Peter Forsberg's standout performance at the 1993 WJC launched him to top spot amongst the tournament's all-time best. (CliveBrunskill/ALLSPORT)
Great gold medal game Tuesday night between the U.S. and Canada. Some shoddy goaltending to be sure, but all in all, we found it to be the most entertaining final in years. And although Canadians were disappointed about the outcome, the same team winning year-in-and-year-out is never good for any tournament. And now the U.S. gets a chance to defend the title on home turf in Buffalo next year…perfect.
Players on both sides set a number of team records during the tournament. Jordan Schroeder passed Jeremy Roenick to become the leading American scorer. Of the boys north of the 49th, Jordan Eberle became Canada’s leading goal-scorer and Ryan Ellis set the mark for defenseman scoring.
But Schroeder’s 27 points, Eberle’s 14 goals and Ellis’ 15 points pale in comparison to some of the numbers posted by junior stars of years past. Pouty pundits say the tournament has become largely a two-horse race, but numbers like these can’t be found anywhere anymore.
Here’s THN.com’s Top 10 WJC all-time scorers:
10. Eric Lindros, Canada, 31 points
The lone Canadian on our list, ‘The Big E’ was a man amongst boys as a junior. During three tournaments from 1990-92, Lindros tallied 12 goals and 19 assists in 21 games, helping Canada to two gold medals.
9. Esa Keskinen, Finland, 32 points
Keskinen never left Europe to play pro, but tore up both the Finnish and Swedish leagues after graduating from the junior ranks. He played 14 games during two WJC tournaments – 1984 and ’85 – piling up 10 goals and 22 assists, winning gold the second time around.
8. Niklas Sundstrom, Sweden, 33 points
The first of three Swedes to appear on the list, Sundstrom played in the 1993, ’94 and ’95 tournaments, scoring 18 goals in just 21 games and assisting on 15 others. The early ’90s was the Golden Age for Swedish junior hockey; Sundstrom won two silvers and a bronze.
7. Markus Naslund, Sweden, 34 points
The recently un-retired Naslund was a great junior, racking up 21 goals and 13 assists in just 14 WJC games in 1992 and ’93, winning silver twice. In ’93, he scored 13 times to set the record for goals scored during a single tournament.
6. Vladimir Ruzicka, Czechoslovakia, 34 points
Currently he’s the coach-GM of the Czech Republic’s national team, but from 1981 to ’83 he was one of the greatest junior players on the planet. Ruzicka gets the nod over Naslund for sixth place here because of his gaudy WJC goal total, 25 in 19 games. Although a triggerman, he tossed nine assists into the mix as well.
5. Esa Tikkanen, Finland, 35 points
Known as a two-way pest in the NHL, Tikkanen was a great junior player. He played three tournaments from 1983 to ’85, teaming with Keskinen for the final two to form one of the more dynamic duos in WJC history. Tikkanen scored 17 goals and 18 assists in 21 games and helped the Finns to a silver in ’84.
4. Alex Mogilny, USSR, 35 points
The first Soviet skater to make the list was a dazzling under-20 player from 1987 to ’89. Mogilny scored 19 goals and added 16 helpers in 20 games. He was part of silver and gold medal-winning teams, but also took part in the ‘Punch Up in Piestany,’ a bench-clearing brawl in ’87 that led to Canada and the USSR being disqualified from the tournament.
3. Pavel Bure, USSR, 39 points
The Russian Rocket made international headlines as a junior. He scored a WJC record 27 goals in 21 games from 1989 to ’91 and added 12 assists to boot. In ’89, Bure was the youngster on what many consider the best line in WJC history with Mogilny on the opposite wing and Sergei Fedorov centering. Bure won a gold and two silvers.
2. Robert Reichel, Czechoslovakia, 40 points
Canadians know Reichel as an Olympic-shootout heartbreaker, but many forget how dominant he was as a junior player. In 21 games from 1988 to ’90, Reichel tallied 18 goals and 22 helpers, leading Czechoslovakia to two bronze medals.
1. Peter Forsberg, Sweden, 42 points
The most prolific scorer in WJC history did it all in just 14 games played from 1992 to ’93. But it was the latter of those two tournaments that became Forsberg’s coming-out party. Playing on a line with snipers Naslund and Sundstrom, ‘Foppa’ set records for most points in a single tournament with 31 (Naslund is No. 2 all-time with 24 in ’93) and assists in one WJC with 24, 10 more than No. 2 Keskinen in ’85. Forsberg’s 32 career WJC assists are also a record.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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