In the lead-up to the 2017 installment of the high-stakes tournament, we take a look back at Canada’s unforgettable contributions to the lore
December means one thing to diehard hockey fans: a global tournament showcasing top young hockey talent. The 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship kicks off on Boxing Day at the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Once again, Canada is a favourite to win it all, and it’s time to get nostalgic about the many thrilling goals, comeback wins and highlight-reel plays that Canadian junior teams have put on display in the past few decades. Here are some of the top Canadian moments in World Junior Hockey history.
The Drive for 5
On January 4, 1997, in Geneva, Switzerland, Canada became the first team to ever win five gold medals in a row. Goaltender Marc Denis was remarkable in net for that gold-medal game versus the U.S., stopping 35 shots to earn the shutout.
All Hail Jordan Eberle
When Canada once again won five in a row in 2009, Jordan Eberle became the Canuck hero in the semifinal versus Russia by scoring the equalizing goal with 5.4 seconds remaining in the game, forcing overtime. Canada would then trounce Sweden 5-1 to take home the gold medal.
Toews to the Rescue
The storied Canada-U.S. rivalry reared its head once again in 2007 when the semifinal between the two squads went to a shootout. Jonathan Toews, then 18, went three for three in the shootout, practically winning the game for Canada, and his team eventually went on to win the gold medal game against Russia.
The 20-minute Brawl
Canada didn’t medal in 1987 but they made a mark on that tournament in another way: in a prelim game where Canada squared off against the Soviet Union, Pavel Kostichkin slashed Theoren Fleury and an all-out fight ensued, with benches clearing. The fisticuffs lasted for 20 minutes before the International Ice Hockey Federation declared the contest null and void.
A Hero for a Day
Some big moments are made by players who drift into obscurity after the World Juniors. John Slaney, hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland, is one such star: in 1991, he scored a tie-breaking third-period goal for Canada versus the Soviet Union, giving Canada the huge gold-medal win. Today he’s an assistant coach for the Arizona Coyotes.
Nothing Like an OT Golden Goal
Overtime can be tense in any hockey game, but with a gold medal on the line, the pressure is enormous. When Sweden tied the 2008 gold-medal game against Canada late in regulation, many Canadians hung their heads in disappointment. But Matt Halischuk stepped up in the extra period, scoring an OT goal to give Canada its fourth straight World Junior title.