There’s one thing that gets me excited around this time of year, and it’s not Christmas. Every year I look forward to boxing day, not for the deals but for the World Juniors. The World Juniors is some of the most passionate, inspiring, and clean hockey and is bar none the most exciting hockey you will ever see.
The length of the tournament when combined with the patriotism and pride on the line turns a group of under 20 hockey players into the focus of a nation and the pride of a nation for 2 weeks a year. The game is exciting, and the action is non-stop for a full 60 minutes. With Canada riding five consecutive World Juniors this year has just as much on the line as any other, and anything short of a victory won’t be tolerated.
The thing I love the most about the World Juniors though is the passion in the sport. No matter what the score, these kids go out for all 60 minutes and are playing their hearts out for their country. Far too often we watch the Canucks sit on a lead, or give up as the game winds on and the lead looks insurmountable. Yet when you look at the World Juniors, even though every year is a different crop of players, in the short time they’re together they bond such that to them nothing seems impossible. A perfect example was the improbable comeback they had last year to keep the streak alive.
What makes it even more special is that it’s not just the Canadians that play with that passion. Every game that you watch in the WJs is filled with players that play because they love the game. While Canucks fans won’t get to see Cody Hodgson in this year’s world Juniors it’ll be fun to watch Canucks prospects Jordan Schroeder lace up for the US and Anton Rodin for the Swedes. The World Juniors play hockey that is the definition of never-say-die-hockey and there’s nothing more exciting to watch for those who truly appreciate the game. For two weeks a year, we truly are all Canucks.