Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WIHF - World Juniors

The World Juniors are one of the most prestigious tournament in international hockey. This remained to be held every year during the rough IIHF times in the early 2020s. The IIHF dropped the tournament for a short 2 year period in 2024 and 2025. Then when the Canadian teams split from the NHL, the commissioner of that league resurrected the tournament. Canada would host the tournament, starting 2 weeks before New Year’s. The Molson’s Youth Hockey Cup became the only yearly event of international hockey. When the WIHF was first announced, former hockey goalie Dylan Alexander expressed his interest in bringing back the tournament to its former glory. The Canadian league sold the rights to the WIHF. The World Juniors would take place in the international break before New Year’s, allowing players to leave their teams and return without games being missed. The first order of business was to figure out the host of the tournament.

Montreal/Quebec City put in a joint bid, but Alexander didn’t want a 5th straight Canadian tournament. His home town Chicago was ruled out, due to Chicago winning the rights to host the Super 10. Their focus moved to Europe. The goal was to find 2 big arenas, close by, to host the tournament. Traditional powers like Stockholm and Moscow wanted the bid, but ultimately, Alexander decided on a new local.

With the success of Zagreb in the KHL, and Olimpija Ljubljana in the Austrian league, their national programs were improving. Anze Kopitar was a firm believer that the two Balkan nations could host the tournament. After a trip there, WIHF officials awarded the World Juniors to Croatia and Slovenia. Qualifying began, and weirdly enough, the 16 teams that qualified, qualified for the Olympics (which is when you’ll see what the teams wore).

The teams hit the halfway point. The best teams were gearing up for a playoff run. The best start of any league was the Canucks, who didn’t lose their first 20 games, and recorded 15 wins in that span. The Winnipeg Jets finally knocked off the best team, and led to a downward slump. The NHL was hotly contested between the 4 divisions. The Lightning and Penguins led the east, and the Blackhawks and Ducks led the west. The European leagues were shaping up as usual, one or two teams distanced themselves from the field.

The 2 week international break was nice for the players that weren’t on National Teams. But for the stars, they had to play as hard as ever. The top 16 teams qualified for the Olympic Games, and this break was the last chance to make a case. The biggest result of the break was the upstart Latvian team beating the Russians in St. Petersburg. The countries jockeyed for rankings going into the Olympics, and when it was all done, the traditional hockey powers won. Aided by bad losses to Germany and Denmark, Austria fell out of the top 16. South Korea had been building up playing Asian teams, and traveled west to beat the Brits and Croatians. With momentum from the 2018 Winter Games, South Korea was emerging as a future hockey competitor.


I wanted to represent both countries as best as I could. They’re both mountainous, so the tops and bottoms of the logo reflect that. The green slice is Slovenia, with the star pattern from their crest. The red bit is Croatia, with a checkered pattern for theirs. This is the first logo I’ve posted using the template-y bottom part. My goal is to have an abstract and meaningful top, with a similar thing to show that it’s a part of WIHF.

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