The 11th edition of the Weekly Lost & Found is going to be a bit different. In the first edition, it looked specifically at some goaltenders and hot Los Angeles Kings veterans. In editions two through nine, we looked at two teams that were lost, and two that were found. Then in the most recent edition, one team slot was sacrificed to discuss the COVID-19 surge.
We look at trends, and sometimes they can take us out of what feels like “the norm,” and we have to extend outside of the NHL. This week is going to be another one of those weeks. Between the NHL’s Christmas Break, and the postponement of more games, our focus is going to shift to two other areas of the hockey world that have garnered some attention: the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) cancelled the Under-18 Women’s World Championship, and the men’s Under-20 World Junior Championship.
Lost: IIHF Cancels Women’s Tournament for Second Consecutive Year
Due to COVID concerns, the IIHF cancelled the Women’s U-18 Worlds. Not postponed, not rescheduled, cancelled. As of now, there haven’t been any publicized or reported discussions among the IIHF regarding rescheduling the tournament. The decision was met with vocal outrage across social media.
The tournament, which has been dominated by the United States and Canada, was scheduled to be played Jan. 8-15 in Sweden. In addition, the Group A, B and Division II Women’s U18 tournaments, and the Group B and Division II men’s U20 tournaments were cancelled.
Sydney Brodt is an American forward who won gold with Team USA at the 2019 Women’s World Championship, and she currently is an alternate captain with Linköpin HC. Linköpin is one of the two locations in Sweden where the tournament would’ve been played. Interestingly, she tweeted a video showing hockey being played in their arena.
It’s unfortunate that the tournament was cancelled, rather than postponed with an attempt to reschedule. Though, the tournament may have received a gift from Santa… well maybe not Santa. The Ontario Women’s Hockey Association offered to host the tournament via social media on Christmas Eve. There hasn’t been much on it since, but this seems like the best bet to avoid cancellation for the second straight year.
Found: World Junior Championship Predictions
One of the most controversial parts of the Women’s Worlds’s cancellation is that the men’s Under-20 World Junior Championship is still proceeding as scheduled, despite also having to deal with COVID. As of the publication of this article, the tournament is already underway. So it’s time for some predictions, expanded on from the Dec. 22 THW What’s Kraken episode.
Let’s fast forward to the final four. Now while the Russians have the highly touted Yaroslav Askarov, he has struggled ahead of the tournament. They’ll miss the cut and won’t be in the final four. When it comes to the medal round, the United States will take on Finland for the bronze medal.
The United States comes into the tournament looking to defend their gold medal, but only return a handful of players from that 2021 championship team, such as Brock Faber, Jake Sanderson and Matty Beniers. While they have talent both upfront and on the blue line, it’s a short tournament, and the lack of experience may cost them down the line.
Finland will be a tough-out. Joel Blomqvist and Leevi Merilainen will likely be the pair in net and both are having decent seasons coming into the tournament. If they can get Aatu Raty back, mixed with defenders such as Topi Niemela and Eemil Viro, it is a very possible matchup.
Related: 2022 World Juniors: Award Contenders
Team USA will have the firepower to take home the bronze.
The Gold Medal Game will be between Canada and Sweden. Team Canada is loaded… and the sky is blue. They have talent up and down their lineup, highlighted on defense by Owen Power, and forwards Mason McTavish, Shane Wright, Jake Neighbours… the list can keep going. They also have two very reliable goaltenders in net in Sebastian Cossa and Dylan Garand.
Sweden boasts a goaltender who could have the best tournament of them all in Jesper Wallstedt. Coming into the tournament, he gave up just eight goals on 118 shots in his past four games, a .932 save percentage (SV%). They also have the talent of William Eklund and Alexander Holtz upfront, and Simon Edvinsson and Emil Andrae on the blue line.
Team Sweden may not have all the names that Team Canada has, but in a single-elimination tournament, Wallstedt could steal one when it counts. He and Sweden will win gold.
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.