After playing the 2021 World Junior Championship in a bubble, and having to cancel the original iteration of the 2022 tournament in December after just nine games due to an outbreak of COVID-19, the second attempt at the 2022 Championship will begin on 09 August in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, hoping to complete the tournament successfully with fans in the stands for the first time since 2020.
Group A features defending champions the United States competing against Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, with Team USA looking to repeat for the first time ever. Sweden, whose 53-game preliminary round win streak from 2007-21 was thwarted in last year’s bubble, will be looking to buck their Quarterfinal exit trend, while Germany looks to continue their upward mobility in the tournament, Austria looks to be a surprise, and Switzerland, the unlikely last-place finisher in their group in 2021, will try to avoid a similar fate this year.
Group B features the home nation Canada facing off against Finland, Czechia, Slovakia and newly-promoted Latvia, with Canada looking to return atop podium on home ice, this time in front of fans (albeit potentially less than usual). Finland will look to get over the hump of consecutive Semifinal losses and return to Gold for the first time in three years, while the Czechs and Slovaks look to avoid a repeat of their 2021 early quarterfinal exits, and Latvia will be looking to make a splash, promoted to the Top Division by virtue of replacing Russia.
Click here to see the full August 2022 World Junior Championship schedule
From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s revived World Junior Championship:
– Finland enters as incumbent champions for the first time since 2019 (when they captured Gold), and for the eighth time in history
– this is the now the third straight World Junior Championship to be hosted in Edmonton, after the 2021 bubble and first attempt of the 2022 tournament; they previously hosted as well in 1995 and 2012
– the United States is looking to win back to back Gold for the first time in history, and their sixth Championship overall
– Canada is looking to win Gold on home ice for the first time since 2015, and first in the province of Alberta since 1995
– due to Russia and Belarus being banned from IIHF competitions due to the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia will be replaced by Latvia, promoted from Division IA
– as previously announced, there will be no relegation for 2023, but Belarus’ ban means no team will come up from Division IA
– major names from the December 2021 tournament not returning this August include three of the top five 2022 NHL Draft picks – Juraj Slafkovský, Šimon Nemec and Shane Wright
Just like in December 2021, Finland defeated the United States in their final exhibition tune-up, and will enter the tournament with the International Hockey Lineal Championship, ensuring that the title will run through Group A – who leaves Edmonton with the title, and most likely World Junior Championship Gold, remains to be seen!