Showing posts with label Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Show all posts

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Czechs win bronze in front of appreciative home crowd

Press Release

Despite what might have been the prevailing opinion of the hockey world, nobody who had seen this Czech team play over the past week would have considered them underdogs against the team from Russia which, by all rights, should be much better. After getting thumped by Canada in the opening game and looking like it would happen again the next night, they were on the verge of elimination before coming back from the dead against Switzerland and then out-willing Sweden to make the semifinals. In the semifinal game, they gave a talented American team all they could handle, and so they surely knew that with this Breclav crowd behind them again, the bronze medal was there for them if they wanted it badly enough.

The start to this game was in stark contrast to the semifinal against the USA, though, in which both teams came out hitting. This one was a passive affair for pretty well all of the first period and a good part of the second, before things finally began to pick up. The Czechs have their best line to thank.

Five minutes into the second period, David Pastrnak tried to get things going by making a great inside-out move to to fool Radel Fazleyev, which forced the Russian to turn and put a hook on him, resulting in a penalty. Although they didn´t score on the resulting power play, they started building momentum, and just past the 29-minute mark they broke through. Pastrnak won a faceoff in the attacking zone to Lukas Vopelka, who shot immediately. Maxim Sidorov stopped it, but the rebound came right to Jakub Vrana, who quickly knocked it in, just three seconds after the draw.

1:20 later, they struck again. This time, defenceman Jan Scotka fed David Pastrnak, who scored to make it 2-0. And they kept coming.

Back on their heels, Daniil Vovchenko was sent off for interference just 43 seconds after the second goal and Ilya Dervuk was called for hooking 26 seconds after that, making it five-on-three. The Russians were in danger of letting this game get out of hand.

Wisely, Russian coach Pavel Baulin called a timeout to settle his team down, which was badly needed. It was, in fact, a turning point in the game, as they killed off both penalties and then for the rest of the middle period were the better team.

With 4:49 left in the middle frame, Daniil Vovchenko went upstairs on Jan Pechek in the Czech goal to get the Russians on the board. Two minutes later, they almost tied it shorthanded but the officials ruled that Pechek had made the save and was pushed over the line after.

The Russians began the third period on the power play, and another Czech penalty for having too many players on the ice followed soon after. Momentum had now swung a full 180 degrees from when Baulin called the timeout, and Russia tied the game in the 47th minute when Maxim Lazarev dropped a pass to the trailer Eduard Nasybullin, who fired it home.

But the Czechs, and in particular their top line, weren´t done yet.

There was a spark every time the trio was on the ice, and once forced Sidorov to come up big in a scramble--Vrana even had his arms in the air. But they eventually did it. Again, right off a faceoff in the attacking zone won by Pastrnak (10/13 in the circle this game), this time it took seven seconds for Petr Vrana to go upstairs with it from in close with 1:25 to play, giving all three of them a goal in the game, and 3 points for Pastrnak.

The Russians never mustered a response after that, and as the final siren sounded to end the game the Czechs came pouring off the bench, while the fans roared their approval. 

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Canada make it six in a row with shutout victory

Press Release

It was a case of new year, same result at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, as Canada repeated last year’s 4-0 victory over Finland in the gold medal game with an identical victory against the U.S.A. on Saturday afternoon in Piešťany. It was the crowning moment on what has been a great 2013 for the Canadian U-18 program, as they added the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup gold to IIHF World U-18 Championships victory in Sochi in April.

Joe Hicketts, who was a member of the victorious team in Sochi said, ‘We wanted to keep the tradition alive. Six years and it’s been quite a ride for Canadian hockey and to win it in the same year we won the U-18 Championships is big.’

While Canada were unable to repeat their semi-final performance insofar as scoring in the opening minute of the game, they took the lead early on as Michael Dal Colle’s fourth minute goal pushed the Canadian’s ahead. Spencer Watson dropped the puck back as he cut to the goal, and the Oshawa Generals forward wired a wrist shot top corner glove side on Alex Nedeljkovic.

