Despite the fact that the NCAA’s Frozen Four (and the full tournament itself) is technically hockey’s version of March Madness, it doesn’t generate the same amount of excitement. While many will argue that gambling plays a gigantic role in the huge popularity of the Final Four – and there’s no denying that, considering the widespread existence of office/family/friend/anyone with DNA pools – one of the other perks of watching those events is that you might catch the next professional basketball star in the making.
The World Junior Championships generate more passion and interest in part because they are a sneak preview of potential future NHL superstar talent. (The other big reason for the increased widespread interest comes from the natural competitiveness bred by patriotism and nationalism.)
Just watch that advertisement the IIHF and NHL Network has been running in which they spotlight two future Canadian stars (Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos), American stars (Zach Parise and Ryan Kesler) and two Russian stars (Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin). You’ll see the inherent awesomeness of this tournament in that 30 second clip, although it’s much more than that.
The Canada-U.S. game turned out to be a laugher, but the prospect-loaded lineups justified the excitement leading in. Check out our favorite goal of the game – and the night – which featured three first round picks from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It began with a pass by Tampa Bay’s No. 6 overall pick Brett Connolly (brother of Buffalo Sabres center Tim) to Florida’s No. 25 pick Quinton Howden, who fired the puck past 11th pick and Dallas Stars prospect Jack Campbell to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
That ended up being the game winner and really crippled the will of a flat U.S. team. Check out video of the goal below.