Saturday, December 31, 2011

Canada wins 3-2, semis up next

Press Release

EDMONTON – Goalie Scott Wedgewood stopped 30 of 32 shots and Canada beat the United States 3-2 before a packed house of 16,647 at the Rexall Centre tonight.

Wedgewood was sensational in the final two periods when Canada tried to sit on the lead. The offense was led by Mark Stone who had a goal and assist in a three-goal first period.

Canada is now set to face an unknown opponent in the semi-finals on January 3 at 7.00 pm in Calgary. The U.S. will begin its relegation round play the same day against Latvia at 11.00 am.

At game's end, the players acknowledged the crowd for their support in Edmonton as they head off to Calgary for the medal round, and the crowd responded in kind by chanting, "We want gold! We want gold!"

Canada’s play in the first period was overwhelming for the Americans who created precious few scoring chances and were swarmed every time they had the puck. Canada was more tenacious and more effective with and without the puck.

Canada got the opening goal on the power play drawn by Brendan Gallagher. As U.S. goalie Jack Campbell froze the puck, Gallagher bumped the goalie ever so slightly, not enough to be a penalty, but noticeable enough that Jared Tinordi retaliated with an obvious roughing call.

On the ensuing man advantage, Jonathan Huberdeau made a great pass from the corner to Mark Stone in the slot, and Stone's one-timer beat Campbell cleanly to the stick side at 5:39 for a 1-0 Canada lead. It was Stone’s tournament-best seventh goal.

Stone was instrumental in creating the second goal five minutes later. His determined cycling in the American end was nothing short of sensational, and when he squirmed through, he fired a pass to captain Jaden Schwartz who beat Campbell from the top of the crease with a quick shot.

Brett Connolly made it 3-0 after another five minutes. He made a great play at the Canadian blueline by getting the puck and freezing defenceman Stephen Johns who pinched unwisely. Connolly roared down the ice on a two-on-one but looked to shoot the whole way, beating Campbell to the far side again.

Canada came out to start the second looking like a different team. The first time the puck went inside the U.S. end, one forward went halfway in and the rest of the team formed a defensive formation completely opposite to the free-wheeling, entertaining, and aggressive style that had given the team its three-goal lead in the opening period.

The result was nearly disastrous and most certainly will be if it is repeated against a medal contender next week. Wedgewood was called upon to make some key saves as Canada simply sat on the lead.

Late in the period Emerson Etem drew only a two-minute minor for a flagrant foul, sliding into Wedgewood as the goalie came out to play the puck and making no attempt to get the puck himself. Wedgewood flipped high in the air but recovered after a couple of minutes with the trainer.

The penalty gave Canada a two-man advantage, but after one wide shot, and Kyle Rau coming out of the box, he ended up with a breakaway. He fired high and wide, though, but Canada failed to up the score and the Americans left the ice with a little bit of hope still trailing only 3-0.

The third started with another great chance for the Americans when they had a two-man advantage for 70 seconds but failed to generate many quality shots. These scares got Canada back in forecheck mode for a brief period and it took the play to the U.S. again, maintaining possession and cycling effectively in the American end.

Charlie Coyle got the American goal halfway through the period when he ripped a shot to the top corner over Wedgewood's glove. Jason Zucker added a late goal from behind the net oand off Wedgewood's skate to make it close, but they couldn't tie the game with Campbell on the bench for most of the final 1:50.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

CALGARY, Alta. – Willie Raskob’s natural hat trick turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead and Shattuck-St. Mary’s scored three times on the power play as it won the inaugural gold medal at the World Sport School Challenge with a 5-3 win over Finland.

The loss was the first for the Finns, who had entered with a perfect 4-0 record – including a win over Shattuck – and had outscored its opposition 36-7.

After a tight-checking opening half of the first period it was the Finns who hit the scoreboard first just shy of the 13-minute mark, as Jimi Kuronen converted a power play opportunity for the Scandinavians.

But Shattuck pulled even on a power play of its own, with Raskob beating netminder Ville Husso with just 18 seconds to go in the opening 20 minutes.

Raskob continued to wield a hot stick early in the second, giving Shattuck its first lead just 39 seconds into the period, and completed his natural hat trick at 9:56 on another power play.

Zach Stepan made it a three-goal game just 60 seconds later, chasing Husso from the Finnish net.

The Finns got to within two late in the second period thanks to a beautiful individual effort by Artturi Lehkonen, and made it a one-goal game less than four minutes into the third, again off the stick of Lehkonen.

But that would be as close as the Scandinavians would get, as Hunter Fejes scored into an empty net with 58 seconds left to clinch it for Shattuck, which will take the gold medal south of the border to Faribault, Minn.

(Nathan can be reached at

Chovan pots three to get QF berth as Swiss collapse in third 31-12-11

Press Release

CALGARY – In a most remarkable comeback, Slovakia scored four goals in five minutes in the third period against Switzerland to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 win. The Slovaks go to the quarter-final, while the Swiss face relegation woes.

The big Slovak hero was forward Matus Chovan, who, after failing to collect a single point in his team's three first games, scored a hat trick to take his team from constantly trailing to this sensational victory.

Chovan kept his team alive early in the game, but capped off the comeback with the 5-4 game-winning goal 8:15 into the third period when he scored with a backhander from close range.

Swiss coach Manuele Celio tried to bring his team back into the game by replacing struggling goalie Lukas Meili with Tim Wolf, but defenceman Martin Gernat scored only 46 seconds after the substitution to make it 6-4.

By then, the Swiss were a broken group.

Slovakia goes on to play Finland in the quarter-final on Monday, at 15.00 against Finland. Switzerland opens the Relegation Round on the same day, at 11.00 against Denmark. Both games are in Calgary.

The Swiss players in this game will probably never forget New Year's Eve 2011 in Calgary. And they will remember it for all the wrong reasons.

When everything was over, they found themselves on the losing end of a game they led 2-0 early, 3-1 midway through, and 4-2 early in the third period.

What happened then can be called either a miraculous comeback or a staggering meltdown, depending on where one has his sympathies.

Swiss winger Tanner Richard gave his best performance of the World Juniors when his team needed it the most. After two assists early on, his first points of the tournament, Richard put Switzerland ahead 4-2 only 47 seconds into the last period, and things looked rosy for his team.

But this was a game where the Swiss couldn't handle good fortune. Tomas Matousek gave the Slovaks hope with their third goal at 5.14 to start the team's third comeback of the afternoon. Fifty-one seconds later, Martin Marincin got the equalizer with a wrister from the point.

The Swiss could simply not stop the momentum swing. Chovan got the winner two minutes later and Gernat's power-play marker clinched the game.

All first-period scoring came within two minutes and eleven seconds. Slovak goaltender Juraj Simboch lost Tanner Richard’s shot right in front of Joël Vermin’s stick and the Swiss forward had the entire net gaping for the opening goal at 6:09, his third of the tournament.

Switzerland doubled their lead on their next possession, only 67 seconds later when Alessio Bertaggio found Sven Andrighetto with a nice backhand pass from behind the net and Simboch was beaten again.

Just when the fans, and maybe also the Swiss, thought it would be easy, Slovakia responded 64 seconds after the 2-0 goal. But it was a careless clearance by a Swiss defender that allowed for Matus Chovan’s first goal of the championship.

The Swiss team never looked comfortable with the one-goal lead in the second period, but they capitalized on a lucky break which saw them playing with a two-man advantage midway through the game. Vermin, Switzerland’s best performer so far, skated in from the point and rifled a high shot past Juraj Simbach for a 3-1 lead.

Vermin’s goal, however, did little to calm down the Swiss defence. Nervous passing, tentative zone clearances and weak positioning continued. Poor communication behind the net left Matus Chovan all alone in front of goalie Lukas Meili and the Slovak had plenty of time to put the puck behind him and cut the score to 3-2, at 12:46.

And the trend continued throughout the game. Whatever the Swiss could muster, the Slovaks had a reply. At the end, it took them to the quarter-final.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier today announced that the team has signed defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc to a three-year entry-level contract. Buffalo selected Gauthier-Leduc in the third round (68th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

“Jerome has continued to improve as a player since we selected him [in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft],” Regier said. “His play in Rimouski this season demonstrates the offensive abilities that he possesses.”

Gauthier-Leduc (6’1”, 188 lbs., 7/30/92) currently ranks 12th among all QMJHL skaters with 51 points (20+31) in 35 games. Gauthier-Leduc’s 51 points give him a wide lead in scoring among QMJHL defensemen – 14 more than the next closest blueliner. His nine power play goals tie him for sixth among QMJHL skaters.

In June, Gauthier-Leduc was invited to Team Canada’s National Junior Team Development Camp. He followed that up by opening the 2011-12 season on a 12-game point streak, during which he recorded 26 points (11+15). In the midst of that streak, Gauthier-Leduc scored a goal in eight consecutive games, breaking the 31-year-old QMJHL record for defensemen set in the 1970-80 season by Gaston Therrien.

In four QMJHL seasons, the native of Quebec City, Quebec has 170 points (59+111) and 81 penalty minutes in 216 games for Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda. He joins fellow Sabres 2010 third-round pick Kevin Sundher, who was signed to an entry level contact on Dec. 15.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

CALGARY, Alta. – Patrick Koys scored twice and added an assist and Matej Paulovic, Kristian Horvat and Robert Lantosi each had a goal and a helper as Slovakia won bronze at the 2011 World Sport School Challenge with a 5-2 win over the Edge School on Saturday afternoon.

The Edge School came out with an offensive push in the opening 20 minutes, firing 19 shots at Slovak netminder Maros Mikolas, but it was the European side that took a lead to the dressing room, as goals from Koys and Lantosi gave Slovakia a 2-0 advantage after one period.

Cam Amantea got the Edge School on the board with a power play goal early in the second period, but the Calgary-based school couldn’t capitalize on its momentum and found itself back down by a pair of goals after Koys wired a slap shot past Kyle Baumgardner for his second of the game late in the middle frame.

