The first ever summer World Juniors have come to a conclusion, and the on-ice product was quite the success. This was one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory (not including the Canada-Slovakia game…), and it was special to watch Latvia win their first-ever round robin game. While the attendance numbers were a little underwhelming, the allegations shrouding Hockey Canada and the highest ticket prices we have seen in a long time were clear factors. That, however, is a story for another time. Let’s unpack the 2022 World Junior Championships.
World Juniors Game of the Tournament:
The Golden Save: Canada vs Finland for Gold
Mason McTavish has put his name on the list of Team Canada greats. After blowing a 2-0 lead, McTavish denied Finland the gold medal on the goal line during overtime. With the puck tumbling over the shoulder of Canadian goaltender Dylan Garand, McTavish batted the puck out of mid-air to deny what seemed to be a guaranteed goal. This play kept the game alive and allowed Kent Johnson to finish his own rebound past Finnish goalie Juha Jatkola, putting the gold firmly around the necks of Canada. This game was up and down the whole time, between Canada’s dominant start to Finland’s third period comeback. At the end of the day, the last two minutes of this matchup will live in World Juniors history forever.
- Jesper Wallstedt was far and away the best goaltender in Edmonton. Wallstedt carried a Swedish team that was going through offensive woes. Without Wallstedt, this team does not win a bronze medal. There’s even a case to be made that they would not have made it out of the quarterfinals without his strong play.
- Luke Hughes flashed star potential during the tournament. His skating, offensive prowess, and intensity in the defensive zone made him a disruptive force every time he was on the ice. An injury early in the quarterfinals hindered his abilities and the impact was felt. Despite this, he still led the United States in time on ice that game.
- Connor Bedard wowed at the tournament, despite only being 17 years old. Bedard’s generational talent and unique shot were consistently showcased throughout the round robin. Bedard was not showing up on the stat sheet as much in the playoffs, but that can be attributed to the fact that he was being shadowed at all times. Teams paying so much attention to him allowed the ice to open up for his teammates throughout the tournament.
- Olen Zellweger was the leader of the Canadian defense, and he made a mark on every game he played. While quarterbacking the power play, Zellweger was phenomenal in his own zone too. He was one of many Anaheim Ducks prospects that impressed throughout the tournament.
- Kent Johnson was one of the most underrated players of this tournament. On a stacked Canada team, his line with Logan Stankoven and Tyson Foerester often set the pace of play. On top of his consistency, he scored the game winner for Canada in the gold medal game off a beautiful move followed up by finishing his own rebound.
- Mason McTavish was the tournament most valuable player for a reason. He was exceptional every time he touched the puck. McTavish was the best player in this tournament and will throw his name in the hat to make the Anaheim Ducks’ main roster this season.
- Emil Andrae was a force on the Swedish blue line. He was named to the World Juniors’ All-Star team and was dominant throughout. The Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect showed tremendous potential.
- Joakim Kemell scored the goal that sent the gold medal game to overtime. This was not his only shining moment, as the 2022 first-round draft choice was great throughout the tournament. Kemell was a key component of Team Finland’s silver medal finish.