The World Junior Championship kicks off today in Alberta, Canada. For those unfamiliar, it’s the top tournament on the planet featuring under-20 year old hockey players. Last year, Russia came back from a several goal deficit in the third period to top Canada for the gold medal. And Team USA defeated Sweden 4-2 for the bronze medal.
While many of the Kings current roster has participated in past tournaments – including Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Mike Richards – it was some of their top prospects who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the WJC.
Brayden Schenn of Team Canada was traded to Philadelphia over the summer for Richards. Maxim Kitsyn is back home playing in Russia. Yet, Derek Forbort of Team USA has returned for a second year.
Here’s a quick overview of the three LA Kings prospects in this year’s tournament…
USA – Derek Forbort, defenseman, University of North Dakota, first round selection 2010 NHL Draft
USA – Kevin Gravel, defenseman, St. Cloud St. University, fifth round selection 2010 NHL Draft
Finland – Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL), second round selection 2011 NHL Draft
The notable name missing is Tyler Toffoli, who for the second year in a row was snubbed by Team Canada. It’s a shocking move and one that doesn’t make much sense considering the kid led all players in his age group in goals last season and is on pace to do it again this year. Toffoli, the Kings second round selection 2010 NHL Draft, will finish out the season with the OHL’s Ottawa 67′s instead.
Little side note on Team USA – Jason Zucker was named the captain, while Emerson Etem and Jarred Tinordi will serve as alternate captains. Etem is originally from Long Beach and was a Ducks first round draft pick at the 2010 NHL Draft held in LA. Tinordi is the son of former NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi.
Canada vs Finland will be shown on the NHL Network beginning at 12:30 PST. Then, later tonight, you can watch USA vs. Denmark at 5pm PST.
MayorsManor will have ongoing coverage of the WJC over the next two weeks. For now, check out some of the stories and interviews from last year, linked below for your reference.
2011 World Junior Championship recap – notes on Kings prospects Kitsyn, Schenn, etc.
Warming up for the World Juniors with Kyle Clifford – summer 2010