Slovakia put the game away with goals from Paulovic and Horvat before the eight-minute mark of the third period, although Amantea scored his second of the game to round out the scoring for the Edge School, which settled for fourth place in front of its hometown fans.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

TECUMSEH, Ont. – Victor Öhman scored a hat trick and Adam Brodecki added two goals and an assist as Sweden earned its first win of the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, beating Quebec 7-3 on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the second time in a row the Swedes have knocked off Quebec at the U17 tournament – they beat the Canadian side 4-3 in a shootout at the 2010 tournament in Timmins, Ont.

Leon Bristedt and Jacob de la Rose had the other goals for Sweden (1-1), which scored four times in the first 15 minutes – including a pair of shorthanded goals on the same Quebec power play – to take control early and chase Quebec netminder Zachary Fucale (Rosemère, Que./Halifax, QMJHL).

Yan-Pavel Laplante (Ste-Martine, Que./P.E.I., QMJHL), Jérémy Grégoire (Sherbrooke, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) and Jonathan Drouin (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) scored for Quebec (2-1), which missed out on a chance to take sole possession of first place in Group A. Laplante and Grégoire each finished with a goal and an assist.

After playing three games in three days Quebec will enjoy an off day Sunday, returning to the ice Monday afternoon to wrap up the preliminary round against Ontario in Windsor (7 p.m. ET), while the Swedes will look for a second consecutive win when they face Sweden on Sunday afternoon in Tecumseh (2 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

LASALLE, Ont. – Nicolas Petan (Delta, B.C./Portland, WHL) scored twice on the power play and Pacific converted three times with the man advantage in all as it took sole possession of first place in Group B at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 4-3 win over Russia on Saturday afternoon.

Pacific finished three-for-five on the power play against the Russians, and has a tournament-leading seven goals in 21 chances (33.3%) with the man advantage through three games.

Macoy Erkamps (Ladner, B.C./Lethbridge, WHL) also scored a power play goal for Pacific (3-0), while Tyson Baillie (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta./Kelowna, WHL) scored a five-on-five. Sam Reinhart (West Vancouver, B.C./Kootenay, WHL) and Greg Chase (Sherwood Park, Alta./Calgary, WHL) each added two assists, setting up both of Petan’s goals. Eric Comrie (Edmonton, Alta./Tri-City, WHL) made 27 saves for Pacific, which was outshot 30-14.

Grigori Dikushin, Valeri Nichushkin and Ivan Barbashev scored the goals for Russia (1-1), which trailed 4-1 after 40 minutes before mounting a late comeback. Dikushin and Nichushkin had a goal and assist each, while Nikita Zadorov chipped in with two helpers.

Pacific will enjoy an off day to start 2012 before facing the United States in a marquee Group B match-up on Monday in Tecumseh (7 p.m. ET), while Russia will take on the Czech Republic to open Sunday action in LaSalle (2 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at

Finns secure 2nd place

Press Release

EDMONTON – Petr Mrazek didn’t lead the Czechs to another miraculous performance tonight as Finland blanked the Czech Republic 4-0.

The Finns finish Group B in second place and will play the third-place team of the other group on January 2 (15:00 local time), the winner of the Slovakia-Switzerland game.

The Czech Republic ends up in third place and will play the second-place team of Group A on January 2 (19:00), the loser of tonight’s Russia-Sweden game.

"Our first game here (against Canada) was bad, but when the game was over we decided to move on," Finnish forward Teemu Pulkkinen said. "We've played three games well now and we're happy with where we are. We think we've played better every game. Today we played well, and 4-0 is a good score for us."

The outcome of the game became clear early when the Finns outshot their opponents 13-11 in the first period and capitalized on their chances.

Discipline, the Czechs’ key in their third-period comeback against the United States, seemed to fade away as Daniel Krejci took a penalty after just 15 seconds of play.

When Radek Faksa was sent to the penalty box ten minutes later, Suomi capitalized on the opportunity. Alexander Ruuttu opened the scoring at 11:42 after a centering pass from Mikael Granlund.

"They were more disciplined today. We had a lot of penalties today and they had only one. That was a key for the game," Mrazek said.

"We had a lot of shots, but many were from the blueline. We didn't get many rebounds. Not a lot of (good) scoring chances."

Five minutes later Miro Aaltonen put himself on the scoreboard when his shot slipped between Mrazek’s pads. Aleksander Barkov did some excellent spadework when he brought the puck by two Czechs along the boards to make space for Aaltonen in the middle.

The Czechs tried to come back and outshot Finland 17-8 in the middle stanza, but this time it was Finnish goalkeeper Sami Aittokallio, who had a great performance in the net including some spectacular saves.

"They had a tougher game yesterday but we played later," Aittokallio said after his 36-save shutout. "But I think we had a good game even though we had less time to get ready."

Aittokallio, third in save percentage in the tournament so far, is also expected to play the quarter-final game. "They haven't said anything yet, but I hope I start," he said.

While Aittokallio kept his team in front, Joonas Donskoi extended the lead midway through the game. Miikka Salomäki found his way to pass by the Czechs and Donskoi scored after a pass from Joel Armia.

The Czech efforts also remained unrewarded in the third period. In a counter-attack Pulkkinen deked Czech defenceman Jiri Riha to score Finland’s fourth goal of the day. It was his fifth goal of the tournament.

(Nathan can be reached at

Ontario improves to 2-0 at WU17

Press Release

Team Ontario improved to 2-0 in the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 7-2 win over Sweden on Friday night at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

Brent Pedersen (Kitchener Rangers) scored a pair of goals and Spencer Martin (Mississauga St. Michael's Majors) shut the door with 31 saves to earn his second straight win.

Ontario captain Bo Horvat (London Knights) opened the scoring with his second of the tournament at 12:09 of the first period.

Sweden would tie the game in the first period before Ontario netted two more goals in the second period from Max Domi (London Knights), and Jordan Subban (Belleville Bulls).

Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), and Mitchell Dempsey (Plymouth Whalers) rounded out the scoring for Ontario.

Ontario will have the day off Saturday before returning to WFCU Centre ice Sunday night to play Team Atlantic.

(Nathan can be reached at

Ice Wolves add a defenseman

Press Release

The Ice Wolves have received an early New Years gift in the return of Byron Sorensen to the defense core of the Wolves. Byron had some other pursuits coming into this season but decided that a return to Junior hockey was needed.

Welcome Back Byron!

(Nathan can be reached at

First three 3HL tenders to NAHL are signed

Press Release

The first of the tenders of the 3HL season have been signed as players starting making their future plans to play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). This season, each of the 28 NAHL teams has one tender that they have to use exclusively on a 3HL player. This season has already seen many former 3HL players making an impact in the NAHL like former Queen City Steam goaltender Matt Leon (Wichita Falls) and former Granite City Lumberjacks forward Tyler Cayemberg (Odessa Jackalopes).
The St. Louis Jr. Blues are proud to announce that two of their players have signed NAHL tenders.

Forward Trace Jablin has signed a tender to play for the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League in Alaska and forward Daniel Rosse has signed a tender for the 2012-13 season with the St. Louis Bandits.

Jr. Blues Head Coach, J.P. Beilsten said, "We couldn't be more excited for Trace. He brings the full package from skating ability and puck handling ability, to grit and ability to play in the corners. Kenai is getting an outstanding prospect." Kenai currently sits in 3rd place, but are in 1st place when considering lost points, in the tight NAHL West Division race.

Brown Bear's Head Coach, Oliver David said, "We are very excited to have the opportunity to get Trace in a Brow Bear's uniform. The St. Louis staff does a tremendous job of accurately promoting their players, and we are happy to be considered as a destination for the Jr. Blues players looking to play at our level.
Jablin's 25 points is good for 3rd in team scoring and he becomes the 2nd Jr. Blues player to be tendered for next year, joining Daniel Rosse.

Rosse is 4th in league scoring, tied for the league lead in game winning goals, and leads the league in goals. Says Head Coach JP Beilsten, "Daniel has had a tremendous season for us to this point. After we signed him, we watched him skate with the Bandits in their main camp and he did well. He obviously had a couple of things to work on, but he has shown he can compete against older, stronger competition. He gets better every week. He is learning to use his speed, use his shot, and use his hands to create plays, and just as importantly, he is learning to use his body to create space on on the ice.

Metro Jets defenseman Adam Reid has excelled in his first season in the North American 3 Hockey League and the New Mexico Mustangs of the North American Hockey League have taken notice. This past week, the Mustangs offered a tender to Reid for the 2012-13 season and the 19-year-old happily accepted.

“The tender opportunity came up at the showcase in Chicago the first week of December,” explained Reid, a Kalamazoo native who lived the past 14 years in Georgetown, Tex. “After our first game against Quad City, (Jets coach Jason) Cirone said that New Mexico was inquiring about me and that they'd be watching me again in our game the next day. After the second game, their scout and assistant coach Nick Shackford approached me with the offer.”

“I’m very proud of Adam,” said Cirone. “We’re in the business of developing and advancing our players and I think this speaks volumes in Adam’s case. He only played four games of midget hockey last year dealing with a concussion, but came in this year and has been one of our most consistent defensemen.”

Reid has also done his homework on the Mustangs, a second-year NAHL franchise coached by Jason Kersner. “I know the Mustangs are a solid organization with good ownership and management,” said Reid. “I also know they started out a little rough this season, but have been turning it around lately with all their roster changes. They're only a few points out of the playoffs right now and expect to make it. Cirone also knows their coaches pretty well and has respect for them and I have a lot of trust in his judgment. To prepare to make the team next year, I want to gain a little more weight and become faster and stronger,” Reid said. “I also have several tactical things that Shackford and Cirone have said I need to improve on.”

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Lindsay Muskies forward Matt McCartney made his OHL debut as a member of the Peterborough Petes on December 29 in their home game versus the Erie Otters.

The 5'9", 168 lbs. native of Scarborough, Ontario is a product of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens midget program who was selected in the 8th round, 162nd overall by the Petes in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection.

McCartney has played as a rookie member of the Muskies all season thus far, recording two goals, both in the same game on October 14 during a 7-2 victory over the Mssissauga Chargers. McCartney received the call to the Petes this week when the club ran into injury trouble, joining Muskie teammates Ryan Zupancic and J.C. Campagna in Peterborough. The 16-year old rookie would record his first OHL assist during the Petes 5-2 victory over Erie.

