For Columbus Blue Jackets fans looking for some action, the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia did not disappoint. There have been epic showdowns and some nail-biting finishes from players who aren’t even old enough to legally drink in the United States.
Five Blue Jackets prospects represented their home countries in the tournament – Joonas Korpisalo (Finland), Oscar Dansk (Sweden), Lukas Sedlak (Czech Republic), Mike Reilly (USA) and Boone Jenner (Canada). While Finland was sent to the relegation round, the other four countries made it to the playoffs to determine who would fight for which color of prize. The Blue Jackets younglings have made their presence known in these last few days. Well, maybe only three in the playoffs – Dansk is one of Sweden’s backup goaltenders, and was on the roster for one game in the preliminary round, but didn’t play.
Jenner started the tournament on a sour note with a three-game suspension following a nasty hit in a preliminary game in Finland. Because of the suspension and the media crush surrounding the Canadian team, he became hockey’s version of Bad Wolf at first – everywhere but unseen. Once his suspension was done, he jumped into the game…the last two that Canada’s played, to be exact, and he has no points but six shots on goal to show for it. Perhaps the suspension has gotten to him psychologically. It has to be rough watching your team play from the press box for a hit you gave.
Reilly, Jenner’s fellow Blue Jackets prospect, had one goal and two assists, but he did score that lone goal when the American boys spanked Slovakia in the preliminary round, and one of his assists came during the first USA-Canada match during the tournament. Thus the scene was set for the two young men to meet again in the semifinals.
Alas, the Americans beat the Canadians 5-1, with Reilly picking up that second assist. For the Americans, it was to the gold medal game against Sweden. For the Canadians, they found themselves in familiar territory in the bronze medal game against Russia. But for a brief moment, hockey dominance shifted southward. And it felt good.