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The GIST's Guide to Hockey

As Canada’s national pastime, this is arguably the most important sport to get #thegist of.

The GIST

The point of the good ol’ hockey game is to have the most goals after 3, 20 minute, periods of play. 5 players plus 1 goalie on the ice at one time. But, what happens if there’s a tie? *hmm emoji*

How is it organized?

The world’s most popular hockey league is the National Hockey League, aka NHL or ‘chel if you’re a true “hockey beauty” *rolls eyes*. Teams are divided into East and West Conferences, and are then further divided by divisions. There are 31 teams (Vegas got a team this season, so be sure to add a game into the next bachelorette party itinerary) and 82 regular season games. At the end of the season, the top 8 teams in each conference move on to the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup aka “Lord Stanley”.

 

The Best of the Best

The 2018 Stanley Cup Champions are the Washington Capitals! It was a BFD that the Caps won this year because it was the first time in their 43-year franchise history that the Caps won Lord Stanley! And you thought your dry spell was bad. *wink wink*. The Capitals are led by Alexander Ovechkin, often known simply as “Ovi” who is debatably the best Russian player to ever grace the ice. The other top ‘chel players include Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Taylor Hall (NJ Devils) and young buck Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers).

All my ladies, let me hear y’all!!

There have been and continue to be incredibly talented female hockey players. With the recent creation of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) in 2015, in addition to the Canada vs. USA rivalry, these boss @$$ women continue to gain more well-earned exposure. So who’s the best player? These days, American born Brianna Decker takes the cake for top player. Her stats in the NWHL would blow the likes of Connor McDavid out of the water. #thattagirl. Honourable mention to Hayley Wickensheiser who was the first woman to get invited to a NHL rookie camp and to play professionally full-time in Finland.

Fun (Yet Useless) Facts

Channel your inner Don Cherry while truly impressing the hockey broskis by knowing these incredibly useless hockey facts:

  • The Buffalo Sabres are the only team to have killed a live animal during a hockey game. In 1974, the team killed a bat during the game. WHY DOE?????

  • Out of over 2,200 names on the Stanley Cup (FYI, each team has their names engraved after winning), only 12 women have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, either as owners or team executives. WOMEN, LET’S INCREASE THIS TALLY!!

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Glossary

Period:

A hockey game consists of 3, 20 minute periods.

Overtime:

If there’s a tie at the end of the game, it goes into overtime, also known as OT. During the regular season, the OT is 5 minutes long and is 3 v 3 players as opposed to the regular 5 v 5. It’s SUPER fun to watch b/c there’s so much on the line and there’s lots of room for the players to speed around. If it’s still tied at the end of OT, the game goes to a shootout. In the playoffs, OT is played  5 v 5 and is in 20 minute periods until one team wins. No shootouts in playoffs, it’s worth too much!!

Shut out:

When the goalie doesn’t let in a single shot the entire game. Super impressive.

Shootout:

Very easily mistaken with the above “shut out”, a shootout is used as a tiebreaker. It happens at the end of a tie game to figure out who’s gonna win. The team chooses its top 3 shooters and each go head to head with the other team’s goalie. If it’s still tied after each team take their 3 shots, things get really heated and more shooters come out. The shoot out then goes into sudden death (i.e. next goal wins).

Hat Trick:

3 goals in one game by the same player. When a player gets 3 goals, it’s tradition for the fans to throw their hats on the ice. *PRO TIP* do NOT wear an expensive and/or cute hat to a game!!

Natural Hat-Trick:

One player scoring three successive goals. Like no one from your team or the other team scores in between. Talk about overachiever.

Gordie Howe Hat-Trick:

Named after the infamous Gordie Howe. It’s when you get goal, assist and a fight all in one game. Gotta love this one.

Slap Shot:

When you see the shooter wind up and bring their stick up above their waist and just LET ‘ER RIP. NHL players can sometimes get their pucks moving as fast as 160km/hour. Imagine trying to stop that!

Wrister:

Opposite of a slap shot where you just smack the puck as hard as you can, the wrist shot is taken by quite literally using your wrist and forearm muscles. It’s normally not as hard, but is generally more accurate and you’re able to get a quick release.

