It’s 15 frigid winters ago, and the planet’s best under-20 hockey players gather in Helsinki, Finland, to compete in the 2004 World Junior Championship. The mighty Russians have won the past two tournaments and the Czechs the two before that. It’s been seven years since a North American squad won the gold, but this year offers the continent’s best hope since then. The Americans have never won the world juniors but arrive in Helsinki picked by most pundits to finally do it. They bring a talented group led by star forwards Zach Parise, Patrick O’Sullivan and Ryan Kesler, with Ryan Suter, Matt Carle and James Wisniewski on defense. Most of the team has played together internationally for years.
MIKE EAVES, COACH, USA: Before the World Junior Championship, two years before, we had won the und...
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Our senior writer made like a scout and hit the road for a three-game weekend, braving blizzard-like conditions and angry dart-throwers, all for the sake of seeing hockey’s next wave of players.
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