It was a game of inches in the early going, as although the Americans were doing better at generating chances on the rush, Canada was often able to gain the zone at will and cycle the puck well. It was also a physical encounter, as Jayce Hawryluk felled towering American defenceman Brandon Carlo in the neutral zone with a big hit

Late in the period, the Americans were able to generate a number of chances which Julio Billia had to do well to keep out. Firstly Paul Bittner shot on a 2 on 1 opportunity, forcing Billia to hold his post and make the save. With 90 seconds left in the first frame, Billia made a fantastic pad stop on a Jack Dougherty howitzer from the point after some brilliant play by American top scorer Nick Schmaltz in the build-up.

Early in the second period, the Americans tested Billia twice, as Nick Wolff and Team U.S.A. captain Ryan Wagner went close to lighting the lamp. However, the Montréal native was able to frustrate the American shooters at every opportunity, flashing the leather to stop Wagner’s effort.

‘Canada has a very good team and we just fell a little short,’ said Wagner following the game. ‘We only had two weeks together, we did our best. It was a good game.’

‘There was definitely a little bit of fatigue. We’ve been on the ice two times a day for two weeks and travelling and the time change. It was very hard for our guys but we battled through and fell a little short.’

However, despite the American pressure, Canada still looked in control of the game, and Jayce Hawrlyuk’s goal mid-way through the period was a real back-breaker. Hawrlyuk was able to beat Nedeljkovic five-hole to double Canada’s advantage, and sent his side into the second intermission two goals to the good.

With twenty minutes left in the gold medal game, it seemed that the Americans simply had run out of gas. A tough, physical affair in Břeclav last night seemed to take it out of the team. Head Coach Bob Corkum commented, ‘Our guys spent a lot of energy last night to beat the Czechs who are a very good team’.

‘But our hat is off to Canada, they played extremely well’.

The Canadians were able to restrict Team U.S.A. to a paltry seven shots in the third period, which was a massive aid to Billia’s shutout bid. However, for Canadian defenceman Hicketts, the shutout was not the be all and end all.

‘It was definitely nice, but any win is a win. The shutout just added a little more to win.’

The gold was sealed for Canada after the half-way point in the third period, as they scored two goals in less than two minutes to secure their victory. An Aaron Ekblad rocket on the powerplay crashed in off the crossbar to put Canada three goals to the good, before Brayden Point’s dogged work in getting the puck on net saw the rebound trickle to Brendan Lemieux, who was jogging on the spot at the back door and made no mistake by roofing the puck and adding salt to the wound for the Americans.

It was a case of what could have been for Team U.S.A., who can no doubt be happier about their performance than this time last year. In 2012, the Americans were playing in the 7th/8th place playoff, so the silver medal represents a great improvement.

Captain Ryan Wagner added, ‘It’s definitely a good tournament for us. Over the years the U.S. has fell really short and over the years we’ve gotten closer. I feel like we’re happy with the silver.’

It was an interesting tournament for Team Canada, who faced adversity in the group stage following a loss to Sweden and then needing a shootout to defeat Switzerland. Hicketts added, ‘There were questions whether or not we were going to make it after our game against Switzerland.’

‘We re-focused. We had our little scare and faced our adversity and we got back to business. We didn’t take anything lightly from there on and we pulled together from there.’

Spencer Watson led the way with three assists against the Americans, to give him ten points in Canada’s five games, and the Kingston Frontenacs forward certainly shone throughout the tournament as Canada secured two comfortable victories in Piešťany to take gold.

(Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Friday, August 9, 2013

U.S. Under-18 Select Team Beats Czech Republic, 5-3, in Semifinals

Press Release sent to the World of Junior Hockey

BRECLAV, Czech Republic -- Four different U.S. players scored goals and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) made 23 saves to help the U.S. Under-18 Select Team defeat the Czech Republic, 5-3, in the semifinals of the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament today. 

