Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 2 of the U-17's


CAMPBELL RIVER, BC ? Down two goals after 40 minutes, Quebec found their offensive stride in the third period ? in a big way.

Guillaume Asselin scored twice in the final period to complete his hat trick, leading Quebec to a seven-goal frame and a 10-6 win over Slovakia at the Strathcona Gardens on Tuesday afternoon. The Canadian side outshot Slovakia 27-11 in the third period, and 54-32 overall.

Asselin?s two goals in the third joined singles from Samuel Carrier, Martin Lefebvre, Michaël Bournival , Matthew Bissonnette and Maximilien Le Sieur, helping Quebec erase a 5-3 deficit and climb back to the .500 mark at 1-1. Bournival finished with a pair of goals, while Gabriel Desjardins also scored.

Slovakia, which dropped its tournament opener, got two goals from Denis Mihalik and one apiece from Lukas Cingel, Michal Cajkovsky and Michal Murcek in taking a two-goal lead into the second intermission before imploding. Dominik Simcak rounded out the scoring with a late goal.

Quebec will face the powerhouse United States squad in Port Alberni on Wednesday night (7 p.m. PST), while the Slovakians will travel to Duncan to take on undefeated West on Wednesday (2 p.m. PST).


PORT ALBERNI, BC ? It wasn?t quite as exciting as its heart-stopping last-second win over Russia one night earlier, but Pacific is 2-0 at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Ryan Harrison and Kevin Sundher scored goals in the first 4:03 as the tournament?s ?home team? recorded a 4-1 win over Germany on Tuesday night at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, moving ever closer to a Saturday semifinal berth.

Mark Pysyk and Nathan MacMaster also scored for Pacific, while Tom Kühnhackl ? on an early second period penalty shot ? had Germany?s only goal. The Germans, who have played in the ninth-place game in the last five U17 tournaments, lost their tournament opener.

Pacific won despite being outshot 33-32, including 26-21 in the first two periods. Kent Simpson made 32 saves in picking up his second win in as many nights between the pipes for the Canadian side.

Pacific will enjoy an off day on Wednesday before facing Atlantic in an all-Canadian match-up on Thursday night at the Alberni Valley Multiplex (7 p.m. PST), while Germany will face Atlantic in Duncan on Wednesday night (7 p.m. PST)


PORT ALBERNI, BC ? Two games, two wins for West at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Captain Jordan De Pape scored three times ? all on the power play ? and added an assist as West moved to 2-0 in Group B with a 6-3 win over Finland on Tuesday at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.

With the Finns holding a 2-1 lead early in the second period, De Pape set up Nolan Zajac for the game-tying goal before completing his hat trick with a pair of markers 53 seconds apart, sending Finland to its second loss in as many games.

Quinton Howden and Mark Stone scored the other goals for West, while Teemu Rautianen, Teemu Pulkkinen and Mika Partanen replied for the Finns.

West will play its third game in as many days when it travels to Duncan to face Slovakia on Wednesday afternoon (2 p.m. PST), while the Finns will see action next on Thursday, taking on Quebec at the Comox Valley Sports Centre in Courtenay.


CAMPBELL RIVER, BC ? It was a game to remember for Vladislav Namestnikov, and capped off a day to remember for Campbell River hockey fans.

Namestnikov scored four goals to lead Russia to an 8-2 win over Atlantic at the Strathcona Gardens, pushing the Russians back to the .500 mark after Monday night?s heartbreaking last-second loss to Pacific.

Roman Berdnikov, Artur Amirov, Aleksander Gogolev and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for the Russians, who blew open a tight 4-2 game with a four-spot of goals in the final 20 minutes. Alex Noel and Sean Couturier scored the goals for Atlantic, who dropped to 0-2.

It was another standing-room-only crowd at Strathcona Gardens, who saw Quebec score seven times in the third period to steal a 10-6 win from Slovakia in the early game. Both games had close to 1,000 fans crammed in to watch the stars of tomorrow.

The Russians are back on the ice for the early game in Port Alberni on Sunday, taking on Ontario at the Alberni Valley Multiplex (2 p.m. PST). Atlantic will travel to Duncan to face-off with Germany (7 p.m. PST).

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

US with the Shutout

Kazakhstan has one last hope to avoid the relegation round with a substantial margin of victory tomorrow against the Czech Republic. But all eyes are sure to be on the late game when rivals Canada and USA face off for first place in Group A. The winner will get an automatic berth in the semi-finals.

The Americans didn’t look like a bona fide contender in the first period, as they clearly took the Kazakhs a little too lightly in the opening stanza. It wasn’t until their fourth power-play opportunity that the Americans managed to score the 1-0 goal, as Ian Cole broke the ice 16:26 into the game.

Once the first goal got past Kazakh goaltender Andrei Yankov, the U.S. had an easier time with its offense. Aaron Palushaj doubled the lead 31 seconds later, and Drayson Bowman made it 3-0 a minute before the end of the period.

U.S. head coach Ron Rolston clearly gave his team an earful during the intermission, as they came out looking rejuvenated in the second period. It took just 52 seconds for the Americans to score as Colin Wilson put in a rebound from a shot off the face-off.

The U.S. piled in another four goals in the period, including two on the power play, to climb out to a commanding 8-0 lead. The U.S. out-shot Kazakhstan 39-3 in the first two periods.

Palushaj led the way with two goals and two assists and Wilson had two goals, while Ian Cole and James vanRiemsdyk both added a goal and two assists. In total, ten different Americans scored in the effort.

Mike Hoeffel added a two-man advantage goal in the third period, and singles by Jimmy Hayes, Mitch Wahl and Matt Rust brought the score to 12-0.

Jordan Schroeder’s two assists were enough to tie him for the lead in tournament scoring with Canada’s John Tavares and Cody Hodgson with nine points.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Finland Rolls to Victory

The big question before the game was whether Finland’s forwards would finally start to generate some serious offence. The Finns had only scored three goals in their first two games, both losses (3-1 versus Sweden, 5-2 versus Russia). This was Finland’s first win at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The reply came only two minutes into the game (on a power play) when Teemu Hartikainen dropped a pass to Tomi Sallinen, who flipped the puck past Latvian keeper Nauris Enkuzens.

Nestori Lahde, parked at the doorstep, doubled the lead twelve minutes later after receiving a cross-pass from Niclas Lucenius. The good start allowed Finland the luxury of missing a penalty shot with two minutes left in the opening period. Antti Roppo shot a backhander over the crossbar.

Roppo redeemed himself midway through the second period by notching the 5-0 goal. By then, Finland had basically put the game away after a pair of goals from Mikael Granlund.

Finland outshot Latvia 56-18.

The biggest cheer of the evening from the 9,376 fans came after Latvia’s only goal, 14 minutes into the middle stanza, when Roberts Jekimovs connected with a two-man advantage. That period featured some chippy elements, and saw Latvia’s Vitalijs Pavlovs receiving a game misconduct for kneeing.

For the Finns, the game was just the first step towards securing third place and a spot in the quarter-finals. They must defeat Slovakia on New Year’s Eve. A win in OT or shoot-out will get it done, as both teams have three points each (1W-2L). Finland has never been involved in relegation struggles in the World Juniors.

The Latvians will now head to the relegation round. As they will not carry over any points, the Latvians will most likely have to win both their relegation round games, against Germany and most probably Kazakhstan. They will open their quest to remain in the top division on January 2. Latvia was in the same position two years ago in Vancouver, where their lone relegation round win versus Norway was not enough.

The top two teams in that round will retain elite status and take part in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatoon and Regina.

NOTES: This was the first time the two teams have met in the IIHF World Junior Championship. Finland gave goalie Harri Säteri a rest and backup Juha Metsola played in his first game of the championship.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Russia defeats Slovakia

The Slovaks will face Finland on New Year’s Eve, which will determine the last Group B team to advance to the Playoff Round.

Captain Nikita Filatov led the way for Russia with a hat trick and an assist, while Sergei Andronov had a goal and three assists. Maxim Goncharov scored two goals, and Igor Golovkov and Sergei Korostin had singles. Maxim Chudinov also racked up three assists.

"We've been playing better and better, and now the team is ready for Sweden," said Filatov.

Adam Bezak scored for Slovakia.

Russia’s Vadim Zhelobnyuk got his first start in goal of the tournament. Overall, Russia outshot Slovakia 31-27.

There was plenty of skating and puck movement but very little hitting in front of the crowd of 9,149, and that suited the Russians just fine.

