2022 World Juniors Canceled Mid-Tournament

According to a report by Adam Steiss on IIHF.com and the NHL Network, the 2022 World Junior Championship has been canceled midway through the preliminary round.

This comes after two more games were to be forfeited today. The Russian team had a positive case of COVID-19 which would have seen Russia forfeit their game against Slovakia. In addition, Czechia was placed in quarantine earlier today and would have forfeited their game versus Finland.

Those games join the United States forfeiting their game to Switzerland yesterday after two positive cases on the American team.

With that, Steiss wrote that the tournament’s COVID-19 Medical Group as well as the IIHF Medical Committee and the IIHF Council have all made the decision to cancel the remaining 2022 World Junior tournament “to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

Steiss quoted IIHF President Luc Tardif as saying: “Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement within positive cases were confirmed.

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work. Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

Steiss shared a joint statement from Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney: “Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure it would be equipped to host world-class, international events in a safe and healthy environment. Despite our best efforts, and continually adapting and strengthening protocols, we have unfortunately fallen short of our goal of completing the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship and handing out medals on Jan. 5 due to the challenges of the current COVID-19 landscape.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of event participants and the community at large a priority, and given the news that we have encountered positive cases within the World Juniors environment, we understand and support the decision to cancel the remainder of the event. Although we know this is the right decision, we sympathize with all participants who have earned the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage and that will not be able to realize that dream in its entirety.”

And with that the 2022 World Junior Championship will come to an end. It is a disappointment for fans, of course, but in the long run, this is the best way to go about everything. We need to remember the age of the players participating and that they have long hockey careers (and lives) ahead of them. Putting them in danger now would not be in the best interests of anyone and this is the smart move ultimately.

Hopefully, once again, things will be somewhat back to normal next year as we move towards the 2023 WJC in Siberia, Russia. It is a long way away from now and a lot can happen (good or bad) but with any luck and some work, we can get things back to normal.

Again, this is disappointing for the athletes who are losing out on a chance to represent their country, but ultimately probably the best move for their future health and well-being.

We will be back here later on with coverage of the Devils game at Buffalo tonight. Puck drop is at 7 PM and the game will be shown on MSG+2.

In other Devils-related news, it was reported today by the Devils’ staff on the “Inside the Devils Blog” that, starting on January 10, 2022, all events at Prudential Center – including all Devils games – there is a new vaccine mandate in place as per the City of Newark.

The mandate says that all guests entering the Prudential Center aged five and older “will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Additionally, the city of Newark’s previous order requiring all guests to wear masks throughout events, unless actively eating or drinking, will remain in effect.”

Between January 10 and February 9, anyone going into Prudential Center “must show proof of having received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose. Fans attending events on or after February 10 must show proof of being fully vaccinated (as outlined by the CDC, fully vaccinated is defined as having received the second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or after a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine). Proof of vaccination can be provided via display of an actual vaccination card, a complete picture of the card or an online digital vaccination record, along with an accompanying photo identification for those age 18 and older. Exemptions will be provided to those guests who provide a certification signed by the guest and a licensed healthcare provider certifying that receiving an approved vaccine would be detrimental to the health of the guest and that the healthcare provider has medically advised the guest not to receive any vaccine.”

This is another step in trying to bring some normalcy back to life as we attempt to get the pandemic under control.

2022 WJC: Canada Blows Out Austria

With the USA-Switzerland game in Red Deer being canceled earlier in the evening and forfeited to the Swiss (due to the Americans going into quarantine after two players tested positive for COVID), there was one game on the docket tonight at the 2022 IIHF Word Junior Championship.

This put all eyes on Canada versus Austria from Edmonton tonight.

Unfortunately for Austria, this one ended up very lopsided. Canada won 11-2 while 16-year-old Canadian phenom Connor Bedard scored four goals – nearly adding a fifth at the end of the game on the power play as well.

Kent Johnson kicked off the scoring for the Canadians on the power play. Johannes Tschurnig took a hooking penalty just 4:23 into the game. Johnson scored at 5:08 from Cole Perfetti and Johnson’s Michigan Wolverines teammate Owen Power to make it 1-0 Canada.

Lukas Cormier doubled the lead at 6:03 gone by in the first when he scored off helpers from Dylan Guenther and Ridly Greig. That made it 2-0 Canada.

About 2:20 later, with 8:22 gone by, Logan Stankoven scored to make it 3-0 Canada. Mason McTavish and Ronan Seeley had the assists on this one.

The floodgates opened even further when Bedard notched his first on the power play. At the 13:21 mark, Tobias Sablattnig was called for a hook, setting up the Canadian power play.

Bedard scored at 15:02 gone by from Jake Neighbours and Shane Wright.

Bedard was not done before the end of the first period either. Just 1:11 after his first goal, he scored again – this time at even strength – from Elliot Desnoyers and Will Cuylle.

By the first intermission, Canada had built up a 5-0 lead. They were not even remotely done there.

At 6:13 gone by in the second period, Bedard completed the natural hat trick when he scored from Desnoyers to make it 6-0. The Canadians had six goals already and half of them belonged to Connor Bedard – he was making this hockey thing look pretty easy tonight.

Then a breakthrough as Austria got on the big board. Lukas Necesany scored with 31 seconds to go in the second period after holding the Canadians to one goal in the frame. Vinzenz Rohrer had the lone assist on Necesany’s goal that made it 6-1 Canada.

But the Canadians would pour it on come the third.

It began 27 seconds in when Perfetti scored from Mavrik Bourque to make it 7-1.

At 2:34 gone, Bedard got his fourth of the night from Cuylle and Desnoyers to make it 8-1.

With 4:44 gone, McTavish scored from Guenther and Kaiden Guhle. That made it 9-1 and at this rate, Canada was scoring a goal every two minutes or so in the third period.

McTavish scored his second of the night (from Ronan Seeley and Power) at 5:31 to make it 10-1.

Bourque finished the Canadian scoring at 5:47 when he made it 11-1 off of an assist by Perfetti.

That was not the end of the scoring in the contest, though, as at 10:32, Canada’s Carson Lambos went to the box for cross checking. On the ensuing power play, Austria’s Mathias Bohm scored from Leon Wallner and David Reinbacher to make it 11-2 Canada. That goal came at 12:20, just as the man advantage was about to wear off.

Canada would end the game on the power play as Lukas Horl was nabbed for hooking at 18:13. Let the record show that Bedard nearly scored his fifth goal here.

He made a nice individual move around an Austrian defender and then hit the post before his stick failed him on the rebound and he was unable to bury that.

And with that, the final horn sounded in Edmonton and the slaughter was over. Not surprisingly, Bedard was named Canada’s player of the game.

Austrian goaltender Leon Sommer made 53 saves on 64 Canadian shots against. He faced a lot of rubber and largely held his own for most of the early part of the game.

For Canada, Brett Brochu made 20 saves on 22 Austrian shots against.

Canada is next in action tomorrow against Germany at Rogers Place while Austria will try to get back on the horse against Czechia on Thursday.

Our full schedule for tomorrow will see Finland against Czechia in Group A along with Canada-Germany. In Group B at Red Deer, Slovakia will take on Russia and, should everything be okay health-wise, the USA will face Sweden.

Also, the Devils are back in action tomorrow up in Buffalo and we will have coverage of that game for you right here.

Until then, enjoy your mid-week everyone!