The IIHF World Under-20 Hockey Championship Tournament has been in existence since 1977. Having just won their 29thmedal in 35 years, Russia/Soviet Union leads all countries in total medals with Canada three behind. However, Canada still leads in overall gold medal victories with fifteen to Russia’s thirteen.
Indeed, Canada should be leading the way. Each year, Team Canada is chosen from players on sixty teams throughout the Canadian Hockey League as well as Canadian born players on NCAA scholarships in the United States of America. Considering the number of players to draw from and the fact that players are really only qualified between the ages of seventeen and twenty, it’s amazing that any one player appears in the tournament more than once.
There are seven special Canadian players in the history of the IIHF World Under-20 Championship Tournament that have appeared in not one or two tournaments but three in their junior hockey careers. Of the seven, three have captained the team in their final year. Of the seven, six have gone on to careers in the National Hockey League. The seventh player, Ryan Ellis, is still playing junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League but is fully expected to have a long and prosperous professional career after this season. It is no surprise that all seven players were first round NHL draft picks.
Trevor Kidd and Eric Lindros played for Team Canada at the 1990, 1991 and 1992 Tournaments. The team won gold in 1990 and 1991 and was held off the podium in 1992. Both players also went on to play for Canada at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Kidd enjoyed an eleven year career as a goalie in the NHL. Lindros played thirteen seasons in the NHL and played in two more Olympic tournaments before retirement.
Martin Lapointe joined Kidd and Lindros on the 1991 and 1992 teams and played in the 1993 tournament as well. Of course, the 1991 team won the gold and then redeemed themselves in 1993 with a return to gold medal status. Lapointe enjoyed a fourteen year NHL career with Detroit, Boston, Chicago and Ottawa.
Jason Botterill is the only Canadian to win three gold medals at the IIHF World Under-20 Hockey Championships. Botterill was part of the 1994, 1995 and 1996 Canadian teams. Jason had a sparse NHL career with 88 games over eight seasons with Dallas, Atlanta, Calgary and Buffalo, spending most of his time in professional hockey in the IHL and AHL.
Jason Spezza and Jay Bouwmeester are the only two of the seven currently active in the National Hockey League and are the only two to play in three tournaments and not win gold. Both played on the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Canadian teams. In 2000 and 2001, Canada won bronze and in 2001 they improved to silver. Spezza has spent his entire NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. Bouwmeester is currently in his second year with the Calgary Flames after spending the earlier part of his NHL career with the Florida Panthers.
Ryan Ellis is in his final year in the Ontario Hockey League and is an eleventh overall pick of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. Ellis has been a member of Team Canada in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The team won gold in 2009 and has taken the silver the past two tournaments.