This year's edition of the World Junior Championship tournament was one of the most exciting I've ever seen. I've been a big fan of this tournament, catching as many games as possible since I first heard of it some 20 years ago.
For the most part, this was one of the more competitive tournaments I can ever recall. We had some surprising outcomes (Germany over Finland stood out), but in the end, Team USA was dominant and walked away with gold.
The Americans were clearly the class of the tournament, winning all four of their round robin games (one in overtime), while carrying a +20 goal differential. They walked through the medal round with wins over Latvia (7-2), Finland (3-2) and finally Sweden in the gold medal game (6-2).
They were stacked offensively, with Blue Jacket prospect Gavin Brindley (2nd round, #34 overall, 2023 NHL Draft) helping lead the way. He finished tied for second in the tournament in goals (6), and fourth in points (10).
Brindley was a dynamic workhorse all tournament long, using his speed, tenacity and physicality to win puck battles all over the ice. But it was his shot is what earned him a spot on the highlight reels. Brindley showcased his quick release on plenty of occasions, scoring on 37.5% of his 16 shots on goal.
He gets an easy "A" grade from me. He was electrifying, playing - and standing out - in all situations for the gold medal winning Americans. I don't know that we'll see him in Columbus next fall, but I don't think he's too far off.