Nova Scotia

Team Canada arrives in Halifax for world junior hockey tournament

Team Canada arrived in Halifax Thursday afternoon and players are going through their final preparations for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

Bedard and Wright are among the players to watch as Canada tries to repeat as world junior champions

Connor Bedard skates the puck away from another player
Connor Bedard skates the puck away from a Slovakian player during a world junior preliminary game in Moncton. (Ron Ward/The Canadian Press)

Team Canada arrived in Halifax Thursday afternoon and players are going through their final preparations for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

Canada will play Finland in a final pre-tournament game Friday night at Scotiabank Centre. Earlier this week in Moncton, the team skated to two pre-tournament wins over Switzerland and Slovakia.

Canada will play its first preliminary game of the world juniors on Dec. 26 in Halifax against Czech Republic. The Canadian player most fans will be keeping a close eye on is Connor Bedard, 17.

Pegged by virtually every scout and analyst as the player to be selected first overall in the upcoming NHL draft, it will be the first time the Regina Pats star has played a game in Nova Scotia. He registered five assists in the two games this week.

Bedard in good company with Team Canada captain

So far in the pre-tournament games Bedard has been on a line with Shane Wright, the player who many expected would be the first overall pick in the NHL draft last year.

Shane Wright wearing his red Team Canada uniform is seen skating with his stick.
Team Canada captain Shane Wright has five points in two world junior preliminary games. (Ron Ward/The Canadian Press)

But Wright, named as Canada's captain, ended up going fourth overall to the Seattle Kraken and he struggled to get regular ice time with the team in the first two months of the NHL season. Like Bedard, he has five points in Canada's two wins.

After the team's first practice in Halifax on Friday morning, Wright said the team was excited to be on the ice.

"It's pretty cool to finally be here in the city," he said. "Nice to finally get out for skate here. It's a pretty nice barn and there should be some fun games here with lots of fans coming out and we're pretty excited for that."

Canada is in a division with the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany and Austria with all games to be played in Halifax.

Head coach Dennis Williams said players had settled in and were looking forward to the tournament. 

"We're finally out of our suitcases and we can lock it down now here for a bit. The boys had a great day yesterday driving in from New Brunswick and I know they are all really excited."

The other division features the United States, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Latvia. Those games will take place in Moncton.

All games will be broadcast on TSN.

Sydney player remembers first gold medal win

Sydney's Paul Boutilier played in the 1982 and 1983 tournaments.

Canada won its first ever world junior gold medal in the 1982 tourney. The final game was played in Minnesota and when it came time to play Canada's national anthem there was no recording available of O Canada.

Photo of all of Team Canada posing in 1982. There are three rows of players with the front row sitting.
Paul Boutilier of Sydney, middle row, second from left, played on Canada's first gold medal winning team at the world juniors in 1982. (Hockey Canada Images)

The Canucks stood on the blue line with arms around each other and belted out the anthem on their own.

Ever since, singing out loud has become a tradition when the Canadian junior team wins gold.

"There was no anthem because nobody expected Canada to win," said Boutilier. "I still feel very fortunate to play on the team that won the first gold for Canada."

Boutilier played for Canada at the world juniors the next year in the Soviet Union. The Canadian team featured budding superstars Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman but placed third.

Boutilier is still working in hockey circles as a defense development coach/mentor and two of his clients, Ludvig Jansson of Sweden and David Reinbacker of Austria, will be suiting up for their respective countries at the world junior tournament.

Local players regularly appear

Canada won the 2022 event — originally scheduled to be played in Russia — in Edmonton four months ago.

Canada's Mason McTavish is pictured guarding the net during a game.
Canada's Mason McTavish, right, prevents the puck from going into the net during overtime against Finland in the 2022 world junior gold medal game. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

This time around, two Halifax Mooseheads are playing in the tournament.

Halifax captain Atilio Biasca is playing for Switzerland and Mooseheads defenceman David Moravec is playing for the Czech Republic.

Many Nova Scotians have played in the world junior tournament including current NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand.


Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.