determine who was each nation’s MVP. Note that these selections are opinion-based and meant to shed light on the extraordinary performances put forward by the players. Without further ado, here are the winners.
Austria- Goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz
It was a tough tournament for Austria, but one positive has to be Sebastian Wraneschitz. In three games, he stood on his head, stopping 111 of 124 shots. That’s an average of 41.3 shots faced per contest. While it may not have been as impressive as his 173 saves on 194 shots in three games from the 2021 World Juniors, his performance this year was solid, which nabs him Austria’s MVP.
Canada- Forward Mason McTavish
Mason McTavish had one of the best World Juniors by a Canadian ever. His 17 points were one shy of the Canadian record, and he made what some are calling the save of the tournament during the gold medal game. Team Canada had some remarkable performances by Olen Zellweger, Kent Johnson and Logan Stankoven, but the Anaheim Ducks prospect was a cut above the rest.
McTavish led the tournament in goals (8), assists (9) and points (17). To show just how dominant he was, only two other players had as many assists as he had goals. He also finished second in shots with 32 behind teammate Johnson who fired 43 shots on goal in seven games. Duck fans should be excited as, based on his World Juniors performance, he looks as NHL-ready as possible.
Czechia- Goaltender Tomáš Suchánek
Coming into the tournament, it is safe to say that unless you followed the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) US Division, you might not have known who Tomáš Suchánek was. That has all changed after the Tri-City Americans goaltender stole the show and led Czechia to a fourth-place finish. In his five games played, he stopped 124 of 138 shots, with his most memorable win coming in the quarterfinals, where he led Czechia to an upset win over the United States.
It was a tough decision to give Suchánek the MVP over players like Jan Mysak or Jiri Kulich. However, in the end, his performances against Canada, where he made 52 saves on 57 shots, and his win against the United States put him above the rest. As an undrafted player who came into this tournament as the backup, he impressed and is a worthy recipient of Czechia’s MVP.
Finland- Defenceman Topi Niemelä
The silver medalist Finns were great the entire tournament and featured some excellent performances. Joakim Kemell, Aatu Räty and Roby Järventie were forces up front while Kasper Puutio was a leader on the backend. Despite their strong play, the team MVP goes to defenceman Topi Niemelä.
While Niemelä was strong in the offensive zone recording six assists which included a beautiful cross-ice pass that led to Kemell’s game-tying goal in the gold medal game, it was his work defensively that makes him the team MVP. He was Finland’s top shutdown defenceman and never played less than 21:23 in a game. Although others may have passed him in overall points, his contribution to the team defensively, which included a master class against Canada in the gold medal game, deserves recognition.
Germany- Defenceman Maksymilian Szuber
Although he only recorded one point in the tournament, Maksymilian Szuber was arguably Germany’s best player during the tournament. He played over 20 minutes a game and was vital for them in a shutdown role. Every team needs a shutdown defenceman that can play big minutes, and he was able to fill that role to perfection.
Szuber, who is an Arizona Coyotes draft pick, constantly puts his body on the line regardless of the score. Over the last few seasons, the Germans have turned out some very good prospects, with him showing through his play this tournament that he could be another gem. As mentioned, he may not have produced offensively, but he was the backbone of this German team throughout the tournament.
Latvia- Defenceman Ralfs Bergmanis
Ralfs Bergmanis stepped up and led by example while wearing the “C” for Latvia. He led the team with five points in five games and never dropped below 22 minutes of ice-time during the tournament. A historic tournament for the captain, he helped show the rest of the hockey world that Latvia deserved to be at the World Juniors this year.
Thanks to his hat trick against Czechia, the Latvians were able to win their first-ever game at the World Juniors and book a spot in the quarterfinals. It is safe to say that the 2022 World Juniors will be a memory he and his teammates won’t soon forget.
Switzerland- Forward Attilio Biasca
Attilio Biasca was a player that got better as the tournament went on. After recording a goal and an assist in his first three games, he kicked his game up a notch. First against Austria with a goal and an assist and then against Canada in the quarterfinals by scoring twice. He was the main source of Switzerland’s offence and was by far their best player.
One of the reasons for Biasca’s success was that he consistently shot the puck. In four of his five games, he recorded three or more shots on goal and versus Austria, he hit the net 10 times. He was a difference maker on the ice for Switzerland and was an easy choice for their team’s MVP.
Slovakia- Defenceman Rayen Petrovicky
Slovakia had a very disappointing tournament failing to make the quarterfinals after recording one win via a shootout. Only a few stood out on the team, with captain Rayen Petrovicky playing the best of the group. He finished the tournament with a goal and three assists and was tied for the team lead in points. Hopefully, they will have a better showing at the 2023 World Juniors.
Sweden- Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt
Jesper Wallstedt is one of the best goaltending prospects in the world, and his game was on full display at the World Juniors. The Minnesota Wild prospect was named the tournament’s best goaltender after stopping 125 of 133 shots during his five games played. His performance is the reason Sweden walked away with a bronze medal, as he allowed a combined three goals during the quarterfinals, semifinals and bronze medal game.
Sweden had trouble scoring all tournament long which meant that Wallstedt had to be at his best every game. His lowest save percentage during a game was .913 which shows just how dominant he was. Goaltending was the backbone of Sweden’s run to the bronze medal, with his performance going down as one of the best in recent World Juniors memory.
United States- Defenceman Brock Faber
Although the United States tournament did not go as planned, there were some strong performances to pick from. Carter Mazur and Matt Coronato had strong goal-scoring tournaments, but the MVP for the Americans has to be Minnesota Wild defenceman, Brock Faber. He finished the tournament with a goal and an assist, but it was his defensive play that stole the spotlight.
Faber, who was the captain, led by example. Whether it was throwing hits, blocking shots or keeping the opponent off the scoresheet, he did it all. His most impressive statistic was that while he was on the ice for ten goals, the opposition never scored while he was playing. In his over 95 minutes of ice-time, they never found a way to score a goal. He was clearly the Americans’ best overall player, and that is why he is the choice for their MVP.
We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the 2022 rescheduled World Junior Championship. Make sure to keep following The Hockey Writers for wall-to-wall coverage of not just the upcoming NHL season but also the 2023 World Junior Championship in Moncton and Halifax scheduled for this coming December.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.