Filatov was visibly Russia’s most dangerous forward. To kickstart the offence, the Russian captain rang a backhand off the crossbar and, seconds later, raced in and put another backhand through Slovakian goalie Zdenko Kotvan’s legs for a 1-0 lead at 2:12. Filatov had two more exciting solo rushes in the period, including one that knocked the goalie’s mask off as he crashed the net.

The Slovaks had a fine opportunity on a 2-on-1 rush in the eighth minute, but Russian defenceman Mikhail Pashnin played it perfectly, toppling Ondrej Rusnak before he could shoot.

Slovakia tied the game at 13:12 when Bezak’s wrister from the sideboards floated over Zhelobnyuk’s left shoulder.

With 1:26 left in the first, Russia went up 2-1 on the power play when Goncharov’s blueline drive through traffic went through Kotvan’s legs.

The Russians blew the game open with four goals in the second period. Yet another Goncharov shot from the blueline made it 3-1 just over a minute in. Next, working another man advantage, Andronov sent a beautiful feed from behind the goal line to Filatov, who one-timed it from the slot past Kotvan’s right skate at 4:29.

Igor Golovkov’s rising slapper beat Kotvan on the stick side at 8:32 of the second to give Russia a 5-1 lead. That was it for the Slovak goalie, who was replaced by Jaroslav Janus.

Swapping netminders didn’t prove to be a momentum-changer. Filatov completed the hat trick halfway through the game on a great lateral feed from Andronov. The power play goal was reviewed due to potential interference on Janus, but it stood.

When Filatov was asked afterwards whether he realized that his three goals temporarily tied him with Canada's John Tavares for the tournament goal-scoring lead (five), he replied: "No, I don't care about scoring."

The teams skated out an uneventful third period, with Andronov and Korostin adding late goals to round out the scoring.

"This has been a good group for us," said Filatov. "We've had relatively easy games."

In the previous World Junior meeting between these two countries, Russia won 6-2 in Kelowna, British Columbia on December 28, 2006

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Czech Republic to the Medal Round

A pair of power-play goals gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead in the first period. David Stich and Zdenek Okal scored 2:04 apart midway through the period to give the Czechs the early advantage. Germany had a rough period, getting out-shot 17-5 and taking four minor penalties.

Germany was without forward Maximilian Forster and defenseman Florian Muller after they were injured in yesterday’s game against Canada. The quick turnaround from last night’s game also didn’t help the German squad, which looked fatigued.

The Germans improved in the second period, but still could not get on the board. Their best chance came with about four minutes left in the period, when they had at least five consecutive scoring chances at point blank range, but couldn’t convert.

The Czechs shifted the momentum back to their favor on the next shift in what proved to be the deal-breaker for Germany. Ondrej Roman skated the puck around the crease and slid it past goaltender Timo Pielmeier for a 3-0 lead, just as Germany was showing its first signs of hope.

The goal knocked the wind out of the German sails as they ceded a quick three goals to open the third period, including a second goal from Roman, who finished the game with three points.

For the Czechs, it was a huge moral victory to secure a quarterfinal berth after a slow start to the championship with two straight losses. The Czech opponent in the quarterfinals will be known after tomorrow’s last Group B game. The Czechs, which locked up third place in Group A with today’s win, will take on the second-place finisher from Group B on January 2.

Despite the loss, German assistant coach Uwe Krupp still sees the positive side of today’s result. “Our goal coming into the championship was to stay in the top division,” Krupp said. “We have three points going into the relegation round, which is an important step in reaching that goal.”

Kazakhstan is the other relegation round entry from Group A and will begin the four-team round robin with zero points.

The loss gives Germany a final preliminary round record of 1-3 and fourth place in the group. The Germans have the next two days off to prepare for the relegation round.

The Czechs will take on Kazakhstan tomorrow in a game with no bearing on the standings. The quarterfinals will be played on January 2 after a day off for the entire tournament on New Year’s Day.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Thoughts So Far

My weekly post on the Program

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

U-17 Update

Team West 4 Quebec 2

PORT ALBERNI, BC ? Charles Inglis scored twice ? once shorthanded and once on the power play ? as West opened the 2009 World Under-17 Challenge with a 4-2 win over Quebec on Monday afternoon at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.

Inglis scored midway through the second period to give West a lead it would never relinquish, and set up Brooks Macek for an insurance marker five minutes later as West became the first team to find the win column at this year?s tournament.

Dominick Favreau scored the first goal for West, while Yasin Cissé and Yoan Pinette had the Quebec goals. Favreau and Cissé scored their goals just seven seconds apart in the opening period.

Calvin Pickard, whose older brother Chet is a member of Canada?s National Junior Team, turned aside 31 shots to pick up the victory, while Louis Boileau-Domingue took the loss after making 26 saves.

Both teams will see the ice again on Tuesday ? West will be in action at the Multiplex, facing Finland in the early game (2 p.m. PST), while Quebec will travel to Campbell River to face Slovakia (2 p.m. PST).


NANAIMO, BC ? Two games, two impressive offensive showings for the United States.

One night after hammering Pacific 11-0 in a pre-tournament game, the Americans opened the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with an emphatic 12-1 pasting of Finland at Frank Crane Arena.

Jacob Fallon, Nick Shore and Brandon Saad scored two goals apiece for the Americans, who have appeared in the last two U17 gold medal games and appear to be living up to their billing as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Matthew Nieto, Justin Faulk, Adam Clendining, Jason Zucker, Michael Mersch and Bryan Rust scored the other goals for the U.S., while Marcus Nikander had the lone goal for the Finns. Fifteen of the United States? 20 skaters recorded at least one point in the win.

The Americans will have Tuesday off before taking to the ice at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in Port Alberni to face Quebec on Wednesday (7 p.m. PST), while Finland will take on West in Tuesday?s early game in Port Alberni (2 p.m. PST)


NANAIMO, BC ? Three goals in the first period, three more in the second and two in the third added up to a terrific start for Ontario in defense of its 2008 gold medal.

Ryan Spooner and Freddie Hamilton scored two goals apiece as Ontario opened its 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with an 8-1 win over Atlantic in an all-Canadian match-up at Frank Crane Arena on Monday night.

John McFarland, Gregg Sutch, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Seguin also found the back of the net for the defending champions, while Stephen Silas, Tyler Toffoli, Devante Smith-Pelly and Cody McNaughton added a pair of assists each.

Brent Andrews had the only goal for Atlantic, who was outshot only 26-23 in the opening 40 minutes before the Ontarians took control in the third period.

Ontario will enjoy an off day on Tuesday before returning to action on Wednesday afternoon at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in Port Alberni against Russia (2 p.m. PST), while Atlantic will travel to Campbell River to face the Russians on Tuesday (7 p.m. PST).


PORT ALBERNI, BC ? In a game with a number of thrilling moments, Brett Connolly saved the best for last.

Connolly scored with just 16.6 seconds remaining, capping off a wild final five minutes and giving Pacific a 6-5 win over Russia at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in the opening game for both at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

After coming back four times from one-goal deficits, Brendan Gallagher gave Pacific its first lead at 5-4 with 4:59 to go, scoring just 36 seconds after Max Reinhart had tied the game for the Canadian side, only to see the Russians tie it up 37 seconds after that, setting up Connolly?s late heroics.

Brendan Ranford, Brad Ross and Troy Rutkowski also scored for Pacific, while two goals from Ivan Telegin and singles from Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Artem Gareev provided the offence for Russia.

Pacific will be back on the ice at the Multiplex on Tuesday night taking on Germany (7 p.m. PST), while Russia will play in the late game at Strathcona Gardens in Campbell River, facing Atlantic (7 p.m. PST).

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Players of the Week


CALGARY, AB. - The BOSTON PIZZA WHL Player of the Week is forward Brandon Kozun of the Calgary Hitmen.

Kozun picked up nine points, scoring three goals and six assists to go with a +4 rating in four games over the past two weeks, which included the WHL’s nine day holiday break, helping the Hitmen post a 4-0-0-0 road record in that span.

On Tuesday, December 16th, the Hitmen travelled to Saskatoon to face the Blades at the Credit Union Centre. Kozun picked up the game-winning-goal and an assist as the Hitmen defeated the Blades 6-4. The next evening, Wednesday, December 17th, the last night of games prior to the WHL’s nine day holiday break, the Calgary Hitmen were in Prince Albert taking on the Raiders. Kozun netted one goal and added two assists as the Hitmen downed the Raiders 8-4. He was also named the games 2nd Star.

