The 2019 edition of the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship (we’ll call it “World Juniors” or “WJC” from here out for breathing room), is upon us, and as usual the New York Islanders have a handful of prospects participating in this U-20 tournament.
Things kick off Wednesday night with Czech Republic (and Islanders prospect Jakub Skarek, in his third WJC) vs. Switzerland at 3 p.m. EST.
Also on the schedule for the opening night are USA (with Logan Cockerill and Oliver Wahlstrom) vs. Slovakia at 6:30 EST, and Canada (Noah Dobson) vs. Denmark at 10 p.m. EST.
WJC 2019: Where and When
This year’s tournament is on the West Coast, hosted in British Columbia (Vancouver and Victoria), so adjust your starting time expectations accordingly.
So Canada is the host nation, defending champion, and favorite.
It runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5, 2019, which is why you’ll want to remember this is the “2019” edition, in case you’re confused about which year it is. (It’s not 2019 yet. It will be soon. But the Islanders have three more NHL games before that happens.)
How the WJC Works
There are two groups which will engage in round-robin play before the knockout round. At the end of group play, the fifth-place teams will face each other for purposes of international seeding and future placing in tournaments.
The other eight teams — the top four finishers in each group — will face off in quarterfinals on Jan. 2, as the bracket narrows down to a finale on Jan. 6.
Group A: Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, Switzerland
Group B: Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Sweden, USA
How to Watch
In North America, game coverage is on NHL Network (U.S.) or TSN (Canada).
Islanders in the WJC
Jakub Skarek, Czech Republic (goalie, 2018 72nd overall)
Again, it’s Skarek’s third tournament and he faced a barrage in his first two years. The Czechs appear to be a little stronger than previous years, so hopefully he’s able to end his junior career on a higher note.
However, do note: he was not in the first game’s lineup, with Ducks prospect Lukas Dostal starting instead.
- Dec. 26 vs. Switzerland
- Dec. 28 vs. Russia
- Dec. 29 vs. Canada
- Dec. 31 vs. Denmark
Noah Dobson, Canada (defense, 2018 12th overall)
Dobson will be a key defenseman, wearing #6 for the Canadians.
- Dec. 26 vs. Denmark
- Dec. 27 vs. Switzerland
- Dec. 29 vs. Czech Republic
- Dec. 31 vs. Russia
Oliver Wahlstrom, USA (W, 2018 11th overall) and Logan Cockerill, USA (W, 2017 201st overall)
Wahlstrom is a freshman at Boston College, where he has yet to light things up. He may not feature much in this tournament — or maybe this becomes a coming out party in a more open game than the NCAA ranks, as he scored four goals in the two pre-tournament exhibition games. But either way, it will be another stepping stone for a sniper who won gold with USA at the U-18 level.
Cockerill is a quietly dependable forward — undersized but fast and scrappy — now in his second year at Boston University. Picture him as a potential future member of the Best Fourth Line in Hockey.
- Dec. 26 vs. Slovakia
- Dec. 28 vs. Kazakhstan
- Dec. 29 vs. Sweden
- Dec. 31 vs. Finland
Check the latest updates and schedules at the IIHF’s WJC site here.