Congrats to Matt on making the OHL jump.

(Nathan can be reached at

Ellis traded to Cataractes

Press Release

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League today confirmed that the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have traded all-star defenseman Morgan Ellis (1992-04-30) to the Shawinigan Cataractes.

In return, the Screaming Eagles received right-winger Bronson Beaton (1995-02-06) as well as a 2012 second round pick and a 2013 first round pick.

This season, Ellis played 34 games with the Screaming Eagles, scoring 7 goals and adding 18 assists for a total of 25 points. In November, he participated in the Subway Super Series and was invited to the Montreal Canadiens’ training camp at the beginning of the season.

Furthermore, the Rimouski Océanic sent their centre, Liam O’Brien as well as their 2014 5th round pick and 2012 1st European choice to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In exchange, they received 2012 2nd and 3rd round picks as well as their 1st European choice. O’Brien played 101 games with the Océanic scoring 9 goals and adding 17 assists for a total of 26 points.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers announced Saturday morning that they have acquired 20-year old RW Brandon Herrod from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for 17-year-old C Logan McVeigh and the Blazers’ 2nd round draft pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft.

“We are elated to add Brandon to our lineup. He is an experienced leader – serving as captain of the Raiders - and was voted as their playoff MVP last season. He is a proven scorer in our league and is known as a solid, character player. He will be a welcome addition to our team, and with a career spanning 314 games in the WHL to date we expect to benefit greatly from his experience,” said Blazers General Manager Craig Bonner.

Herrod, who hails from Meadow Lake, SK, has compiled 18 goals and 18 assists in 40 games so far this season. During his WHL career, he has tallied 106 goals and 135 assists for a total of 241 points. The Blazers expect to have Herrod in their lineup as they host the Prince George Cougars at Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops on New Years Day.

Bonner continued, “in order to acquire a valuable player we had to give up one in Logan, and the Blazers wish him every success with his career in the future.”

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Wayne, NJ- The Jersey Hitmen are proud to announce rookie defenseman Brett Pesce has been loaned to the USNTDP over Christmas break. The Tarrytown, NY, native will join the U18 national team on December 27th and suit up against Minnesota State (Mankato) and the University of Wisconsin December 30 and 31st. He will then travel to Boston January 7th and 8th to suit up against Northeastern and Boston University respectively.

Since coming off an early season shoulder injury on October 8th versus the Junior Bruins, Pesce has been a very steadying influence on the back end for the Hitmen.

"Brett is a player that plays ahead of his years," commented coach Harris. "As a November 1994 birth date I thought Brett would slowly acclimate himself to the EJHL and jump in speed coming from the U16 level, but it was quite the contrary, he was ready to go, and chip in, from day one. Since Brett ended re-hab and joined the line-up full time on November 16th, we are 11-1-2, and that is not a coincidence."

Harris continued, "He is so good with the puck, has unbelievable instincts and a great stick defensively. There is no doubt in my mind that Brett will step right into a big role with the national team and help them immediately!"

The University of New Hampshire recruit is the second Hitman this season to get the call from the USNTDP. In September, Connor Clifton, a 1995-born rookie defenseman, got the call from the U17 team and won a gold medal in international competition. Both Pesce and Clifton will be highly touted NHL draft picks in the 2013 entry draft.

(Nathan can be reached at

Swiss slap down Latvia

Press Release

CALGARY – At last the Swiss bankers can put a win in their vault. Christoph Bertschy and Gaetan Haas scored twice apiece to help Switzerland beat Latvia 5-3 on Friday. Switzerland will battle Slovakia for Group A’s second quarter-final berth, while Latvia heads to relegation play.

Bertschy, making his World Junior debut, performed with the kind of spark that fans of SC Bern in the Swiss NLA have come to appreciate, scoring his first two career World Junior goals. He’s just 17, and the best is yet to come for this savvy forward.

Haas, a 19-year-old who plays for Biel, showed great hand-eye coordination as he also got into the goal-scoring column for the first time, with two virtually identical deflections. He appeared at the 2011 tournament as well, going pointless.

The Latvians have been relegated on two previous occasions (2006, 2010). It’ll be a challenge for them to avoid completing an undesirable hat trick. Switzerland sent the Latvians down with a 5-2 win in relegation play in 2006, and also beat them 7-5 in Preliminary Round action in 2010.

Switzerland’s Sven Bärtschi missed this game due to concussion-like symptoms. The second-year Portland Winterhawks winger was injured in a collision in the first period of a 4-3 shootout loss to Sweden.

Christian Marti also scored for Switzerland. Toms Andersons, Nikita Jevpalovs and Vitalijs Hrovostinins replied for Latvia.

Swiss goalie Tim Wolf outdueled Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis for the win, although the shots on goal were hardly even, favouring Switzerland 41-23.

The teams got off to a fast-paced, physical start. Big Latvian blueliner Nikita Kolesnikovs crunched Joel Vermin with an open-ice hit in the Latvian end. But Switzerland dominated territorially.

The Swiss opened the scoring on the power play at 8:45 when Bertschy, screening in front of Gudlevskis, backhanded in a rebound from Dario Trutmann’s center point drive. Switzerland had already outshot Latvia 9-1 at this point.

Just 2:18 into the second period, Haas tipped home Mike Vermeille’s left point shot to give Switzerland a two-goal lead.

Around the six-minute mark, Wolf made a superb save. On a 2-on-1 rush, Toms Andersons fed Zemgus Girgensons cross-ice, but the goalie slid across to stop the Latvian assistant captain’s quick shot.

A couple of minutes later, Latvia cut the deficit to 2-1. Edgars Sikna’s shot from the blueline deflected off Haas’s stick in front of the Latvian net and skittered to Andersons, who zinged it over Wolf’s glove.

The Swiss put on a display of virtuoso puck movement on a late-period power play. It finally paid off when Bertschy took a Samuel Walser pass in the slot and lasered it high stick side to make it 3-1 with 2:32 left before the buzzer.

Refusing to quit, the Latvians moved within one when Jevpalovs deftly tipped the puck over Wolf’s glove at 2:23 of the third period, set up by Hvorostinins and Krists Kalnins.

They tied it up at 3-3 when Hrovostinins banged a rebound past Wolf at 12:42. The excited goal-scorer flung off his glove and grabbed the national crest on his jersey in sheer ecstasy as his teammates mobbed him.

But the Latvian party wouldn't last.

Just 22 seconds later, Haas converted a lovely tip on another Vermeille left point shot, and Gudlevskis had no chance as Switzerland led 4-3.

With 5:57 left, Marti stepped off the side boards and beat Gudlevskis through traffic with a rising shot to give Switzerland some breathing space.

Latvia had one final opportunity when Tanner Richard was sent off for interference with two minutes left. But even with their netminder pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage, it was just too late to get anything done.

The Swiss hope to continue a positive trend that has seen them finish fourth and fifth respectively at the last two IIHF World Junior Championships. It’s heartening for them to see the investment they’ve made in their junior programs paying off. Now they have to hope their hard work pays dividends against Slovakia on New Year's Eve.

(Nathan can be reached at

Finland’s rout sends U.S. down

Press Release

EDMONTON—Teemu Pulkkinen tied an IIHF U20 record with four goals in the third period to lead Finland to a 10-1 romp over Denmark in Edmonton and a place in the quarter-finals. The result also sent the Americans to the Relegation Round. Denmark, winless in four games, is also headed to relegation from Group B.

Although the win was by no means a surprise, the day’s events in Edmonton have been completely shocking. The Americans woke up this morning dreaming of playing New Year’s Eve against Canada with a bye on the line. By the time they went to sleep, they were irrevocably headed to the Relegation Round.

"We wanted to play the whole 60 minutes," Pulkkinen said. "We didn’t play so well, but Denmark wasn’t so good. We got easy goals. We need to be better against the Czechs."

A Danish win tonight would have given the U.S. a slim chance to advance, but that was all but scuppered when Danish coach Todd Bjorkstrand benched five players for what is believed to be disciplinary reasons. Even with a full roster of 20 a Danish victory would have been a longshot, but with a depleted roster, loss was all but certain.

"It was my decision to suspend them," Bjordkstrand said of his reaction to his players' hijinks in the media centre after their bad loss to Canada. "We’re going out every game to win. It thought the guys did well. We went out tonight playing hard and trying to compete and doing a good job for Denmark."

It took Finland 8:26 to get the first goal, that from Miikka Salomäki, who claimed a loose puck by the side of the net and beat Sebastian Feuk from a bad angle. Within three minutes, they increased the score to 3-0 thanks to goals from Jani Hakanpää and Ville Pokka, much to the delight of the pro-Finnish crowd.

The Finns made it 4-0 early in the second thanks to Mikael Kuronen, but the Danes gave the crowd a little something extra to cheer about when Patrick Bjorkstrand burst up ice, forcing Rasmus Ristolainen to haul him down and earn a penalty shot.

Bjorkstrand moved in on goalie John Gibson and fired between the pads, and the puck trickled over the goal line to make it 4-1. The brief joy of the moment was gone a minute later when Salomaki got his second of the night on a snap shot from the slot.

Joel Armia and Teemu Pulkkinen with the final four goals counted in the third, acknowledging their efforts with little fanfare and the game easily won. Pulkkinen's efforts tied Jan Vodila's record for most goals in a period. Czechoslovakian Vodila accomlished his feat on December 27, 1979, against the U.S. He also had a second-period assist to give him a five-point night.

"In the first two periods I didn’t score, I had good chances, hit the post. Then I just kept shooting and I was lucky," Pulkkinen said.

"It’s going to be exciting," said Danish captain Jannik Christensen of playing in the Relegation Round. "I’m positive that we’re going to make two good games there and stay up."

The Finns now play the Czechs in the early game tomorrow to decide second place in Group B while the Canada-United States game has little meaning in the standings but still has plenty of meaning for bragging rights.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

LASALLE, Ont. – Tristan Jarry (Delta, B.C./Edmonton, WHL) stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout as Pacific remained unbeaten at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 4-0 win over the Czech Republic on Friday night.

