With the IIHF U20 World Championship just a few days away, rosters are now set for the tournament and there will be three current BCHL players and one league alumnus suiting up for their countries.
In addition, four other current BCHLers took part in the Division 1A and 1B championships earlier this month.
The players represent eight different countries across the globe.
Canada: Matthew Wood – University of Connecticut (Victoria Grizzlies)
Norway: Johannes Løkkeberg – West Kelowna Warriors
Slovakia: Richard Baran – Victoria Grizzlies
Switzerland: Simon Meier – Penticton Vees
This is the first World Juniors appearance for Wood, but the 2023 Nashville Predators first-round draft pick has previously represented his country at the under-18 championships. Wood was the BCHL’s leading scorer during the 2021-22 season, piling up 85 points in 46 games.
Løkkeberg has played for Norway several times in the past, including at last year’s Division 1A tournament. He has 23 points in 23 games with the Warriors this season.
Baran played in the under-18 tournament for the Slovakian team last year, but this is his first under-20 championship. He has 13 points in 20 games with Victoria and was recently voted into the league’s Top Prospects Game.
Meier has also played for his country multiple times in the past but will be playing in his first World Juniors with the Swiss team. He has 23 points in 23 games with the Vees and was also recently voted into the league’s Top Prospects Game.
The tournament starts Dec. 26 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Kazakhstan: Vladimir Nikitin – Chilliwack Chiefs
Japan: Kazumo Sasaki – Prince George Spruce Kings
Nikitin helped lead his country to gold at the Division 1A tournament earlier this month. The Chiefs netminder posted the best goals-against average (1.48) and best save percentage (.944) in the tournament and was named the Division 1A Top Goaltender and the Top Player on the Kazakhstan team. He has a 3-3-1 record with Chilliwack this year.
Sasaki scored one goal in five games for Japan in his first time playing for his country on this stage. With the Spruce Kings, the 17-year-old has three goals and 11 assists in 16 contests.
Slovenia: Maks Percic – Vernon Vipers
Ukraine: Hlib Artsatbanov – Alberni Valley Bulldogs
Percic helped the Slovenian team to a gold medal at the Division 1B tournament, chipping in with five assists in five games. With Vernon, he has contributed a goal and seven helpers across 22 games.
Artsatbanov posted a 3-1-0 record for Ukraine at the Division 1B championship and helped his country to their second straight silver medal. He owns a 5-3-0 record and a .904 save percentage this year with the Bulldogs.
Photo credits: Island Images (Nikitin, Meier), Tami Quan (Løkkeberg)