BOSTONBRUINS.COM -- As five Bruins got the call to represent their respective countries at the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, three Boston prospects had just wrapped up their participation in the 38th Annual International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Tuukka Rask, named to Team Finland, had the bragging rights over Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg, with his country taking home the gold medal over host Sweden.
Defenseman Linus Arnesson, the Bruins second round pick (60th overall) in the 2013 draft represented Sweden and played in the gold-medal game, while forward Peter Cehlarik, a 2013 third round pick (90th overall) represented Slovakia, and defenseman Matt Grzelyck, a 2012 third round pick (85th overall), was on Team USA.
"Sweden did a wonderful job hosting the World Junior and the Swedish team was excellent throughout the tournament but unfortunately they ran into a very resilient Finish squad," said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney.
"All three players performed well during the tournament and they represented their countries and the Bruins organization admirably."
"Peter was a consistent performer for Slovakia, Matt was voted one of Team USA's MVPs and Linus came within a whisper of a gold medal."
While Arnesson's squad fell to Finland 3-2 in overtime in the gold-medal game, both Cehlarik's and Grzelcyk's teams dropped their quarterfinal matches, with Slovakia being defeated by Sweden, 6-0, and the U.S. suffering a 5-3 loss to Russia.
Arnesson finished the tournament with two assists through his team's seven games, while Cehlarik recorded three assists through five games with a plus-3 rating. Grzelcyk put up two goals (including a game-winner and power-play tally) and four assists for six points through five games with a plus-1 rating.
While the under-20 tournament spans two weeks, the pressure it puts the players under at a young age resonates much beyond that.
A look at the Bruins' current roster shows players who have been relied upon by their countries through the years in international action, and at the World Juniors when they were just prospects themselves.
Jarome Iginla helped Canada to its fourth consecutive gold medal in 1996. Loui Eriksson played in two consecutive World Juniors in 2004 and 2005 for Sweden, while David Krejci helped secure bronze for the Czech Republic in 2005, Brad Marchand was on two gold-winning Canadian teams in 2007 and 2008, and Jordan Caron was a member of the silver-winning Canadian team in 2010.
Patrice Bergeron had an especially memorable World Junior experience in 2005 as part of the gold-winning Canadian team. Most recently, Dougie Hamilton represented Team Canada in 2012 on the way to a bronze medal.
Now, Arnesson, Cehlarik and Grzelyck will all have shared in the same experience that many NHL players have had along the way to their future careers.
"The pressure of playing against the best players in the world is a great experience for all three players," said Sweeney. "And it should only help with their development and that will help spur them to put in the work to get stronger and continue to grow into more complete players."