International Ice Hockey Federation

The oldest juniors

The oldest juniors

A select group have played after 20

Published 01.01.2015 17:32 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
The oldest juniors
Scott Harrington is one of only five players to play a U20 game at age 20 years, 4 days. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Even though the 2015 U20 takes place over eleven days and includes some 230 players, only one has a birthday between New Year’s Day, January 1, and January 5.

The first date is important because it is the date used for age eligibility requirements and the second date in key as traditionally the final day of the U20. 

Although the Slovaks have nine players born in January, none are in the January 1-5 window. The only one this year is Juuso Ikonen. The Finn will celebrate his 20th birthday on January 3, but that won’t be enough to get him into the record books.

Indeed, the World Junior Championship is supposed to be a tournament for players under 20 years of age. But that age qualification is determined by players born 1st January 1995 or later for the 2015 World Juniors. As a result, players born between 1st and 5th January are 20 years old, but over the course of the 38 years of the tournament, there have been only a handful who have played at age 20.

But who is the oldest player ever to participate? And who is the oldest to score a goal? The answers to those questions are limited to just a few names in the case of the former and only one name in the latter.

There are exactly five players who were born on 1st January and played as late as possible – 5th January – making them 20 years and 4 days old. And unless the tournament dates change some time (unlikely given the success of the World Juniors) no player can ever eclipse this record. Equal it, yes. Break it, no.

Even more unique, two of those players tied the record as opponents in the same game. Miro Laitinen played for Finland and Marek Tomica played for the Czechs when the teams faced each other on 5th January 2001, in the gold-medal game. The Czechs won, 2-1, and Laitinen and Tomica joined the Class of Five for playing a U20 game at age 20 years, 4 days.

Continue reading

The first such player was Sweden’s Patric Hornqvist, who played in the bronze-medal game on January 5, 2007, a 2-1 loss to the United States. He also did not score in the game.

In 2012, Russian Danil Apalkov joined the group when he played 5th January 2012, in that historic gold-medal loss against the Swedes. Recall the 0-0 game through 60 minutes of regulation was decided by a sensational Mika Zibanejad goal in overtime.

Two years ago, the latest 20+4 player joined the club. Canada’s Scott Harrington played 5th January 2013, in his team’s 6-5 loss to Russia for the bronze.

Finding the oldest player to score a goal required one more level of research. Because no combination of 1st January born and 5th January played scored, it was necessary to look at two more possibilities – 1st January born and 4th January played (and scored) and 2nd January born and 5th January played – to find our goalscorer.

The January 1 and 4 combination produced nine more names: Joe Hope (USA), Daniel Seman (CZE), Konstantin Sidulov (RUS), Lutz Bongers (FRG), Kari Kanervo (FIN), Yevgeni Kurylin (BLR), Mikhail Medvedev (KAZ), Raeto Raffainer (SUI), CJ Young (USA). Only one of these players scored a goal in his game, and that was Kurylin, who scored in his team’s 7-2 loss to the United States in a relegation round game on 4th January 1999.

There were no January 2 and 5 combination players who scored, making Kurylin the oldest player to score in a U20 game – 20 years, 3 days.

Trivial trivia, to be sure, but any player born on January 1 who plays in a U20 game on January 5 at age 20 years, 4 days and scores a goal can break the record and call it his own.


Back to Overview