The Hitmen kicked off their second half of the WHL schedule on Saturday, December 27th in Red Deer facing off against the Rebels at the Enmax Centrium. Kozun scored his second game-winning-goal in three games and added another assist as his Hitmen went on to defeat the Rebels 4-2. He was also named the games 1st Star. The next day, Sunday, December 28th, the Hitmen hosted the Moose Jaw Warriors to a matinee match up at the Saddledome. Kozun assisted on two Hitmen goals in their 4-2 win over the Warriors.

Kozun’s nine points over the past four games has put him in top spot among all WHL scorers with 27 goals, 33 assists for a total of 60 points in 40 games thus far this season. With the four Hitmen victories they extend their winning streak to eight and remain in first place in the WHL Central Division, Eastern Conference and entire Western Hockey League.

Kozun, an 18-year-old from Calgary, Alberta is currently playing his second full season in the Western Hockey League and with the Calgary Hitmen. He has appeared in 120 regular season games with the Hitmen collecting 47 goals, 68 assists for a career total of 115 points.

The WHL has also nominated rookie Nathan Liewen of the Kootenay Ice for the ADT CHL Goaltender of the Week Award. Liewen posted a 2-0-0-1 record this past week with a shut-out, allowing just three goals on 68 shots for a 0.970 goals-against average and an outstanding .956 save percentage.

Liewen, a 17 year-old from Abbotsford, British Columbia, is playing his first season in the Western Hockey League. He spent last year in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Westside Warriors appearing in 13 games compiling a 1.95 GAA. Liewen currently sits in 13th spot among all WHL goaltenders with a 2.87 goals-against average and was recently named as one of 15 WHL players to participate in the 2009 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game this January in Oshawa, Ontario.

Boston Pizza WHL Player of the Week
Sept. 18 – Sept. 21: Jordan Weal, Regina Pats
Sept. 22 – Sept. 28: Joel Broda, Moose Jaw Warriors
Sept. 29 – Oct. 5: Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Vancouver Giants
Oct. 6 – Oct. 12: Evander Kane, Vancouver Giants
Oct. 13 – Oct. 19: Jay Fehr, Brandon Wheat Kings
Oct. 20 – Oct. 26: Jamie Benn, Kelowna Rockets
Oct. 27 – Nov. 2: Dana Tyrell, Prince George Cougars
Nov. 3 – Nov. 9: C.J. Stretch, Kamloops Blazers
Nov. 10 – Nov. 16: Andy Smith, Chilliwack Bruins
Nov. 17 – Nov. 23: Scott Glennie, Brandon Wheat Kings
Nov. 24 – Nov. 30: Taylor Procyshen, Tri-City Americans
Dec. 1 – Dec. 7: Brett Sonne, Calgary Hitmen
Dec. 8 – Dec. 14: Ian Duval, Moose Jaw Warriors
Dec. 15 – Dec. 28: Brandon Kozun, Calgary Hitmen


BOUCHERVILLE, Monday, December 29, 2008 – Halifax Mooseheads forward Jan Stransky and Shawinigan Cataractes goaltender Gabriel Girard today were named the TELUS offensive and defensive players of the week.

Stransky, who was acquired by the Mooseheads from the Olympiques via a trade this week-end, recorded three goals and two helpers in two contests. Stransky enjoyed his best game of the week yesterday, collecting an assist on the game-tying goal and registering the game-winner a few moments later in the final stages of the third period during a 6-5 victory over the Sea Dogs at Harbour Station. He had a total of four points in the win.

Joël Champagne (Rocket), Nicolas Deschamps (Saguenéens) and Chris Doyle (Rocket) were also considered.

On the defensive side, Gabriel Girard is the award winner. In two starts, the Cataractes netminder recorded two wins while posting a 1.92 goals-against-average and .951 save percentage. In the first-ever game played in the new rink in Shawinigan on Saturday, Girard made thirty save in a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Juniors. He was later named the game’s first star. The next day, he pushed away forty-eight shots and stumped two skaters in the shootout to help the Cataractes defeat the Voltigeurs in Drummondville 4-3.

Nicola Riopel (Wildcats), Dominic Jalbert (Saguenéens) and Maxime Robichaud (Tigres) were also strong candidates.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Sweden runs over Latvia

Sweden (3W-0L), meanwhile, can enjoy a day off before taking on Russia for first place in Group A on New Year’s Eve.

The optimal – albeit unlikely – scenario for the Latvians would see them defeating Finland on Tuesday and the Finns beating Slovakia on New Year’s Eve. This would leave the trio in a three-way tie, but Latvia would still be in a bad position to reach third place since they lost 7-2 to Slovakia on Day Two. (A three-team tie is broken by counting goal differential in only the games between the involved teams.)

It was a one-sided game, and of course the Civic Centre crowd of 9,622 favoured the weaker team. The biggest cheer of the afternoon came after Latvia’s lone goal with seven seconds left in the opening period.

At that point Sweden already had a 5-0 lead and 26-0 advantage in shots on goal, so the fans could hardly believe it when Janis Ozolins fed Roberts Jekimovs on a nice two-on-one break to provide Team Latvia with its only happy moment of the game.

Jekimovs had a clear breakaway late in the second period, but he was slashed by Victor Hedman at the decisive moment. The referees’ decision not to award a penalty shot was met with a chorus of boos by the sympathetic crowd.

Tre Kronor set the tone in the first period when they didn’t allow a single shot on backup goalie Mark Owuya for the opening 19:53, while scoring five goals. After Mattias Tedenby got the Swedes ahead at 2:13, we saw the most beautiful goal of the game seven minutes later.

If there ever was a reason to award three assists, Sweden’s 2-0 goal would be it. It featured a splendidly executed quadruple play which was initiated by defenseman Viktor Ekbom and linked between Simon Hjalmarsson and Joakim Andersson before Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi finished off the play. If there was any justice, Ekbom should have been entitled to an “honourary” assist on this play.

"Our line is playing better and better all the time, and I really enjoy playing with Simon Hjalmarsson and Joakim Andersson," said Svensson-Pääjärvi.

The first period saw Svensson-Pääjärvi (who will probably have to do something with his surname if he is drafted in June) get his second of the game, while Andre Petersson and Nicklas Lasu added to the Latvian misery. All four Swedish first-period scorers recorded their first goal of the championship. Latvian starting goalie Raimonds Ermics had enough after the third goal and was replaced by Nauris Enkuzens.

"It may sound strange, but it was still a difficult game for us," said Svensson-Pääjärvi, who finished the game with four points. "The most difficult thing was to stay focused."

After a calm second period – only Simon Hjalmarsson scored – Sweden erupted with four goals in the last 20 minutes to get into double digits.

Final shots favoured Sweden 61-11. It was an easy night for Swedish backup netminder Mark Owuya.

"The game against Russia will be a totally different story from what we experienced here today," added Svensson-Pääjärvi.

NOTE: These two countries have only met once before in the World Juniors. Sweden defeated Latvia 10-2 in Kamloops in 2006.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Canada Downs Germany

Press Release

Canada had its hands full for the first time at this year’s U20 World Championship, as Germany kept things close through most of the game. The Germans were able to use their size (all but four German players stand six feet or taller) to match up well against the physical Canadians.

"We knew going into the game that we were up against a team with superior talent and home-crowd advantage,” said German assistant coach Uwe Krupp. “Our goal was to hang around as long as possible and be a tough opponent."

Canada had many chances in the first period, but had to settle for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, thanks in large part to the strong goaltending of German Philipp Grubauer, who got his first start in net today.

Zach Boychuk relieved Canada’s early frustration, slamming in a long rebound on the power play 7:21 into the game. Four of the five Canadian goals here came on the power play. But the Canadians were uncharacteristically undisciplined in the latter stages of the period, taking three penalties. Canada only had four minors in its first two games.

Canada took a 2-0 lead on a two-man advantage to open the second period’s scoring. Jamie Benn scored from right in front of the crease after Canada cycled the puck around the German zone. In Canada’s first two games, that goal would have been the cue for the hosts to start pulling away. But the Germans had other ideas, as they took advantage of another Canadian penalty. David Wolf tipped in a shot by Sinan Akdag to cut the Canadian lead in half midway through the game.

"I've coached long enough to know that when a German team steps on the ice against Canada, they come to play hard," said Canadian head coach Pat Quinn. "We had a strong opponent tonight to give us a test. This tournament gets tougher and tougher as you proceed."

The score stood at 2-1 until just 1:04 into the third period, when P.K. Subban took the puck from end-to-end with a superb single-handed effort and Evander Kane banged in the rebound to restore the two-goal lead for Canada. Canada added some insurance when John Tavares beat the “Grubauer Wall” midway through the period after getting a pass through the crease on the power play. A second power-play goal late in the period from Boychuk brought the final score to 5-1.

