For hockey players 20 and under, the annual World Junior Championships is the sport’s premier event. After a week of play in this year’s tournament the gold medal game of the 2013 WJC is all set: Team Sweden, the defending champions, will face off against Nashville Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey and red-hot Team USA.
Vesey isn’t the only player in the Nashville Predators system to enjoy a good run at the WJC. Here’s a look at how some current Nashville players and prospects have fared at past tournaments.
Nashville’s original draft pick was a member of Team USA in 1999. David Legwand scored a goal and added 3 assists for an American squad that beat Canada and nobody else in the preliminary round. The Americans then won twice in the relegation round to avoid being sent down.
One of Nashville’s other longest-serving players picked up some hardware at the 2001 tournament. Martin Erat’s only WJC appearance saw him post 2 goals and an assist in 7 games for the Czech Republic’s gold-medal-winning team.
Kevin Klein played 6 games for the silver-medalist Team Canada squad. He had no points but was +3 for the tournament as the Canadians lost to Team USA in the final.
Shea Weber played 6 games for Team Canada, which rebounded from a runner-up finish to the USA in 2004 to claim its 11th WJC gold medal. Weber was the team’s second most penalized player with 10 PIMs, trailing Dion Phaneuf’s 14. But he was also +10 for the tournament, third on the team behind Ryan Getzlaf (+14) and Andrew Ladd (+11).
Patric Hornqvist played all 7 games for Sweden, posting 1 goal and 3 assists as the Swedes finished in fourth place. It was his only career WJC appearance.
Sergei Kostitsyn’s Team Belarus squad fared much worse than Sweden, being relegated at the tournament’s end. But Sergei did his part, scoring a goal and adding 3 assists.
Matt Halischuk scored 1 goal and added 3 assists for Team Canada in its fourth straight gold-medal campaign.
Three Preds players took to the ice for a fourth-place Team USA squad. Colin Wilson made his presence known by scoring 6 goals and picking up 1 assist in 6 games. He was joined on the team by future teammate Jonathon Blum, who picked up one assist. Playing goal that year was current Milwaukee Admirals netminder Jeremy Smith (2.40 GAA, .894 SV%).
Current Milwaukee defenseman Joonas Järvinen played for team Finland but had no points in his 5 games. He was joined by Milwaukee forward Juuso Puustinen, who scored 4 goals and added an assist for the sixth-place Finns.
Team Canada last won WJC gold in 2009, and two Preds players were part of the squad. Ryan Ellis notched 7 points (1G-6A) on the blue line, while Cincinnati Cyclones goalie Chet Pickard put up some pretty numbers (0.50 GAA, .958 SV%) in his two games for the team.
Team USA’s roster featured the return of Colin Wilson and Jonathon Blum. Wilson was one of the team’s most reliable scorers, posting 9 points (3G-6A) in 6 games while wearing the “A” as alternate captain. Meanwhile Blum wore the “C” as team captain and notched 4 points (2G-2A). The Americans beat the Czech Republic in the 5th-place game.
Joonas Järvinen roamed the Team Finland blue line for the second straight year, picking up 2 assists in 6 games for a squad that fought off relegation with 3 straight wins.
Ryan Ellis wore the “A” for Team Canada in 2010, scoring a goal and adding 7 assists. His current teammate Gabriel Bourque was one of the team’s top scorers, posting 9 points (3G-6A). The Canadians lost to Team USA in the final, settling for silver instead of a record sixth straight gold medal.
Current Milwaukee Admirals forward Jani Lajunen picked up 5 points (1G-4A) for Team Sweden as it won the bronze medal. Lajunen’s Milwaukee teammate Mattias Ekholm also played for the Swedes, scoring one goal in 6 games.
Roman Josi wore the “A” for Team Switzerland, scoring a goal and picking up 2 assists for a squad that finished in a surprising fourth place.
Ryan Ellis served as the captain of Team Canada, which won the silver medal for the second straight year after losing in the final to Russia. Ellis scored 3 goals and added 7 assists for 10 points in Canada’s 7 games.
Current Milwaukee forward Patrick Cehlin put on a good show for Team Sweden, scoring 4 goals and adding 2 assists in his only WJC appearance.
Current Milwaukee Admirals center Austin Watson was one of the few highlights on an otherwise lackluster Team USA squad. Watson totaled 9 points (3G-6A) and the Americans won just one game in the preliminary round before sweeping the relegation round.