"The guys really dug down deep to get the win," head coach Bob Corkum said. "It was really hot and humid in the arena, but they battled through everything and got the job done when it mattered. Now it's important for them to get rest and fluids with the quick turnaround, and then we'll get ready for tomorrow." 

After an early first-period goal gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead, Jake Wahlin (St. Paul, Minn.) took a drop pass from Cody Milan (White Lake, Mich.) and placed a shot between Czech goaltender Vic Vanecek and the post to knot the score at 9:49. Then, eight minutes later, Team USA took the lead when Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) scored on a shot through traffic just after a power play ended to give the U.S. a 2-1 edge at intermission.

The Czech Republic responded with a goal early in the middle frame, but Schmaltz helped the U.S. regain a one-goal advantage two minutes later. As the Czech Republic tried to clear its own zone, Schmaltz intercepted a pass and beat Vanecek for his second goal of the contest.

Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.) broke a 3-3 midway through the third period when he got behind the Czech Republic defense and tallied the game-winning goal. Milan added an empty-netter to cap the scoring.
The U.S. will play Canada in tomorrow's championship game at 11:00 a.m. ET in Piestany, Slovakia. It marks the ninth time in Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament history that the U.S. has played for the championship, and is the first appearance for the United States in the title game since 2010.
 
 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Canada secure place in final with gritty win over Russia

Press Release

 Canada came out in the first period all guns blazing, and it only took them 39 seconds to take the lead. Spencer Watson led the rush, going one on one with Russian defenceman Alexei Sleptsov. The Canadian forward managed to get his Russian opponent scrambling, before backhanding the puck through the five hole of Sergei Korobov to light the lamp.

‘I guess I just made a few good moves on the D and slid it through the five hole on the goalie and luckily it went in. It was a huge goal,’ said Watson following the game.

However, the Canadians were unable to really build on that momentum as ill-discipline began to cost them dear. Two early penalties to Sam Bennett and Haydn Fleury gave the Russians powerplay opportunities, but the Russian powerplay, which has flattered to deceive so far in Piešťany, struggled to generate any meaningful chances.

A further penalty ten minutes in to Alexandre Carrier gave Russia another two minutes on the man advantage, and this time they went close. However, Julio Billia denied Ilya Znoviev at the back door with a fantastic sprawling save to keep the Russians off the board.

Canada’s assistant coach Dominique Ducharme commented, ‘We weren’t expecting a lot of penalties. We wanted to be staying out of the box because we respect their powerplay a lot. We expected a tight game and that’s what we wanted to play.’

While Russia’s powerplay spluttered, Canada’s powerplay looked dangerous. First Aaron Ekblad went close, but his point shot was kicked away by Korobov. While they could not convert on their first chance, Canada made good on their second opportunity. Quick puck movement by Michael Dal Colle and Spencer Watson kept the Russians scrambling, and the latter was able to find linemate Sam Bennett at the back door, who made no mistake tapping the puck into the gaping net.

The shots were 10-5 after the first period, and for the Russians it really was a case of not being able to get enough quality shots on Billia in the Canadian net. They were far too wasteful in front of goal, as many of their shots went high and wide. Billia had to be alert to deny Ilya Zinoviev and Eduard Nasybullin, but the Canadians looked comfortable.

However, things got interesting with five minutes left in the period, as while Roland Mckeown sat for two, Damir Sharipzyanov wired a shot from the point which flew into the top corner of Billia’s net, cutting the deficit to one.

Tempers got heated towards the end of the second, as many whistles were accompanied by pushing and shoving. Ducharme added, ‘It’s always fun to be involved in Canada-Russia games. There’s always a lot of emotion. We really wanted to be playing for gold and that alone was a big motivation.’

A thunder storm in Piešťany which began in the final minute of the second period caused havoc, as it knocked out the scoreboard at the end of the ice. However, that did not seem to affect the players too much. An early 5 on 3 powerplay chance was killed by Canada, and half a minute later, Billia made a fantastic glove save on a Vladislav Kamenev shot from the point, getting enough of his glove on the puck to deflect it onto the post.