Grubauer finished the game with 44 saves in an outstanding effort. Canada out-shot Germany 49-13 in total, as Canadian netminder Chet Pickard saw little action.

Canada has a day off tomorrow to prepare for the key tilt against the Americans on December 31st. At stake will be first place in Group A and the quarter-final bye.

Meanwhile, Germany has a quick turnaround before a critical game against the Czech Republic. The loser of that game will be sent to the relegation round.

"Our goal is to not get relegated," said Krupp. "Whether we're successful or not against the Czechs, our chances are still pretty good with the three points we got against Kazakhstan."

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Monday, December 29, 2008

Should the Format Change?

Bob Mckenize mentioned during the telecast of yesterday's game that he would like to see the World Junior Championships go from 10 teams to 8 teams. He also mentioned it on his blog.

There are 10 teams that participate each the World Junior Hockey Championship and that's two teams too many. There simply aren't 10 good nations when it comes to international junior hockey.

I agree with that statement but at the same time I love when an underdog makes a run in a tournament. It's like cutting the March Madness to 32 teams. Kazakhstan only had thirty players to choose from. That's a sign to the IIHF that they aren't ready for the top level.

Here's McKenize's proposed format.

Go to an eight-team tournament. There are six hockey powers in the world - Canada, Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland and the United States. Then you have two other teams qualify. It could be Slovakia, Latvia, Kazakhstan or anyone else.

If it was ever to go to an eight team tournament, I would like to see everyone in one pool. It would be more exciting to see the four super powers play each other once and probably a second time in the medal round. The Medal round would go from six to four teams.

The only way that this doesn't happen is the money. Do the organizers care that Kazakhstan got smoked 15-0? No they only care how much money Kazakhstan brought in because they did play against Canada. Everything is about money and each year, the organizers want to top the last World Junior Championships.

The only challenge would be the argument that you would have to reduce the number of games played. You can't bring that number down because there's revenue involved. This is a 31-game tournament. As long as the International Ice Hockey Federation comes up with some sort of format that approximates 28, 30 or 31 games, then it can be done in an eight-team format.

If someone finds a way to get an eight team tournament to reach 31 games, we will see ten teams.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

US Survives

The Americans survived a game that was closer than they would have liked, but in the end, they were able to hold off a late Czech attack and skate on to a 4-3 victory.

The first period was evenly skated as both teams had several good scoring chances. Both goaltenders, Dominik Furch for the Czechs and Thomas McCollum for the Americans, had a handful of showy saves to keep the scoring to a minimum.

There was only one goal in the first period. Jordan Schroeder scored it with a wrist shot on a power play. It was his first of two goals in the game. Schroeder also added an assist in the game and now has seven points in two games at this year’s championship.

The lead lasted until 5:14 into the second period when the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Roman evened the game, sending up a hearty roar from the 19,847 fans. The crowd set a new single-game attendance record, beating the number set on opening day and, surprisingly, topping the two games involving Canada.

Matt Rust restored the one-goal American lead when his long distance shot found its way between the pads of Czech goaltender Dominik Furch. James vanRiemsdyk gave the U.S. some breathing space with a late-period goal to make it 3-1 with 1:26 left in the second.

The momentum carried into the third period as Schroeder netted his second goal, an even-strength effort that came just 3:43 into the period. The three-goal lead was short-lived as Martin Paryzek made it 4-2 with a slap shot from the slot that made its way through heavy traffic in front of the net. The Czech comeback bid continued when Jan Kana scored a power-play goal with 3:17 left in the game, pulling to within one. But the Americans kept the Czechs from completing the comeback as they held on for a 4-3 win.

Despite the loss, the effort still represented a bit of redemption for the Czechs, who struggled in their opening game against Canada, losing 8-1. The bulk of the Czech team is the group that was relegated two years ago from the top division of the U18 championship.

Next up for the Czechs is Germany on Tuesday after a day off. The Americans also have tomorrow off before taking on Kazakhstan.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Filatov Leads Russia

CIVIC CENTRE - The Russian Bear is showing its teeth. Captain Nikita Filatov showed the way with two goals as opportunistic Russia defeated Finland 5-2 on Sunday afternoon. Russia has won two straight, while the Finns remain winless.

One puck-moving Russian troika shone in particular: Dmitri Klopov had two goals and an assist, Evgeni Dadonov had a goal and two assists, and linemate Nikita Klyukin added three helpers.

Jani Lajunen and Joonas Nattinen replied for Finland.

Russian goalie Danila Alistratov made 12 saves for the win, while Harri Sateri had 21 for Finland.

"It was a nice game to win, and our team played better than in the first game against Latvia," said Russian head coach Sergei Nemchinov. "We skated and moved the puck better. We created lots of scoring chances."

The teams established a fast tempo and physical style from the outset, but ultimately Russia’s ability to exploit turnovers would prove to be the difference.

At 5:10, Lajunen opened the scoring, converting the rebound from Jesse Jyrkkio’s point shot. After a brief video review, the goal was ruled good.

Filatov tied the game with his first tally of the tournament at 7:56, capitalizing on a turnover when Lajunen tried to go up the middle. The Russian captain corralled the bouncing puck and knifed a backhander past Sateri.

Thirty-eight seconds later later, the Russians jumped into a 2-1 lead when Evgeni Dadonov curled into the right faceoff circle and zinged a shot past Sateri.

It was 3-1 Russia at 11:29 when the Russians broke down the Finnish defence in front of Sateri’s goal and Dmitri Klopov’s shot flipped home high on the stick side.

"It was very important for us to come with a quick reply after their opening goal," said Filatov. "We scored three quick goals, and after that, we dominated."

The Finns drew back to 3-2 at 3:55 of the second period when Jyri Niemi threw the puck in front of the Russian net and Joonas Nattinen put it past Alistratov. But the Russians quickly restored their two-goal gap on yet another bad Finnish turnover, as Tommi Kivisto bobbled the puck in the slot and Filatov hammered it past Sateri’s right pad.

"Nikita played hard on offence, but also backchecked today, and I'm glad he scored two goals," said Nemchinov.

Mikael Granlund, the youngest player ever to represent Finland at the World Juniors, had to be helped off the ice midway through the game after taking a shot off the side of the knee. But the 16-year-old forward returned to the Finnish bench before the end of the period.

The Finns ramped up their forechecking in the late stages of the middle frame, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

It was much the same story in the third period, as Granlund, as well as others, generated fruitless chances on the rush and on the power play, including a two-man advantage for 54 seconds early in the period. Filatov, meanwhile, came close to completing the hat trick several times, including a missed net on a 2-on-1.

Klopov closed out the scoring for Russia on the power play with 1:46 left, wiring a shot from the slot on a broken play. Kirill Petrov nearly added another when he hit the post on a late 2-on-1.

"Our defensive play and penalty-killing have been positive points so far," said Finnish coach Jukka Rautakorpi. "But today, we gave away the puck too easily, which cost us goals."

Nattinen was Finland's Player of the Game and Filatov took the honours for Russia.

Recently, the Russia-Finland rivalry has been relatively even. The Finns beat Russia 4-3 in the 2004 quarter-finals, and in round-robin play, they lost 5-0 in 2007 and won 4-1 in 2008.

On December 30, Russia faces Slovakia and Finland takes on Latvia. Filatov was comfortable enough with his team's position to look ahead to the expected Group B final showdown with Sweden on New Year's Eve: "Sweden has one of the best teams in this tournament and maybe the best goalie. This will be a tough game."

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Sweden goes 2-0

Hockey fans in Ottawa haven’t had many reasons to be excited over their Senators this season, but they could feel some comfort at the 13 minute mark of the second period of this game.

The game was put out of Slovakia’s reach by Erik Karlsson, who one day should suit up for the NHL team in Canada’s capital.

The defenseman, who already plays pro hockey for Frölunda in the Swedish Elitserien, found lots of space in the slot and beat Janos with a well-aimed wrister from 12 meters out. The goal announcement was met with extraordinary joy by the knowledgeable Civic Centre crowd, as Karlsson was drafted by the Senators in the first round (15th overall) of last year’s NHL draft.

A cynical observer in the press-box uttered this after Karlsson’s goal: “He would be the Sens’ best defenseman – today.”

"My future NHL career in Ottawa isn't my focus right now," said Karlsson. "My focus is on my club team in Sweden and on the World Juniors. But of course, it's a special feeling to score such an important goal in Ottawa."

