Top 5 Hockey World Juniors Rivalries
The IIHF World Juniors is the highest level of competition in international hockey for players under the age of 20. The tournament features the best players from the top hockey nations worldwide. Read on to learn about the biggest rivalries that have emerged in the World Juniors.
What Are the Biggest Hockey World Juniors Rivalries?
- United States vs. Canada
- Canada vs. Russia
- Sweden vs. Finland
- Russia vs. Czech Republic
- Finland vs. the United States
1. United States vs. Canada
The rivalry between the United States and Canada is the fiercest World Juniors rivalry of all time. Since their first meeting in 1973, the United States and Canada have faced off almost every year. While the Canadians definitely hold the edge, it does not make the rivalry any less fierce for both sides involved.
The United States and Canadian teams produce high-level NHL talent each year. Players on the World Juniors squads for both teams are typically a mix of collegiate, major junior, and professional players. Superstars such as Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Connor Bedard have played in the World Juniors for these teams.
2. Canada vs. Russia
Russia and Canada are constantly two of the best teams in the World Juniors every single year, making the rivalry all the more relevant. Just about every tournament, at least one of the teams is in contention for the gold medal, creating quite a bit of hype even for round-robin games.
Over the past 20 years, the rivalry reached incredible heights. In 2009, Canada beat the Russians in the semis during a shootout, where Russia had a dramatic third-period comeback to beat the Canadians in 2011. Canada also had a dramatic win over Russia in 2015, earning them the gold medal.
3. Sweden vs. Finland
When it comes to international hockey (at any level), Sweden vs. Finland is a rivalry that is the fiercest in all of Europe. Therefore, when the two match up against each other in the World Junior tournaments, a lot is at stake. Since the first official hockey game between these two countries, and no matter what the level, the rivalry has not slowed down at all.
In the 2020 World Juniors, Sweden won a heated matchup in the bronze-medal game against Finland. Finland was the defending champion at the time, so this loss was very personal for them, especially when it came from their heated rivals and Scandanavian neighbors.
4. Russia vs. Czech Republic
Both Russia and the Czech Republic have superb hockey programs, and both their geographic location and history has led to an intense rivalry. This has led them to face off against one another quite a few times, creating some great matchups and a great rivalry. The two first faced off in the tournament back in 1997 and have gone back and forth against each other ever since. For five straight years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the winner of the championship was either Russia or the Czech Republic.
When both teams are dominant at the same exact time, it is impossible for a rivalry not to develop. That kind of dominance by the same two countries is hard to ignore, especially if they both end up in the finals again as they did in 2000.
5. Finland vs. United States
The United States and Finland rivalry is the newest international rivalry to come out of the World Juniors championship. In the 2020 World Juniors, the Finland team knocked the United States out of contention. As a result, the United States team began looking for revenge, which created potential for an up-and-coming rivalry.
While the United States and Finland may not have the talent or history that Russia and Canada might, that does not mean they do not have fierce competitions when they play against each other. Their battles in recent years will only create more hype surrounding matches in the coming years.
What is the biggest World Juniors rivalry?
The biggest World Juniors rivalry is between Canada and the United States. Both countries have put out high-powered teams for decades, featuring several future superstars. They have also faced off in the championship several times throughout the tournament’s history. The two countries are considered two of the best hockey nations in the world, leading to a fierce rivalry.