World junior schedule set for Helsinki

Canada’s defence of the gold medal at the 2016 world junior championship will begin against one of its arch-rivals.

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Monday the schedule for the tournament in Helsinki, revealing that Canada will clash with the United States on Dec.

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Canada, which beat Russia in the gold-medal game in Toronto in January after going five years without winning the event, will play Denmark on Dec. 28, Switzerland on Dec. 29 and Sweden on Dec. 31.

Canada is in Group A. Its games will be played at the Helsinki Ice Hall.

Host Finland is joined in Group B by Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belarus. Group B games will be contested at the Hartwall Arena.

Six players from Canada’s championship squad are eligible to play in the 2016 world junior. One of them is Connor McDavid, and by the time Boxing Day rolls around, he probably will be on his way to making a strong case to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. In short, he won’t be in Finland.

Others who can come back are defenceman Joe Hicketts and forwards Brayden Point, Jake Virtanen, Lawson Crouse and Robby Fabbri.

The U.S. will be looking to get back on track after finishing fifth this past winter. Jack Eichel is eligible to return, but like McDavid, should be entrenched solidly in the NHL with an eye to winning the Calder.

Eichel aside, others who are eligible to return for the U.S. are goalie Brandon Halverson, defencemen Noah Hanifin, Ryan Collins, Zach Werenski and Brandon Carlo and forwards Nick Schmaltz, Sonny Milano, Alex Tuch, Dylan Larkin and Auston Matthews.

The gold-medal game in the 2016 tournament will be played on Jan. 5.


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