Much like against Finland on opening day, the Swedes opened with a furious tempo before again settling down a bit, unable to sustain the same kind of energy throughout the game.

"After a good start, probably we get too scared of making mistakes, and this affects our game," said Karlsson.

It took the Swedes just 62 seconds to draw first blood when Simon Hjalmarsson slid a backhand past Janos. Mikael Backlund doubled the lead with five minutes left in the first period when he broke down the middle on a power play and scored on a low shot.

The goaltender was Slovakia’s best player and he kept his team in the game during long stretches of Swedish dominance in the middle stanza. But not even a spectacular Janos could do anything when Karlsson put the game away with the 3-0 goal midway through the game.

The Slovak goalie was not the only stopper who enjoyed a great night. Despite not facing as many shots as Janos, Sweden’s Jacob Markström showed-off with some remarkable saves, reinforcing the belief that he may be the best goalie here in Ottawa.

"He gives us confidence," said Karlsson. "He's a goalie that can win games for us. Some of his saves are as important as our goals."

Markström’s size, mobility, and superior reflexes make him very hard to beat and the Slovaks had to wait until their 24th shot 5:33 into the last period before they got one past him on a power play. There wasn’t much Markström could do when, after a series of saves, he lay flat on his back and Martin Uhnak tapped the puck into the net.

Sweden is 2W-0L while Slovakia dropped to 1W-1L. With this win, Sweden has all but secured a group final vs. Russia on Sunday. The winner of the group earns a direct bye to the semifinal, while teams who finish second and third play cross-over quarter-finals.

Sweden plays Latvia on Monday, while Slovakia faces Russia on Tuesday.

NOTE: Sweden’s first-line forward Jacob Josefsson missed the game due to stomach flu. This gave the opportunity for Mattias Tedenby to play in his first tournament game…Sweden has defeated Slovakia in the last four games between the teams: 4-3 (2008), 6-3 (2007), 6-0 (2006), 3-0 (2005). Slovakia’s last win was in 2004 (1-0).

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Blowout Win for Canada


KANATA, ON – It was a record-setting Sunday at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship as Canada routed Kazakhstan 15-0 in front of 19,176 red-and-white fans at SBP Arena.

The win included a Canadian-record-tying margin of shutout victory – Canada hammered France 15-0 in 2002 – and eight power play goals, topping the previous mark set against Sweden in 2002.

Jamie Benn (Victoria, BC/Kelowna, WHL) led the way with hat trick – the first three-goal game by a Canadian since Jeff Carter at the 2005 World Juniors – and two assists, while Cody Hodgson (Markham, ON/Brampton, OHL) had two goals and four helpers.

John Tavares (Oakville, ON/Oshawa, OHL) and PK Subban (Toronto, ON/Belleville, OHL) had four points apiece. Chris DiDomenico (Woodbridge, ON/Saint John, QMJHL), Jordan Eberle (Regina, SK/Regina, WHL), Tyler Myers (Calgary, AB/Kelowna, WHL), Stefan Della Rovere (Maple, ON/Barrie, OHL), Evander Kane (Vancouver, BC/Vancouver, WHL) and Tyler Ennis (Edmonton, AB/Medicine Hat, WHL) also scored for Canada, who has outscored its opposition 23-1 in its opening two games.

While Canadian head coach Pat Quinn was pleased with the win, the veteran bench boss picked up a few bad habits that could cost the Canadians against stiffer competition.

"We started to let up it slip in the second,” Quinn said. “Our goal is to get better and better and we were scoring and our power play was hot but we started making those nice drop passes and things that when you are playing strong opposition will find a way to kick you and bite you. At the end of the second we talked about it and I thought our third period was more in line with how we want to play."

Quinn was also impressed with how the Canadians toned down their celebrations after they scored when it became apparent the rout was on.

"Part of being professional is not shoving it down anybody's throat,” he said. “I didn't want us to let up how we played, but at the end of the day, I don't like the hot dog stuff and give the kids credit they did it on their own."

Chet Pickard (Winnipeg, MB/Tri-City, WHL) got the start between the pipes for Canada and needed to make just 11 saves for the shutout as the Canadians held a massive 69-11 advantage in shots on goal. At no point in the game did Kazakhstan have more shots on the Canadian net than Canada had goals on the scoreboard.

The Canadians have little time to enjoy their victory – they are back on the ice Monday night at SBP Arena when they face Germany at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST.

"We still want to play hard and we have a gold medal to win,” he said. "We will put this game behind us and be ready for tomorrow. We have to understand there are better teams out there and we better be ready for them."

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

No Changes

From the Game Notes for this evening's game:

Left Wing-Center-Right Wing

James Van Riemsdyk-Colin Wilson-Jordan Schroeder
Drayson Bowman-Mitch Wahl-Jim O'Brien
Eric Targradi-Matt Rust-Aaron Palushaj
Mike Hoeffel-Tyler Johnson-Jimmy Hayes
Danny Kristo

Ian Cole-Jonathan Blum
Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk
Cade Fairchild-Teddy Ruth
Blake Kessel

Thomas McCollum
Josh Unice

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Canada Lines from yesterday's practice


Esposito - Tavares - DiDomenico
Boychuk - Hodgson - Eberle
Benn - Sonne - Ennis
Kane - Cormier - Della Rovere/Subban

Hickey - Teubert
Myers - Aulie
Subban - Goloubef
Ellis - Pietrangelo

Chet Pickard
Dustin Tokarski

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Slovakia opens with a win

This win could prove very valuable for Slovakia if the teams, as predicted by many observers, end up in the Relegation Round. In that case, the three points earned in this game will count in the standings.

This common forecast is not far-fetched. The Latvians are newly promoted to the top division, while Slovakia has faced relegation woes in seven of the last nine World Junior tournaments.

It was Slovakia’s opening game of the championship, while Latvia dropped to 0W-2L. They lost to Russia 4-1 on Friday.

Slovakia decided the outcome in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals while outshooting the Latvians 19-0. That period marked a strange turn of events. After the teams exchanged two goals each in an evenly fought first period, the Slovaks turned on the turbo-speed in the middle stanza, virtually spending all time in the Latvian zone.

Marek Hrivik and Darius Rusnak scored goals 38 seconds apart during this shooting bonanza to break a 2-2 tie, giving the Slovaks a 4-2 lead.

Hrivik’s goal needed a video review which showed clearly that his backhander hit the roof-top metal inside the net before bouncing out. Rusnak’s marker shortly afterwards was Slovakia’s third power-play goal.

The emphatic dominance all means justified the three second-period goals. Radoslav Tybor made it 5-2 at the end of this very impressive middle-stanza performance. Tomas Tatar and Adam Bezak (shorthanded) added third period goals for the winners.

Attendance was 9,370.

Latvia, which was promoted to the top U20 pool last season, has only one previous World Junior experience. The Baltic country participated in the 2006 event in Vancouver where the team only won one game, earning it an immediate return to the Division I level.

Slovakia has 14 consecutive top-pool appearances, but the Slovaks, who won bronze in 1999, have been involved in desperate relegation struggles almost every year since this memorable championship in Winnipeg.

Both teams play Sweden next: Slovakia on Sunday, Latvia on Monday.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Germany blows away Kazakhstan

Germany controlled the game, spending most of its time in the offensive zone, but it was a second period, three-goal explosion in a 1:14 span that ultimately put the game out of reach for the Kazakhs. In total seven different players scored for the Germans, with only Jerome Flaake getting on the board twice.

The Germans sent the message early that they belonged among the elite nations, holding a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period, and out-shooting the Kazakhs 19-6. Simon Fischhaber got things rolling 4:43 into the game and Flaake followed up four minutes later after getting a perfect feed from behind the net by Daniel Weiss. Andre Huebscher added a handsome short-side goal with 1:15 left in the first.

Germany’s second period opened with a bang when Weiss scored at the 1:52 mark just after time expired on a Kazakhstan power play. Clearly flustered after the Weiss goal, the Kazakhs let in another quick two tallies, these coming from Stever Rupprich and Gerrit Fauser. Kazakhstan goaltender Andrei Yankov had little time to catch his breath before Marco Nowak and Flaake came storming down the ice on an odd-man rush to make it 7-0 and close the second-period scoring.

Kazakhstan tried to change things up in the third period, replacing Yankov with Maxim Gryaznov, but it was too little, too late as the damage was already done. Germany put in another pair of goals, including a second from Flaake, to bring the final to 9-0. Timo Pielmeier earned the shutout in net for Germany.