Pacific opened 2-0 for the second year in a row, beating the same two teams it beat in its 2011 start – West and the Czech Republic. It began last year’s tournament with three straight wins before eventually settling for the bronze medal.

Sam Reinhart (West Vancouver, B.C./Kootenay, WHL) scored twice for Pacific for the second night in a row, giving him the tournament goal-scoring lead with four, and leaving him tied with Quebec’s Jonathan Drouin and Ontario’s Max Domi atop the tournament scoring list. Kyle Burroughs (Langley, B.C./Regina, WHL) and Curtis Lazar (Vernon, B.C./Edmonton, WHL) also had goals for Pacific, which scored twice on the power play and once just seconds after a man advantage had expired.

Burroughs added an assist to his goal for a two-point outing, while Greg Chase (Sherwood Park, Alta./Calgary, WHL) chipped in with two helpers.

Pacific will go for a 3-0 start on Saturday afternoon when it meets Russia in LaSalle (2 p.m. ET), while the Czechs go for win No. 1 against West in Tecumseh on Saturday night in the final game of 2011 (7 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at

Forward Joins NCAA Program at Midseason

Press Release

Joe Rehkamp’s final season of junior hockey came to an unexpected, yet happy ending this week with his enrollment at St. Cloud State University, the Waterloo Black Hawks announced Friday.

While preparing to return for the second half of the USHL slate, the 20-year-old from Plymouth, Minnesota, received an offer to join the Huskies during their second semester. Rehkamp was spending his first season in Waterloo and scored eight goals with six assists in 23 games. His 14 points ranked third on the team. He delivered the game-winning goal during a 4-3 win against Indiana on October 29th and in Des Moines in the midst of a 2-0 shutout on December 16th. In two previous junior campaigns with the Fargo Force, Rehkamp had appeared in 110 regular season contests, recording nine goals and 14 assists.

“Obviously we’re here to win and that’s what we try to do, but we also try to develop players and move them on,” said Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley. “It’s a great scholarship opportunity for Joe and we wish him well.”

Thirteen members of the 2011-2012 Black Hawks have now made commitments to NCAA Division I universities. During December, forward Ryan Papa also announced his intent to attend St. Cloud State in the future.

Bob Motzko, who played for the Black Hawks in 1979-1980, is the head coach of the Huskies program. Former Waterloo defenseman Andrew Prochno is in his freshman year at the central Minnesota school.

(Nathan can be reached at

Cents d-man Pfeil second Merritt blueliner to commit to Ivy League school

Press Release

The Merritt Centennials are please to announce the commitment of defenceman Brandon Pfeil to Brown University starting with the 2012-13 season.

Pfeil has played 83 games over the last two seasons with the Cents and has already eclipsed his point total from the 2010-11 season. To this point in his BCHL career, the 6'2" West Vancouver native has posted 13 goals and 27 assists. Three of his career goals have been game-winners. Pfeil also had 1 goal in 4 playoff games last season.

"As an organization we are extremely proud of Brandon’s commitment to Brown University next season," said Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce. "Brandon has come a long way and established himself as an elite defenceman in our league.

"He is vital to our success and has provided significant offence from our blueline. Brandon is the second player in as many weeks to commit to an Ivy League school and much like Reece Willcox, his hard work both in the classroom and on the ice has provided him this fantastic opportunity.

"Brandon has been an excellent representative of the Merritt Centennials organization and will be very successful in his future endeavours," added Pierce. "We fully expect him to contribute immediately at Brown and to remain a key contributor to our line-up for the remainder of this season."

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Trenton Golden Hawks captain Kent McPherson has confirmed his commitment to join the Michigan Tech University Huskies beginning with the 2013-14 WCHA season.

The 6'1", 195 lbs. native of Stratford, Ontario played his midget hockey with the Huron-Perth Lakers program before making the jump to junior hockey with the Junior 'B' Strathroy Rockets midway through the 2007-08 season. The following season he recorded 24 points, mostly on the power play, including a team-high 22 assists from the point. The 2008-09 season saw him join the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL where he would play just nine games for the club, joining the OJHL's Orangeville Flyers last season. One of the Flyers alternate captain's, McPherson would lead the clubs rearguards in scoring with 14 goals and 26 points on the season.

This summer, he followed head coach Jerome Dupont to Trenton, joining the Golden Hawks and becoming the club's new captain. McPherson has more than lived up to his billing for the Hawks, leading all OJHL defencemen with 16 goals, 9 power player goals, 2 shorthanded goals and 3 game-winning goals, while sitting third in overall scoring among d-men with 32 points in 32 games played. McPherson was originally selected to play in the Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge as a member of the OJHL East Division All-Stars, but was unable to attend due to injury.

Due to playing for the Gatineau Olympiques in 2008-09, McPherson will be ineligible to join the Huskies next season, but is planning to practice with the club, until he becomes NCAA elgible during the school's 10th game of the 2013-14 season, pending approval from the NCAA Clearing House.

Congratulations to Kent and best of luck the rest of this season and beyond!

(Nathan can be reached at

Steel Forward Miller Commits to RIT

Press Release

The Chicago Steel announced that forward Andrew Miller has committed to play hockey for Rochester Institute of Technology beginning next season.

"The coaching and the facilities were first class at RIT," Miller said. "They have a good academic program for my potential major of accounting or finance and it was just a great fit for me."

"RIT showed a lot of interest in me around Thanksgiving time. They called me last Tuesday evening [Dec. 20] and wanted me to fly out the next day. I saw the campus on Wednesday and made my decision the following morning."

Miller has collected 13 points (9g, 4a) while appearing in all 25 games for the Steel this season. He leads the club with nine goals. The 20-year-old recorded hat tricks in consecutive games in October, first scoring three goals on the 23rd in the 7-4 win vs. Muskegon and then tallied three in the 6-4 victory over Team USA on the 28th.

The native of West Dundee, Illinois first broke into the USHL last season scoring 11 points (5g, 6a) in 45 games with the Des Moines Buccaneers.

Miller is the second member of his family to get the chance to play college athletics. His mother, Maria, competed for four seasons at Eastern Illinois University as a member of the women's basketball team.

"My parents were very excited for me," he said. "They were kind of relieved to know where I was going to be playing college hockey next season."

Forward Woody Hudson and defenseman Alexander Kuqali of the Indiana Ice are two other current USHL players committed to play collegiate hockey at RIT.

The Rochester Institute of Technology is a member of the Atlantic Hockey conference and has six USHL alumni on the roster this season; Cameron Burt (Green Bay Gamblers), Ben Lynch (Cedar Rapids/Lincoln), Shane Madolora (Omaha Lancers), Taylor McReynolds (Green Bay Gamblers), Chris Saracino (Green Bay Gamblers), and Jeff Smith (Tri-City Storm).

(Nathan can be reached at

Friday, December 30, 2011

Czechs, Mrazek stun U.S., 5-2

Press Release

EDMONTON – Peter Holik's goal at 12:26 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and led the Czechs to a stunning 5-2 victory over the United States this afternoon at Rexall Centre.

Goalie Petr Mrazek was nothing short of brilliant, stopping 52 of 54 shots, including a penalty shot by Josh Archibald with the game on the line in the third. Mrazek later took a shot at the empty American net and missed by inches becoming the first goalie in U20 history to score.

"Mrazek was amazing. He stopped everything. You can’t beat that," said Tomas Filippi, who scored two goals, as did Holik.

"I think this was the best game I played in my life," Mrazek said. "We felt incredible here. Nobody thought we would play in the quarter-finals here, but we played like a team and we can go far. I think the important thing was that we didn’t take any penalties in the last period and scored three goals."

Holik banged in a rebound after a fine rush from Jiri Sekac, and Tomas Filippi and Holik again added their second of the game to close out the scoring. Holik's came into an empty net.

The result sends the Czech Republic to the quarter-finals, and it gives Canada a bye to the semi-finals now as no other country in Group B can equal Canada's nine points except Finland or the Czechs (but not both), both of whom Canada has defeated.

It also presents a remarkable change in tenor to the much-anticipated Canada-U.S. game tomorrow night as the Americans will likely have to play in the relegation round (providing the Finns beat the Danes tonight). Otherwise, a Canada win would send the Americans to the Relegation Round with Denmark. This would certainly delight the fans in Edmonton, who continued their booing ways of the Americans today, as they have throughout the tournament.

"We had our chances to win the game," Team USA captain Jason Zucker said. "Hats off to them. They played well and their goalie was great. It’s a great tournament with the best (junior) goaltenders in the world."

"Of course it’s a disappointment. I want to win the gold medal just like every guy in our locker room. We gave it all tonight. Everybody wanted to win, but tonight it didn’t happen."

The Czechs were virtual miracle-workers getting out of the first period with the score tied, 1-1. After playing well for the first few minutes, the game changed when Petr Straka hammered Derek Forbort from behind into the glass at centre ice. Forbort fell awkwardly into the boards and was down on the ice for a couple of minutes nursing what looked to be a leg injury, and Straka was given a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct. Forbort did not return.

Three minutes later, J.T. Miller made a great pass on the rush to T.J. Tynan going hard to the net. Tynan merely had to put his stick down and re-direct the pass into the net for a 1-0 U.S. lead.

The Czechs persevered, though. They killed off another minor penalty a short time later and then equalized off a two-on-one rush. Tomas Filippi carried the puck into the U.S. end down the right wing, his off wing, and took a weak shot on Jack Campbell. The goalie seemed surprised by the poor shot and let the puck sit between his pads. Filippi poked at it, and in it went.

Then, late in the period, Petr Zamorsky took a double minor for high sticking which was divided almost equally between the end of the first and start of the second. After one period, the stats were amazing – Czechs had accrued 31 minutes in penalties to zero for the U.S., and a total of 8:58 short-handed time. And shots were 18-6 for the Americans, an imbalance offset by excellent goaltending from Mrazek, an early candidate for Best Goalie honours in 2012, to be sure.

The Czechs played a cautious and defensive second period, but the U.S. jumped into the lead again thanks to a penalty for too many men to the Czechs. Jason Zucker’s shot was turned aside by Mrazek, but the backside rebound came right to Bill Arnold who didn’t miss the open net.

