The 12 best single-tournament performances in world juniors history

Ah, to compare sports greats across generations. Debating old and old versus new and new is ungrateful in pretty much any form of decade-long competition, but it seems especially difficult in hockey - a sport that has evolved into something that barely resembles its early beginnings when people are chunky and rusty. The blades pounded frozen bitches with heavy pieces of wood.
There are tools that we can use to take into account the adjustment of the epoch. However, data points worth careers are required to work effectively. It goes without saying that there is little support in exploring the short (sometimes nonexistent) window to participating in what serves as the starting point for many brilliant careers: the World Junior Championship.
It is extremely difficult to analyze nearly half a century of the event in order to determine with certainty the greatest singles tournament performances in the history of the international U20 game for a variety of reasons. The fact that the competition was far more unbalanced at the start is a big factor, as is the format of the tournament, which once resulted in blowouts without a knockout round. We also need to take into account the fact that the odds have changed significantly and at the peak of their eligibility stars from around the world often outgrow the tournament and therefore not have the opportunity to dominate it.
But perhaps the most important factor in trying to identify these most dominant performances in junior history is the light TSN has shed on the event over the past 30 years. It is much easier to remember and appreciate Jordan Eberle's achievements than, for example, Viacheslav Fetisov described the TSN as the third greatest young player in the world in 1977 and 1978 for its two dominant tournaments for the Soviet Union.
Because of this, there is a serious bias towards topicality, or at least a significant bias towards the new, in the list below. Perhaps, however, it is just an attempt to compile a collection of the greatest singles tournament performances in the history of the Junior World Championship.
12 - Viacheslav Fetisov, Soviet Union, 1978
If you have not been in the buildings for the 1977 and 1978 tournaments in Czechoslovakia and Canada, respectively, then it is understandable not to fully appreciate the work of Viacheslav Fetisov, recently named the best defender in junior history in the world, in Company Peter Forsberg, Pavel Bure and Wayne Gretzky in a recent expert survey.
That distinction alone is enough to include Fetisov at the bottom of this list, even if done with an admitted degree of ignorance. We will thank Fetisov for the 1978 tournament when he returned at the age of 19 and became the first and only player in history to win gold medals and best defender awards in consecutive tournaments.
11 - Thomas Chabot, Canada, 2017
The 2017 Junior World Championship seemed like a showcase for future star defenders. Charlie McAvoy and Mikhail Sergachev dominated their shifts for the US and Russia respectively, but it was Canadian Thomas Chabot who raised his game above everyone else in the tournament. Chabot was the first defender in tournament history to take home MVP honors - and he earned it despite Canada running out of gold in the game.
While the most valuable player doesn't always belong to the eventual champion, it was almost as if an exception was made for Chabot, who barely got off the ice for Canada. He logged in for over 70 minutes in the semi-final and gold medal games played on consecutive days and seemed to completely dictate the process of the balance of these shifts.
He finished the tournament with 10 points, which only one defender - Alex Pietrangelo - has surpassed in modern times.
Jordan Eberle had a legendary performance in the 2010 World Juniors. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images)
10 - Jordan Eberle, Canada, 2010
With his MVP tournament in 2010, Jordan Eberle rose from the author of a legendary moment to one of the greatest artists in world junior history. With his two goals in the last three minutes of the gold medal game, it was another big drama for Eberle to force overtime against the United States. When he led his second incredible Canadian comeback in so many tournaments, this time fell short. The Americans won in extra time with a goal from John Carlson.
Even so, Eberle was named MVP with eight tournament goals, while adding 13 points on his third appearance to double his career overall.
9 - Patrice Bergeron, Canada, 2005
The roster featured Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber, but the centerpiece of the team that many consider to be the best-assembled in Canadian junior history was Patrice Bergeron.
Bergeron had already completed his rookie season with the Boston Bruins, helping Hockey Canada win a gold medal at the World Championships last spring when he was loaned to the U20 team during the NHL's 2005 lockout season. He translated that experience into six goals and a tournament high of 13 points in six games and was named Most Valuable Player in one of the most talented editions in the history of the event.
8 - John Tavares, Canada, 2009
The 2009 Junior World Cup will be best remembered for Eberle's unforgettable last-second goal against the Russians to force overtime before later winning the semi-finals himself in the shootout. But John Tavares was the driving force from the start to the end of this winter for Canada, which won its record-breaking fifth title on home soil.
Tavares' hat-trick in an exciting win against the Americans on New Year's Eve remains one of the most memorable feats in junior history. The captain scored another five goals in the remaining five games and finished the tournament lead with a total of 15 points, one point behind his teammate Cody Hodgson. Both Tavares and Hodgson broke the modern-day points record at this event, and Eberle was also very important, but Tavares was correctly named an MVP in one of the greatest solo appearances by a Canadian at the event.
7 - Carey Price, Canada, 2007
It's not difficult to gauge Carey Price's performance in his only appearance as a junior in the world in 2007. Not only is it the greatest statistical achievement by a netminder in tournament history, but he also played an important role in one of the most memorable moments of the year. 45-year-old tradition.