One-timer:

When someone nails the puck directly off a pass without stopping the puck to control it. No funny business (or puck play) here.

Rocket Richard:

AKA Maurice Richard, a Canadian (holla) and the first player ever to score 50 goals in one season. He was also the first to reach 500 career goals. There’s a trophy in his name that’s awarded annually to leading goal scorer in the NHL.

Calder Trophy:

Rookie of the year!! Rookie means that they’re the best noob (first year) on the ice.

Hart Memorial Trophy:

This award is given to the MVP (most valuable player) of the ENTIRE NHL. Outside of winning the Stanley Cup, this an amazing feat.

Vezina Trophy:

Each year, this is an award that’s given to the goaltender that’s judged to the best in the best in the entire league.

Conn Smythe Trophy:

This trophy is a beauty. It’s awarded annually to the player that is the MVP during the Stanley Cup (see below!) playoffs.

Stanley Cup:

AKA Lord Stanley! “Baby this is what you came for” The name of the game is to the win the Stanley Cup at the end of the season and playoffs. Once you win it, your name is engraved on the cup foreva (kind of).

Conference Finals:

In playoffs, this is basically the semi finals. BUT it is called conference finals because the 2 best teams in the East square off, and the 2 best teams in the west square off to see who will represent their conference in the Stanley Cup finals.

Penalty:

When a player does something that’s against the rules. When this happens, the player is sent off for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or a whole game (if it’s rly bad). For the 2 and 5 minute penalties, your team plays down a player that whole time and you make your way to the penalty box (AKA hockey jail) until you’re allowed out.

Short-handed:

Short-handed means your team is playing a player down because that bozo managed to find their way into the penalty box. If you score while you’re down a player, it’s called a short-handed goal.

Penalty Kill:

You get a penalty and are down a skater. You do what you got to do to make sure the other team doesn’t score. Can involve specific plays, lineups, tactics - DO WHAT YOU GOT TO DO. You’re allowed to “ice” the puck on a penalty kill.

Icing:

This means that you hit the puck from your team’s side of the red line (middle of the ice) all the way down to the other team’s side of the ice past the goal line (where the goalie is). The puck can’t touch anyone on it’s way there. If this happens, it’s called “icing” and the other team gets to a face off in back in your team’s zone. It’s a good thing this isn’t kosher because it would mean a lot of dump and chase.

Face off:

To start any play you first need to have a face off. The five players on each team assemble in their designated positions. The ref drops the puck into the middle of the two centre forwards and they battle each other to gain possession of the puck first.

Power Play:

The other team has a player in the penalty box and now you’ve got one extra player on the ice (5 vs. 4) for the duration of the penalty. Time to score. Just like the penalty kill above, there are detailed lineups and plays to capitalize.

SOGs:

shots on goal

GAA:

Goals against average. This is calculated by (goals let in x game length) / minutes played. #math

TOI:

Time on Ice. V simple.

Breakaway:

You’ve got the puck, look up and there is no one between you and the goalie. OH BABY!

Offside:

Okay so. To avoid someone just hanging out by the net all the time and waiting to score (aka cherry picking), there’s a rule that a player can’t pass the blue line and enter the attack area (see position map**) before the puck does.

Let’s say you and your fellow forward are on a breakaway to the goal. She’s got the puck and is skating for her life towards the net. She looks up as if to pass to you and you are so ready to receive. BUT WAIT. Do not even think about crossing that blue line before she and the puck do or else your breakaway goal dreams are over (whistle blows and it’s a face off OUTSIDE the blue line).

Let’s switch gears and say you are playing defence. Your whole team is in attack mode and you are hanging out by the blue line. While you’re obvi doing your best to position yourself for that scoring opportunity if the puck gets out to you (and so not chillin and trying to catch your breath), you also have to make sure you don’t let that puck slip out outside the blue line (seriously just don’t let it come even close to the line). If it does, everyone’s got to file themselves out of the attack area and the scoring opportunity is donezo.

Assist:

Player who passes the puck or the last person to touch the puck before the player who scores. Normally, two assists are given for each goal, representing the last two players to touch the puck before the shooter blasted it into the net.

SV:

Save percentage for a goalie. AKA amount of goals stopped vs. total amount of shots taken.

Challenge:

When a call is made on the ice and the coach is like “nu uh, that’s not right” (for a wide array of reasons) and challenges the goal. In hockey a team can only challenge when:

  1. There’s a goal scored and the team doesn’t agree with the offside call or,

  2. Believes there was goaltender interference.

Team can only use their challenge IF they have a timeout left AND if the challenge is unsuccessful they will lose the timeout. It’s a v risky move so you’ve got to really make sure the right decision is being made. AND if a team challenges an offside and it turns out that the play was ok, the team that made the challenge is penalized and must send a player to the penalty box for two minutes… so be sure you’re right!!

Goaltender Interference:

The goaltenders zone is called the “crease”. It’s that blue half circle at the front of the net. A player is NOT allowed to make contact with the goalie in the crease or the goal can get called back. These are pretty hard and controversial calls for a ref to make.

The Show:

What hockey bros call the NHL. You’re talking to this guy from work and he’s like “I’m a huge hockey fan. I played in high school, would’ve made it to the show if I hadn’t injured _________ (ankle / shoulder / ACL etc. etc.)!” Try not to roll your eyes too far back into your head when listening to this one.

Lockout:

Is essentially a strike for hockey players, but in this case the team owners “lock out” the players until they can reach an agreement on their union contract. Surprisingly, there are lots of labour disputes in the hockey world - there’s been four lockouts in NHL history! The NHL PA (Players Association) and the NHL bigwigs (owners) negotiate terms to play. Generally one side thinks the other side is getting paid too much $$$$.

Rookie Camp:

Don’t be fooled by the happy go-lucky “camp name”. Rookie camp occurs before the seasons starts. Each team invites their newest prospects who have never played in the ‘chel before, to see if they’ve got the chutzpah to make the squad.

Don Cherry:

Along with Ron McLean hosts Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC). HNIC is hosted every week between the first and second periods, and at the end of the game. Ron and Don famously break down the game, with Don (Aka Grapes) constantly interrupting and frustrating Ron. Ya gotta watch it.

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FAQs

Why do hockey players only wear half a face visor? Don’t they get hit?

Oh gosh. The helmet controversy. TBH, this is a tough one. Back in the day and we mean wayyyy back in the day, hockey players didn’t even wear helmets. Crazy right? Then, FINALLY, somebody gave their head a good shake and said “I think this would be a good idea”. In certain leagues, and up to a certain age, players are required to wear full-cage helmets. In most intramural leagues (aka beer leagues) no matter what age, they tend to ask players to wear a mask. In the pros, however, you have to be at least 18 to wear a visor only. The reason why they wear a half visor vs a full visor is first so they can breathe (lol) and second, many say that they can’t see as well wearing a cage vs. a visor. Many people didn’t even wear visors at all, and it’s not a rule that they have to; although, some teams have made it a rule to wear visors, and some teams have made it a rule to wear helmets during warm ups after a few too many accidents. 

Why is hockey so popular in Canada vs The States? Why do we have so many teams versus in basketball and baseball?

Because hockey is our sport! We started hockey, are obsessed with hockey and we have the climate for it! We’re born with the ~ice~ in our veins. Also, hockey started wayyyy back in the early 1900s, whereas basketball and baseball came into the mix a little bit later in terms of playing the sport professionally. 

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The GIST’s Guide to Fantasy Hockey

Have you ever heard someone mention fantasy hockey and pictured some combination of Sidney Crosby, flowing hockey hair and mythical creatures? Well, two out of three ain’t bad and we’re here to help fill in the rest of the blanks.

Just Google the word “fantasy” and it’ll land you right in the thick of podcasts, YouTube videos, articles and draft predictions for the four major sports leagues (that’s the NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL). This fantasy stuff is a BFD! In fact, we also have a guide to fantasy football you can check out..

But back to hockey because #Canada so this fantasy hockey guide might just be the most important. We promise you don’t have to be able to name the entire Toronto Maple Leafs roster like that hockey bro three seats down from your desk in order to be at the top of your fantasy league. Okay, let’s get into it!

WTF is Fantasy Hockey?

Fantasy hockey is one part real, one part fake and ten parts a whole lotta fun. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick a team of players that is better than any other team in your fantasy league. The players are real, the points they score are real, but the combination of players together is what makes it fantasy. You have the opportunity to create a dream team (or the dreamiest looking team, depending on your draft strategy *swoon*) made up of your favourite players and, ideally, the players you think will do the best this season.

Okay I’m in. How do I play?

To play, you’ll need to join a league. A lot of workplaces will get groups together to do this. Or you can join a league for free online. We’d recommend taking a look at these websites:

Then it’s time to do a little prep work (this is a lot more fun than homework or that powerpoint presentation your boss keeps hounding you for). You’ll want to make up a list of players that you have the most interest in and want to try and get on your team. Most often, teams are made up of nine forwards, six defensemen, one utility player (forward or defenseman, your choice), two goalies and five to seven bench spots (these are the extra guys you’ll need when someone gets hurt, goes on a cold streak or doesn’t play for a few days).

Each day, as an owner, you get to set your lineup and pick which players get to hit the ice, and which players will ride the pine. Then sit back and relax as your fantasy site calculates scores for you live, so that you can watch your guys play in real life and watch your fantasy team rocket to the top of the standings at the same time.

Got it. But how do I be good?

You could pick your team based on best hockey flow.. (may we suggest William Nylander ) perhaps? Or maybe last year’s rookie sensation, Brock Boeser  (pronounced Bess-er)?  But maybe go with something a little more practical if you want to compete with the best fantasy owners in your league. ESPN and Dobber Hockey  have some top player lists that can help you with this.

If your league is hosted on Yahoo (which it likely is), the site will also give you a list of players the experts think will have the best season. Don’t get overwhelmed by these sites. They’re showing you way more information than you’re probably ever going to need to know.

This sounds fun. What else do I need to know?

Well, thanks for asking! Here’s a list of things that will definitely come up so you’re ready for the big leagues.


Draft Day - This is undoubtedly the most important day of your fantasy year because this is the day that you get to build your fantasy team. The most common type of draft is a snake. Each team will have a predetermined draft number (if your league has ten teams, you’ll get to draft somewhere between first and tenth). In a snake format, the tenth team to draft also gets to pick the 11th player because the order switches directions. This means that, as awesome as it is to draft first, you’ll have to wait around until the 20th player to get to choose again.

Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5 Team 6 Team 7 Team 8 Team 9 Team 10
Draft # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Your goal is to draft the best player that no one else has drafted yet. And don’t worry, Yahoo will give you suggested picks so you don’t have to frantically flip through your research if the guy you really wanted went one draft pick ahead of yours.

ADP (Average Draft Position) - Each fantasy site will show the average draft position of players. This is the average spot that that player was taken across all of the drafts run on that website. The higher the ADP, the more in demand that player is.

Trades – Just like the real NHL, your league will give you the option to trade. This can be great news if the #1 player you really wanted on your team went to someone else, though you’ll likely have to give up something big in return. Trades are a great way to shake things up and get access to players you might have thought were gone forever.

Waiver Wire - This is where you’ll be able to get players that weren’t chosen in the draft. Sometimes players get hurt, or they underperform, and you’re going to want to give them the snips. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell them *wink*.) You can replace them with players from the waiver wire. As long as no one else owns a player, they are fair game for you to add to your squad.

Sleeper Pick – These guys are not actually asleep (hopefully). A sleeper pick is a player that has the possibility of being a big breakout star, kind of like an underdog. It’s not a guarantee, but if you get lucky he could be one of the best guys on your team. At one point, both Mark Scheifele and David Pastrnak were sleeper picks – now they are two of the best guys on their respective teams.

Head-to-Head - This is the most common type of fantasy league. Say your league has 12 teams, each week you’ll face off against another team. Your goal is to be better than the team you’re up against in a number of categories - goals, assists, shots on goal, blocks, hits, etc. - the categories will depend on your league. At the end of the week, you’ll get one point per category that you did better in. For example, if your team scored 35 goals and the other team scored 30, you’d get one point for that category.

Rotisserie League – Wipe the drool off your face, this has nothing to do with chicken (unfortunately). This type of league might be a little easier to understand than head-to-head. Think of rotisserie like “total points”. Every category is tallied from the beginning of the season to the very last game. To win, you must have the most points at the end of the year.

Each league will have categories that are a little bit different (some might include penalty minutes, others might not), so tweet us questions (@thegistnewsca) if you want help with your specific league!

Some Draft Tips to Get You Started

  • Get acquainted with the top ten guys in the league. It’s always going to be debatable, but here’s a list we’re comfortable getting behind. You’re going to want to draft one of these guys in the first round.

o   Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

o   Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

o   Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

o   Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

o   Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

o   Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets

o   Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

o   Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

o   Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils

o   Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

  • There is no right or wrong way to draft, sometimes you have to go with your gut. But try and get a core group of players early (three forwards, two defense and a goalie) and then start to fill in the gaps where you think you might be lacking talent.

  • Don’t waste a high draft pick on a goalie – sometimes they pay off, but more often than not they aren’t worth reaching for. Goalies are notoriously unpredictable, and even the best in the league (like Carey Price) can have bad seasons. You’re better off taking a more reliable player with that draft pick.

  • OUR HOTTEST TIP (fire emoji): Still stressed after reading all of this? You can stage a mock draft online on Yahoo here. This comes with no pressure and just gets you acquainted with how the drafting process works. We cannot recommend this enough if you’ve never joined a fantasy league or drafted before. Practice makes perfect and all that stuff, ya feel?

Fun Fact to Share on Draft Day

Fantasy hockey might not be the biggest fantasy format, but it was the first! Fantasy hockey launched on the web in early 1995, and it paved the way for all other fantasy formats.

Still have questions? That’s what we’re here for! Slide into our DMs, tweet us @thegistnewsca or hit us up with an email – we want to help you be the best fantasy hockey owner you can be.

Written By: Alexis Allison
GIST Guest Writer and Hockey Guru

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The GIST’s Guide to the Stanley Cup

 Oh, BABY!! THE hockey event of the szn, the Stanley Cup Final, is finally upon us. HYFR!!

 

The GIST

The Stanley Cup is what NHL hockey is all about. For the Stanley Cup final, it’s the best team from the western conference vs. the best team from the eastern conference competing for the chance to raise Lord Stanley above their head. Not only is the Stanley Cup the most coveted trophy in hockey, but it’s also considered the most difficult trophy to win across all sports, as the winner has to play 82 regular season games, and four best of seven playoff series. No sweat, right? PS - dunno much about hockey? All good. Be sure to check out our GIST Guide to Hockey here before watching any game.

KK, we get it. So who’s playing

This year’s matchup starts on Monday, May 28th with the Las Vegas Golden Knights (best of the West) facing off against the Washington Capitals (best of the East), and it’s gonna be a DOOZY. Let us tell ya why:

The Las Vegas Golden Knights are the new kids on the block this year. Seriously, they just joined the NHL this szn. It’s a BFD they’re in the Stanley Cup finals b/c they’re the first expansion team (fancy term for a new team to the NHL, b/c it would be rude to call them a bunch of a noobs) to ever make it to the Stanley Cup final in their first year of the league!! Because they’re new, literally NOBODY thought that the squad would be making it to the finals. No, really. Las Vegas, the freakin’ city that the team plays in, had the odds of them making it to the finals at 150-1. How rude. That doesn’t mean it’s a shoo-in for the Capitals though. The Washington Capitals have never managed to take the cup... in their 43 seasons as a team. Yikes.

Despite the Caps’ 43 years of experience, and Vegas’ low odds of making it to this point, the Vegas Golden Knights are actually favoured to win it. What makes matters better for The Golden Knights is that they also have home ice advantage b/c they won more games than Washington did during the regular szn. IF Vegas wins the Stanley Cup, they’ll be the most successful expansion team EVER, and it could very well be the best story in sports this year. BUT...and that’s a big BUT... if the story of the tortoise and the hare taught us anything, it’s never underestimate the underdog. 

PS: Since we wrote this article, the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup 4 games to 1. 

Players to keep an eye on

Clearly both teams have some unreal players - otherwise they wouldn’t have made it to the Cup. Here are a coupla names you need to look out for:

Las Vegas Golden Knights

Marc Andre Fleury: Fleury is the Golden Knights’ golden goalie (who we should mention is Canadian). He has, without a doubt, been the best goalie in the playoffs. On top of his incredible post-season play, Fleury has also been known for his wet-willying antics and uncanny resemblance to this dog “bark-andre Fleury”. S’cute. Prior to playing for Vegas, Fleury’s entire career was spent playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins where he won three Stanley Cups. Casual.

James Neal: Neal (also Canadian) plays forward and is the ONLY other member of the Golden Knights team that has Stanley Cup experience. He played for Nashville for the last three seasons (including their loss in last year’s Stanley Cup to the Penguins). He’s been the bomb.com these playoffs scoring four very clutch goals.

Washington Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin aka “Ovi”: Without a doubt, Ovi is one of the best players in the whole wide world. This left winger’s won copious amounts of awards and accolades and had 49 goals this season, but the Stanley Cup has always eluded him. Even without a win, Ovi is making history as he is the first Russian Captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup (fun trivia fact to share with your Dad). Also, it didn’t dawn on us until now, but you’ve got to wonder how President Putin feels about the best hockey player from his country playing for his arch nemesis’ (aka the USA) capital city’s team. Random, we know...but think about it.

Nicklas Backstrom: This guy is a Swedish SNIPER. He knows how to get the puck in the back of the net, scoring over 20 goals this szn and giving 50 assists. Casual. He’s been playing for Washington for the last 10 years so you can bet he’s jonesing for the Cup. Unfortunately, this sniper seems to have an injured pointer finger. And it’s gross. Kinda wanna see it? Check out the sort of gross finger here.

Facts you gotta know

  • The Stanley Cup is not your average trophy. It’s SO FREAKIN’ cool because each year, the players and personnel on the winning team have their names engraved on the cup. There are 5 bands on the Stanley Cup with room for 13 teams per band. When there’s no longer room left, they take off a band and keep it in the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF is located in our very own TO!).

  • The cup has its own babysitter 24/7! Talk about high maintenance. The Cup has a representative from the Hockey Hall of Fame with it at all times, and they’re actually called the “Keeper of the Cup”. Right now, the guy's name is Philip Pritchard and he’s being keepin’ the cup safe since ‘91! He also keeps a Twitter account so fans can see where the cup is and what it's up to from day to day.

  • While there really is no Stanley Cup equivalent for the ladies, there are eight incredible ladies who have their names inscribed on the Cup because of their involvement on the business side of the teams. Talk about boss @$$ women.

  • The team that’s won the most Stanley Cups are the Montreal Canadiens at 23. But, the last time they won was back in 1993. Derp.

  • The cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston who bought the cup for 10 guineas (around 50 bucks at the time) and donated it to Canada’s top amateur hockey club after he and his family became obsessed with hockey.

  • Once the cup spent a night in the Ottawa Canal… The Ottawa Hockey Club (now the Ottawa Senators) won the cup in 1905 and had a litttttttle bit too much fun celebrating. During this celebration, the team brought the cup outside and decided to try and kick the cup (then smaller) into the Rideau Canal. Once they successfully kicked the Cup into the Canal they totally forgot about it! The heck guys!?! The next day, the rest of the team realized the cup was missing and it was retrieved. *Facepalm*

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The GIST
Guide to the World Juniors

 

The holidays. A time to relax, open presents from “Santa”, and make small talk with extended family (“yes Aunt Beth, I’m still single”). One thing that’s always a highlight of the holidays is the annual World Junior Hockey Championship (often referred to as WJHC or World Juniors). 

 

The GIST

The WJHC is one of the most anticipated hockey events of the season. Think of this tournament as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show of Hockey.

The WJHC is an annual round-robin hockey tournament where the top 10 hockey countries in the world compete to become the champions. The difference with this tournament is that all the players are young bucks and have to be between the ages of 16 and 20, hence the “Juniors” in the name of the tournament. This year, the tournament is taking place from December 26th to January 5th in Buffalo, New York. Given that the tourney starts on Boxing Day, it’s up to you to decide if you would rather face menacing crowds at the mall OR lounge in your PJs, eat leftovers, and watch some unreal hockey.

How's it Organized?