The ever-resilient Czechs were not bowed. U.S. defenceman Jon Merrill made a careless pass up the middle which was picked off by Tomas Hertl in the high slot. He walked in alone on Campbell and roofed a beautiful backhander over the goalie’s glove to tie the game, 2-2.

The third period was cautious to the point that it seemed certain the next goal would be the winner. The U.S. looked twice to have that goal. Early on J.T. Miller ripped a shot off the crossbar that echoed throughout the building, and then midway through Jiri Riha hauled Josh Archibald down on a clear break resulting in a penalty shot.

As a chorus of boos rained down on the refs for making the call and on Archibald as he prepared to take the shot, the drama intensified. Mrazek stoned the American and did a double first pump as he had earlier in the tournament after stopping a Canadian penalty shot, and the game remained at 2-2. Then the Czechs started to score, and to win.

"I have great teammates in the dressing room, who said we could do it if we play hard and smart and don’t take penalties," Mrazek said. "And we did it."

The Czechs play Finland tomorrow, a game that will likely determine who will end up in second place in the group.

"I’m so happy, I can’t even describe my feelings right now," said Filippi. "It’s something special to beat the USA and go to the quarter-finals, but tomorrow we have a game against Finland and we want to beat Finland too."

In the matinee before, host Canada will play its North American rival United States.

"We’re going to give our best. We’re not going to change anything we do. We still want to beat them," Zucker said.

While the Czech can look forward to the quarter-finals, the Americans will likely have to play in the relegation round. "We got to win. There’s not much else we can do," said Zucker.

(Nathan can be reached at

Confident Swedes triumph

Press Release

CALGARY – Max Friberg scored his sixth goal of the World Juniors and Sweden went on to beat Slovakia 9-1. Seventeen-year-old Sebastian Collberg and Erik Thorell added pairs. Sweden will battle for a semi-final bye on New Year’s Eve, while the Slovaks will try to escape the Relegation Round.

Slovakia hasn’t defeated Sweden in the U20 tournament since 2003, and this was Sweden’s seventh consecutive win against the Slovaks. It also came with relative ease. Slovakia’s hopes of staging a comeback were quelled with 1:31 left in the second period when Johan Sundström scored his first goal of the championship by tipping in a shot from Rickard Rakell.

This made it 4-1 for Sweden, which controlled the action in the third period for its third straight win. Shots on goal were 31-9 in Sweden’s favour after 40 minutes, which was a fair reflection of what happened. Anton Forsberg, who made his first appearance in the Swedish net, was good when called upon.

Slovakia will play Switzerland on New Year’s Eve in a game that will decide which team will make the playoffs and which will head to the Relegation Round. Later the same day, Sweden will face Russia for a group win and a bye to the semi-final. Since winning the bronze medal in 1999 in Winnipeg, Slovakia has been to the Relegation Round on nine occasions.

"It was a bad game for everyone on the team," said Slovakia's Marek Tvrdon. "Tomorrow is a new day."

Erik Thorell, a player not appreciated by scouts but certainly by his coach, scored his second goal of the tournament to give Sweden an early lead. Positioned right in front, Thorell jammed the puck under Dominik Riecicky’s pads, and it was a goal the Slovak netminder would like to have had back.

Marek Tvrdon scored a power-play goal midway through the first period when he nicely picked the far upper corner after taking a pass from Michal Toman to make it 1-1.

But Sweden’s Max Friberg made it clear that he wants to stay in the championship scoring race when he scored his sixth goal at 16:22, a sharp angle shot, assisted by Johan Larsson.

Friberg was also assessed a minor and misconduct penalty for checking to the head and neck area early in the second period and this gave coach Roger Rönnberg to show that his team has not only depth but also scoring power on the fourth line.

In Friberg’s absence, fourth-liner Sebastian Collberg joined the first line with the two Johans, Larsson and Sundström, and both assisted the 17-year old Collberg for the 3-1 goal at 4:15 of the second period. Collberg and Erik Thorell became their team’s lone two-goal scorers in this game, as they padded the win with the eighth and ninth goals in the late stages

In Sweden’s two first games against Latvia and Switzerland, their power play worked at 60 percent efficiency and this is of course almost impossible to keep up. Against Slovakia, the Swedes were 0-for-4 with the man advantage after two, before Mika Zibanejad netted a PP-goal five minutes into the last period.

"Our team was not skating well, and our discipline was bad," said Slovak head coach Ernest Bokros. "We had to kill eight penalties. Sweden is a skilled team, and we can’t take eight penalties against a team as good as them."

Rickard Rakell underscored Sweden’s superiority when he pulled a dirty between-the-legs move on defenseman Adam Janosik before roofing the 6-1 puck past goalie Riecicky.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

WINDSOR, Ont. – Nikita Serebryakov stole the show with a 51-save performance as Russia opened its 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 3-2 victory over the United States on Friday afternoon at the WFCU Centre.

The win is the first for Russia over the U.S. at the U17 tournament since a 10-3 rout in 1997, and ended the Americans’ preliminary round winning streak at 13, dating back to a 4-2 loss to Germany at the 2008 event in London, Ont.

Serebryakov was at his busiest in the first period, when he made almost half of his 51 stops, turning aside 24 shots. The Russian netminder stopped all 11 he faced in the second period and went 16-for-18 in the third.

Sergei Tolchinski and Ivan Fischenko scored in the first two periods for Russia (1-0), which led 2-0 after 40 minutes despite being outshot 35-15, and Grigori Dikushin netted the game-winner just minutes after Evan Allen had got the U.S. on the board.

Hudson Fasching scored the other goal for the Americans (1-1), who were on the ice in Windsor just 16 hours after wrapping up their tournament-opening 5-1 win over the Czech Republic in LaSalle on Thursday night.

The Russians will look for a 2-0 start when they visit LaSalle to take on Pacific on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. ET), while the Americans won’t see the ice again until New Year’s Day, when they meet West in Tecumseh (7 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at

Castonguay traded to Val-d’Or

Press Release

Gatineau, December 30th, 2011 – The trading period continued for the Olympiques last night.

The general manager and head-coach, Benoit Groulx, traded the 18 years old defenseman Richard Castonguay to the Foreurs of Val-d’Or in return for a 9th round pick.

Castonguay played 51 games in two season with the Olympiques. He scored one goal and three assists.

(Nathan can be reached at

Petes' Puempel and Whalers' Noesen Sign NHL Entry Level Contract with Senators

Press Release

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators announced today that the club has signed forwards Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel to three-year entry-level contracts.

Noesen, 18, was Ottawa’s second first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft. A 6-1, 198-pound right-winger from Plano, Texas, Noesen has scored 13 goals, 21 assists and recorded 32 penalty minutes in 30 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers this season.

Puempel, 18, was Ottawa’s third first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2011 entry draft. A 6-1, 201-pound left-winger from Essex, Ont., Puempel has scored 17 goals, 15 assists and recorded 27 penalty minutes in 29 games this year with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes.

Both Noesen and Puempel participated in the 2011 Senators summer development camp and played for Ottawa’s winning team at the 2011 rookie tournament held in September in Oshawa, Ont.

(Nathan can be reached at

Thompson is first of reborn Chilliwack Chiefs to accept a scholarship

Press Release

It's a proud day in Chilliwack Chiefs hockey history as the first hockey scholarship since the team moved back to the Fraser Valley has been awarded.

Defenseman David Thompson has accepted a scholarship to play for the Penn State Nittany Lions and will attend the school beginning in September of 2013.

"He's just settling in to become a nasty player to play against with all kinds of ability," said Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl. "He's very deserving of this scholarship. It's nice to see him rewarded for all his hard work."

Thompson, in his second BCHL season, leads all Chiefs defensemen in scoring with four goals and 12 assists in 31 games. A native of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, it will be a return home for the 6-foot-2, 187-pound blueliner.

Thompson becomes the fourth current BCHL player to commit to Penn State along with Curtis Loik, Luke Juha and Bo Pellah. Penn State currently has only club hockey but will join the NCAA officially in 2012. Next season, the Nittany Lions will compete as a Division I independent team with inclusion in the planned Big 10 hockey conference set for the 2013-14 season.

(Nathan can be reached at

Nine-point night for Kuznetsov

Press Release

CALGARY – Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov dazzled with three goals and six assists as Russia pulverized Latvia 14-0 for its third straight win. The defending champions tightened their grip on first place in Group A, while the Latvians head for the Relegation Round.

Kuznetsov’s nine-point outing was the second-highest single-game point total in World Junior history. Only Sweden’s Peter Forsberg (10, 1993, against Japan) ever did better.

"I didn't know [about Forsberg's record], but I was told about it during the game," said Kuznetsov. "I thought the coach was joking – I wasn't expecting to be a point shy. At the end, I was kidding with the coach and asking him to put me in."

It was the first major offensive explosion at this tournament for Russia, which had only scored three goals in each of its two previous victories. And "explosion" hardly begins to capture it.

Nikita Gusev also had a stellar evening, potting two goals and five assists. Meanwhile, Nikita Nesterov added a goal and two assists, and Alexander Khokhlachev had two goals. Nail Yakupov and Nikita Kucherov added three assists apiece, while Viktor Antipin had a pair.

Russia’s Andrei Vasilevski returned between the pipes for his second start and earned his second straight shutout.

"He's a young guy, and it's great for us," Khokhlachev said of the 17-year-old goalie. "When we came here, there were some questions about our goaltending. Two shutouts is great."

The Russians face Sweden on New Year's Eve in what will likely be a showdown for top spot in the group.

"Sweden is an entirely new game, and we are playing against a very strong opponent," said Kuznetsov. Yakupov added: "It's important to beat Sweden and be first in the group."

Initially, Latvian backup Elvis Merzlikins did his best to keep his underdog team in it, but could only stem the flood for so long as Russia outshot Latvia 50-30.

"Russia is a very skilled, very fast team," said Merzlikins. "It was very tough. I was very tired by the third period."

At 10:29 of the first, Merzlikins couldn’t prevent Mikhail Grigorenko from scooping a loose puck high to the glove to give Russia a 1-0 lead.

Just 52 seconds into the second period, Russia went up by two when Artyom Sergeyev sent a high wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle past Merzlikins’ glove.

