Canadian Gold: Remembering the 1993 World Junior Championship
In the lead-up to the 2021 World Junior Championship, we're taking a look back at each of the 18 Canadian teams to capture the gold medal, culminating Dec. 25 with the start of the latest edition of the tournament.
The 1993 World Junior Hockey Championship in Gavle, Sweden, was an important one for Canada.
One year beforehand, the team sputtered to a sixth-place finish despite boasting the likes of Eric Lindros and Scott Niedermayer.
Neither of those future Hall of Famers returned to the '93 squad, but it still featured its share of standout performers, including another eventual legend who cemented himself as a budding star with his play in this tourney and a goaltender who stole the show.
*Denotes returning player
All ages are as of the start of the tournament
Canada went 6-1-0 in the tournament, which used a round-robin format and awarded medals to the top three teams based on the standings. The squad's only defeat came in its final game on Jan. 4 at the hands of the Czech and Slovak Republics - a unified side that began the event as Czechoslovakia before the country dissolved into two separate nations three days before the game.
Sweden was a more dominant club throughout the tourney. The Swedes were led by a 19-year-old Peter Forsberg, who amassed seven goals and an incredible 24 assists in seven games to lead all skaters in points while setting a tournament record in that category. Teammates Markus Naslund and Niklas Sundstrom finished first and second in the goal-scoring race at 13 and 10, respectively, with Naslund's total giving him a record of his own.
The Swedes finished with the same record as Canada and a better goal differential. However, the Canadians earned a 5-4 victory in the two powerhouses' lone meeting at the tournament on Dec. 27, 1992, which ultimately served as the tiebreaker.
Legace posted a stellar .955 save percentage over six games. The future NHL veteran was named best goaltender and was also the lone netminder the media chose for the tournament All-Star team.
Kariya's eight points ranked second among Canadian skaters. The skilled winger dramatically improved compared to his two-point output through six contests in 1992.
Lapointe led Canada with nine points and tied Gendron for the team lead with five goals. Tully - who collected a goal and two assists in seven games - earned an All-Star nod as one of only two defensemen on the list.
The key moment
Nearly a year to the day before Canada and Sweden met at this tournament, the teams played to a 2-2 tie in which the Swedes scored the equalizer with seven seconds left to knock Canada out of medal contention.
On the night before their clash at the 1993 tourney, Forsberg said this to TSN's Bob McKenzie:
The matchup certainly lived up to the hype, with the two deep squads trading goals in a spirited affair. It even got physical - both Daigle and Sweden's Naslund were ejected.
The heavily favored Swedes had a glorious chance to tie it up in the final seconds, but Mats Lindgren whiffed on a centering pass in front of the Canadian net just before the buzzer sounded.
A pair of future Hockey Hall of Famers on this Canadian squad went early in the NHL draft about six months later. Kariya's strong play undoubtedly helped convince the Anaheim Ducks to select him fourth overall, while Pronger went two picks ahead of him after registering one goal and three assists in the tourney.
The Ottawa Senators took Daigle with the first pick in that draft, and although the eventual mega-bust didn't score in the 1993 tournament, he did contribute six assists in seven games.
Only three players from the '93 team (Bouchard, Gendron, and Tully) returned the following year, but this title got Canada back on track and started a run of five straight gold medals for the Canadian program at the tournament.