Canada were looking to close out the game in the third period, but they came closest to scoring in the final ten minutes, as a Roland Mckeown point shot was deftly tipped by Michael Dal Colle in front of Korobov, sending the puck ringing off the crossbar and out of play.

However, Canada’s defence was simply too strong for Russia to breach. They restricted the Russians to a paltry three shots in the final period, and despite only being a goal to the good, their place in the final never really looked threatened. With 62 seconds left in the game, Clark Bishop added an empty net goal, firing a shot from the neutral zone which went in off the post.

The final buzzer saw wild celebrations for the Canadian players, who have taken their country to another Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup Final. For the Russians it was a case of what could have been, as while they played well in spells in Piešťany, they never really put together a solid sixty minutes of hockey.

Spencer Watson, who had two points in the semi-final concluded, ‘I think we just keep pushing ahead. As a team now we’re playing great and I think we’ll have a great chance in the gold medal game.’

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Finns rally late & take 5th place on shootout win

Press Release

Despite the heartbreaking way they lost their birth in the semifinals--by losing their last two group games in shootouts and being on the wrong side of the dividing line in a three-way tie--the Swiss came out the more energetic team in this game for fifth place.

They got the early chances but the Finns got good goaltending from Joona Voutilainen, who was making his first start of the tournament. Just past the five-minute mark, he was under pressure when Sin Schlapfter tried to slip a wraparound past him and Kris Smidl tried to jam it in right after.

The Finns ran into some penalty trouble though when Antti Kauppinen closed his hand on the puck in the neutral zone and then, after forcing a faceoff in the attacking zone with 3 seconds left in that penalty, Teemu Lamsa hacked at the arm of Swiss goaltender Kevin Fehr and was went off. With the faceoff moved to the Finnish zone and a brief two-man advantage, the Swiss went to work and Edson Harlacher opened the scoring.

In a slumber for much of the first period, the Finns started to wake up late in the period and almost tied the game when defenceman Sami Niku sent Mikko Rantanen in alone. Fehr made a great pad save, but Rantanen would get his revenge later.

The Swiss again spent much of the early part of the second period on the power play and got their second goal in the 25th minute when Tobias Klopfer banged home a loose puck after it initially looked like Voutilainen had it covered. The Finns got one back six minutes later, though, on a similar play, when Rantanen managed to force the puck across the line after it looked like it was covered.

When

Pius Suter restored Switzerland´s two-goal lead with 10:22 left in the third period, it looked like the Swiss were poised to claim fifth place, but the Finns still had some life, and it was Rantanen who provided the spark.

A minute after the third Swiss goal, the Finns went to the power play and Rantanen and Lasma moved the puck well and found Juho Lammikko at the far post for the tap-in. Then with 2:34 to play they tied it--Rantanen led a rush into the Swiss zone and found Walterri Hopponen with a pass, who in turn beat Fehr with a beautiful wrist shot just inside the post.

After a scoreless five-minute overtime period, the game went to a shootout, and Mikko Rantanen was the only shooter to score--slowing down and then beating Fehr upstairs. With four points, Rantanen takes over the tournament´s scoring lead with 9 points. As for the Swiss, they had lost in a shootout for the third straight game and have to settle for sixth.
 
 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Sweden proves a point by thrashing Slovakia

Press Release

In a first period eerily similar to the final round robin game between the U.S.A. and Slovakia, Sweden came out and took the game to the Slovaks. Outshooting the hosts 14-4, Sweden jumped out in front in the third minute, with William Nylander Altelius wiring a wrist shot top corner from the right slot on the powerplay.
Cut forward four minutes and the Swedes had doubled their lead, as Adrian Kempe benefits from a Slovak defence which was far too passive throughout the whole game, and the MODO junior slotted the puck past Stanislav Škorvánek. However, unlike Wednesday’s game, Sweden would only go into the first intermission with a three goal lead, as Kempe added his second with 76 seconds to go, finishing a 2 on 1 break after getting the feed from Anton Karlsson.

