Before they played at the U18 World Championships, the 2003s clashed at this youth tournament first.

Team Canada defeated Russia 5-3 at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Junior Championships in Dallas, Texas, this month. Two powerhouse countries in the sport, the gold medal matchup may not come as much of a surprise to many in the hockey community. However, this meeting in the championship was preceded by a previous contest between Canada’s best and Russia’s top players five years earlier at the 13U World Selects Invitational in Stockholm.

Moscow-based RUSS defeated Canada’s Pro Hockey 5-4 in the championship game at Trio Arena in the spring of 2016, where top youth players from 10 different countries got their first taste of international competition.

The World Selects Invitational has been one of the most consistent predictors of international talent amongst youth hockey events. 14-year-old Rasmus Dahlin and 13-year-old Andrei Svechnikov. Mitch Marner six years before he debuted for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Aaron Ekblad four years before the Florida Panthers selected him first overall in the NHL Draft.

The 2003-birth year took center stage at the 2021 World Junior Championships, and five years prior, 42 of those same players squared off at the WSI in Sweden. Wyatt Johnston, Brandt Clarke, Corson Ceulemans and Ethan Del Mastro from Canada. Arseni Koromyslov, Alexander Figurin, Vsevolod Gaidamak, Nikita Chibrikov, Ilya Ivantsov, Danil Lazutin and Matvei Petrov from Russia. Three from Sweden, nine from Finland, two from the U.S., Belarus and Latvia as well. Every roster in the 2021 event had at least one player who previously played in a WSI. 

Today’s rising stars and prospects got their start at the World Selects Invitational series, competing against the best 13, 14 and 15-year-old hockey players in the world. Think you’ve got what it takes? Explore the 2022 calendar and apply HERE.