The best time of the year is here. No, we’re not talking about Christmas or New Years. We are talking about the youth of the world.
The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship is set to begin on December 26 as the best Under-20 players from around the world compete for the crown of the World Junior Championship.
Canada enters the tournament as the gold medalist. The team won a thrilling gold medal game against Finland in August at the 2022 competition thanks to Mason McTavish’s sensational goal-line stop moments before Kenneth Johnson scored the winning goal.
No winner has repeated in over 12 years. The last time a country won back-to-back world junior championships was when Canada beat five in a row from 2005-2009.
Will Canada repeat or will someone else take gold? Here are the sports news predictions for the world’s youth in 2023.
Prediction of the 2023 World Youth Preliminary Round
Ranking table of pool A
Pool A is for Canada to lose. The home team is far and away the most talented youth team in the world and should make relatively easy work of this group. With the Czech Republic and Sweden both having tough matches, it should be four wins for Canada.
I have the check on Sweden here based on Sweden’s weak blue line. I think the Swedes will struggle defensively, relying on a large number of inexperienced defenders. Czechs, on the other hand, return more returners than any other team.
Germany and Austria completed the group. I expect them to make it difficult for the top three teams, but in the end the position in the standings will be determined by pitting them against each other, which I think the Germans will handle.
Group B standings
- United States of America
Finland and the United States are fighting for the top spot. There are small concerns for both teams on offense, but I think the Americans have a deeper back than the Finns. The USA defeated Finland in a head-to-head game to win the division.
Slovakia will be a much better team in the 2023 tournament than in 2022. They failed to qualify for the knockout stages in the summer, but need to beat Latvia and Switzerland this time to secure 3rd place.
To finish off the group, give some respect to the Latvian name. I don’t expect them to make as much noise in 2023 as they did in 2022, but that’s more about the teams they expect to play against. I think they beat the Swiss and get their second straight knockout spot.
Prediction of elimination round and medal games
1A Canada defeated 4B Latvia
USA 1B defeated Germany 4A
2A Czech beat 3B Slovakia
2B Finland beat 3A Sweden
Both Canada and the United States should take it easy in their quarterfinal matches. They are simply so much better that even if they are off their A-game, they can beat Latvia and Germany respectively.
I think the game between Czech Republic and Slovakia is an interesting match. I wouldn’t be shocked either way, but I like Czech depth much better than Slovakia. With so many returning players, they have the experience of playing in the knockout stage that Slovakia does not have, which I think will help the Czechs.
The real test will be Finland and Sweden in the quarter finals. These are two teams that should play for a medal, but since I have Sweden finishing lower in the standings, this team sets up a strong match early in the knockout round. Sweden has the edge offensively, but I don’t see how their defense can contain Finland’s superior forwards. The Finns are at a close finish.
1A Canada defeated 2B Finland
1B USA beat 2A Czech
In the semi-finals, we have two rematches in the 2022 knockout stage. We’ll start with Canada vs. Finland in the 2022 gold medal rematch. The Finns play a tough defensive system, which we saw in that final. However, they are not as strong at forward as last time. Canada is the most complete team in the Maritimes and will have to rely on its depth scores to best the Finns.
On the other side, the Americans take on a Czech team that upset them in the quarterfinals this summer. Not only is the USA the better team on paper, but you can’t discount the motivation factor for getting revenge a few months ago. Sure, the majority of the team is gone, but don’t think that Logan Cooley, Luke Hughes and the other returners have forgotten who was responsible for their early departure. The Americans win to advance to the finals.
Silver: United States of America
My prediction for the 2022 competition is a rematch of the 2021 World Junior gold medal game and I think we will see a different result. After the USA defeated Canada in the final two years ago, I see the Canadians going back-to-back for the gold medal in 2023. Canada’s attack will be too strong for the Americans.
Finland won the bronze medal by defeating the Czech Republic in the bronze medal game.
2023 World Youth Individual Awards Prediction
MVP: Connor Bidar, Canada
Best striker: Connor Bidar, Canada
Best defender: Alexi Hymusalmi, Finland
Best goalkeeper: Terry Augustine, USA
Looks like Bidar won the World Youth MVP at some point, doesn’t it? He didn’t get it in 2022 and probably won’t play in 2024. It seems now is his time to light up the competition.
There are some strong contenders for best defenseman between Canada’s Olen Zellweger, Slovakia’s Simon Nemek, USA’s Luke Hughes and the Czech Republic’s David Jrichek, but I think Aleksei Hemusalmi has the nod. The Finns will rely heavily on him to lead their defense and defense. This will be the third tournament in a row that a Finn has received this honor.
In the 2022 Games, there is no clear “stud” among goalkeepers like Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt or Canada’s Dylan Garand. But I’ll go with Terry Augustine from the US. It’s a risky pick considering he’s not even a US #1 goaltending lock, but I like him to win the role over Kaiden Emberko. It will be insulting to the United States, but don’t overlook Augustine on the net, who has already excelled internationally with the Americans.
The chance of the youth of the world 2023
According to Sports Interaction, the 2023 race is a four-horse race.
Canada, Finland, the United States and Sweden are the clear frontrunners to win this year’s tournament, with the Canadians having the best odds of -119.
Here are the odds of entering the 2023 tournament.
|United States of America||+345|