Ah, August. The Blue Jays are in a playoff race, NFL camps are in full swing and… the best junior hockey players in the world are hitting the ice.
It’s not Christmas in July, but the annual World Junior Hockey Championships holiday tradition is making an unusual appearance in the middle of the summer.
The tournament will feature 10 teams competing over a two-week span with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs. Before play gets underway, here is everything you need to know.
Investigating Hockey Canada
The most important story entering this tournament is off the ice, as Hockey Canada’s culture and governance are under a widening microscope following group sexual assault allegations made in a lawsuit earlier this year.
The allegations stem from an event in 2018 hosted in London, Ont. by Hockey Canada to celebrate a team that won this very same tournament. Since then, there have been revelations about another incident of alleged gang rape connected to the Team Canada team at the 2003 World Juniors.
The scandal has led to growing calls for Hockey Canada’s leadership to resign and on the weekend, Michael Brind’Amour — the chairman of the board — did.
This important story will remain front of mind for everyone as the tournament plays out for the first time since the revelations first came to light this spring.
Why was the tournament rescheduled?
The 2022 World Juniors were originally scheduled to take place from Dec. 26, 2021 to Jan. 5, 2022 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. However, the tournament shut down after just three days when multiple teams recorded positive COVID-19 cases within their ranks.
The United States, Czechia and Russia had all forfeited games due to players testing positive before the cancellation was announced on Dec. 29.
The August tournament will be a complete reset of the event in December. That means all scores and standings will be erased and teams have picked new rosters. All players who were eligible for the December tournament, most of them from 2003 and 2004 birth years, are eligible to play this summer.
Red Deer is no longer co-hosting and all games will be played at Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers.
What teams are playing?
There are 10 teams competing in this tournament and they have been split into the following groups for pool play.
United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Austria
Canada, Finland, Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia
The most notable development here is the addition of Latvia, which is replacing Russia. On Feb. 28, the IIHF banned Russia and Belarus from all competitions due to the invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the Russians — who did compete in this tournament last December — are now out and Latvia was promoted into the top division.
Russia was also slated to be the host of the 2023 event this December, but that will now take place in Halifax and Moncton. There will be no relegation round in the 2022 tournament meaning the same 10 teams will compete in the 2023 event.
The United States are the defending champions after they beat Canada in the gold medal game in 2021. Finland won bronze in that tournament, defeating Russia in the third-place game.
The tournament begins on Aug. 9 and each team will play four games in the preliminary round, which concludes on Aug. 15. The top four teams in each group will compete in the quarterfinals on Aug. 17, the winners of those four games will face off in the semifinals on Aug. 19 and the medal games will be played on Aug. 20.
Below is the full preliminary round schedule.
All Times Eastern
Slovakia at Czechia, 2 p.m.
Finland at Latvia, 6 p.m.
Germany at United States, 10 p.m.
Switzerland at Sweden, 2 p.m.
Canada at Latvia, 6 p.m.
Austria at Germany, 10 p.m.
Czechia at Finland, 2 p.m.
Canada at Slovakia, 6 p.m.
United States at Switzerland, 10 p.m.
Sweden at Austria, 2 p.m.
Latvia at Slovakia, 6 p.m.
United States at Austria, 2 p.m.
Czechia at Canada, 6 p.m.
Swizterland at Germany, 10 p.m.
Slovakia at Finland, 2 p.m.
Latvia at Czechia, 6 p.m.
Sweden at United States, 10 p.m.
Austria at Switzerland, 2 p.m.
Finland at Canada, 6 p.m.
Germany at Sweden, 10 p.m.
Players to Watch
With the unique timing of this event, a number of top players have opted to skip it, instead focusing on the upcoming season. Regardless, there will still be some star power sprinkled across the rosters.
Our series of previews will introduce you to those players: