A CHANCE TO WIN AGAIN. Canada will have a star-studded team on home soil at this year’s WJC. Photo: Bildbyrån/Joel Marklund
World Juniors 2019

Only one WJC returnee – but Canada has golden opportunity to repeat

Winning the World Juniors isn’t an automatic for Canada like it used to be.

Canada dominated the Juniors in the 1990s, winning gold in seven of 10 tournaments. In the late 2000s, Canada had a stretch in which they won five gold medals in a row, putting forward some of the most dominant teams ever seen at the tournament. Now, in the 2010s, Canada is seeking just their third gold of the decade, their first back-to-back gold since 2009, and their first gold on home ice since 2015.

Canada has won two gold medals in the 2010s. One came in 2015, with a star-studded team led by phenom Connor McDavid in his draft year, and the second came last year in Buffalo with a well-rounded squad without any big names. Overall, though, Canada has seen as much heartbreak and frustration as they’ve seen success this decade.

In 2017, Canada lost the gold medal game in overtime to the United States in front of a home crowd in Montreal. In 2016, Canada won the one game, an easy win over Denmark in the group stage, before getting bounced by Finland in the quarterfinal. 2013 and 2014 saw back-to-back disappointing fourth-place finishes, and 2010 and 2011 saw close losses in the gold medal game to rivals from the United States and Russia.

Now, in 2019, Canada will have a chance to win back-to-back gold medals for the first time in the 2010s while also playing on home ice in Vancouver and Victoria.


It’ll be a very different squad than the team Canada sent to Buffalo last year. Only three 1999 birthdays made Canada’s team last year — Maxime Comtois, Robert Thomas, and Alex Formenton. Comtois will be the only one of those aforementioned three to return as Thomas is playing in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and Formenton suffered a knee injury prior to the tournament.

Otherwise, the team will be full of players who were left off of last year’s roster finally being given a shot to represent the country on junior hockey’s biggest stage.

Cody Glass, the sixth overall pick by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL draft, was a controversial late cut last year. Nick Suzuki, another Golden Knights first-round pick from 2017 who was dealt to the Canadiens, was in the same boat as a controversial late pick. Both Suzuki and Glass will be leaned upon to help drive Canada’s top two lines. Canada’s bottom six will be anchored by 2018 fifth overall pick Barrett Hayton, a smart, two-way player who doesn’t have any holes in his game, and 2017 first-round pick Shane Bowers.

Canada will almost boast plenty of firepower on the wings. Comtois, of course, will be leaned upon heavily to build on his six-point performance from last year on the top line. On his opposite, expect to see Owen Tippett, the 10th overall pick of the Panthers from the 2017 draft, or Brett Leason, an undrafted forward from the WHL who has exploded out of nowhere for 64 points in 31 games this season. Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Gabe Vilardi, both prospects of the Kings, could miss the tournament due to injury. If they do, players like Joe Veleno and Alexis Lafreniere, the only 17-year-old currently on the roster, could step up in their place.

On the blueline, Canada will be flanked by two top picks from the 2018 draft. Evan Bouchard, who originally cracked the Oilers out of camp but was returned to the London Knights after seven games, and Noah Dobson, who led the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to the Memorial Cup last year, will anchor a deep Canadian blueline.

And finally, in net, Michael DiPietro, a Canucks draft pick, will have an opportunity to show fans in Vancouver what the future has in store. DiPietro, another late cut from last year’s squad, already has a Memorial Cup on his resume. He’ll share the net with Maple Leafs prospect Ian Scott who owns a sparkling .943 save percentage in the WHL this year.

There’s no doubt this is a much more star-studded lineup than the one Canada sent to Buffalo last year. Many high draft choices were controversially cut from last year’s squad to go for an older, more well-rounded team. It worked out for Canada in the end, but it’ll be interesting to see all of these highly-skilled players finally get their shot to show what they can do — on home ice nonetheless.


Michael DiPietro (G) 19 1999 Windsor, ON, CAN 183 91 L OHL
Ian Scott (G) 19 1999 Calgary, AB, CAN 191 83 L WHL
Evan Bouchard (D) 19 1999 Oakville, ON, CAN 188 90 R OHL
Josh Brook (D) 19 1999 Roblin, MB, CAN 185 87 R WHL
Noah Dobson (D) 18 2000 Summerside, PE, CAN 190 80 R QMJHL
Jared McIsaac (D) 18 2000 Truro, NS, CAN 185 89 L QMJHL
Ian Mitchell (D) 19 1999 Calahoo, AB, CAN 180 79 R NCAA
Markus Phillips (D) 19 1999 Markham, ON, CAN 183 92 L OHL
Ty Smith (D) 18 2000 Lloydminster, SK, CAN 180 81 L WHL
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (C)   19 1999 Calgary, AB, CAN 180 88 L WHL
Shane Bowers (C) 19 1999 Halifax, NS, CAN 185 83 L NCAA
Maxime Comtois (LW) 19 1999 Longueuil, QC, CAN 188 95 L QMJHL
MacKenzie Entwistle (RW) 19 1999 Georgetown, ON, CAN 190 82 R OHL
Alex Formenton (LW) 19 1999 King City, ON, CAN 188 84 L OHL
Morgan Frost (C) 19 1999 Aurora, ON, CAN 183 84 L OHL
Cody Glass (C) 19 1999 Winnipeg, MB, CAN 187 84 R WHL
Barrett Hayton (C) 18 2000 Peterborough, ON, CAN 185 86 L OHL
Alexis Lafrenière (LW) 17 2001 Saint-Eustache, QC, CAN 185 87 L QMJHL
Brett Leason (C) 19 1999 Calgary, AB, CAN 193 93 R WHL
Jack Studnicka (C) 19 1999 Tecumseh, ON, CAN 188 81 R OHL
Nick Suzuki (C) 19 1999 London, ON, CAN 180 83 R OHL
Owen Tippett (RW/LW) 19 1999 Peterborough, ON, CAN 185 91 R OHL
Joseph Veleno (C) 18 2000 Montréal, QC, CAN 185 87 L QMJHL
Gabriel Vilardi (C) 19 1999 Kingston, ON, CAN 191 91 R NHL
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