That song is right – it is the most wonderful time of year!
The next two weeks are among the best hockey has to offer every year, and lucky for you all of the World Junior Championship games will be broadcast on NHL Network.
To get you all set for the most important tournament featuring the sport’s best prospects and future stars, there are two important things you need to know — the schedule and which Kings prospects are participating. Don’t worry, we have you covered on both fronts.
LA’s scouting staff, led by Mark Yannetti, has done a tremendous job of late and the fruits of their labor will be on full display daily. For the second year in a row the Kings lead all NHL teams with nine of their prospects named to six different rosters (more on that in a moment).
Due to some last minute shuffling, each country was only allowed to play one exhibition game (sans Sweden and Germany, who were quarantining at the time).
The two marquee tune-up games featured a 3-2 USA win over Finland on Tuesday, followed by a 1-0 shutout by Canada over Russia on Wednesday. Highlights from both games – including a goal by Arthur Kaliyev – can be seen below.
Finland vs United States (exh.) – 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.
Canada vs Russia (exh.) – 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.
For those unfamiliar with the tournament, a country’s first three games are for seeding purposes only. The top four teams in each group/pool advance to the playoff round. However, it’s done in a crossover format, so A1 plays B4, A2 plays B3, and so on.
2021 WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
(all times listed are PST)
Friday, Dec. 25
Slovakia vs. Switzerland, 11 am
Finland vs. Germany, 3 pm
United States vs. Russia, 6:30 pm
Saturday, Dec. 26
Czech Republic vs. Sweden, 11 am
Canada vs. Germany, 3 pm
Austria vs. United States, 6:30 pm
Sunday, Dec. 27
Switzerland vs. Finland, 11 am
Canada vs. Slovakia, 3 pm
Russia vs. Czech Republic, 6:30 pm
Monday, Dec. 28
Sweden vs. Austria, 3 pm
Germany vs. Slovakia, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 29
Czech Republic vs. United States, 11 am
Switzerland vs. Canada, 3 pm
Russia vs. Austria, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 30
Slovakia vs. Finland, 11 am
Germany vs. Switzerland, 3 pm
Sweden vs. Russia, 6:30 pm
Thursday, Dec. 31
Austria vs. Czech Republic, 11 am
Finland vs. Canada, 3 pm
United States vs. Sweden, 6:30 pm
Saturday, Jan. 2
Quarterfinal 1, 9 am
Quarterfinal 2, 12:30 pm
Quarterfinal 3, 4 pm
Quarterfinal 4, 7:30 pm
Monday, Jan. 4
Semifinal 1, 3 pm
Semifinal 2, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, Jan. 5
Bronze Medal game, 2:30 pm
Gold Medal game, 6:30 pm
To helps set the stage for this year’s WJC, Kings Of The Podcast guests included the GM of Team USA, GM of Team Canada, as well as LA Kings prospects Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Alex Turcotte, and Brock Faber. Check out all of those episodes here.
Using information published in a previous WJC-related article on MayorsManor, below is a brief overview of each Kings prospect participating in this year’s tournament:
BROCK FABER: Defense, USNTDP (2nd round pick in 2020, USHL)
Last Season: 1 goal, 8 assists, plus-10, 8 PIM in 19 games played (USHL)
Wearing No. 11 for Team USA, this young freshman has offered a noticeable presence on the Minnesota blueline and contributed to their undefeated record, including already scoring his first collegiate goal. Meanwhile, the Kings organization is fairly familiar with him too, as their new AHL coach, John Wroblewski, was able to observe some of his tendencies while he was with the U.S. National Program last season.
He recently joined Kings Of the Podcast to talk about what it would be like to play for Team USA on such a grand stage – listen here.
ARTHUR KALIYEV: Forward, Hamilton Bulldogs (2nd round pick in 2019, OHL)
Last Season: 44 goals, 54 assists, minus-7, 28 PIM in 57 games played (OHL)
Wearing No. 28 for Team USA, Kaliyev returns to the WJC circuit after his squad had a disappointing tournament last year, failing to medal. Back in the OHL, Kaliyev had another monster season, where he was eighth overall in primary points-per-game in the CHL. As advertised, this sniper never stopped trying either, as he led the entire CHL in powerplay shots.
On the eve of leaving for camp with Team USA, Kaliyev brought the Arty Party to Kings Of The Podcast – listen here.
ALEX TURCOTTE: Forward, USNTDP (1st round pick in 2019, USHL)
Last Season: 9 goals, 17 assists, minus-10, 20 PIM in 29 games played (NCAA)
Wearing No. 15 at this year’s WJC, Turcotte will wear an ‘A’ on the front of his jersey this time around. He’s also slated for the top line, paired with Kaliyev and Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras. Last year, they were all members of the aforementioned USA team that finished sixth in the tournament – something they’re looking to put in their rearview with a strong performance over the next two weeks. Last season in Wisconsin, Turcotte faced injury and illness, which contributed to a hot and cold freshman year with the Badgers. He has since signed a professional contract with LA, and recently had a chance to get his skating legs back under him training in Germany back in October.
