Kent Johnson, Other Blue Jackets Prospects' World Junior Championship Experience Cut Short

By Dan Dukart on December 30, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Kent Johnson skates for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship

Oh, what could have been.

The IIHF World Junior Championship has been canceled after just four days due to COVID-19.

For roughly 250 of the world's top U20 players, the chance to represent their country ended abruptly when four positive cases were detected. Once the tournament organizers forced a third game to end via forfeit, the decision was made to shut it down immediately.

The Blue Jackets had four prospects represented at the tournament, headlined by Canada's Kent Johnson. Johnson had one goal and no assists in two games, but it felt like he was hardly needed. The host Canadians beat Czechia 6-3 and handily defeated Austria, 11-2. 

Czechia's Stanislav Svozil played huge minutes and was a steadying figure on the blue line. He had, perhaps, the goal of the tournament, and was named his country's player of the game in the loss to Canada.

It's hard not to feel for these kids. For many, this will be the only (or, certainly last) time they'll ever represent their country on this type of stage. It's difficult to think about all of the development opportunities that have been missed, the sacrifices made, and to what end? 

What's next? Well, Johnson will return to Ann Arbor, Svozil to Regina, Martin Rysavy to Moose Jaw, and Samuel Knazko to Seattle, to join their respective club teams to finish their season.