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World Juniors a Family Affair for Anderson, Norris and Tkachuk

By Dan Scifo, 12/28/17, 11:30AM EST


Family ties run through storied history of tournament

For Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Mikey Anderson, a chance to medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship is a chance to follow in their family’s footsteps. 

Brady aims to become the fourth family member to earn a medal at the World Junior Championship. His father, Keith, was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. National Junior Team at the 1992 event before Brady’s older brother Matthew, did the same in 2016. Then last year, cousin Casey Fitzgerald helped the U.S. win gold at the event in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Josh Norris hopes to join his father, Dwayne, as a World Junior Championship gold medalist after he scored the game-winning goal against Czechoslovakia to lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the 1990 IIHF World Junior Championship. 

Then there is Mikey Anderson, whose brother, Joey, is captain of this year’s U.S. National Junior Team and is one of seven returnees from last year’s gold medal-winning squad.

For them, the opportunity to join their family as medalists gives each player extra incentive.

Brady Tkachuk aims to be fourth family member to earn medal at World Juniors

“It’s definitely a very prestigious tournament and it’s an honor and privilege to be on this team,” Brady Tkachuk said. “There’s a bunch of great guys on the team and a bunch of great hockey players. It’s going to be a lot of fun, especially this year with the outdoor game.”

A freshman at Boston University after spending the last two seasons with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, Tkachuk’s playing career already is a blend of the ones paved by his dad and brother. 

Keith followed his U.S. National Junior Team bronze medal with one season at Boston University before enjoying a 19-year NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers. Matthew, meanwhile, skated two seasons with the NTDP and is now in his sophomore campaign with the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

The chance to continue following his older brother and father is something the youngest hockey-playing Tkachuk enjoys.

“It’s awesome being in the same category as them,” Brady Tkachuk said. “Just for [my dad] to watch is extra special and awesome. It’s a little different now because it’s better televised and there’s more talk about it.”

Brady himself already has an international medal to his name after captaining the United States to a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship last April.

“I think for [my dad] it’s pretty special for him to see what we’re doing and I think he’s really proud of us,” Brady Tkachuk said. “For me, one of the biggest goals of the year was to be on this team. I’m really excited about this. We have a great team and we have a bright future ahead for our team.”

Norris played two seasons with Tkachuk at the NTDP and was alongside him on the gold medal-winning U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team in Slovakia.

“It’s definitely a huge honor to represent my country,” Norris said. “It’s definitely a tournament I’ve been watching since I was a little kid and my dad played in it. I’m definitely excited and very honored.”

While he’s already represented the U.S. internationally, the chance to do so in the same tournament his father won gold in is special.

“We spoke a little about [playing in the same tournament], and obviously with him playing in the tournament 30 years ago and myself now, it’s definitely crazy that it’s happening,” Norris said. “My dad told me that some of the best memories of his career were from this tournament and the bonds he made with those guys. I’m very fortunate for the opportunity and I’m definitely really looking forward to this tournament.”

Josh Norris hopes to win gold like his father, Dwayne

Norris said his dad told him to stay in the moment as much as he can because there can be a lot of distractions. He said his dad doesn’t talk much about his game-winning goal.

“It’s obviously a pretty huge goal for him and one of the biggest of his career,” Norris said. “But all he talked about was winning the gold medal and the relationship made with his teammates.”

As much as Norris’ dad impacted his career, he also credited his mother, Traci, who is also an influential part of his success.

“They’ve always been there for me and just continue to remind me that I have an opportunity at hand and to make best at what I have,” Norris said. “Whatever opportunity and role I’m given, I’m going to do the best I can.”

Anderson brothers, Joey (left) and Mikey (right)

That is the same mindset Joey Anderson used last year while helping the U.S. win gold, and one his younger brother, Mikey, is focusing on this year. While Joey was winning gold with the U.S. National Junior Team, Mikey was helping the U.S. Junior Select Team to a championship finish at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyille, Alberta. 

“It’s really fun because we’ve been fortunate enough to play together a couple times growing up,” Mikey Anderson said. “Being able to do it here at this elite level is pretty special. Going through it is something we dreamed about and we’re excited and amazed it’s actually happening."

The Roseville, Minnesota, brothers are just the third brothers ever to skate on the same U.S. National Junior Team, and while they skate together at the University of Minnesota Duluth, this opportunity is extra special after growing up watching this tournament together.

“It almost adds onto the whole Christmas holiday because it’s something we watched every year since we were little kids,” Mikey Anderson said. “We used to go out in the backyard and pretend to play in the tournament, so now to have it happen and to be part of it is really special. You dream about it your whole life.”

Playing together is nothing new for the brothers, as they also played their youth hockey together in addition to high school hockey at Hill-Murray School in Minnesota. But there’s no doubt that teaming up on the world junior stage is even more amazing.

“It’s extra-special,” Mikey Anderson said. “Growing up, it was always us competing against each other, whether it was in practice, the weight room or a backyard rink. To go through this process with someone I’ve gone through my whole life makes this moment and every day all that much more special.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

2018 World Juniors

Official Event Site

U.S. Roster

Daily Team Notebook

U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of Game
Wed., Dec. 20 Belarus
Pre-Tournament Game
Northwest Arena
Jamestown, N.Y.
W, 14-0 NA
Fri., Dec. 22 Sweden
Pre-Tournament Game
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, Pa.
W, 3-1 NA
Tues., Dec. 26 Denmark
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-0 Casey Mittelstadt
Thurs., Dec. 28 Slovakia
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-3 Brady Tkachuk
Fri., Dec. 29 Canada
Preliminary Round
New Era Field*
Orchard Park, N.Y.
W (SO) 4-3 Casey Mittelstadt
Sun., Dec. 31 Finland
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 5-4 Joey Anderson
Tues., Jan. 2 Russia
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 4-2 Kieffer Bellows
Thurs., Jan. 4 Sweden
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-4 Josh Norris
Fri., Jan. 5 Czech Republic
Bronze-Medal Game
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-3 Trent Frederic

World Juniors News