Ducks fans are going to want to keep a very close eye on Team Sweden at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championships. In total, three Ducks prospects will be suiting up for the Swedes including 2012 1st round pick Hampus Lindholm, and 2011 picks Rickard Rakell and William Karlsson, all of whom are expected to play huge roles for the defending gold medalists.
However, this won’t be the first time the Ducks will have had a strong presence at the World Juniors. Over the years, Anaheim prospects have produced some excellent individual performances on the international junior hockey stage. Here’s a look back at some of the more impressive performances by Ducks players at the beloved U20 tournament.
Paul Kariya – Team Canada (Gold), 1993
- GP: 7 G: 2 A: 6 PTS: 8
The 1993 World Junior Hockey Championship certainly wasn’t short on storylines. Czechoslovakia dissolved into two separate nations in the middle of tournament, the former Soviet Union competed as Russia for the first time, and Peter Forsberg set a tournament record with 24 assists and 31 points in just seven games. In the end however, it was Team Canada, led by Paul Kariya, who captured gold in the then entirely round-robin based tournament.
Kariya, playing in his second World Juniors, had 2 goals and 6 assists through Canada’s seven games, good for second on team scoring and was named to the tournament All-Star team. His stand-out performance in Canada’s 5-4 win over Sweden early in the tournament would prove to be crucial as the two teams ended up tied in the final standings. The win would be used at the tie-breaker, giving Canada the gold medal, while Sweden claimed silver, and Kariya would cement himself as one of the most exciting Canadian players in hockey.
Kariya went on to play nine seasons for the Ducks, recording over 650 points, including two 100+ point seasons in ’96 and ’99 and represented Canada at two World Championships and two Olympic games.
Ilya Bryzgalov – Team Russia (Silver), 2000
- GP: 4 GAA: 0.77 SV%: .971
The World Junior Hockey Championships have long had a rich history of outstanding goaltending peformances over the years. From Justin Pogge’s record setting three shutouts in 2006 to Benjamin Conz’s incredible workhorse performance for the over-matched Swiss team in 2010, there is rarely a shortage of incredible goalie story lines at the U20 tournament. However, statistically speaking, it’s hard to argue that Ilya Bryzgalov’s work at the 2000 tournament is amongst the very best.
Entering the tournament as the lesser known of the two Russian goalies, Bryzgalov pushed highly regarded Alexei Volkov early, eventually splitting time with him as the tournament wore on and inevitably was awarded the starting role in the gold medal game against the Czech Republic. Bryzgalov was perfect through three periods in the game before eventually losing in a shootout, but posted a microscopic 0.77 GAA and spectacular .971 SV% in four games throughout the tournament. In total, Bryzgalov stopped 102 of 105 shots in 234 minutes of work and was statistically the best goalie by a wide margin. Despite a somewhat controversial decision to name USA’s Rick DiPietro the best goaltender that year, the numbers Bryzgalov put up will stand as some of the best ever seen at the annual event.
Bryzgalov joined the Ducks in 2001, but a deep pipeline of goalies in the Anaheim system at the time made it almost impossible for him to lock down consistent playing time. He was waived in 2007 and picked up by the Phoenix Coyotes, where he cemented himself as a starting goalie in the NHL before signing with the Flyers in 2011.
Ryan Getzlaf – Team Canada (Gold), 2005
- GP: 6 G: 3 A: 9 PTS: 12
The circumstances surrounding the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships are well documented. Due to the 2004/2005 NHL lockout, the crop of young players available to Canada was the best the nation had ever seen, including names like Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards. Combine this talent pool with the high profile Crosby versus Ovechkin storyline, and the 2005 tournament had all the makings for one of the best ever.
Among the group of Canadian elite was Anaheim’s 19th overall pick in 2003, Ryan Getzlaf, who played the wing on Canada’s top offensive line. Alongside Jeff Carter and Andrew Ladd, Getzlaf dominated the tournament offensively, scoring 12 points in just 6 games and finishing second in tournament scoring behind team mate Patrice Bergeron. However, his most impressive performance came when it mattered most, in the final game against the Russians, where Getzlaf had a goal and 2 assists in a 6-1 victory, propelling his team to a gold medal.
The story of Getzlaf’s post-tournament career is no secret to NHL fans. In seven seasons with the Ducks, Getzlaf has 470+ points, a Stanley cup ring, and has captained the team since 2010. He has also represented Canada at the World Championships and Olympics in 2010, where he won gold alongside several of the players from the historic 2005 World Junior team.
Max Friberg – Team Sweden (Gold), 2012
- GP: 6 G: 9 A: 2 PTS: 11
To say that Max Friberg did it all at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships would be an understatement. The Swede scored 9 goals, added 2 assists, racked up 22 PIMS and led his team to a gold medal, all in just six games. With all the high profile players representing Sweden that year including 1st round picks Mika Zibanejad, Oscar Klefbom and Filip Forsberg, the early dominance Friberg exhibited was, to say the least, surprising. However, after the Ducks 5th round selection in 2011 finished the tournament 1st in goal scoring, 2nd in overall points and was named a First-Team All-Star, he had the junior hockey world believing it wasn’t a fluke.
Today, Friberg has yet to make the jump to North America, instead electing to play for Timra in the SEL. In his second season with the team, Friberg has 12 points in 32 games. He signed an entry level contract with the Ducks in June of 2012.
Other Notable Performances:
Johan Davidsson – Team Sweden (Silver), 1996
- GP: 7 G: 3 A: 6 PTS: 9
- Top scorer for Sweden
- Named to tournament All-Star Team
Stanislav Chistov – Team Russia (Gold), 2002
- GP: 7 G: 4 A: 4 PTS: 8
- Named to Media All-Star Team
Kyle Palmieri – Team USA (Gold), 2010
- GP: 7 G: 1 A: 8 PTS: 9
- 3rd in tournament assists