The United States kicks off its 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship campaign on Wednesday afternoon in Victoria, British Columbia as they meet Slovakia to help kick off Group B play.
Spanning from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, the World Juniors puts the best young hockey talent in the world on display and once again, the Americans are considered one of the favorites to make a deep run in the tournament.
After winning the gold medal in thrilling fashion in 2017 over Canada, the United States came up a game short of making the title match for a second-straight year in Jan. of 2018 when they fell to Sweden in the semifinals. It was little consolation, but they took bronze against the Czech Republic in a 9-3 beatdown.
In the two-group, 10-team tournament, the United States has been placed with Sweden once again, alongside Finland, Kazakhstan, and Wednesday’s opponents, Slovakia. As always, tournament favorites Canada loom in Group A with the always-threatening Russia.
The start of the World Juniors will allow many American and NHL fans to get a first look at forward Jack Hughes, a 17-year-old believed by many to be the top young talent that will make his way into the 2019 NHL Draft class.
Hughes is currently playing for the United States under-18 development team where he’s recorded 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in just 25 games. He’s ranked the No. 1 prospect in the world by HockeyProspect.com, Future Considerations, ISS Hockey, and McKeen’s Hockey and grabbed the attention of some of the game’s best like Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid:
Hughes is going to be joined by his brother, defenseman Jack, who is a returning member to Team USA and an alternate captain. He was selected seventh overall in the 2018 draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
Among other top-tier talents that have already been drafted into the NHL is winger Oliver Wahlstrom, who was selected No. 11 by the New York Islanders in 2018. Wahlstrom has continued his collegiate career at Boston College with four goals and an assist in 14 games this season. In the 2019 World Juniors pre-tournament, he posted three goals and four points in just two games.
Slovakia will feature a talent in Milos Roman who is keen on proving that the Calgary Flames came up with the steal of the 2018 draft when they took him in the fourth round. Last season, Roman was one of the top prospects in the game before late-season struggles saw his stock plummet. Playing for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, Roman is at a point-per-game pace and will be the man for the USA to key on come Wednesday evening.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
USA vs. Slovakia preliminary round World Juniors viewing information
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 26
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NHL Network (United States), TSN 2 (Canada)
Live Stream: Reddit 2019 World Juniors live streams