The game took on a chippy edge. Moments after the second goal, following a neutral zone collision, Grigorenko left the game, favouring his right foot.

The Latvians got a two-man advantage for 1:11, but couldn’t accomplish anything despite good puck movement in the Russian end. Vasilevski held down the fort when he was tested from close range.

Russia made it 3-0 on a dazzling power play goal at 7:04, with Kuznetsov completing a lovely three-way passing play on the backhand past a helpless Merzlikins. It was the Russian captain’s first goal of the tournament, and a tiny harbinger of what was to come.

Kuznetsov didn’t take long to get his second, converting a bad-angle one-timer beautifully set up on the man advantage by Nikita Kucherov at 9:52.

At 12:53, Grigori Zheldakov took a great centering pass from Kuznetsov and knifed a backhand past Merzlikins to make it 5-0 Russia.

Visibly frustrated, the Latvians began jamming the front of Vasilevski’s net, striving to break his shutout streak. But all they got for their pains was another Russian power play with 5:41 left in the middle frame. Nikita Gusev made Latvia pay, powering a one-timer home from the left faceoff circle courtesy of Kuznetsov for a 6-0 lead at 15:07 of the second.

Gusev added another one with 1:26 left in the middle frame, scoring on a backhand on the rush.

Pavel Kulikov and Alexander Khokhlachev wasted no time at the start of the third period, stretching Russia’s lead to 9-0 by the 1:43 mark. Kuznetsov put Russia into double digits at 2:34 with his hat trick goal, set up neatly in front by Gusev. Zemchenko made it 11-0 at 4:14, with Kuznetsov grabbing the second assist.

In the last 10 minutes, Yaroslav Kosov, Khokhlachev, and Nikita Nesterov rounded out the scoring for Russia at 14-0.

"Everybody played great today, and I don't think Latvia expected that many goals," said Khokhlachev.

Kuznetsov's second assist on the last goal was his ninth point. He came close to tying Forsberg's record in the dying moments, but even with Russia's offence gushing like an oil well, the fifteenth goal proved elusive.

"Peter Forsberg is not a player that you can easily displace from a record book," said Kuznetsov, who "only" scored 11 points in the entire 2011 tournament as a World Junior rookie. To keep his scoring feat in perspective, he added: "Last year we learned that only a full team effort wins a gold medal."

The crowd chanted “Let’s go, Latvia!” midway through the third, and booed Russia. But it was scant consolation for the disheartened teens from the small Baltic nation. They'll complete their Preliminary Round schedule Friday versus Switzerland.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

TECUMSEH, Ont. – Sam Reinhart (West Vancouver, B.C./Kootenay, WHL) scored twice to lead the offence as Pacific opened up the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge by beating West 5-2 Wednesday night in an all-Canadian battle.

After losing two in a row to West – the 2005 gold medal game and 2008 bronze medal game – Pacific (1-0) has won back-to-back contests against its neighbours, including an identical 5-2 victory one year ago in Winnipeg, Man.

Morgan Klimchuk (Calgary, Alta./Regina, WHL) and Pacific captain Curtis Lazar (Vernon, B.C./Edmonton, WHL) added a goal and an assist each in the victory, while Macoy Erkamps (Ladner, B.C./Lethbridge, WHL) also put his name on the scoresheet.

Nicholas Zajac (Headingley, Man./Saskatoon, WHL) opened the scoring for West (0-1) just over five minutes in and Remi Laurencelle (Winnipeg, Man./Winnipeg, MMAAHL) pulled his team to within a goal late in the second period, but Klimchuk’s power play goal less than three minutes later put the final nail in the West coffin.

Pacific travels to LaSalle to take on the Czech Republic on Friday night (7 p.m. ET), looking for a 2-0 start, while West is off Friday before meeting the Czechs on Saturday night in Tecumseh (7 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at

U17s down Czechs in opener

Press Release

LASALLE, Ont. - Evan Allen (Sterling Heights, Mich.) and J.T. Compher (Northbrook, Ill.) netted two goals each, as the U.S. National Under-17 Team defeated the Czech Republic, 5-1, at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge opener here tonight at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex.

"The team benefited from a strong start tonight," said Don Granato, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "We hope to build off this win and expect a tough battle tomorrow with Russia."

Team USA cashed in on its first power-play opportunity at 2:49 of the first frame when Compher wristed a shot into the net. Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.) found Compher open at the top of the left faceoff circle for the score. Anthony Louis (Winfield, Ill.) also collected an assist on the play. The U.S. doubled its lead when Allen knocked in a feed from Butcher in front of the net. John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.) created space in the slot before finding Butcher to the left of the goaltender, leaving Allen open for the tally.

Compher flicked in a rebound off a shot from Hudson Fasching (Burnsville, Minn.) that snuck over the shoulder of Czech netminder Rene Svoboda for Team USA's third score on the night. Before time expired in the frame and while the U.S. was on the power play, Steven Santini (Mahopac, N.Y.) threw a shot on net that trickled past Svoboda, giving the U.S. a 4-0 lead after one period of action. Keaton Thompson (Devils Lake, N.D.) and Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) registered assists on the goal.

Neither team was able to light the lamp in the second period, despite 16 shots on net by Team USA. Thatcher Demko (San Diego, Calif.) entered the game and stopped all six Czech Republic shots he faced in the second period. Hunter Miska (North Branch, Minn.) started in goal and played the first 20 minutes, making eight saves in the opening period.

Allen notched his second tally of the night when he broke free from the Czech defense and beat Svoboda with a deke. Dawson Cook (Cadillac, Mich.) delivered the pass that sprung Allen and earned the lone assist. The Czech Republic found the scoresheet at 17:26 of the third frame, but Team USA skated away with a 5-1 victory.

The U.S. National Under-17 Team will continue tournament play against Russia on Friday (Dec. 30) at 2 p.m. EST. The game will be held at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ont.

(Nathan can be reached at

STORM owner gives gm/coach long-term contract

Press Release

KEARNEY, Neb. – During a press conference Thursday, Tri-City Storm Owner Kirk Brooks announced that he has agreed to a long-term contract with General Manager/Head Coach Josh Hauge. Terms of the two-and-half year (30 months) contract were not disclosed. The contract will not expire until June 30, 2014.

“Josh and I have agreed to a 30-month contract,” said Brooks. “I love his coaching style. It’s a completely different style, but it’s a style I like, and Josh has done a fine job everywhere he’s been and I know he’ll do a fine job here.”

Hauge, 32, who was originally hired on July 1, 2011, entered the season as an assistant coach. The hiring followed him coaching the Fairbanks Ice Dogs to winning the Robertson Cup – North American Hockey League Championship in May. He was promoted to becoming the sixth General Manager and Head Coach of the Storm on December 7, 2011.

“I would like to thank Mr. Brooks for this opportunity, this is a dream come true,” said Hauge. “When the offer came, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Hauge was the head coach of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs for three seasons, compiling a regular-season record of 111-49-15 (.694 winning-percentage) and was 20-9-0 in the post-season, which included a 10-1-0 mark in the playoffs last season winning the Robertson Cup. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach prior to becoming the head coach for Fairbanks and spent a total of six seasons in Alaska coaching the Ice Dogs.

“I’ve come here to reconfirm my commitment to Central Nebraska and to bring a championship to Kearney and the Tri-City area,” added Brooks.

The native of Rosemount, Minn., began his coaching career as the head coach of the Twin Cities Northern Lights (Minnesota Junior Hockey League) in 2002-03. In his only season behind the bench for the Northern Lights, Hauge led them to the league championship before leaving to go to league rival Dubuque Thunderbirds for two seasons.

In his first season with Dubuque, he captured his second league title in as many years as a head coach. Hauge was later named the MNJHL Coach of the Year in 2004. The following season, the Thunderbirds would finish as the runners-up to the MNJHL Champions – Minnesota Ice Hawks and would also finish second in the Tier III Jr. National Championships to the St. Louis Jr. Blues. Overall, he comprised a regular-season record of 93-27-7 in three seasons coaching in the Tier III – MNJHL.

“We think today is a necessary and formal step for this franchise,” said Storm President Greg Shea on the signing of Hauge. “We have a mission of making Storm hockey relevant.”
“We understand the climb up the standings is going to be tough, but we know Coach Hauge can get us to where we want to be. We want to enter this second half of the season with a solid message of solidarity and commitment from Mr. Brooks.”

In six seasons as a head coach in junior hockey, he has never had a record below .500 and missed the playoffs. He has coached teams to one national championship, two national championship runner-ups, three league championships, two league championship runner-ups, two regular season titles, four divisional championships, named coach of the year once, and has a career winning-percentage of .727 (40-15) in the playoffs in his lustrous career.

“I want this to be one big family and something the community can take pride in,” Hauge said.

Hauge and his wife, Allison, live in Kearney, Neb., as they were married this past August in Minnesota.

(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Press Release

Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatoon Blades are pleased to welcome a pair of new players as they have acquired defenceman Matthew Pufahl and forward Locke Muller from the Red Deer Rebels.

In exchange for the two players, the Blades dealt defenceman Devan Fafard and a 7th round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

Pufahl, a Saskatoon native, has posted 1 goal and 4 points in 30 games this season with the Rebels. In Muller, the Blades acquire a 6’2 right winger from St. Paul, Alberta. He has 1 goal and 6 points in 33 games so far this season.

The Blades would like to thank Devan Fafard for his time within the Saskatoon Blades organization and wish him well with the Red Deer Rebels organization.

(Nathan can be reached at

Harrington points Canada's win

Press Release

EDMONTON – Canada got four goals in the first period and coasted to a 10-2 win over Denmark at the Rexall Centre tonight. Defenceman Scott Harrington led the way with a goal and three assists while another defenceman, Brandon Gormley and Mark Stone, each had two goals and an assist.

"I think the most points I got in my OHL career was three in a game, so that tops it," Harrington said after.

Canada is now in command of Group B with nine points, a situation which bodes well for the playoffs. The top team in each group advances directly to the semi-finals while the second and third place teams must win a quarter-finals game to get as far. Denmark is still winless and pointless in three games and will be headed to the Relegation Round after the New Year.

