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World Juniors Recap
By Thomas Harrington
The Anaheim Ducks sent three prospects to the World Juniors with Team Canada and they are coming home having won it all. While none of Olen Zellweger, Nathan Gaucher, or Tyson Hinds had a tournament like Mason McTavish did in 2022, they were all important pieces, and Canada likely would not have won without their help.
This was Zellweger’s second trip to the World Juniors. While he wasn’t as dominant as he was at the 2022 tournament, he was still Canada’s top defenseman and played a ton throughout the tournament. Overall, he finished with six assists in seven games, tied for eight in the tournament and third among defensemen. Zellweger saw time on both the powerplay and penalty kill units, but it was in overtime where Canada kept putting him out there. Against Slovakia in the quarterfinals, it seemed like he was on the ice every other shift in the extra session; he ended up playing over 30 minutes in that game. He then played nearly 28 minutes in the gold medal game against Czechia. Even though his offensive game wasn’t as strong as 2022, Canada clearly saw him as their top defenseman and put him on the ice as much as possible when it mattered. This was Zellweger’s final chance to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
This was Gaucher’s second trip to the World Juniors and he was primarily used on Team Canada’s third line in a checking role, but also saw some time on the team’s second powerplay unit as a net-front presence. He scored a goal and four points in seven games. Three of his points came against Austria, when Canada won 11-0. He was also one of Canada’s top faceoff men, winning over 57% of his draws. This was Gaucher’s final chance to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
This was Hinds’ first time playing at the World Juniors, and he was the surprise of the tournament for me. I expected him to play as the team’s sixth or seventh defenseman, but he was playing in a top four role when the tournament concluded. He scored two goals in seven games, scoring against Austria and Sweden. In the quarterfinals against Slovakia, Hinds made a glove save from behind the goalie to stop a sure goal. While not as dramatic as the play that McTavish made in overtime in the gold medal game in 2022, it was reminiscent of it. In the final game against Czechia, only Zellweger, Brandt Clarke, Ethan Del Mastro, and Connor Bedard played more than his 22:40. Hinds will not be returning to play for Team Canada next year, but he certainly made the most of his opportunity.
While it was disappointing to only see three Anaheim prospects go to the World Juniors, all three had good to great tournaments. Also, McTavish was eligible to play, but he’s currently in Anaheim, and Pavel Mintyukov would certainly have been on Team Russia if they’d been allowed to participate. The 2023 tournament was a lot of fun, and hopefully Anaheim will see several more of its prospects at the 2024 tournament a year from now.
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January 8th, 2023