Should both Germany and Kazakhstan end up in the relegation round, Germany would take the three points from today’s win with them into the four-team round robin. The Kazakhs will have little time to regroup as they play Canada tomorrow evening. Canada beat the Germans 8-2 on opening day. Meanwhile, Germany has a day off tomorrow after accumulating one win and one loss in the first two days of action.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thoughts on Day One

Day one of the World Junior Championships is in the book. All four favorites came away with a victory. The United States and Canada came away the most dominate out of the four. The things that stuck out on me were:

Jordan Schroeder-Colin Wilson-James Van Riemsdyk

The trio continued to be the line of the tournament. Schroeder looks like he's making a case to be in the top five in the 2009 Draft. He made some nice dishes including the pass he made to Wilson to get America on the board.

The Goaltenders in the Russia-Latvia game

It's not too often that the losing goaltender was the best goaltender. Latvia's Nauris Enkuzens was stellar as he kept the game respectable as Russia defeated Latvia 4-1. He made 40 saves. On the other hand Daniil Alistratov looked very shaky in net for the Russians. If Latvia capitalized on their opportunities, the tournament would start with an upset.

Are the Czech's this bad?

Coming into the tournament you would put the Czech Republic in the second teir along with Finland. They didn't look like they belonged in the second tier. Some thought they would be a tough test for the Americans and Canadians because they have twelve players on a CHL team. They played a very good first period and were three seconds away from going to the locker room tied. After that it was all down hill.

Does Canada Really Need Tavares to Score 5 on 5?

The biggest question the last week has been will Tavares score 5 on 5? Sure it would be nice for there best player to score an even strength goal but he has done damage on the powerplay. It's not like Canada is struggling for offense. The chemistry is building between Tavares, Esposito, and Chris Domenico. I wouldn't be surprised if Tavares scores an even strength goal against Kazakhstan.

I didn't get to see the game between Sweden-Finland.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

The Fans go Home Happy


John Tavares is certainly living up to his billing at the World Junior Hockey Championship, scoring Canada's first two goals on the power play and assisting on another as the defending gold medalists soundly beat the Czech Republic 8-1 in their opening game.

Angelo Esposito, Ryan Ellis, Tyler Ennis, Chris DiDomenico, Zach Boychuk and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for Canada, who are seeking their fifth straight World Junior title for the second time in tournament history.

Tavares, in his fourth season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, has generated plenty of attention over the last few years as a potential first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The 18-year-old is already two points shy of last year's totals (five points) when he made his first appearance in the tournament.

"He's a good hockey player," Canadian defenceman P.K. Subban told TSN. "When you look at him play in the OHL, his stats speak for themselves and he's always been a guy who steps up in the big games. And he did today."

"I really hadn't seen him (Tavares) play before selection camp," added head coach Pat Quinn. "While he's not blessed with blazing speed, what he does it have that change of pace that freezes guys and he knows where to carry the puck and get himself into shooting positions that lots of people can't do."

The first period started off evenly, with both clubs trading scoring chances and keeping the sold-out Ottawa crowd nervous. But with a holding call to Czech blueliner Milan Doczy late in the stanza, Canada's power play got to work. With a feed from linemate Jordan Eberle, Tavares streaked in from the right side and lifted the puck over netminder Tomas Vosvrda's shoulder.

"Obviously there were a few shifts there where we were a little nervous and just getting the feeling out there," Tavares told TSN after the game. "Once we got a few big hits and started playing our game, we were great. We still have a lot of areas we want to improve on, but overall we capitalized on our chances and fed off the energy and it was huge for us."

Tavares's first goal set the tone for an offensive onslaught in the second period. Tavares scored his second goal with the man advantage at the two minute mark, and followed it up with a two-on-one feed to Esposito for a quick 3-0 lead. The goal was sweet redemption for the Atlanta Thrashers prospect, who finally made the team after being cut for three straight years.

"It's a good feeling," said Esposito. "I waited a long while for it and Johnny made me a great pass and I just had to find that open net and put it in there."

Canada chased Vosvrda out of the net after Ellis and Ennis made it 5-0, and Dominik Furch came in to replace him.

Dustin Tokarski, who led the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs to a Memorial Cup last spring, was solid in goal with 21 saves. He looked brilliant stopping Vladimir Ruzicka on a breakaway in the first period and was unbeatable until Jan Kana broke his shutout bid with two minutes left in the game.

"You want your goaltenders to make big saves early and get your guys rolling if you're off to a slow start," said Tokarski. "We got rolling after that first (goal) and the floodgates opened."

The offensive output was surprising for a Canadian squad that did not score more than four goals in a game in last year's tournament. The last time Canada scored eight in a game was in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2005 when they defeated Sweden and Finland 8-1, and Germany 9-0. Prior to Friday, Canada's largest margin of victory over the Czech Republic was a 7-1 victory in 2004.

The Canadian squad honoured the memory of Luc Bourdon during their game, wearing "LB" on their helmets to pay tribute to the two-time World Junior gold medalist. Bourdon, a member of the 2006 and 2007 teams, was killed in a motorcycle accident back in May. In addition to their tribute, no Canadian player is wearing Bourdon's No. 6 in this tournament.

Canada has won four straight World Junior gold medals and if they can capture another one in Ottawa they will tie a national record set from 1993 to 1997.

The Czech Republic has not won a medal at this tournament since a bronze in 2005 and has not captured gold since their 2001 squad won in Moscow. Team Canada is now 10-0-2 over their last 12 games with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship.

Canada's next game is against Kazakhstan on Sunday and can be seen live on TSN, TSN HD and at 3pm et/Noon pt.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Friday, December 26, 2008

Schroeder Leads the Way

Press Release

OTTAWA, Ontario – Five players tallied at least two points, including a goal and three assists from Jordan Schroeder (Prior Lake, Minn./University of Minnesota), to help the United States National Junior Team defeat Germany, 8-2, here tonight in its opening game at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

With the U.S. on a five-on-three power play, Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University)banged home a cross-crease pass from Schroeder at 8:23 to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. After Germany tied the game at 12:08, Drayson Bowman (Littleton, Colo.) scored off a rebound with 2:03 left in the period and Team USA had a 2-1 advantage after 20 minutes.

"I thought we were tentative in the first period, but came out and had a much better second," said U.S. Head Coach Ron Rolston. "Overall, it was a good start to the tournament."

Schroeder made a near end-to-end rush up the right wall, cut to the faceoff dot and the beat German netminder Timo Pielmeier high to the glove side just :20 into the second period to stake the U.S. to a 3-1 advantage. After James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J./University of New Hampshire)converted a three-way passing play that included Wilson and Schroeder on the power play at 12:43,Tyler Johnson (Spokane, Wash.) scored on a backhand shot that went in and out of the net so quickly that it was only credited after an official review at 14:27.

Philipp Grubauer replaced Pielmeier in the German net to start the third and just :35 into the period he allowed his first goal as van Riemsdyk scored from the side of the net. Bowman fired the puck home from between the circles at 6:26 to put the U.S. ahead 6-1. After Germany gained its second goal of the game, Matt Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./University of Michigan) carried the puck from the U.S. end, broke between two German defenders at the blueline, and scored with :01 left in regulation to account for the 8-2 final.

U.S. netminder Thomas McCollum (Sanborn, N.Y.) made 16 saves to earn the victory.

The U.S. National Junior Team returns to action Sunday (Dec. 28) when it faces the Czech Republic at 7:30 p.m. EST in its second game at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa, Ontario. The game can be seen live in the United States on the NHL Network.

NOTES: Forward Drayson Bowman (Littleton, Colo.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... Team USA won its opening game of the IIHF World Junior Championship for the fifth time in six years ... Team USA outshot Germany, 46-18, including by a 14-4 margin in the final period ...The U.S. will practice at 11:30 a.m. EST tomorrow at Scotiabank Place ... Eleven players tallied at least one point for Team USA in the win ... Defenseman Jonathon Blum(Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) is the captain of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team, while forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y./Boston University) are the team's alternate captains ... The 2009 U.S. National Junior Team trained in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the Olympic Training Center from Dec. 16-20 ... Ron Rolston (Ann Arbor, Mich.), head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team within USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, is the head coach of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team. Nate Leaman (Clifton Park, N.Y./Union College) and P.K. O'Handley (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo Black Hawks) are serving as assistant coaches, while Jeff Blashill (Indianapolis, Ind./Indiana Ice) is the goaltending coach ... The NHL Network will broadcast live all Team USA games in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship ... Team USA finished fourth at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship and has played for a medal in the event each of the last six years.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Russia Wins Opener

CIVIC CENTRE - Russia kicked off the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 4-1 win over Latvia on Friday. Pavel Chernov paced the Russian attack with a goal and an assist.

