Every year around this time hockey fans get treated to one of the most exciting tournaments in all of hockey, as countries from all over the world send their best prospects under the age of twenty to see what nation has the top prospects, and it’s called the World Juniors. This year the Montreal Canadiens will be sending five of it’s prospects to represent their respective countries, as the tournaments have already gotten underway. The Championship tournament containing the top ten countries will begin next Friday the 26th, as the rest of the groups finish up their individual tournaments.
Out of the current group of Canadiens prospects, four of the five are headed to the championship tournament, with the other player headed to Division One, Group B which is about to finish up on their series, Friday the 19th. For the Habs, they will send Andrei Kastsitsyn to Team Belarus, Konstantin Korneev to Team Russia, Oskari Korpikari to Team Finland, Tomas Linhart to the Czech team, and they will send Jaroslav Halak to Team Slovakia.
Andrei Kastsitsyn– 1st round, 10th overall 2003. F. Kastsitsyn plays for Team Belarus, who are currently playing in Division One, Group B, as they look to make a return to the Championship tournament next year with a Group B title win. They have unofficially won the tournament, as they defeated Norway yesterday to take sole possession of first in their group. Kastsitsyn is currently second in the tournament scoring with ten points in four games. His five goals and +5 show he’s been able to produce on offense as well as not forgetting to cover his own end.
Konstantin Korneev– 9th round, 275th overall 2002. D. Korneev will attend his third world junior championship for Team Russia, who have won the gold in both of his appearances, as he looks to make it three in a row. Korneev will be looked upon to use his previous experience to help anchor an inexperienced blueline, as he was solid in last years tournament with a +10, which was good enough to put him close to the +/- leader.
Oskari Korpikari– 7th round, 217th overall 2003. D. Korpikari will play for Team Finland, who will be the host country for the Championship tournament. Expect Korpikari to help his country with some solid defensive play in his own end, as the defense will have to step it up due to the loss of top defensemen Joni Pitkanen . Team Finland opens the tournament with a big game against Team Canada on the 26th, a great after Christmas treat for hockey fans all over.
Tomas Linhart– 2nd round, 45th overall 2002. D. Linhart will play for the Czech team in the championship tournament, where he looks to help his team with some solid defensive play and physical hockey. This tournament will give Hab fans a chance to look past the fact that Linhart was returned to his homeland country instead of playing in the OHL for a second year.
Jaroslav Halak– 9th round, 271st overall 2003. G. Halak will play for Team Slovakia, as he has had an impressive season so far this season, as he leads the junior league in save %, and has done well in each level he’s played in this year. After a great showing for Team Slovakia at last years U-18 tournament, where he helped his team win the Silver and was named goalie of the tournament for his efforts.