Residents of the United States may have heard that sigh of relief coming North of the Border last week after Canadian hockey fans learned their junior hockey phenomenon Connor McDavid will indeed be ready for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Bell Centre in Montreal and Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
McDavid, projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has been skating for the past three weeks after sustaining a broken pinky finger in his right hand on Nov. 11 in a fight. He is targeting Canada's pre-tournament exhibition game on Dec. 21 against Sweden at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa as an initial tune-up. He expects to be in the lineup when Canada plays its first preliminary-round match against Slovakia at Bell Centre in Montreal five days later.
"I was going as hard as I could within the restrictions of the doctors," McDavid said on Dec. 11. "I am doing that to the fullest. I can't take hits, but I was doing some stuff out there I shouldn't have been doing and fell on it once late in the practice and it was fine."
There's no question a healthy McDavid will give Canada a tremendous boost to the lineup.
Boston University freshman Jack Eichel, meanwhile, will exchange his Terriers jersey for a USA Hockey one Tuesday when the United States National Junior Team selection camp begins on the BU campus at Walter Brown Arena.
Eichel had two more assists in a 5-1 victory against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., on Saturday. It marked the third straight game where Eichel, a potential top-two pick in the 2015 draft, was limited to just one shot. He has six assists over that stretch and leads the nation with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) and a 1.69 points per game average in 16 games. Not since University of Maine freshman Paul Kariya, who averaged 2.56 PPG in his record-breaking season with the Black Bears in 1992-93, has a draft-eligible freshman produced a better PPG average.
The win against RPI enabled the Terriers (11-3-2) to become the sixth team in program history to enter the holiday break with more than 10 victories.
McDavid and Eichel will meet in the preliminary round of the Group A field at the 2015 WJC when Canada and the United States play New Year's Eve at Bell Centre at 4 p.m. ET.