BostonBruins.com – The calendar has flipped to December, and while the holidays are drawing near, there is something much more synonymous with the festive month among the hockey community.
Coming up on December 26 (Boxing Day in Canada), 10 countries will vie for gold – and bragging rights – at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Ulfa, Russia.
On Monday, Canada announced its World Juniors selection camp roster, with Bruins 2012 first-round draft pick Malcolm Subban making the cut as one of four goalies, along with defenseman Dougie Hamilton, the B’s ninth overall pick in 2011, and forward Anthony Camara, a 2011 draft pick who has already surpassed his career-high goal and point totals this season.
“Malcolm is off to a really solid start. He played well in the Subway Series, looking forward to the upcoming World Junior Camp,” Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney told BostonBruins.com. “And his athleticism. We’re all very excited about it.”
“He’s going to have to stop pucks in the camp, and show that he’s ready to take that challenge. Any time you play against better players on a world stage, I think it’s going to improve your development.”
The competing countries are rolling out their respective training camp rosters over the next couple of weeks, with defending gold medalist Sweden releasing its roster on Monday, and Team USA expected to release theirs on Tuesday, December 4 at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Bruins defensive prospect and current Boston University freshman Matt Grzelcyk attended the United States’ National Junior Evaluation Camp in August and with the way he’s started the season for the Terriers, B’s fans can look for his name to appear on the list.
Russia has yet to announce its roster, but 19-year-old center Alexander Khokhlachev would be returning to a Russian squad that saw its back-to-back gold medal hopes doused by Sweden with a 1-0 overtime loss in 2012 in Calgary.
It’s games like that on a grand international stage that provide players with a unique experience. And for Khokhlachev, his experience in the KHL, coupled with international success, could further help his progression to wearing the Black & Gold.
“He’s playing against better and older players,” said Sweeney, referring to Khokhlachev's move from the OHL to the KHL this season. “…as well as playing in the Subway [Super] Series and probably in all likelihood playing in the World Juniors that are coming up in Russia.”
“So the overall flavor of things covers a lot of basis from a development aspect.”
‘Koko’ and Hamilton would be the only two Bruins prospects returning to their second World Junior Championship, and though neither player was on his country’s respective 2011 squad, the Canada-Russia rivalry is still fresh in their minds.
The two teams competed against each other in this summer’s Canada-Russia Challenge, with Canada taking the series – and with Hamilton and Subban playing vital roles.
But Russia’s 5-3 gold-medal comeback victory at the 2011 World Junior Championship likely weighs the most on the minds of Canada’s youngsters. With Russia down 3-0 after the first two periods that year in Buffalo, N.Y., the Russians went on a five-goal scoring spree in the third to defeat a Canadian team that has yet to claim gold since 2009.
Closer to the tournament, the countries’ selection camp rosters will be cut down to three goalies and 20 skaters, who will look to start the new year with gold around their necks.
“Russia has got a real strong team; Sweden is going to have a strong team coming off defending championships,” said Sweeney. “So the Canadians will have their work cut out for them. The U.S. is always a good team—Finland. There’s no easy night.”