Before some of the Seattle Kraken were lighting up the NHL, they made their countries proud at the World Junior Championship. This year is no different, as two Kraken prospects look to take home gold for their countries. Before the next generation hits the ice, here is a look back at the top five performances by current Kraken players when they played in the World Juniors.
5. Adam Larsson, Team Sweden, 2010
During the 2010 tournament in Saskatchewan, Adam Larsson helped team Sweden make it to the Bronze Medal Game. His best game of the tournament came in the preliminary round versus Austria, where his two assists and eight shots on goal helped Sweden prevail 7-3. At the end of the tournament, he helped Sweden beat Switzerland 11-4 to claim the bronze.
Although he was only 18 at the time, Larsson did not look out of the place. The future fourth overall pick at the 2011 draft put up four points in the six games and had a plus/minus rating of +3. He also took zero penalties playing big minutes on a pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Overall, it was a good tournament for the now assistant captain of the Seattle Kraken.
4. Alexander Wennberg, Team Sweden, 2014
Alexander Wennberg was electric during the 2014 World Juniors. Playing in front of Sweden’s home fans, he helped guide them to a silver medal after falling to Finland in the Gold Medal Game. He was also named an alternate captain for the tournament.
Wennberg put up three goals and four assists in the seven games he played. His best game of the tournament came against Finland in the preliminary round, where he scored twice, had an assist and finished with three shots in a 4-2 victory. His efforts in the preliminary helped Sweden clinch first place in the group, which propelled them all the way to the championship game.
3. Matty Beniers, Team USA, 2021
Before he was drafted second overall by the Kraken, Matty Beniers won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2021 World Juniors. He played in every game and developed some chemistry with Cole Caufield and Matthew Boldy. It was the USA’s first Gold since 2017 and their first medal since the 2019 tournament when they snagged silver.
Beniers put up three points in seven games while playing second-line minutes for most of the tournament. He stepped up big for Team USA in the quarterfinals, where he registered four shots on goal and scored an empty netter in 18:12 of ice-time. With the 2022 tournament set to start, expect him to play a big role as the USA tries to defend their gold.
2. Jordan Eberle, Team Canada, 2010
In 2010, Jordan Eberle put on a tournament to remember. He was named tournament MVP and led his team to a silver medal. Although he could not replicate the gold medal Canada won in 2009, he played a big role in ensuring Canada took home silver in Saskatchewan.
Eberle made a habit of coming up big for Canada at the World Juniors. His 2009 tournament featured an iconic clutch moment, while 2010 featured one of the best comebacks seen in a Gold Medal Game. Canada was down 5-3 with less than four minutes left when Eberle took over the game. He scored twice in less than two minutes to tie the game and force it to overtime. The team later fell in overtime to the USA. Still, he had produced another iconic Canadian junior moment that will be talked about as one of the best performances in Canadian World Juniors history.
1. Jordan Eberle, Team Canada, 2009
In 2009, Eberle helped Canada claim gold in front of a home crowd in Ottawa. He would finish the tournament with 13 points in six games playing on a line with Cody Hodgson and Cody Golobubef. Overall, he had a fantastic tournament, but his performance against Russia will go down as one of the most iconic in Canadian junior hockey history.
During the semifinals versus Russia, Eberle scored two goals plus the shootout winner as Canada advanced to the Gold Medal Game. However, the moment that everyone remembers is his tying goal with five seconds remaining in the contest. He somehow dug the puck out from underneath Dmitri Kulikov and beat Vadim Zhelobnyuk with a backhand to tie the game at five. The goal is one of the most iconic moments in Canadian junior history and was a big reason Canada was able to win their fifth straight gold medal.
More Iconic Moments Still to Come
With Beniers and Ville Ottavainen competing in this year’s World Juniors, there may be an opportunity for a Kraken prospect to make their mark on the tournament. Make sure to follow The Hockey Writers team as they have you all set for this year’s tournament. Puck drop is set for Dec. 26, 2021, and it is sure to be a memorable tournament with some special moments.
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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.