BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The 2023 IIHF World Championship begins Friday, and the competition will feature five Buffalo Sabres representing their home countries.
The World Championships are taking place in Riga, Latvia and Tampere, Finland this year through a joint host. The tournament features 16 teams from around the world, first starting with two groups of eight and ending with the bronze and gold medal games on May 28.
The Sabres’ five representatives are tied for the third-most among NHL clubs, behind Arizona’s seven and Detroit’s six.
Forward Alex Tuch will be suiting up for Team USA coming off a strong point-per-game season in Buffalo, totalling 36 goals and 79 points in 74 games. Tuch, a Syracuse native, was recently named one of the team’s alternate captains.
While representing the U.S. is a memorable opportunity in itself, it will mean a bit more for Tuch, as he gets to play on the American team alongside his younger brother, Luke, a junior at Boston University and Montreal Canadiens draft pick.
While the U.S. will only have one representative that plays their NHL hockey in Buffalo, Canada will have a trio of Sabres when they kick off their World Championship campaign.
Forwards Peyton Krebs and Jack Quinn, along with goalie Devon Levi, will all play for last year’s silver medalists.
Quinn is coming off a strong rookie campaign, in which the 21-year-old posted 14 goals and 37 points. He also took advantage of some first-line ice time later in the season due to Tuch’s injury.
While averaging just under 14 minutes of ice time per game, Krebs put up nine goals and 17 points in 2022-23, carving out a consistent role in Buffalo’s bottom six. Beyond his point total, the 22-year-old embraced the part of instigator this past season, leading the Sabres in fights with two and tallying the second-most penalty minutes on the team.
While it remains unknown if Levi will be Canada’s top goalie choice, as he will form a tandem with Montreal’s Sam Montembeault, Sabres fans will surely be elated at the chance to watch more of the 21-year-old sensation assuming he does get the nod.
Levi signed his entry-level contract with Buffalo in March after finishing his junior season at Northeastern and soon became the Sabres’ go-to goalie for their playoff push. While the postseason drought did not end, the highly touted prospect left his mark on the organization and the fanbase, posting an impressive .905 save percentage, 3.69 goals saved above expected (according to Evolving-Hockey) and 5-2-0 record, albeit in a small sample size.
It wouldn’t be the first time Levi has played a significant role for a Canadian national team either, as he was brilliant in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, leading Canada to a silver medal while posting three shutouts and a staggering .964 save percentage in seven games.
Lastly, another Sabres rookie, J.J. Peterka, will be representing his home country of Germany at the World Championship.
The 21-year-old strung together a solid season, tallying 12 goals and 32 points despite an over two-month goal drought in the middle of the regular season. He bounced back strong down the stretch after his poor spell, however, posting 13 points in his final 21 games.
When will Sabres players face one another?
With Canada in Group B and the USA and Germany in Group A, a potential matchup featuring four Sabres will have to wait for the playoff round.
However, Tuch and the U.S. will square off against Peterka and Germany in the group stage, with puck drop scheduled for 9:20 a.m. Eastern time on May 15.
The Americans (vs. Finland), Canadians (vs. Latvia) and Germans (vs. Sweden) all open World Championship play on Friday as part of their seven group-stage matchups. Select games will be broadcasted live throughout the tournament on NHL Network.
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