This marked only the second meeting between the teams in U20 play. Canada won the first game, 4-1, at the 2008 U20.

If Denmark had any hope of pulling off a stunning upset, it knew a strong start was essential. Unfortunately Canada got the superior start and never let up. Quinton Howden got things going at 2:24, taking a breakaway pass from Harrington and busting through the defenceman before beating Sebastian Feuk with a shot to the stick side.

Brett Connolly made it 2-0 four minutes later while Canada was short-handed. A loose puck rolled down the ice and Feuk was indecisive about coming out to play it. Connolly got their first and drilled a shot over the goalie’s shoulder.

Some great pressure from Jonathan Huberdeau led to the third goal. He hassled defenceman Anders Thode who gave up the puck directly in front of Feuk. Stone was right there and drilled a shot past a surprised Feuk.

"We just try to stick what we do best," Stone said. "Cycle on the puck, getting the puck down to the net, that’s the way we score goals and we scored a lot that way tonight."

And then, to finish off the period in style, the top-scoring line in the tournament went to work again. This time Ryan Strome got to a loose puck in the crease and beat the beleaguered Feuk with assists from Stone and Huberdeau, the three now the top scorers in the tourney so far. All of them have seven points in three games.

The Danes had only one decent chance, and that came on a two-on-one. But Canadian defenceman Ryan Murray broke the play up and goalie Mark Visentin didn’t even have to make a save. Shots were 15-3 for Canada in the opening 20 minutes.

Canada added three more goals in the middle period, and they all had one thing in common – a point shot from Harrington. He scored just 25 seconds into the period and then took two more point shots deftly deflected in front of Feuk by Stone and then Freddie Hamilton. That made it 7-0. Harrington had only two shots on goal in the first two games.

Canada also took the only three penalties of the period, but the Danish power play, which was so effective against the United States on the first day of the tournament, was shut down.

The third period was a wild affair as teams combined for five goals (Canada getting three). The Danes got on the board at 3:55 off a scramble in front of Visentin. Nicolai Meyer got his stick on a loose puck and ripped a quick shot past the goalie’s blocker. Meyer and teammates celebrated with particular enthusiasm despite it being a 7-1 game.

"It was an incredible experience to score especially because there were so many people," Meyer enthused. "It was sort of a dream. I didn’t think it would come true, but it did."

Emil Kristensen added a second Danish goal on the power play a few minutes later, making a nice tip of a Nicklas Jensen point shot.

Canada's Brandon Gormley came right back and scored on another point shot with the extra man. It was Canada's first power play of the game. He got the next goal off a long shot while teams were playing four-on-four. Brendan Gallagher finished the scoring on a short-handed breakaway.

Canada took eight penalties and Denmark only two, a fact that didn't sit well with Canada's coach, Don Hay. "We can't take eight penalties in our next game, that's for sure," he said emphatically.

Canada closes out its Preliminary Round with a showdown most fans would consider the highlight of the first week of games – a New Year’s Eve date with the United States. Denmark plays Finland tomorrow night.

"We did a great job tonight," said Harrington. "That’s the way of game we wanted leading up to the big game (against the U.S.)."
(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

WINDSOR, Ont. – Spencer Martin (Oakville, Ont./Mississauga St. Michael’s, OHL) made 19 saves for the shutout as Ontario opened defense of its World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gold medal with a 5-0 victory over Germany in front of more than 3,000 fans at the WFCU Centre on Thursday afternoon.

The result was a reversal of fortune from the last time Ontario defended a gold medal on home ice – in 2010, it suffered a shocking 5-3 loss to Finland in its opening game in Timmins, Ont., although it rebounded to reach the gold medal game.

Hometown favourite Adam Bateman (Caledon, Ont./Windsor, OHL) and captain Bo Horvat (Rodney, Ont./London, OHL) led the offence for Ontario, recording a goal and an assist each, while Brandon Robinson (Pickering, Ont./Brampton, OHL), Nicholas Ritchie (Orangeville, Ont./Peterborough, OHL) and Windsor native Trevor Murphy (Windsor, Ont./Peterborough, OHL) also found the back of the net.

Aaron Ekblad (Belle River, Ont./Barrie, OHL) and Max Domi (Toronto, Ont./London, OHL) added two assists each in the victory.

Germany got 27 saves from Kevin Reich, but could not beat Martin, who was busiest in the third period, making nine saves.

Ontario will look for a 2-0 start against Sweden on Friday night in Windsor (7 p.m. ET), while the Germans will try to even their record against Quebec in the evening game in Tecumseh (7 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

TECUMSEH, Ont. – Jonathan Drouin (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) scored the game-winner midway through the second period and added an assist as Quebec opened the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 3-2 victory over Atlantic on Thursday afternoon.

The result was a repeat of last year’s tournament opener, which saw Quebec earn a 9-3 win. Quebec hasn’t lost to Atlantic since a 5-2 defeat at the 2005 tournament in Lethbridge, Alta.

Yan-Pavel Laplante (Ste-Martine, Que./P.E.I., QMJHL) and Frédérik Gauthier (Mascouche, Que./Collège Esther-Blondin, QMJHL) also scored for Quebec (1-0), which outshot Atlantic 38-26.

Mitchell Vanderlaan (Hanwell, N.B./Rothesay Netherwood School, Can. Prep) and Kris Hodge (Conception Bay South, N.L./Notre Dame, SMAAAHL) scored the goals for Atlantic (0-1), which trailed 3-0 after Drouin’s goal before mounting a comeback.

Quebec is right back to action Friday, taking on Germany in Tecumseh (7 p.m. ET), while Atlantic will have a day off to regroup before facing the Germans in LaSalle on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET).

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The OJHL North Division All-Stars finished as the inaugural Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge runner-up after falling 5-1 to the QJAAAHL All-Stars.

The North didn't get off to the start they wanted, falling behind 1-0 just nine seconds into the 1st period on a goal by Samuel Aquin of the QJAAAHL. The North would outshoot Quebec the rest of the period, but were stoned by netminder Frederic Piche at every opportunity.

The 2nd period saw much of the same, except this time the 'Q' dominated the North for much of the period, outshooting them 19-6 and put three more goals, including two from Julien Corriveau, past North goaltender Jason Pucciarelli of the Newmarket Hurricanes. Score after two periods of play was 4-0 for Quebec.

The third period saw the two teams trade goals with Drake Caggiula of the Stouffville Spirit continuing his tremendous play by finally breaking Piche's shutout bid. Final score 5-1 for the QJAAAHL All-Stars, who become the first-ever Central Canada Cup champions.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The OJHL North Division All-Stars downed the CCHL Robinson Division All-Stars 2-1 in a shootout to earn a spot in the first-ever Central Canada Cup championship game.

Jason Pucciarelli of the Newmarket Hurricanes was a rock between the pipes for the North and despite being outshot 14-6 in the 1st period, the North came away with a 1-0 lead thanks to a breakaway goal courtesy of Pucciarelli's Hurricanes' teammate Christopher Chiste.

It was much of the same in the 2nd period, before Tyson Spink, Pucciarelli's Team Canada East teammate at the recent World Junior 'A' Challenge, finally broke the shutout with just under five minutes remaining in the period.

After a five minute 4-on-4 overtime solved nothing, it was off to yet another shootout. The first round saw Jeff DiNallo of the Hurricanes stopped and Pucciarelli with a save. Then Stouffville Spirit star Drake Caggiula scored to give the North a 1-0 shootout lead followed by another Pucciarelli save. OJHL leading scorer Christian Finch of the Stouffville Spirit had the game in his hands but was foiled by CCHL netminder Lukas Hafner before Pucciarelli stopped the third shootout attempt to win the game.

(Nathan can be reached at

Cougars Trade Inglis to Red Deer for Siwak.

Press Release

The Prince George Cougars have traded 1992-born forward Charles Inglis to the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for 1993-born forward Daulton Siwak and a third-round draft pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

Siwak (Olds, AB) stands 6’0’ and weighs 190 pounds and has registered five goals and two assists through 18 games this season.

Siwak has spent his entire WHL career with Red Deer and has recorded 20 goals and 39 points through 161 career games. Siwak has also managed five points in 12 career playoff games with the Rebels,

This summer Siwak participated in the NHL research and development camp which is used by the NHL to explore new rule possibilities for upcoming seasons.

Siwak will join the club on their current road-trip through Vancouver and Kamloops.

(Nathan can be reached at

PEI Rocket trade Captain Matt Hobbs

Press Release

The PEI Rocket traded 20 year old defenseman and team captain, Matthew Hobbs, to the Victoriaville Tigres. In return for Hobbs, the Rocket received a 2nd round pick ( Victoriavile acquired it from Baie Comeau), a 6th round pick (Victoriaville acquired it from St. John) and 18 year old right winger, Benjamin Laliberte. Laliberte, a first round pick in the 2009 QMJHL Entry Draft, had 1 goal and 2 assists in 19 games with the Tigres this year.

Rocket President, Serge Savard Jr, said, "Matthew Hobbs has done a lot of good things for this organization in the time he was here. However, we had the opportunity to get some pieces that will be assets as we continue to rebuild and we had to take it. We wish Matthew all the best on and off the ice this year and in years to come."

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs have acquired another first-round pick in the 2012 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft.

The Sea Dogs made their second trade of the annual Christmas trading period Thursday, sending forward Scott Oke to the Rimouski Oceanic, along with the rights to defenceman Maxime Gravel and Chicoutimi’s third-round pick in 2012.

In return the Sea Dogs receive a first-round pick in 2012, previously acquired from the Moncton Wildcats, along with Bathurst’s seventh-round pick in 2012.

The move gives the Sea Dogs three picks in the first round of the 2012 entry draft. The final trade period of the QMJHL season ends Jan. 7.

Oke, 18, was Saint John’s third-round pick, 37th overall, of the 2009 QMJHL Entry Draft. He made his QMJHL debut with nine games in 2009-10, then appeared in 54 games for last year’s Memorial Cup champions, tallying five goals and 10 points. He added a goal and six points in 18 playoff contests and played in all four games at the Memorial Cup.

