TORONTO/MONTREAL – After coming off a convincing 3-1 victory over Canada on New Years Eve, these past two to three years, the United States have had Canada’s number in past junior events, the NHL draft, their growth in the NCAA, USA Hockey showed the Hockey world what they have in store for the future, a future that is brighter than the face of hockey, that is of Hockey Canada.
Aside from the win in New Years Eve, the United States have had and advantage over Canada in Junior Hockey for the past two years. Last Boxing Day, the States faced off against Canada in the World Juniors, led by 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews, the Red and Blue defeated the Red and White 4 to 2, and Matthews led his country to a Bronze medal finish, while Canada finished 6th place.
Not to mention the IIHF U18 Championships that takes place every April. The U.S. have won gold three of the past four years, and have defeated Canada convincingly in the Medal rounds, 7-2 in 2015, and 10-3 in 2016. In addition to the States’ dominance in the U18’s, in this season’s summer Ivan Hlinka Tournament, the States finished second, and Canada finished fourth place.
Also showcasing the United States’ strength over Canada was the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games that took place in Lillehammer Norway. Canada’s boys Ice Hockey team was filled with best 16 year olds in the country, such as Benoît-Olivier Groulx, Jared McIsaac, and Ryan Merkley. Even with all this talent, they were defeated by the United States in the Gold Medal game by a score of 5-2.
Finally, this year’s World Junior A challenge was another example of the bright future of the United States. The US defeated Canada East once in the preliminary (3-1), and once more in the Gold Medal game.
Though this past draft still had Canada have the most players from its country drafted (42.2%), the States had a bigger impact in the Top 10. The US had three players selected in the Top 10 (Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller), to Canada’s two selected in the Top 10 (Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyson Jost). While it is not that big of an impact, Matthews and Tkachuk are NHL-ready and are playing exceptionally well on their respective teams, and are better players right now than Dubois and Jost.
With the rise of USA Hockey being as big as it is, the NCAA is becoming a prime stop for Canadian Junior players, and more and more players each year are deciding the skip the CHL and choose the NCAA. Team Canada members Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro both decided to not join their WHL teams, and join the BCHL to retain their rights to the NCAA.
Not to mention, this past OHL Draft was another example of the rise of USA Hockey and the NCAA. In the first two rounds Blade Jenkins, Tyler Weiss, Jack DeBoer, and dual citizens Bode Wilde and D.J. King, all decided to not sign with their OHL team and play their Hockey in the United States for the U-17 NDTP. The NCAA is growing each and every year, and if and when it surpasses the CHL, that will be the day USA Hockey overtakes Hockey Canada as the top of the Hockey world.
Regardless of what happens tonight in the Gold Medal game, USA Hockey will still have the brighter future than Hockey Canada, and it is imminent for The Star spangled banner to overtake the Maple Leaf.