All at once per square, and after extra time resolved the squats in the Canada-United States semi-finals, it took the competitive programs 14 shootout attempts to determine a winner. Jonathan Toews built his legendary status for switching to all three of his skill competition attempts, but Price's performance in this white knuckle situation was the shining moment of a brilliant tournament. He made two stops on Patrick Kane in the shootout and sealed the survival for Canada in the seventh round with a stop on Peter Mueller.
After 25 saves against the Russians in the gold medal game, Price was named the tournament's MVP with a 6-0 record and a record of 0.961 saves.
6 - Jaromir Jagr, Czechoslovakia, 1990
Robert Reichel had the better junior career in the world, but when the second highest scorer in the tournament's history was best for Czechoslovakia, he was raised by a long haired 17 year old linemate.
Jaromir Jagr was the single most dominant force on one of the best lines in junior history when he teamed up with Reichel and Bobby Holik in 1990. Jagr had five goals and 13 assists in seven games in his solitary tournament appearance before continuing his eternal career in the NHL the following season.
5 - Pavel Bure, Soviet Union, 1991
There's a strong case for Bure as the greatest player in world junior history. He is without a doubt the most dominant goalscorer the tournament has ever seen. He holds the record with 27 goals and averages well above one in every game in his 21-game career. But what's special about Bure is also what hurts him on this list: his résumé as a world junior isn't backed up by a single extraordinary achievement.
Bure never won the title in his three games, and lost all IIHF or media tournaments in his last two competitions after being named best striker for his 14-point tournament with eight goals in 1989's debut in Anchorage, Alaska . It is possible that his efforts as a 17-year-old were his best and they were the only ones to contribute to a gold medal for the Soviet Union, but he benefited from a partnership with two future Hall of Famers in Alexander Mogilny and Sergei on his debut Fedorov. Two years later, on his last appearance in Saskatoon, Sask., Bure had to bear more of the burden, taking the then record of 12 goals for a Soviet Union team to second place behind Eric Lindros' Canada.
4 - Manny Legace, Canada, 1993
What kind of line is that with an unstoppable force that hits an immovable object? Although the Swedish team from 1993 scored the best partnership in the history of the tournament with Forsberg and Markus Naslund in seven games for 55 points, the host country failed to win the gold medal in Gavle, Sweden. This is almost entirely due to Manny Legace's arguably the greatest goalkeeping performance in the history of the tournament - including doing just enough for a 3-2 round robin win over the Swedes, which turns out to be the difference between gold and silver turned out.
Legace also ruled out the United States, stopping 43 of 44 shots against the Russians and 58 of 60 shots against Finland. He finished a tournament with an incredible 0.955 percent saving averaging over 8.5 goals per game.
3 - Markus Naslund, Sweden, 1993
It may not be set in stone like Forsberg's scoring record, but Naslund set a benchmark that may never be reached if he plays in line with the tournament's leading scorer in Sweden's memorable 1993 offer. His 13 goals in seven games is a record that has remained virtually unchallenged more than a quarter of a century later. Naslund also had 11 assists to give him 24 points for the tournament that only lagged Forsberg in overall singles tournament production.
2 - Wayne Gretzky, Canada, 1978
The 1978 Junior World Tournament was an introduction to two things for Canadian ice hockey fans. It was the first time the country selected the best available players instead of sending the reigning Memorial Cup champions. Second, it was the first glimpse many had of the player who had achieved legendary status in his little hockey career and would continue to change the game.
Gretzky introduced himself to the crowd with his first and only appearance at the U20 championship in 1978. As the tournament's youngest player at just 16 years old, Gretzky was the star and was eventually named a top striker. He scored eight goals - including two hat tricks - and with nine assists in six games. Gretzky's production reached 2.83 points per game, which is the highest for a Canadian in the history of the event.
1 - Peter Forsberg, Sweden, 1993
Forsberg's record of 31 points on home soil for Sweden in the 1993 Junior World Cup will never be threatened - because his performance was exceptional, but also because he benefited from almost every generation variable. In the first quarter of a century of the event, there seemed to be at least one entry that simply didn't belong on the same sheet of ice as the real world powers, which at the time included Canada, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Japan, which first appeared at the tournament, may have been more unprepared than any other nation - at least in its ability to keep the puck out of its own net. Japan conceded 83 goals in seven games of the tournament, 10 of which Forsberg was involved in the 20-1 drubbing in the Swedish preliminary round.
The damage done in the game in Japan is likely to see Forsberg's record stand forever, but it's far from his third appearance at the event remaining the greatest of all time. Forsberg scored 21 points in the remaining six games against all legitimate teams, which is 3.5 points per game - or still more than any other player has averaged in tournament history.
Forsberg was a three-year veteran of the event who was just six months away from his 20th birthday, and who also came at a time when there was an incentive to increase the score. He had the opportunity to set a record - stop performing and put everyone else in the shade in the process.
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