Last season’s Victoria Royals’ rookie of the year Keanu Derungs looks to add to his hockey accomplishments this holiday season, as the 18-year-old dons the jersey of his native Switzerland at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
The 5’11”, 168-pound left winger scored 15 goals and added 14 assists in 57 games with the Western Hockey League club in the 2019-20 season, and joins a team that surprised some tournament watchers last year. They were ranked third overall after a solid round robin showing, but lost 3-1 to eventual finalist Russia in the quarter-finals.
Switzerland, playing in Group A, begins the tournament on Christmas Day versus Slovakia. Also in the pool are reigning gold medallist Canada – this time with former Victoria Grizzlies star Alex Newhook and Juan de Fuca minor hockey product, goalie Dylan Garand, on the roster – Finland and Germany.
Switzerland has only medalled once in the history of the tournament, earning bronze in 1998.
Derungs, currently on loan to EVZ Academy in the Swiss League’s second division, is just the fourth Royal to represent his country at the tournament. He joins two-time Team Canada defenceman Joe Hicketts (2015, 2016), and forwards Igor Martynov (Belarus, 2018) and Phillip Schultz (Denmark, 2019) in earning the honour.
The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships run through Jan. 5 in Edmonton.