IIHF World Junior Championships Betting: Canada’s Main Threats
The IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships are skidding onto our calendars in a week’s time and keen Canadians will be eager to see their juniors add to their already record-breaking medal haul.
Bodog is gearing up in tandem; we’ve been prodding the competition for strengths and weaknesses in anticipation of the tournament, to identify the biggest threats to Canadian success. In turn, we bring you the IIHF betting odds.
As you would expect – and we wouldn’t have it any other way – Canada’s U20 team are the clear favourites to win the competition this year, though several other nations will certainly not make it easy on them.
The IIHF World Junior Championships usually take place in late December and early January. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event was delayed until the summer. The championship will be hosted here in Canada at Edmonton’s Rogers Place and Red Deer’s Peavey Mart Centrium just as it was in 2021.
Nine games had been played in December last year before the competition was suspended due to players contracting the virus. In February, the IIHF announced it was rescheduling the fixtures for the summer with everything starting from scratch.
The results from the first nine games were wiped clean with Russia’s disqualification, and Latvia happily swooped in as a welcome replacement.
With those competitions behind us, Bodog Sportsbook is ready as ever for the fresh start of the IIHF World Junior Championships and IIHF World Juniors betting.
Canada’s IIHF Juniors History
Ahead of the tournament’s kick-off, Canada’s U20 team are the front runners in the IIHF World Juniors betting market with odds of +130.
It’s little wonder, too. The Canadians have been the dominant force in the competition since its inception, with multiple wins in just the last few years and a long history of success since its inception.
Canada first won the World Junior Championship in 1982, five years (and six tournaments) after the inaugural event was held in Czechoslovakia. It became only the third winner at the time as the first four gold medals had been picked up by the Soviet Union and the fifth by Sweden.
Since then, Canada has always been up there, with a bronze in 1984, a gold in 1985, and four medals in as many years from 1988 to 1991.
Then starting in 1993, the championship team won five tournaments in a row. This relentlessness didn’t abate either; after generously allowing other teams taste finals glory for a year, the Canadian U20 team picked up a medal in every competition between 1999 and 2012, finishing fourth in 2013 and 2014, before winning again in 2015.
The Maple Leafs have won 18 IIHF World Junior Championships in total, with a total of 33 medals. Russia (and its predecessor countries) has the second biggest tally of golds but still trails Canada by five.
It’s clear that the Canadians have history on their side going into this year’s tournament.
IIHF Betting: Canada’s Main Threats
Canada may be the dominant force in IIHF betting, but with no shortage of other quality teams on the roster, packed with talented players, you can be sure they won’t have it all their own way.
Finland is one of these countries. If you count the Soviet Union and Russia as separate entrants, it has the second largest gold medal haul and fourth biggest total medal haul.
It shares many similarities with Canada too. Its population loves hockey and the cold climate means there is plenty of snow and ice for them to practice a lot from a young age.
The delay to the tournament has helped Finland too. Back in December, their star player Aatu Räty was isolating with COVID, but now he’s fighting fit and ready to win a gold medal.
Topi Niemela is another strong player. The defenseman is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and have a spectacular season in Finland’s Liiga last year. He also performed well last year, helping Finland to a bronze in the Juniors.
These two are not their only talent either, Finland has arguably more depth than any other, so they’ll certainly be a big threat to Canada.
Like Finland, the USA has five previous gold medals in the IIHF World Junior Championships, though it has only 13 medals overall.
The country’s last victory came last year when it beat Canada in the final, a feat the team will be hoping to achieve again this year. They don’t have history on their side, however, as the Americans have never won back-to-back golds.
They’ll also not be helped by the fact that much of last year’s winning team has graduated to senior competitions. Six strong players remain though, including Matty Beniers and Jake Sanderson.
Beniers was the second-overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft and will be a pivotal player in the USA’s offence, while Sanderson was the player who spend the most time on the ice last year.
They’ll be joined by Luke Hughes, the fourth overall pick in last year’s Draft, proof that the team have plenty of depth even with a turnover of talent.
With the Russian team out of the picture, Sweden have stepped up into fourth in the IIHF betting odds list.
With just two gold medals, the Swedish don’t have quite the same history of success as our other top contenders, but they have won more total medals than both Finland and the USA. Add 11 silvers to those two gold medals, and consider that the Swedes have made it to the finals on more occasions than both the Finns and the Americans; they’ve just been unable to convert the opportunities.
They’ll be fielding goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, the No. 20 overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft who had an impressive record in the Swedish Hockey League last season. He’ll be joined by other star talents like Oskar Olausson, Alexander Holtz, and William Eklund, all three of whom were top picks in the Draft too.
Canada’s IIHF betting odds of +150 make them the clear favourite. But that doesn’t mean they’ll have it easy at the IIHF World Junior Championships: Finland, the USA, and Sweden are all in with a shot and could derail the Canadian campaign. If you’re onto a winner, then seize the odds, and get your slips in at Bodog.