Looking forward to world junior hockey

  • Dec. 19, 2012 4:19 p.m.

With the NHL and the NHLPA in a timeout for bad behaviour Canadians will have to be satisfied with the World Junior Hockey tournament in order to get their hockey fix.

Getting your fill of hockey played at a high level is as easy as you might fill your stomach with turkey over the Christmas holiday season – sitting on the couch or in a big easy chair with a grin on your face.

By all accounts this is the time of year when Canadians look to some teenagers to fill a void their NHL teams have left empty for years when it comes to a championship of some form or another.

Our junior hockey players from the east to west coast are generally considered the team to beat in almost every tournament which has been held since 1977.

Russia dominated the event winning the gold medal the first four years with our first gold coming in 1982 as we beat the Czechs in Minnesota.

Since then we have added 14 more gold medals, the bulk of which came during strings of five wins in a row from 1993 to 1997 and then another title streak between 2005 and 2009.

This tournament has provided some of the best junior hockey has to offer but there was also a very dark period (literally) back in 1987 during the infamous ‘Punch up in Piestany’.

The Russians and Canada got into a bench clearing brawl and officials, unable to handle the mayhem, decided the best way was to shut the lights off in the rink.

In the end both teams were tossed from the tournament and Finland went on the beat the host team in the gold medal game.

Most observers felt we were robbed of another gold medal that year but that is water under the bridge.

We can also look back at the complete domination of what was arguably the best team ever assembled in the country took apart the competition in Fargo, North Dakota under the guidance of Rebels Owner, GM and Head Coach Brent Sutter.

That team included players like Sidney Crosby, Dion Phanuef, Ryan Getzlaf, Shea Weber, Cam Barker, Cory Perry, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Brent Seabrook.

Who will emerge the hero from this year’s crop of young stars is anyone’s guess but I would suggest former Rebel Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has a chance to shine due to the gracious owners and the players who are watching others play the game we love.

I suppose there is some good from the lockout.