As top prospects continue to compete at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Tournament, the Chicago Blackhawks players take in some of the early matchups to add some friendly competition into the locker room. 

Over the last few days, players watched some key matchups that included six Blackhawks prospects but also cheered on their home countries in the tournament. 

“It's an exciting time for hockey,” head coach Luke Richardson said. “There's lots of games on TV every day and I think it's fun for our guys to have a little fun with each other [watching their native countries].”

When Richardson played for the Ottawa Senators, he shared how some of his teammates made bets that involved wearing the jersey of the opposing team if their own team lost. Similarly, players on the Blackhawks continue to find ways to tease their teammates whose country lost.

Kevin Korchinski described the energic atmosphere the tournament brings throughout the week whether they watched their teams win or take part in some rivalries. Whether they appeared in the tournament or not, players still find ways to show pride for their respective countries. 

“It's pretty competitive,” Korchinski said. “When Canada lost [to Sweden] yesterday, [some of the U.S.] guys were giving [a hard time to] the Canadian guys. It’s a cool tournament, really competitive, and even if you’re not competitive, you just have so much pride for your nation.” 

At last year’s tournament, Korchinski and Connor Bedard helped Team Canada win the gold medal, beating Team Czechia, 3-2. The two rookies received their rings in October when the team traveled to Toronto.

As they watch from the locker room, they look to cheer on some of their friends on Team Canada along with some other familiar faces from the Blackhawks prospect system. 

“I'm really excited to watch and see some of my close friends and just watch Team Canada,” Bedard said. “No matter how many times you [watch it, you] never get sick of it, it's a pretty special tournament.” 

Although the tournament started on Dec. 26 and is projected to end on Jan. 5, Korchinski described the nerves that some might feel in the international tournament. However, it can still bring a special meaning and a unique experience to help your country win. 

“When representing your country, there're some nerves that come with that,” Korchinski said. “For me personally, my first thought for hockey was I wanted to play for my country rather than playing NHL because you grow up watching it and It's the coolest experience.”