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The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship is getting a do-over after the original tournament was canceled last December due to a COVID-19 breakout. Rogers Place in Edmonton will host the international showcase from Aug. 9-20.
The 10 teams will be split into two groups of five for round-robin play, with the top four in each group advancing into the elimination round. Tournament favorites Canada will be in Group A with Czechia, Finland, Latvia, and Slovakia. Latvia has been added to the field after Russia was banned from international play because of its invasion of Ukraine. The United States are the defending gold medal winners and will be in Group B with Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland.
All teams were allowed to repick their rosters from last winter, and there were some major changes throughout the tournament. The most notable for Chicago Blackhawks fans is that goaltender Drew Commesso, who was the starter nine months ago, has elected to sit this one out as he prepares for his junior season at Boston University.
Five Blackhawks draft picks will take to the ice over the next two weeks. Only one member of the 2022 draft will be playing. However, the 2023 tournament will take place right after Christmas, and we can expect to see guys like Frank Nazar (USA) and Kevin Korchinski (Canada) playing then. Here is a look at the five prospects playing and when you can watch them in this rare late-summer hockey treat.
Even without Commesso in net, there are plenty of reasons for Blackhawks fans to watch Team USA’s gold medal defense. There are three recent draft picks in Landon Slaggert, Wyatt Kaiser, and Dominic James on the squad.
Slaggert, a second-round pick in 2020, is playing in his second straight World Junior Championship and will serve as an assistant captain. He had no points in his seven games at the 2021 tournament. He is coming off two successful seasons at the University of Notre Dame, where he has scored 20 goals and 48 points in 65 games. He will return to South Bend in the fall for at least one more season.
Kaiser made the team for the ill-fated December tournament and is back to lead the American defensive corps in August. The 2020 third-round pick is a smooth skating blueliner who has used his two seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth to become a much improved defensive player. He will return to the Bulldogs for his junior season.
James is the lone member of the 2022 draft class to make a WJC roster. He was taken in the sixth round by Davidson and company last month. He spent the 2021-22 season as a teammate of Kaiser’s at UMD. During his first go-round in the NCAA, the defensive-minded forward had six goals and 18 points in 39 games. He is committed to returning to Duluth this season.
Team USA will have a talented roster to try to win back-to-back gold medals. In addition to the three Blackhawks prospects, other big names include Thomas Bordeleau, Logan Cooley, Matthew Knies, and former Chicago Steel stars Matthew Coronato and Mackie Samoskevich.
Ethan Del Mastro is the lone Blackhawks prospect on a stacked Canadian roster. The 6-foot-4 defenseman just missed the initial cut but was added to the team after Daemon Hunt was lost to an undisclosed injury. The Blackhawks’ 2021 fourth-round pick is one of seven defensemen heading to Edmonton, so it will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets. From what we saw of him at development camp last month, he is looking to take the next step in his career.
There is little doubt that Canada has the deepest and most talented team in the field. Besides Del Mastro, Blackhawks fans can get a good look at Connor Bedard. The talented center is expected to be the number one overall pick at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. While general manager Kyle Davidson will never admit to sacrificing this season for a crack at the future superstar, he will show you exactly why the pain will be well worth it if you can land that top pick.
The host country boasts a talented roster of high NHL draft picks, including Mason McTavish, Kent Johnson, Ridly Grieg, and Sebastian Cossa. They will be a very tough out, but with the single-elimination format, anything can happen.
Last but not least, we head to Sweden for the fifth Blackhawks prospect in the tournament. Victor Stjerborg, taken in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, will be wearing the Tre Kronor of his native land in Edmonton. He played 15 games for Växjö Lakers HC in the Swedish Hockey League last season and registered two assists. Stjerborg is a high-energy forward with a motor that does not quit, so he will be hard to miss when he is on the ice.
Sweden will be a medal contender with its talented roster that includes seven first-round picks from the last two NHL Entry Drafts. They may have the top netminder in the tournament with Minnesota Wild prospect Jesper Wallstedt. The 19-year-old goalie was taken 20th overall last year and is back for his second straight World Junior Championship. Other first-round picks include defenseman Simon Edvinsson and forwards Isak Rosen, Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Liam Ohgren, Fabian Lysell, and Oskar Olausson.
2022 World Junior Championship Schedule
Czechia vs. Slovakia, 1 p.m. CT
Latvia vs. Finland, 5 p.m. CT
United States vs. Germany, 9 p.m. CT
Sweden vs. Switzerland, 1 p.m. CT
Latvia vs. Canada, 5 p.m. CT
Germany vs. Austria, 9 p.m. CT
Finland vs. Czechia, 1 p.m. CT
Slovakia vs. Canada, 5 p.m. CT
Switzerland vs. United States, 9 p.m. CT
Austria vs. Sweden, 1 p.m. CT
Slovakia vs. Latvia, 5 p.m. CT
Austria vs. United States, 1 p.m. CT
Canada vs. Czechia, 5 p.m. CT
Germany vs. Switzerland, 9 p.m. CT
Finland vs. Slovakia, 1 p.m. CT
Czechia vs. Latvia, 5 p.m. CT
United States vs. Sweden, 9 p.m. CT
Switzerland vs. Austria, 1 p.m. CT
Canada vs. Finland, 5 p.m. CT
Sweden vs. Germany, 9 p.m. CT
Quarterfinal 1, 11 a.m. CT
Quarterfinal 2, 2:30 p.m. CT
Quarterfinal 3, 6 p.m. CT
Quarterfinal 4, 9:30 p.m. CT
Semifinal 1, 3 p.m. CT
Semifinal 2, 7 p.m. CT
Third-place game, 3 p.m. CT
Championship game, 7 p.m. CT
All games will be shown live on the NHL Network.
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