A year later, Devon Levi was starring on the biggest stage in junior
hockey, turning in one of the best netminding performances in IIHF World
Junior Championship history inside the Edmonton bubble.
Levi is just one of the many success stories that have come out of the
WJAC, which returns after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus when Cornwall, Ont.,
welcomes Canada East, Canada West, Latvia, Sweden and the United States
beginning Dec. 11.
Founded in 2006 to give more exposure to players from across the Canadian
Junior Hockey League, there have been no shortage of memorable moments and
historic performances over the years.
At the first WJAC in Yorkton and Humboldt, Sask., in the first-ever game,
Kyle Turris recorded what it still the only four-goal effort in tournament
history, leading Canada West to a win over Russia en route to gold and MVP
In Langley, B.C., in 2011, Canada West became the first team to lose both
of its preliminary-round games (under the old format) and still win gold,
capped by a thrilling 4-2 win over Canada East in the most recent
That game included nine players who have appeared in an NHL game – four
with West (Alex Kerfoot, Jujhar Khaira, Colton Parayko, Troy Stecher) and
five with East (Drake Caggiula, Justin Danforth, Ben Hutton, Devin Shore,
Four years later, a Canada West roster that included four first-round NHL
draft picks Tyson Jost (10th to Colorado in 2016), Dante Fabbro (17th,
Nashville, 2016), Dennis Cholowski (20th, Detroit, 2016) and Cale Makar
(4th, Colorado, 2017) – won gold in Cobourg and Whitby, Ont.
That tournament is perhaps best remembered for the wild East vs. West
semifinal; tied 2-2 entering the third period, Jost tied a
tournament-record with four points (1-3—3) and the teams combined for a
record nine goals, with West pulling away for an 8-5 win.
Makar, of course, is now perhaps the best-known WJAC alumni – an all-star
in 2015, he returned to captain West in 2016, again making the all-star
team, before embarking on a pro career that has already included a Calder
Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup championship in Colorado.
But it’s not just Canadians who have left their mark. The list of
international alumni is just as impressive, including Boston Bruins
superstar David Pastrnak (Czech Republic, 2012), Calgary Flames standout
Elias Lindholm (Sweden, 2011) and a trio of Americans – New York Islanders
defenceman Scott Mayfield (2010), Buffalo Sabres forward Vince Hinostroza
(2012) and Arizona Coyotes point-getter Nick Schmaltz (2013) – who were
As was Winnipeg Jets sniper Nikolaj Ehlers, who took home the award in 2014
after posting nine points (6-3—9) in four games and helping Denmark reach
the gold medal game in Kindersley, Sask.
That year, the Danes entered the WJAC as preparation for the IIHF World
Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal. This year, it’ll be Latvia
doing the same as it gets ready for the World Juniors in Halifax and
So … will you be part of the festivities in Cornwall? Tickets are now on
sale, and there’s something for everyone.
Only available to check out the night games? There’s a package for that
(six games for $87).
Only want to see the action on opening day, featuring
East and West in action? There’s a package for that (two games for $32).
Only want to watch the medal round on the final weekend? There’s a package
for that (four games for $76).
The last time the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) was played, in December
of 2019, a young goaltender stole the show, earning Most Valuable Player
honours and backstopping Canada East to within an overtime goal of its
first gold medal.