Oke, who attended training camp with the Dallas Stars of the NHL in the fall, has nine goals, 22 points and 24 penalty minutes through 37 games so far this season.

Saint John selected Gravel in the third round of the 2011 entry draft but he did not report to training camp.

(Nathan can be reached at

Raiders Recall Waseylenko

Press Release

Prince Albert SK – The Prince Albert Raiders have recalled 18-year-old defensemen Matt Waseylekno from the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Waseylenko has appeared in 27 games so far this season with Camrose, totalling 5 assists and 23 penalty minutes to go with a plus/minus rating of plus-2. The St. Albert, Alberta product was drafted by the Raiders in the 5th round, 103rd overall, in the 2008 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

(Nathan can be reached at

Russia quells gutsy Slovaks

Press Release

CALGARY – Slovakia managed to hang tough with Russia through two periods, but a third-period goal by Mikhail Naumenkov proved decisive in a 3-1 win for the defending champions Wednesday at the Saddledome. Russia remains perfect atop Group A, while the Slovaks suffered their first loss.

Igor Ozhiganov and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Russia. Milos Bubela replied for Slovakia.

Despite posting its second straight win, Russia has only scored six goals, off the pace that most would have predicted for this traditional offensive powerhouse.

"We attacked better than we did against Switzerland, but we still need to capitalize on our chances," Ozhiganov said. "We need to score more."

Andrei Makarov got his first start in goal for Russia and got the win versus Slovakia's Juraj Simboch. Shots on goal favoured Russia 40-32.

"Our goalie was very good, but we just couldn't score when we had the chance," Bubela said.

The Russians could easily have drawn first blood in the first period. They often owned the puck, playing keepaway. Hard, tape-to-tape passes abounded, and they outshot Slovakia 18-8. Makarov was steady when he needed to be during the Slovaks’ first man advantage.

It was the Slovaks who opened the scoring, however, with 33 seconds left in the opening stanza. The Russians got too eager to break out of their own zone, and Bubela turned the puck over, firing a quick shot past Makarov’s left pad from the faceoff circle.

"The puck got tied up with a couple of players and ended up in my feet," Bubela explained. "I just shot it to the net and it went in."

Russia’s early frustration showed when Ivan Telegin broke his stick while slashing that of Slovak captain Tomas Matousek right at the buzzer. He took a minor and a misconduct for throwing down his shattered twig in disgust.

The Russian defence got involved in the middle frame. Ozhiganov tied it up on Russia’s first shot of the period at 4:11, powering a slapper set up by Nail Yakupov from the left point past Simboch.

The crowd oohed when Ildar Isangulov laid Vladimir Dolnik out with a huge, shoulder-on-shoulder hit deep in the Russian end.

With 5:19 left in the second, the officials video-reviewed a wild scramble around Makarov’s crease to see if the Slovaks had jammed the puck over the goal line. But it was ruled no goal to the disappointment of Slovak supporters among the 15.987 on hand.

Could Slovakia hang on and pull off an upset? The answer was no.

Just 1:15 into the third period, Naumenkov put Russia up 2-1 with another shot from just inside the left point, this time a high wrister off a faceoff win by Ignat Zemchenko.

Simboch had to be sharp on a Slovak giveaway that gave Telegin a spinaround shot on goal from the slot with about 13 minutes left.

Russia got some insurance with 5:29 left when Kucherov took a sneaky, beautiful Mikhail Grigorenko pass from behind the net and popped it past Simboch for a 3-1 lead.

"We've played together for a while, so it hasn't just been two weeks together," said Ozhiganov. "There are some mistakes we need to improve on, but overall it has been a good start."

Dating back to Slovakia’s entry into the top-level World Juniors in 1996, the Slovaks have never defeated Russia at the World Junior Championship. Russia vanquished Slovakia 8-1 the last time these nations met at the 2009 tournament in Ottawa.

Next up, Russia faces Latvia on Thursday, while the Slovaks take on Sweden on Friday.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The OJHL North Division All-Stars will face the CCHL Robinson Division All-Stars after falling 1-0 to the NOJHL All-Stars in the final round-robin game.

In a defensive battle, NOJHL netminders Ken Appleby and Jean-Philippe Fecteau stopped all 22 shots they faced to combine for the shutout and teammate Nick Esposito scored the game-winner early in the 1st period en route to the victory.

For a full game summary, CLICK HERE.

The OJHL North finished 2nd in Pool 'B' and will now face the 1st place CCHL Robinson Division All-Stars from Pool 'A' in one semi-final with puck drop at 12:30pm.  The other semi-final will see the CCHL Yzerman Division All-Stars, who finished first in Pool 'B', meet the QJAAAHL All-Stars, game time is 2:30pm.  The two winners will meet in the first-ever Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge championship game beginning at 7pm.

Congratulations to all members of the OJHL East, South and West Division All-Star Teams for a tremendous effort the last two days and best of luck to the North in their semi-final match-up tomorrow.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The OJHL West Division All-Stars were officially eliminated from the Central Canada Cup following a 4-0 loss to the CCHL Yzerman Division All-Star Team.

The West was outshot 14-9 in the game and failed to muster any offence as they were shutout by Pembroke Lumber Kings netminder Francis Dupuis. The team was led by two goal performances in the tournament from both Shane Conacher of the Burlington Cougars and Shane Bennett of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres.

The final round-robin game features the OJHL North Division All-Stars who have already clinched a semi-final berth, facing off against the NOJHL All-Stars with a first place Pool 'B' finish on the line.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The OJHL South Division All-Stars fell in their final game of the Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge round-robin 2-1 to the QJAAAHL All-Stars missing a chance to play in the semi-final.

After Matt Buckles of the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots scored to make it 1-0 midway through the 1st period, Quebec potted two unanswered goals and held on for a narrow 2-1 victory, clinching 2nd place in Pool 'A' and a spot in the semi-final.

Mark Cooper of the St. Michael's Buzzers led the way for the South, recording two goals and two assists in the tournament.

(Nathan can be reached at

Canada wins, but not easily

Press Release

EDMONTON – Canada got goals from four players and goalie Scott Wedgewood, making his U20 debut, was flawless in leading Canada to a 5-0 victory. Wedgewood even chipped in a key assist along the way and stopped all 26 shots he faced.

Mark Scheifele got two goals and Tanner Pearson had two assists. Eleven different players had points in the game.

"He did a great job," said forward Ryan Strome. "He did everything he was supposed to do and had an assist. He pretty much did it all. Every time we needed a lift he was there and made a great save."

"I made some saves that gave me confidence, and my teammates helped me a lot. It was pretty cool," Wedgewood said. Coach Don Hay hinted Mark Visentin might start tomorrow night against Denmark, simply because of the rest factor, but Wedgewood has been the better of the two and has earned at least one more start.

Canada’s dominance against the Czech Republic continues. Since 1994 after the Czechs gained full independence, Canada has not lost (12 wins, 2 ties) and holds a goal differential of 66-20 in those 14 games (including tonight).

But tonight was different. In truth, the Czechs were right in the game for the first 36 minutes, and a bounce here or there might have changed the game's outcome at that point.

Canada got on the board at 5:37 thanks to some fine play behind the Czech net by the team’s top line. Jonathan Huberdeau made a great play cycling the puck and avoiding defenceman Lukas Sedlak. Huberdeau powered out front and tried to stuff the puck in, but goalie Petr Mrazek made the stop.

All the goalie could do was get his stick down, and the rebound came right to Mark Stone at the far side. He snapped it home for his fourth goal of the tournament, sending the Canadian crowd into a frenzy.

The first period had a little bit of everything. Canada continued to dominate, using superior strength to maintain possession in the Czech end. The Czechs, though, looked dangerous periodically on quick counter attacks, but Wedgewood made the saves when called upon.

The Czechs had a great chance to tie the game late in the period when they had a two-man advantage for 63 seconds, but they created few good scoring chances. The successful penalty killing also brought the fans and Canadian players alive, and much of the remaining minutes were spent in the Czech end.

In the final minute, Jiri Riha closed his hand on the puck in the crease, saving a goal but forcing a penalty shot. Stone took it, but his strategy of deke-and-stuff didn’t fool Mrazek for a second. The cocky goalie went down on one knee for a first pump after the save, inciting the crowd but giving his own team some spirit as the period came to a close.

The second period was dominated by Canada, but it seemed as though the Czechs could have caused more trouble than they did. Canada had two early power-play chances but didn’t do much on either, and this gave the Czechs some confidence. They played evenly with the hosts for much of the time, and even after 36 minutes it was still a one-goal game.

"We played well 37 minutes, then we had a penalty kill, and had a fortunate goal," Mrazek noted.

But soon enough, the opportunity lost, the Czechs fell into a deep hole. Wedgewood made a great pass up ice on a Canada power play and Freddie Hamilton cut in on goal only to be stoned by Mrazek. The puck followed Hamilton, though, and he swept it back towards the goal. Ryan Strome had an empty net to make it 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Brett Connolly made it 3-0, taking a shot that squeaked through Mrazek’s pads towards the goal line. Connolly followed the shot to the goal and poked the loose disc over the line. This was the demoralizing goal for the Czechs whom one could tell felt they had lost their chance to pull off an upset.

Some tenacious forechecking from Tanner Pearson created Canada’s foruth goal at 9:00 of the third. He hounded David Musil behind the Czech goal until forcing a turnover, and then from his knees passed it out front to Scheifele who made Pearson’s efforts worth it with a perfect shot.

Scheifele then added his second on a late power play, but the rest of the period was chippy and looked to be one push or shove away from chaos.

Perhaps the only disappointing part of the game for Canada fans happened after the game. As the sold-out crowd chanted Wedgewood's name, Freddie Hamilton was named player of the game. "That’s the first time this ever happened to me," Wedgewood said. "It was pretty surreal. I just turned around and sipped my water, and they stand up and cheer me on. It was great support here in Edmonton."

Canada continues its Group B play tomorrow against Denmark while the Czechs next play on Thursday against the United States.

"We played very well and our goalkeeper was very strong," said Huberdeau. "Every game is important, and tomorrow we try to be ready at the rink and put the puck into the net. Every team that plays against us comes out hard and wants to play their best game"

(Nathan can be reached at