Latvia vs. Russia 1-4 (0-1, 0-1, 1-2)

From the outset, Russia dominated with its size, speed, and skill, which the Latvians tried to neutralize at times by getting more physical. But realistically, the score could have been even higher. The top Russian trio of Nikita Filatov, Evgeni Grachev, and Dmitri Kugryshev looked dangerous despite being held pointless.

"It wasn’t a great game on our part, but it was a solid win in the first game," said Filatov. "So this was okay. Latvia in an opening game is not easy."

Latvian goalie Nauris Enkuzens was put to the test, as Russia outshot Latvia 21-8 in the opening 20 minutes, and 44-18 overall.

Russia drew first blood on the power play at 16:56 when Vyacheslav Voinov’s shot from the right faceoff circle eluded Enkuzens.

The Russians went up 2-0 midway through the second, as Pavel Chernov gobbled up a loose puck in front of Enkuzens’ crease and whacked it home.

Maxim Goncharov made it 3-0 at 7:01 of the third with the man advantage when his center point one-timer whizzed past the Latvian goalie’s right skate. The Latvians continued to work hard until the final buzzer but couldn’t generate much.

Still, the crowd erupted when Janis Ozololins spoiled Alistratov’s shutout bid with just under two minutes left. Dmitri Klopov added Russia’s final goal on a broken play deep in the Latvian end seconds before the final buzzer.

It was Latvia’s first appearance at the IIHF World Junior Championship since the tiny Baltic nation debuted at this level in 2006. Enthusiastic Latvian supporters pounded drums and chanted, both in the stands and on the concourse during intermissions.

Attendance was 9,441. Enkuzens was Latvia’s Player of the Game, and Sergei Andronov was honoured for Russia.

The only previous Russia-Latvia meeting at the World Juniors was a 3-1 Russian victory in Kamloops, British Columbia on December 29, 2006.

The Ottawa Civic Centre is the home of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, and two Russian players were familiar to fans of that major junior circuit: Evgeni Grachev of the Brampton Battalion and Sergei Korostin of the Peterborough Petes.

"This wasn't our best game, but I'm sure we will get better in each of the next games," said Korostin. "Latvia is a good team. They played hard, had great goaltending, and played a solid tight defence."

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

USA Line Combos

From the Game Notes for this afternoon's game:

Left Wing-Center-Right Wing

James Van Riemsdyk-Colin Wilson-Jordan Schroeder
Drayson Bowman-Mitch Wahl-Jim O'Brien
Eric Targradi-Matt Rust-Aaron Palushaj
Mike Hoeffel-Tyler Johnson-Jimmy Hayes
Danny Kristo

Ian Cole-Jonathan Blum
Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk
Cade Fairchild-Teddy Ruth
Blake Kessel

Thomas McCollum
Josh Unice

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Czech Republic Roster

G Dominik Furch 1990-04-19 185 80 L
G Tomas Vosvrda 1989-09-12 191 93 R

D Milan Doczy 1990-01-27 197 97 L
D Radko Gudas 1990-06-05 181 78 R
D Michal Jordan 1990-07-17 185 80 L
D Tomas Kundratek1989-12-26 186 84 R
D Martin Paryzek 1989-03-23 185 80 L
D David Stich 1989-04-15 188 95 L
D Tomas Voracek 1990-02-27 189 90 L

F Rudolf Cerveny 1989-08-06 183 82 L
F Jan Eberle 1989-05-20 180 78 L
F Jan Kana 1990-03-22 172 80 L
F Tomas Knotek 1990-01-13 183 70 L
F Tomas Kubalik 1990-05-01 188 88 R
F Stepan Novotny 1990-09-21 185 82 R
F Zdenek Okal 1990-07-08 177 75 L
F Ondrej Roman 1989-02-08 180 75 L
F Vladimir Ruzicka1989-02-17 188 81 L
F Petr Strapac 1989-10-11 179 76 L
F Roman Szturc 1989-09-25 185 87 R
F Radim Valchar 1989-04-20 178 75 R
F Tomas Vincour 1990-11-19 190 92 R

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Could Panik Join Windsor?

Could Richard Panik be on his way to Windsor? The Spitfires used the 12th overall pick on the 17-year-old. Management has been watching him since he came over for the World Junior Championships.

"He played very well Sunday against the Czech Republic," said Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel, who caught up with the team's prospect in Mississauga along with European consultant Mike Kokavec. "He picked up an assist (in a 5-2 loss) and we talked to him afterwards."

This is nothing out of the ordinary because this good for teams to look at players for the next Import Draft.

Why would the Spitfires want Panik to join this season. It all comes down to money. If he does come over this season, the Spitfires will receive the developmental money from the NHL. Rychel makes a good point if he doesn't come over this season, it will be easier for him to come in next season.

Because of the development money that goes with a high-end NHL pick, Panik has remained in the Czech Republic this year playing for HC Ocelari and HC Havirov.

Once he's drafted by an NHL team, that development money will remain in Europe, but Rychel feels Panik will then be free to come to Windsor.

"We feel real good that he'll get a chance to develop in Windsor," Rychel said. "We're looking forward to seeing him in a Spitfire uniform."

The Redline Report doesn't like how Trinec has handled Panik.

This year Trinec is making the exact same mistake with even more promising prospect Richard Panik. He missed the first month-and-a-half due to a knee injury suffered before the Ivan Hlinka Cup in early August, and returned to action in less than top shape. Since his return in mid-October the ritual of frequent promotions and demotions has been a regular source of bad comedy for Czech and Slovakian scouts.

Here's a brief example how bizarre the situation can get: in the last week of November, Panik played for Trinec's senior team on Tuesday and Thursday, for their junior team on Friday and for the Havirov senior team in the First League on Saturday. Is that any way to develop players? For those of you counting at home, that's four games for three teams in three different leagues over five days — oh, and with a total of zero practices mixed in.

Panik made the same mistake as Kundratek by refusing to come over to the CHL because he believed he would see regular playing time with Trinec's senior team. Now, however, there's a strong rumor that he won't return to Trinec after the world juniors, and will instead stay in Windsor who selected him in the import draft. Stay tuned – if that's the case Panik could help put a powerhouse Spitfires club over the top without having to deal away young talent at the OHL trade deadline.

Talk about overworking the kid. That's four games in a week. The kid will be wornout by the time the Under-18's come around in April. I would say these kids should jump over to North America as soon as they can but it's such a major decision I can't fault kids if they want to stay home. You just wish the adults would use better mangement skills.

Happy Holidays!

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Canada Dominates

Press Release

HAMILTON, ON ? Canada's National Junior Team is on a roll as it heads to Ottawa for the 2009 World Junior Championship.

Cody Hodgson (Markham, ON/Brampton, OHL) had three assists - giving him nine points in three pre-competition games ? in helping pace the Canadians to a 7-0 over Slovakia on Tuesday night at Copps Coliseum.

John Tavares (Oakville, ON/Oshawa, OHL) and Zach Boychuk (Airdrie, AB/Lethbridge, WHL) each scored a pair of goals, while Jordan Eberle (Regina, SK/Regina, WHL), Patrice Cormier (Cap-Pelé, NB/Rimouski, QMJHL) and Jamie Benn (Victoria, BC/Kelowna, WHL) also found the scoresheet as Canada struck four times on the power play and once shorthanded in the win.

Chet Pickard (Winnipeg, MB/Tri-City, WHL) went the distance in goal for the 20-save shutout as Canada finished its pre-tournament schedule with an unblemished 3-0 record.

Canada is the four-time defending gold medalist and begins its latest title defence Friday versus the Czech Republic at Ottawa's SBP Arena (7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST). Canada is looking for its second run of five straight golds ? it was world champion every year from 1993 to 1997.

Not surprisingly, it was the power play that gave Canada its opening goal, as Eberle converted the rebound of a Hodgson shot at the 7:30 mark of the opening frame.

Despite outshooting the Slovakians 41-20 overall it was the Europeans who held advantage in shots on goal in the first period, 12-9.

Tavares made it 2-0 on another Canadian power play early in the middle frame and Boychuk pushed the lead to three late in the period, taking a long pass from Alex Pietrangelo (King City, ON/Niagara, OHL) and beating Slovakian netminder Jaroslav Janus, who was under siege in the final 40 minutes, facing 32 shots.

Canada?s special teams shone in the final 20 minutes, as Cormier converted shorthanded and Tavares and Boychuk added power play markers.

