IHLC 2022 In Review – Junior


After the year 2022 started with complete uncertainty in the world of junior hockey, the calendar stabilized with the re-playing of the 2022 World Junior Championship in August, and the (thus far) successful completion of the 2023 World Juniors in December, bringing an unusually busy year for junior hockey and the International Hockey Lineal Championship.

The entire junior hockey calendar was in a state of chaos as the calendar turned to 2022, with the 2022 World Junior Championships (hosted in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, Canada) called off by the IIHF just three days before New Year’s Day due to COVID-19 outbreaks and cancelled games amongst numerous teams. It was not until March that the IIHF announced the tournament would start over in August 2022 in Edmonton, with the previous tournament results nullified, and that due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the previous month, and the subsequent banning of Russia and Belarus by the IIHF, that the replayed 2022 tournament would see Latvia take Russia’s place in the tournament, and relegation would not be an option, given that the replacement team promoted from Division IA in December 2019 was Belarus.

With a degree of normalcy returning to the world by the spring of 2022, the IHLC picked back up again, with incumbent champions Finland successfully defending against Czechia, Slovakia and Sweden at April’s Four Nations Cup, along with four straight pre-tournament exhibition games over the summer. The Leijonat held the unique distinction of entering both iterations of the 2022 World Juniors with the IHLC, this time holding the title until the group finale against Canada, dropping the title to the hosts. Canada then cruised through Switzerland and Czechia on the way to the Gold Medal Game, meeting Finland once again, with the heroics of Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson sealing the thrilling overtime victory to capture Canada’s nineteenth world title.

Canada then held the IHLC heading into the 2023 World Juniors, set once again in December and January, hosted now by Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, who stepped in to replace Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, stripped of hosting duties by the IIHF. Canada coasted through their pre-tournament games, with their 21 December win in particular seeing them leapfrog Russia with their 121st IHLC win, moving Canada into sole possession of first place in the Junior IHLC Rankings; a remarkable feat given their first IHLC win only came over a decade after forming as a team, winning their first Junior IHLC matchup nearly forty years earlier.

The glory was short-lived, however, with Czechia playing spoiler in Canada’s tournament debut on Boxing Day, stunning a packed Halifax crowd with a dominant 5-2 victory, Czechia’s first ever regulation win over Canada in tournament history. The Czechs would wallop Austria the following evening, before dropping the title to Sweden in an overtime loss two days later. And in the New Year’s Eve finale against hosts Canada, it was another multi-point game from phenom Connor Bedard that returned the IHLC to Canada, to start 2023 defending both the IHLC and their Gold Medal.

The following games were contested over the junior IHLC in 2022 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
553. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 14 Apr 2022 – FNC – Příbram 🇨🇿
554. 🇫🇮 FIN 5-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 15 Apr 2022 – FNC – Příbram 🇨🇿
555. 🇫🇮 FIN 7-2 SWE 🇸🇪 – 16 Apr 2022 – FNC – Příbram 🇨🇿
556. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-1 SUI 🇨🇭 – 26 Jul 2022 – EX – Vierumäki 🇫🇮
557. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-4 CZE 🇨🇿 – 27 Jul 2022 – EX – Vierumäki 🇫🇮
558. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-1 SWE 🇸🇪 (OT) – 04 Aug 2022 – EX – Edmonton 🇨🇦
559. 🇫🇮 FIN 5-2 USA 🇺🇸 – 05 Aug 2022 – EX – Edmonton 🇨🇦
560. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-1 LAT 🇱🇻 – 09 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
561. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 CZE 🇨🇿 (SO) – 11 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
562. 🇫🇮 FIN 9-3 SVK 🇸🇰 – 14 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
563. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-3 FIN 🇫🇮 – 15 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
564. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-3 SUI 🇨🇭 – 17 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
565. 🇨🇦 CAN 5-2 CZE 🇨🇿 – 19 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
566. 🇨🇦 CAN 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 (OT) – 20 Aug 2022 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦 🏅
567. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-0 SUI 🇨🇭 – 19 Dec 2022 – EX – Moncton 🇨🇦
568. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 21 Dec 2022 – EX – Moncton 🇨🇦
569. 🇨🇦 CAN 5-3 FIN 🇫🇮 – 23 Dec 2022 – EX – Halifax 🇨🇦
570. 🇨🇿 CZE 5-2 CAN 🇨🇦 – 26 Dec 2022 – WJC – Halifax 🇨🇦
571. 🇨🇿 CZE 9-0 AUT 🇦🇹 – 27 Dec 2022 – WJC – Halifax 🇨🇦
572. 🇸🇪 SWE 3-2 CZE 🇨🇿 (OT) – 29 Dec 2022 – WJC – Halifax 🇨🇦
573. 🇨🇦 CAN 5-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 31 Dec 2022 – WJC – Halifax 🇨🇦

The IHLC Rankings for 2022 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇫🇮 FINLAND – 10 wins (90, 4th)
02. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 8 wins (123, 1st)
03. 🇨🇿 CZECHIA – 2 wins (40, 6th)
04. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 1 win (103, 3rd)

Canada will now begin the new year with the IHLC in hand, starting the medal round on 02 January against Slovakia in Halifax, with the goal of repeating as world champions, bringing up their Gold Medal total to a round twenty, and to carry the IHLC into next year’s World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Photo Credit: 2023 World Junior Championship – IIHFHHOFIOC

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