Team Canada opens the World Junior Championship in Edmonton on Wednesday night against Latvia.
Take two of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship gets underway this week in Edmonton. After the first tournament was cancelled in December, Canada opens the new edition on Wednesday against Latvia. The new-look Canadian roster is facing a Latvian team that was elevated to the top division to replace Russia, who are suspended because of the invasion of Ukraine.
2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Betting Odds
There’s not much history between these teams as they’ve only met twice in this tournament, with Canada winning both games.
This will be Latvia’s first entry into the top division since 2017 when they finished 10th and had a minus-27 goal-differential over six games, including their relegation loss. They’ve competed in the top division six times, with their best finish being 8th place in 2009.
Canada has medalled in 33 of 45 World Junior events held since 1977, winning a record 18 gold medals. They last won the event in 2020 and finished as tournament runner-up last year.
The Canadian roster will certainly have a different look in August than it did in December as nine players will not be with the team for the second tournament. Notable players looking to make the jump to the NHL and not returning, include Buffalo Sabres defenceman Owen Power as well as forwards Shane Wright with the Seattle Kraken and Cole Perfetti with the Winnipeg Jets. Luckily, Canada can rely on its depth and is still the tournament favourite.
Canada will be led up front by captain Mason McTavish, CHL Player of the Year Logan Stankoven and Connor Bedard, the projected first overall NHL draft pick in 2023. Kent Johnson also brings a wealth of experience after playing in the Olympics and World Championships earlier this year.
It will likely be Dylan Garand in net for the opening game. Garand split Canada’s final exhibition game against Sweden on Monday with fellow WHL goalie Sebastian Cossa. Garand saved all 15 shots he faced in the first half of the game. Cossa stopped eight of 11 shots in the second half of the game.
Latvia wasn’t in the first version of this tournament, but after finishing as the runner-up in the Division 1A field they earned the promotion to replace Russia in the tournament because Belarus was also suspended over the Ukraine invasion. With no relegation in this tournament, Latvia will also play in the 2023 tournament. They have three 2022 NHL draft picks on their roster in forwards Dans Locmelis (4th round, Boston), Sandis Vilmanis (5th round, Florida) and Klavs Veinbergs (7th round, Tampa Bay). There are 11 players on the roster with ties to North American club teams, including defencemen Niks Fenenko (Baie Comeau, QMJHL) and Bogdans Hodass (Medicine Hat, WHL).
Latvia opened their tournament with a 6-1 loss to Finland on Tuesday night. They were outshot 39-20 in the game, including 32-13 over the second and third periods. Veinbergs scored the lone Latvian goal on the power-play. Hodass and Girts Silkains picked up the assists. Bruno Bruveris, who spent last season with Cedar Rapids in the USHL, made 33 saves in the loss.
Canada vs. Latvia WJC Score Prediction
Canada 7, Latvia 0