Tavares? goal was arguably the prettiest of the pre-competition, as the former lacrosse star batted the puck out of mid-air to himself, and then batted it past Janus for a 5-0 lead.

Ryan Ellis (Freelton, ON/Windsor, OHL), PK Subban (Toronto, ON/Belleville, OHL) and Tyler Ennis (Edmonton, AB/Medicine Hat, WHL) all finished with a pair of assists for Canada, who will travel to the nation?s capital Wednesday in preparation for Friday?s tournament opener.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

USA Upends Russia 5-1

Press Release

KINGSTON, OntarioAaron Palushaj (Northville, Mich./University of Michigan) scored a natural hat trick to help the United States National Junior Team defeat Russia, 5-1, here tonight in its final tune-up prior to the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. Team USA outshot Russia, 40-17, including by a 15-0 margin in the opening period.

Palushaj tallied the only goal of the first stanza at 16:06. He went from backhand to forehand in tight and spun from the goalline to beat Russian goalie Danila Alistratov on the shortside over his blocker. Team USA prevented Russia from registering a shot on goal in the period and held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Palushaj scored a power-play goal off a rebound at 4:32 of the middle frame, before scoring off a rush just :13 later to complete the natural hat trick and stake the U.S. to a 3-0 advantage. James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J./University of New Hampshire) scored from just above the goal line at 16:53 to give Team USA a four-goal advantage after 40 minutes.

Russia scored a power-play goal off a deflection at 8:43 of the third to break the shutout. Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University) fired home a slapshot from the high slot at 17:12 to account for the 5-1 final.

U.S. netminder Thomas McCollum (Sanborn, N.Y.) made 16 saves to earn the victory.

The U.S. National Junior Team returns to action Friday (Dec. 26) when it faces Germany at 3:30 p.m. EST in its opening game at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa, Ontario. The game can be seen live in the United States on the NHL Network.

NOTES: Aaron Palushaj (3-0--3) was named Team USA's player of the game ... Defenseman Jonathon Blum(Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) is the captain of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team, while forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y./Boston University) are the team's alternate captains ... The 2009 U.S. National Junior Team trained in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the Olympic Training Center from Dec. 16-20 ... Ron Rolston (Ann Arbor, Mich.), head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team within USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, is the head coach of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team. Nate Leaman (Clifton Park, N.Y./Union College) and P.K. O'Handley (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo Black Hawks) are serving as assistant coaches, while Jeff Blashill (Indianapolis, Ind./Indiana Ice) is the goaltending coach ... The NHL Network will broadcast live all Team USA games in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship ... Team USA finished fourth at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship and has played for a medal in the event each of the last six years.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Russia U-17 Roster


1 Boris Novichenkov /R5'10 179 02/13/1992Spartak Moscow
20 Kirill Brashkin /5'9 177 05/22/1992Lada Togliatti
30 Pavel Suchkov /5'8 155 11/21/1992CSKA Moscow
2 Jan Krasovskiy L/6'1 219 02/29/1992Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
3 Ivan Gavrilenko L/5'11 174 06/05/1992Metallurg Magnitogorsk
4 Alexander Ataev R/6'0 157 01/02/1992Krylia Sovetov Moscow
5 Alexey Marchenko R/6'0 157 01/02/1991CSKA Moscow
6 Viktor Postnikov L/6'0 148 01/14/1992Metallurg Magnitogorsk
7 Sergey Ilminskiy L/5'11 177 05/08/1992Dinamo Moscow
11 Artur Amirov L/5'9 146 04/03/1992Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
21 Vitaly Zotov R/6'1 161 04/01/1992Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
26 Zakhar Arzamastsev L/6'0 179 11/06/1992Metallurg Novokuznetsk
29 Ildar Isangulov L/6'1 199 05/20/1992Salavat Yulaev Ufa
8 Vladislav Namestnikov L/5'10 148 11/22/1992Khimik Voskresensk
9 Roman Berdnikov R/5'11 177 07/18/1992Avangard Omsk
10 Vladislav Kartaev R/6'1 163 02/10/1992Traktor Chelyabinsk
13 Roman Lyubimov R/6'1 177 06/01/1992CSKA Moscow
14 Daniil Apalkov L/5'10 172 01/01/1992Metallurg Magnitogorsk
15 Pavel Kulikov L/5'11 157 01/14/1992Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk
16 Bogdan Potekhin L/5'8 159 07/07/1992Metallurg Magnitogorsk
17 Aleksander Gogolev L/5'8 148 05/18/1992Krylia Sovetov Moscow
18 Evgeny Grigorenko L/5'8 155 08/11/1992Metallurg Magnitogorsk
19 Bulat Shavaleev L/5'11 188 09/19/1992Ak Bars Kazan
22 Artem Gareev L/5'8 135 03/04/1992Salavat Yulaev Ufa
23 Sergey Barbashev R/5'11 161 07/26/1992CSKA Moscow
24 Ivan Telegin L/6'0 155 02/28/1992Metallurg Novokuznetsk
25 Evgeny Kuznetsov L/5'10 155 05/19/1992Traktor Chelyabinsk
27 Aynars Podzinsh R/5'11 161 03/16/1992

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

WHL Free Webcast

Press Release

The Western Hockey League announced that webcasts of all WHL games on December 27th, 28th and 29th will be available online for FREE.

Every WHL game is webcast live online during the WHL regular season and playoffs and is available through our internet streaming partner INSINC at

The WHL regular-season schedule resumes play on Saturday, December 27th, with a full slate of 11 games, including the Spokane Chiefs hosting the Tri-City Americans in a key U.S. Division match-up and the Lethbridge Hurricanes hosting the Kootenay Ice in a pivotal Central Division battle.

Eight WHL contests are on the schedule for Sunday, December 28th, including the Swift Current Broncos hosting the Regina Pats for an East Division match-up. Monday, December 29th, features a pair of WHL contests, including the Vancouver Giants hosting the Kelowna Rockets for a B.C. Division clash.

To access the FREE WHL Web TV broadcast, fans are asked to visit and click on the WHL Web TV button.

In order to activate the free account, you need to go to the live game, create an account and enter the promotional code as indicated (whltv). Then enter some personal information such as name, address and create a username and password. No credit card information is required.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

Monday, December 22, 2008

Austria Back at the Top Level

Press Release

AALBORG, Denmark – Denmark led the tournament for the last two days but Austria sprinted to the gold medal in the last period of the meeting between the teams to win 8-3. Austria rejoins the best U20 teams after five years at Division I level. Norway secured the bronze medal.

Denmark vs. Austria 3-8 (0-0, 2-3, 1-5)

The third time proved to be a charm for Austria, which earned the promotion back to the top U20 level after an 8-3 win against Denmark that included three, third-period empty net goals.

The last time Austria played with the elite nations was in 2004 in Finland when NHL star Thomas Vanek was eligible. Since then, the nation finished in second place twice in Division I: Last year behind Germany and the year before after an overtime defeat against Kazakhstan.

The game started with a scoreless first period. The shot-on-goal stats show how close the game was in the first 40 minutes. Denmark, which just needed a point to win the tournament, had an 11-10 advantage in the first period, while Austria had 12-11 in the second.

The middle stanza began and ended with Danish goals by Jeppe Henriksen and Lasse Holgård, but ultimately Austria came out of the first 40 minutes with a 3-2 lead. The Austrian goals were scored by three different lines, with two tallies coming moments after power-play situations.

Forward Dominique Heinrich shot the puck in, as did Stefan Ulmer, the scoring leader of the tournament. Thomas Hundertpfund also got credit for a self-goal by Dane Lasse Lassen.

Dane Lars Eller tied the game at three with his power-play goal 44 seconds into the third period and also hit the crossbar few minutes later. But after the surge, the Austrians got the momentum back on their side. Hundertpfund added his second goal at 46:49 with 4-vs-4 and Patrick Maier made it a two-goal lead five minutes later.

Denmark coach Olaf Eller pulled goalkeeper Frederik Andersen but Silvio Jakobitsch scored the 6-3 goal in an empty net at 57:35.

The Danes didn’t give up. With a penalty called against Austria, Andersen was pulled again, but six seconds later, Stefan Bacher scored on the 4-on-6. Andersen was pulled for a third time after another Austrian had to go to the sin bin. Denmark had a six-against-three-skater advantage for 44 seconds, but it was again Bacher who scored an empty-netter. Austria won with the final score of 8-3.

„We deserved the promotion as we dominated the tournament and won our games clearly apart from the match against Italy,” Austria’s team manager Peter Schramm said. “I have to pay these boys a big compliment.”

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at