The Devils had four prospects participate in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, featuring the best hockey players in the world under the age of 20 who are not currently playing in the NHL (like Pavel Zacha, who has represented Czech Republic the previous three years and would have again this year if he weren't with the Devils), and all four went home with a medal as they swept the podium.
Joey Anderson and Team USA won gold in an epic 5-4 shootout win over Canada where they came back from a two-goal deficit - twice! - to force overtime and the shootout. Anderson finished the tournament with just two assists, but played a huge role defensively throughout the entire tournament. He logged 24:35 minutes of ice time in the gold medal game including just under eight minutes in overtime. Anderson is eligible to represent USA again in next year's tournament in Buffalo. He will head back to the University of Minnesota Duluth, presently the No. 1 team in the country, to complete his freshman season.
Blake Speers and Michael McLeod earned the silver medal playing for Team Canada. Speers had a goal and two assists, while McLeod had two goals and an assist in their seven games played. Speers who will head back to the Sault St Marie Greyhouds of the OHL, celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this week, but McLeod, who will head back to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, will still be eligible next year as well.
Yegor Rykov was named one of the three best players of the tournament for Team Russia, finishing the tournament with a goal and six assists in seven games. The defenseman, currently playing for SKA St Petersburg in the KHL, brings home the bronze medal after defeating Sweden, 2-1, in overtime. He also earned a silver medal in last year's tournament.
We should also congratulate Casey Fitzgerald, a defenseman for Team USA and the son of Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, for bringing home the gold.