I love World Juniors. I can’t wait each year to get together with friends and watch the best yearly international hockey tournament (nobody cares about World Championships ((Especially USA Hockey))). The problem is it has never caught on in the States. Hockey has barely caught on as a sport so I guess it isn’t surprising people aren’t tuning in to watch 20-year-olds they never heard of. I think that is a shame. I decided this year that I needed to outline exactly why it is a good idea to watch World Juniors.
- To Become A Hockey Snob
What is cooler than being a fan of a band? Being a fan since that band was playing shows to 10 people in their mom’s garage. This is pretty much the hockey equivalent of being a hipster. You find out about every rookie before they are even old enough to drink.
Normie: Wow this Clayton Keller kid is really good.
You, a hockey intellectual: Oh I know, I’ve been a fan of Keller since he was 18, you merely adopted Clayton Keller. I prefer his earlier work where he skated circles around a group of 19-year-old kids from Belarus, that was the real prime Clayton Keller.
Normie: Wow you are really not fun to be around.
See it’s great. You go from just casually following a sport you like to being like Pierre Mcguire, the most well-liked person in hockey.
- You long for the good ole days
Do you hate what hockey has become? A constant stream of 3-2 games played by players running rigid defensive systems. Do you long for the days where defensemen couldn’t skate backward and players showed up to the rink drunk? When goalies wore three layers of socks and called them leg pads? Try World Juniors!
Hockey has become a game of systems. One coaches defensive system versus the other. Goalies are decked out with so much gear that clean shots rarely have a chance of getting past them.
At World Juniors it is hockey at its most fun. These guys fly up and down the ice. They are all extremely young, fast, and skilled. They want to be creative and make the flashy plays. Sometimes they forget to cover their man. They take chances and try to make plays that NHL players would never try to make. They go all out for their countries, it is just entertaining to watch. Each year there are kids with NHL ready skill playing kids from Slovakia or Denmark who will be out of hockey in four years. It is fast, in-your-face, fun hockey. Rarely do you ever get the sluggish 2-1 regulation win. You are much more likely to find the 4-5 and 7-6 type game you have been craving since the 80’s.
- Fan of celebrations
I consider myself a connoisseur of hockey celebrations. A graduate of the Patrick Kane-Alex Ovechkin School of Showing Emotion. World Juniors is the best time of the year for hockey celebrations. Each goal scored, whether it be an overtime winner over Canada or the 6th goal against Belarus, feels like the Stanley Cup winner. Everyone is always jumping into the boards, fist bumping, sliding, it is great to see some actual passion.
The celebrations usually break down like this.
The U.S almost always brings a strong celebration game. They range from the traditional to the high quality one knee shoot the arrow type celebrations. Obviously, players like Kane have left their mark on the system. The U.S even tried to bring “the dab” to the tournament a couple years ago and I blame their semifinal loss entirely on it.
Canada is pretty much U.S Lite when it comes to celebration. They clearly have more respect for the game. Canada never strays too far from a celebration you would see in the NHL.
Russia really takes the cake when it comes to celebrating. They are the only team that when they celebrate and it feels like it can cause an international incident. They are only out there to disgrace their opponents. No tournament is complete without a Russian kid skating right by the opposition bench while shoving the Russian crest in their face. They are truly wonderful when it comes to going absolutely crazy after goals.
I hope I was able to sell you on World Juniors. It is really a great tournament with awesome hockey and moments. Bonus thought it is also the only (men’s) hockey tournament that the U.S competes with Canada on a regular basis. Hopefully, I convinced you to tune at some point this holiday break.