Ah, Spring. The warming weather, the smell of freshly-cut lawns, baseball, grill food and the granddaddy of them all… the IIHF Men’s World Championship. OK, so maybe not, but the World Championship has been a lot more fun to follow in the last few years thanks to NBC Sports Network televising every U.S. game to give fans without a team in the playoffs something to cheer about at least.
The 2014 IIHF Men’s World Championship will be held in Minsk, Belarus starting May 9. All of the preliminary-round games will air live on NBC Sports Network and almost all of them are at decent hours in the day time, not the ungodly hours of Sochi. Phew.
Last year, Team USA ended a nine-year medal drought by winning a surprise bronze with Alex Galchenyuk playing the role of T.J. Oshie in scoring multiple shootout goals to win the game and 20-year-old John Gibson stealing the show. This year, the U.S. has a roster that is even younger and less experienced than the last, but of all the most recent World Championships, this tournament may be the most intriguing to watch.
Team USA’s roster (which you can see here) is rife with young players, some that haven’t even stepped foot in the NHL yet, but are destined to very soon. With an average age of 24.3, the U.S. is bound to be one of the youngest clubs in Minsk.
Coming up after the jump, a look at the tournament, Team USA’s chances, why you should consider watching this year and why this World Championship is the most controversial in recent memory.