Soon after returning from Berlin, Turcotte joined Kings Of The Podcast for an in-depth interview – listen here.
QUINTON BYFIELD: Forward, Sudbury Wolves (1st round pick in 2020, OHL)
Last Season: 32 goals, 50 assists, plus-26, 44 PIM in 45 games played (OHL)
Wearing No. 19 for Team Canada, he’s once again their youngest roster player. Byfield’s absence from his junior club was noticeable while he played in the WJC last year. Sudbury was 1-7 when the big center was out of the lineup for a few weeks, scoring only 19 goals and allowing 32. He was sixth overall in the CHL in primary points-per-game last year, even though he didn’t turn 18 until August. Over the past week, Canada’s coach has praised him quite a bit.
Canada coach regarding Byfield in tonight's game – There's a reason he was out there in the final minute. He earned it. He was one of our best players tonight.
Also said lines 2, 3, 4 are fairly interchangeable. Said they have a top line and then three others.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 24, 2020
Byfield had quite a bit to say during his inaugural visit to Kings Of The Podcast, including about being selected by the Kings and playing with/against several of the organization’s other prospects – listen here.
JORDAN SPENCE: Defense, Moncton Wildcats (4th round pick in 2019, QMJHL)
Last Season: 9 goals, 43 assists, plus-49, 28 PIM in 60 games played (QMJHL)
Wearing No. 8, Spence simply stands out and forces people to recognize him at every level. He’s one of only two skaters on Team Canada who was not a first-round pick, and the other player was selected in the second round. Prior to this season, he earned recognition as the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year for 2019-20 and was honored as the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. As Team Canada GM Alan Millar said on a recent Kings of the Podcast episode, Spence continues to fly under the radar for most observers — but not for much longer.
TOBIAS BJORNFOT: Defense, Djurgardens (1st round pick in 2019, Sweden)
Last Season: 6 goals, 13 assists, plus-13, 12 PIM in 44 games played (AHL)
Bjornfot will be in No. 3 for Sweden and serves as one of the team’s alternate captains. Though he spent the majority of last season in the AHL, the Swedish defender made his debut in the NHL first, appearing in three games for LA. He earned bronze for Sweden at the 2019 WJC. While he didn’t wear a letter in that specific tournament, he previously captained the U18 gold medal team and served as alternate on his junior team in the 2018-19 season. He could potentially wear the captain’s C for Sweden this time around.
KASPER SIMONTAIVAL: Forward, Tappara (3rd round pick in 2020, Finland)
Last Season: 25 goals, 32 assists, plus-11, 28 PIM in 48 games played (Finland)
Wearing No. 29, Simontaival is a stocky winger who was snatched up by the Kings in the third round a few months ago. He skates on Finland’s top or second line. Back home, he’s been up and down the ranks in his native land thus far this season; half of his time has been in the top league, Liiga, while also playing games in Mestis (Finland’s minor league equivalent). He has yet to score a goal at the highest level so far, yet he had played himself back in Liiga before joining Finland’s WJC camp. In the 2018-19 season, Simontaival’s seven points in four Hlinka Gretzky Tournament games put him in the ranks of first round picks Lucas Raymond and Kirby Dach.
MARTIN CHROMIAK: Forward, Kingston Frontenacs (5th round pick in 2020, OHL)
Last Season: 11 goals, 22 assists, plus-0, 2 PIM in 28 games played (OHL)
Wearing No. 8, this Slovakian sniper had a roller coaster ride of a 2019-20 season. He started the year in Slovakia’s top league, recording six points (5 G, 1 A) in 32 games. As production and playing time went down, he migrated across the pond to finish the season in the OHL – posting 33 points (11G, 22A) in just 28 games. He was shockingly left off Slovakia’s WJC roster last year. Now, Chromiak is in contention for top line responsibilities.
LUKAS PARIK: Goalie, HC Benatky nad Jizerou (3rd round pick in 2019, Czech Republic)
Last Season: 22-7-2, 2.73 GAA, .917 SV%, 1 SO (WHL)
Parik had a very good rookie season in the WHL, which was unfortunately cut short due to the COVID season. While helping backstop the Spokane Chiefs to the playoffs, he set WHL history to be the first goaltender ever to score a goal and record a shutout in the same game. He’ll look to bounce back from the adversity he faced during last year’s event, where the Czech team lost both their starter and Parik due to injury. He is not scheduled to start in net for the Czech’s first game. However, he will most likely get some action in game two or three.
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