The 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship tournament begins Dec. 26 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Canada, but we got a glimpse of what could come with a single exhibition game on Dec. 23.
Matty Beniers (Hingham, Mass.) and Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.) combined to make some memorable plays, while goaltender Drew Commesso (Norwell, Mass.) did what he needed to get himself ready for the coming games.
Team USA faced Finland and took a 3-1 lead into the final minutes before taking a major penalty and allowing three goals in regulation and overtime to fall, 4-3. Team Canada faced off against Russia and prevailed by a 6-4 score, both teams featuring what could be generational players in 2005-born forwards Connor Bedard and Matvei Michkov (each of whom scored for their respective clubs).
With the specter of the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to influence all facets of life, the original multiple-game exhibition schedule was truncated to just the single tune-up contest played before the Christmas holiday. With both matchups televised, we were able to watch and glean some insights on what to expect in the coming days as the signature under-20 competition gets underway. Unfortunately for Team USA, the game also resulted in the loss of a couple of players both to injury and suspension when the team begins its quest to defend the gold medal on Sunday evening against Slovakia.