Two tournaments, two cities, two world champions of youth hockey
The 2009 and 2010-born World Selects Invitational tournaments take place simultaneously this week in separate European cities. Games will get underway on Tuesday with teams competing in host cities Bolzano, Italy and Chamonix, France. Eight 13U teams will clash for the ‘10 WSI while eight other 14U teams compete for the ‘09 championship. Last month, CCM All Out won the 15U championship in Nashville, while Team Minnesota won the 16U championship. Plus, Slovakia Selects won the 12U WSI this past weekend to become world champions as well. The pair of tournaments this week will close the book on WSI Elite tournaments for the 2023 season.
We take a closer look at each of the ‘09 and ‘10 WSIs before action gets underway on Tuesday.
Can Sweden Selects be the first organization to repeat as 14U WSI champions?
Sweden Selects won the 14U World Selects Invitational last spring thanks to the efforts of ‘08-born Marcus Nordmark and Alexander Command. If the ‘09s are going to repeat as WSI champions for Sweden, they’ll need big performances from the likes of Love Lorentzon, Tom Pråhl and Oliver Sundberg.
If Sweden returns to prominence in Bolzano this week, it would be the first time an organization has ever gone back-to-back at the 14U WSI.
A repeat will be no easy task, as seven other teams from around the world make a case for championship gold as well. North American-based Pro Hockey has four players from the No. 1-ranked team in Canada, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Similarly, Finland Selects brings players from various Top-10 teams as well, including Kiekko-Espoo, Tappara and Jokerit.
Czech Knights, ALPS Selects and Latvia Selects all draw players from various Central European regions. Plus, Barys (Kazakhstan) and Eastern U.S. Selects round out the field of participating teams.
Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the ’09 WSI championship final going down on Saturday.
13U WSI returns for the first time in four years
CSKA Moscow was the last 13U team to win the World Selects Invitational in 2019. That was a tournament of top ‘06-born players in the city of Chamonix. Four years later, the ‘10s return to the same city in search of the first 13U WSI championship since CSKA hoisted the trophy.
Due to COVID-19 and significant travel restrictions, there has been a drought in 13U champions. Now in 2023, eight teams from around the world look to be the first to recapture gold in the age group.
In years past, prospects like Connor Bedard, Macklin Celebrini and Alexey Dontsov have made their mark in this very tournament. Dontsov is a top European prospect in the 2024 NHL Draft class; he currently plays for No. 1-ranked CSKA Moscow. Celebrini was just named the USHL Player of the Year after scoring 86 points in the Tier-I junior league. And Bedard, the all-time leading scorer of the 13U WSI, is slated to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft next month.
The youth hockey community will get a good look at a ’10 WSI tournament that’s featured some of the best youth hockey players in the world. The eight participating teams hail from Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia, as well as the Alps region of Europe. Additionally, DraftDay and Eastern U.S. Selects bring top prospects from North America. Barys will represent Kazakhstan, as the club participates in its third World Selects event of the spring.
Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the championship final going down on Saturday. There’s also an All-Star Game consisting of top performers from the tournament slotted for Friday afternoon.
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