7 strange but true World Junior facts
by Lucas Aykroyd|18 AUG 2022
What does Connor McDavid (pictured on the right at the 2015 World Juniors, with Curtis Lazar) have in common with Wayne Gretzky, Jarome Iginla, Peter Forsberg, and Henrik Sedin?
photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
If you’re obsessed with hockey trivia, the World Juniors are a gold mine. In many respects, this is the most unpredictable of all top-level IIHF tournaments. To illustrate, no nation has won back-to-back titles since Canada’s five-peat in 2009. And you never know what kind of IIHF or pro careers await these U20 stars in the decades that follow.

So let’s get a little taste of trivia. Here are seven strange but true World Junior facts.

1) When Czechoslovakia hammered Austria 21-4 at the 1981 World Juniors in West Germany, it was the most goals ever scored by one team in a single game. But that wasn’t all. The Czechoslovaks, coached by future IIHF Hall of Famer Jozef Golonka, actually got more goals in that game than the sixth-place U.S. did in the entire tournament (19). It’s a scenario that would be inconceivable today. Czechoslovakia, which totalled 34 goals, settled for fourth place.

2) Canada is the most successful nation in World Junior history with 18 gold medals, but surprisingly few of its bench bosses have used coaching at the tournament as a springboard to Stanley Cup triumphs. Only Mike Keenan (1980 WJC fifth place, 1994 SC with New York Rangers), Mike Babcock (1997 WJC gold, 2008 SC with Detroit), and Claude Julien (2000 WJC bronze, 2011 SC with Boston) have pulled off that feat as head coaches.

3) There is a little-known rule in Finnish hockey: if the Finns win the World Juniors in overtime in Helsinki, a member of the Kapanen family must play a big role. In 1998, when Niklas Hagman got the 2-1 sudden-death winner against Russia, Hannu Kapanen, now a Finnish Hockey Hall of Famer (2005), was the team’s head coach. In 2016, it was Kasperi Kapanen – the Pittsburgh Penguins forward who is Hannu Kapanen’s grandson – whose wraparound goal in OT gave Finland a 4-3 victory over the Russians.

4) Here’s a fun Alberta connection. Did you know that all three points recorded on the first goal ever scored in an IIHF World Junior gold medal game went to future Calgary Flames forwards? The IIHF first adopted the playoff format in 1996 when Boston hosted the World Juniors. In Canada’s 4-1 win over Sweden in the final, Daymond Langkow scored his first of two goals on a breakaway just 1:33 in. Assists went to Hnat Domenichelli and Jarome Iginla. Langkow potted 288 points in 392 games as a Flame, while Domenichelli had 52 points in 96 games. And “Iggy” – a Hockey Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic gold medalist – went on to become Calgary’s all-time leading scorer with 1,095 points in 1,216 games.

5) Only five players have ever led both the World Juniors and the NHL in points – and they’re all either Canadian or Swedish. Canada leads the way with Wayne Gretzky (1978 WJC), Jarome Iginla (1996 WJC), and Connor McDavid (2015 WJC). For Sweden, it’s Peter Forsberg (1993 WJC) and Henrik Sedin (2000 WJC). However, if we apply the first Art Ross Trophy tiebreaker (“Player with the most goals”) to the World Juniors, then McDavid drops off the list, since Canadian teammate Sam Reinhart equalled McDavid’s 11 points in 2015 but scored five goals to McDavid’s three.

6) The 2005 Canadian World Junior team is widely acknowledged as the best of all time. It was loaded with budding legends like Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Shea Weber. Yet the player who got the eventual winner in the 6-1 gold medal romp over Russia in Grand Forks, North Dakota wasn’t a future superstar. Defenceman Danny Syvret, selected in the third round (81st overall) by Edmonton in 2005, scored a power play goal eight minutes in to make it 2-0. Syvret played 59 NHL games and retired in 2017 after a final season with the DEL’s Nurnberg Ice Tigers.

7) Only one family in hockey history has produced both a World Junior scoring leader and an U18 Women’s Worlds scoring leader. In 2006, Phil Kessel (1+10=11) led the way with the fourth-place American squad in Vancouver. In 2009, his sister Amanda Kessel (6+13=19) topped the points derby as the U.S. captured its second straight gold medal in Germany. We’re still awaiting the creation of a U20 women’s tournament.