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World Juniors

Top 5 World Junior Moments Since 2000

As we prepare for the 2017 World Juniors, we look back at the tournament's top moments in recent history.

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Inexplicable lead changes and swings of emotion. Sudden death game-winners, often from unlikely sources. And just a few moments where your eyes find themselves asking if what they just saw was real.

With all due respect to ABC's Wide World of Sports, perhaps no event in sports epitomizes the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat more than hockey's World Junior Championships.

Featuring the world's top players under the age of 20 in a high-stakes, highly-emotional international tournament, perhaps no short-term event is a better predictor of future NHL success than the World Juniors.

The World Juniors have held this sort of esteem for decades.

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Way back in 1978, a skinny 16-year-old Canadian forward named Wayne Gretzky introduced himself on an international scale by dominating the World Juniors with 17 points in eight games.

In the new century, as the event has become increasingly popular on TV (Click Here for this year's TV schedule), it has produced numerous moments that are considered career highlights for the individuals, even after many have gone on to win Stanley Cups.

Here is our list of the top five World Junior moments since the year 2000.

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5.Mika Zibanejad Breaks Sweden's 31-Year Drought

Throughout the mid-2000s, World Junior fortune dramatically shifted towards teams from North America.

Canada won five straight titles from 2005-09, while the U.S. bookended Canada's unprecedented run with its first two titles in 2004 and 2010.

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As North American teams dominated, Sweden, in particular, had rarely found its way onto the medal stand. That all changed in 2012.

After both Canada and the U.S. stumbled, that year's gold medal game featured Russia and Sweden on Canadian soil.

The scoreless - but eventful - final went to overtime, where Sweden's Mika Zibanejad (now of the New York Rangers) delivered his country its first gold medals since 1981 by delivering the golden goal on a breakaway.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

4. Jonathan Toews Was TJ Oshie Before TJ Oshie

For many hockey fans, the shootout from the 2014 Olympics where TJ Oshie scored four times on six opportunities to lift the U.S. past Russiais an all-time memory.

It was just so peculiar.

In the NHL, shooters are limited to one attempt each, unless all 18 skaters on the roster shoot first, which is a virtual impossibility.

In international play, however, as the world learned during the 2014 Olympics, shooters can be used as many times as a coach wants, should the teams be deadlocked after the first three shooters.

So as TJ Oshie came out for attempt after attempt, scoring goal after goal to deliver the victory to the U.S., it left many asking if anything like that had ever occurred.

At the 2007 World Juniors, Canada's Jonathan Toews found himself in a similar situation.

That year, Team USA and Canada were locked in a heated semifinal affair with a trip to the gold medal game on the line. And as the teams entered the shootout, there was a whole lot of star power, as Toews and the U.S.'s Peter Mueller were utilized by their teams, time after time.

This all while the U.S. also featured the likes of Patrick Kane and Jack Johnson, and Canada was backstopped by a goalie named Carey Price.

But for all the future stars, Toews stole the show that day, using three different moves to score three straight goals to lift Canada to victory.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

Canada went on to win gold medals.

 

3. Patrick O' That Was Unexpected

One of the prime reasons that the World Juniors have grown in popularity has been the rise of American teams, which rarely contended for medals before 2000, but have regularly been tournament favorites since.

The largest American breakthrough came in 2004, when the U.S. won its first gold medals by ousting its Canadian archrival in the championship game.

The everlasting image of that victory was the game-winning goal by Patrick O'Sullivan midway through the third period in a tied game.

Or should we say the goal was scored by Canadian goalie Marc-Andre Fleury against himself?

We'll let you be the judge.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

2. Eberle Saves The Day

It looked like it was over.

After skating to championships in each of the four prior years, Canada's unprecedented run seemed finished late in its 2009 semifinal contest vs. Russia.

With a 5-4 lead in the game's final minute, Russia was on the verge of a stunning upset, when an undisciplined shot attempt for an empty net led to an icing call and gave Canada another life.

It was there that Jordan Eberle scored perhaps the most memorable World Junior goal in Canadian history.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

Eberle followed it by scoring the shootout-winner minutes later, as Canada defeated Russia and then Sweden to win gold medals…again.

1. American Dream (Ending)

As Yogi Berra might say, it was almost as if it was déjà vu all over again.

In 2010, Canada was gunning for its sixth straight gold medals, but ran into a talented American team in the gold medal game that seemed poised to take the title.

Similar to the prior winter, Jordan Eberle - by now Canada's all-time World Junior hero - provided amazing theater by scoring a game-tying goal in the game's final minute.

Except this time, there's was no repeat performance in overtime. And when the U.S.'s John Carlson finished off a 3-on-1 rush to score the gold medal-winning goal in overtime, Canada's run as champions was over.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

As was arguably the most exciting moment in World Junior history.

The final score was 6-5.

 

Honorable Mentions

In recent years, it seems as if a disproportionate number of World Junior gold medals have been won on sudden death overtime goals.

Despite Canada's dominance since 2000, Finland enters this year's tournament with two championships the last three years.

In 2014, Rasmus Ristolainen delivered Finland its championship in sudden death.

 

 Watch: Youtube Video

 

Six years earlier, Canada captured a similarly-thrilling championship when Matt Halischuk scored in overtime to oust Sweden.

 

Watch: Youtube Video

 

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