The annual IIHF World Junior Championship is a great tournament, arguably the second-best in sports behind the Stanley Cup playoffs. In addition to featuring some great hockey, past World Juniors have represented some big leaps forward in the development of several prominent Flames.
Here’s a snapshot at the World Junior history, and highlights, of the current Flames roster.
There are four World Junior gold medalists in the Flames organization.
Joakim Nordstrom captured gold with Sweden in 2012, coincidentally enough in Calgary. Mika Zibanejad scored in overtime to win.
The next year, Johnny Gaudreau (who didn’t make Team USA in 2012) dominated the tournament in 2013 on route to gold. He had a hat trick against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals and had three points against Canada in the semi-finals. This tournament was part of a monster year for Gaudreau that elevated him from “interesting college prospect” to “holy cow, this kid could be awesome.
2016 second round pick Tyler Parsons was the top goalie for the United States in a wild 2017 tournament that ended with a crazy 5-4 shootout win over Canada in the gold medal game. A year later, the Canadians bounced back and captured gold and were led by captain Dillon Dube, who opened the scoring in the gold medal game.
Five players in the organization have captured silver, and three of them are Swedes! Jacob Markstrom (2009), Mikael Backlund (2008 & 2009), Elias Lindholm (2013 & 2014), Nikita Nesterov (2012) and Dube (2017) all earned silver medals.
Backlund and Lindholm lost in the gold medal game, and then came back a year later and did the same thing. Markstrom and Nesterov lost in the gold medal game, and then came back a year later and managed to capture bronze. Dube lost in the gold medal game, and then came back and won the next year.
As noted, Markstrom and Nesterov got bronze medals. They’re joined by Matthew Tkachuk, who captured bronze in his draft year. He was in the NHL the following season, so he didn’t get a chance to improve his result.
Played, but didn’t medal
10 other current Flames properties have gone to the World Juniors, but didn’t medal.
On the NHL roster, Noah Hanifin (2015), Dominik Simon (2014), Oliver Kylington (2017) and Juuso Valimaki (2017 & 2018) played but went home empty-handed. Among prospects, Adam Ruzicka went three times (2017, 2018 & 2019), while Martin Pospisil (2019), Filip Sveningsson (2019), Eetu Tuulola (2018), Dustin Wolf (2020) and Emilio Pettersen (2019, Division 1A) each made a single trip apiece.