Wednesday, December 30, 2009


World Junior Hockey-2009

Once again this year, kids from around the hockey world are playing for bragging rights in hockey tournaments. This year, one of the parties is in Saskatchewan, with games in Regina and Saskatoon. The championship concludes on January 5, 2010.

Another strong contingent of Canadian kids has been assembled for the tourney. There is always pressure for young Canadians at this event, especially in the recent past. For the past five years, there have been gold medals draped around the necks of the young Canadians, and this year’s group would like to extend the string.

From 1993 to 1997, Canada won five straight gold medals at this event. The roof fell in the following year when the team finished in eighth place, their worst showing ever. A repetition of that historic nature is not expected this year.

Many of the names of the players at the World Juniors are familiar to local hockey fans. There are 53 players in the tournament from Canadian Hockey League teams. Twenty-one of the Canadian team players will return to their CHL teams after the games. Calvin de Haan, an Oshawa General, has spent several hours on the Yardmen Arena at the Quinte Sports Centre.

The Canadian team has played three games up to this point in time. They have scored more than twenty goals, and have only given up a couple of goals. More importantly, they are playing a physical game without taking too many penalties. In this day and age of special teams, power plays have become significant offensively. To avoid being shorthanded is critical at this tournament.

At the last World Junior Tournament held in Ottawa, Belleville Bulls netminder Philipp Grubauer played for Germany. He was between the pipes for his team’s loss against the Canadian team. Because of their poor showing, the German squad was relegated to the Pool “B” Championships which recently concluded in France.

Grubauer captured the gold at that tournament, and was named the Most Valuable Player for his team. As the Bulls’ number one goaltender this year, he has seen a lot of rubber. The Bulls are struggling to be competitive, and Grubauer has kept them in several games. Assistant coach Jakes Grimes reported to The Intelligenger: “Philipp has been great for us and should be an NHL pick”. He has been chosen as one of the stars eleven times this year, leading the Bulls.

Grubauer played in the World Under 17 Tournament in London two years ago, and caught the eye of the Bulls’ staff at that time. One of the assistant coaches for the Canadian team at that tournament was Jake Grimes. Grimes will be behind the bench for the Under 17 Canadian team at the Worlds beginning today in Timmins. Grimes will accompany the other Bulls’ netminder Tyson Teichmann.

There are ice surfaces in Florida and California. I would like to question the wisdom of the authorities who decide the venues for these tournaments. Timmins in early January? I will be leaving for the finals on January 2nd. I am questioning my own sanity. And yes, I have been doing that for years.

The Canadians play a big game on New Year’s Eve in Saskatoon against the Americans. That will complete preliminary play in their group, and will determine their next opponents. The tournament concludes at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon on Tuesday, January 5th.

I plan to spend that day in the hot tub following my three day journey to Timmins.

James Hurst

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