Okay. So. The ten teams are split up into two Groups: Group A, and Group B. Check out the breakdown here. In the preliminary round, each team plays a total of four games, with one game against each of the 4 other teams in their group. Each team gains 3 points for a win in regulation, 1 point for a tie at end of regulation, 2 points if you win in OT (overtime) or shootouts, and obvi no points for losing.

After this round, the top four teams in each group, meaning the teams that earned the most points, move on to the playoff round. The playoff format gets a wee bit complicated, but a simple way to think of it is that the four teams in Group A playoff against the four teams from Group B, with the top teams playing the bottom teams. The second place teams play the third place teams from the opposite division. Ultimately, the tournament awards Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, just like the Olympics. If there is a tie in one of the medal games, the Bronze game will end with a 10-minute sudden death overtime period (just like recess, the last goal wins!!), and the Gold-Silver medal game will end with a 20-minute sudden death overtime period. These overtime games are always v dramatic!

The Best of the Best

Since the tournament began back in 1977, Canada has dominated the World Juniors (is this any surprise though?) with 16 gold medals - more than any other country that participates. Oh freakin’ Canada! Unfortunately though, last year’s gold medal winner was the United States after they beat Canada in the finals. Womp. The rivalry between these two countries is strong and this year you can bet that our Canadian boys will be out for redemption. 

In terms of players to watch, seven members of Canada’s Junior team from last year are returning to competition. Among them is Kale Clague. Clague is 19 and currently plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL (Western Hockey League), and was drafted by the LA Kings back in 2016. Last year, Clague was good, but this has been his best year yet - be sure to keep your eye out for this guy.  Another player to watch is Tyler Steenburgen. This homeboy is also 19 and is currently averaging more than two goals per game with the WHL’s Swift Current Bronco’s (and yes, Swift Current is the name of the city...obviously a city in Saskatchewan). Apparently he’s gonna be the ‘go-to’ guy for putting the puck in the back of the net this tournament. 

PS: Since we wrote this article Canada claimed back the Gold winning the 2017/18 World Junior tournament. YAS BOYS! 

The Best of the Past

The World Juniors is kind of like a prequel to the NHL and the vast majority of today’s NHL’s hot shots got their first true shot at stardom playing in the WJHC. For example, Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price is currently the highest paid tendy in the NHL. But, back in 2007, fresh-faced Price was in net for Canada at the WJHC. His goaltending in that tournament was simply incredible and was the major reason Canada won the gold medal. Price also snagged the MVP and Best Goaltender awards.

A few of the top past WJHC players also include Brent Burns, who played in 2004, and now plays with the San Jose Sharks (and arguably has one of the best beards in the NHL); Sid the Kid (Sidney Crosby), who played in both 2004 and 2005 earning a silver and then gold for Canada and has now won 2 Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins; and Connor McDavid, (otherwise known as McJesus or the only reason the Edmonton Oilers are remotely good again) who played in 2014 and 2015, earning a gold in 2015.

Ladies Leave Your Man at Home

Unfortunately, although it’s 2017, there is still no World Juniors U20 event for women *exasperated sigh*. However, us women do have the U18 World Championships. This tournament functions the same as the WJHC except it’s for females under the age of 18 and there’s no body-checking allowed. This event will be held in Moscow, Russia starting on January 6th and as always, Canada and the US are the faves to become the champs. If you’re home for the holidays, be sure to take advantage of your parent’s cable/satellite to watch these games on one of the TSN networks!

Impress your Dad

It’s a fact that all Canadian Dads are obsessed with the WJHC. Impress your dad, uncle, cousin, etc. knowing these facts this holiday szn:

  • The game between USA and Canada on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, will be the first-ever outdoor game played in WJHC history. This game will be hosted at the New Era Stadium which is normally home to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The temperature is expected to get as low as -9 degrees C. With these temps, we’re quite fine watching the game on TV from the warmth of our (parents’) homes.

  • Buffalo is the first city to host the World Juniors for the second time, with the first occurring back in 2011. The fact that Buffalo is so close to the Canadian border was definitely a factor in this decision.

  • Canada and the United States have faced each other 4 times for the gold medal, with the US coming out ahead three of those times. But the past is the past #amiright? We’re confident our Canadian squad is gonna come away with the gold this year.

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