Nylander Altelius, who had a brace in the game commented, ‘It was fun but a little boring playing for the second last spot. We did what we did and came out to win to end the tournament in a good way.’
‘We had a point to prove. We think we should have gone a bit further in this tournament. We were hoping for semi-finals but we couldn’t make it, so this was a way to make a statement.’
They certainly did make a statement with a second period performance which simply blew the Slovaks away. Two minutes in, William Lagesson wired a wrist shot top corner after great set-up play by Anton Karlsson. .
Slovakia managed to get back into the game following this, as Adrian Holešínský got a breakaway chance which Linus Soderstrom saved, but soon the game was all but over. Sweden scored five times in four and a half minutes to embarrass the hosts.

Henrik Tornqvist scored first on the powerplay, before Daniel Muzito Bagenda scored on a breakaway just fourteen seconds later. With the score at 6-0, Škorvánek was pulled in favour of Maximillián Pajpach, but that did nothing to curb the hungry Swedes. Nylander Altelius scored his second of the game at the 33:16 mark, before Muzito Bagenda scored a second breakaway effort. Anton Karlsson banged in a goal forty seconds after that to get his fourth point of the game and leave the Slovaks floundering with a nine goal deficit.

The player of the game for Slovakia, Matúš Sukeľ said after the game that he could not enjoy his award after the heavy defeat. ‘I’m not at all pleased, because we lost 11-0. With such a result we can only be ashamed. We regret the way we played and that we conceded so many goals.’

‘Against Russia we played well, and even against America we played a good match. But yet again, the first periods cost us.’

It was a gritty game littered with penalties, and while Sweden’s powerplay proved productive, as they potted four goals with the man advantage, Slovakia’s spluttered and struggled to get anything set up at all. Linus Soderstrom was only called into sixteen times in the whole game, but made all the necessary saves.
There was a spell of danger for the Swedish netminder early in the third period, as a minute after Nylander Altelius almost bagged his hatrick by ringing a wrist shot off the post, Slovak forward Adam Haščič broke away from his defenceman and got a golden chance to break the shutout. His backhand effort beat Soderstrom but couldn’t beat the post.

Speaking about shutting out the Slovaks, Swedish defenceman Rasmus Andersson, who had three assists in the game said, ‘It was really necessary. It was good to get it before we play the next tournament and then the World Championships.’

Sweden would go on to add a further two goals to take the score to double figures, as Oskar Lindblom finished a beautiful piece of tic-tac-toe play at the back door, before Andreas Englund scored with less than two minutes to go to put the icing on the cake, although that cake will be one that the Swedes will not enjoy too much, as they were hoping for a much better finish than seventh place at this year’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.


 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Czechs advance with big effort against Sweden

Press Release

The fortunes of all four teams in the Breclav Group depended on the outcome of the final game between the host Czechs and Sweden, and both teams seemed nervous, with several miscues and goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Linus Soderstrom were forced to bail their teams out on several occasions.

Six minutes in, William Nylander Altelius had a breakaway starting from the top of the faceoff circle in his own zone all the way and beat Vanecek with a deke but hit the goalpost. Four minutes later, David Pastrnak was given a gift in front of the Swedish goal, but seemed so surprised that he rushed his shot and Soderstrom stopped him.

Just shy of the 16-minute mark, Filip Pyrochta sprung David Pastrnak with a stretch pass from his own zone to the far blue line. He beat Soderstrom with a beautiful forehand deke to open the scoring.

The Swedes threatened to tie the game on a late-period power play, but couldn´t solve Vanecek.

Both teams came out gunning to start the second period, with end-to-end action that included another Pastrnak breakaway with a chance to increase the lead; however, he fell. Adam Ollas Mattsson took a penalty for high sticking in the first minute of the period and it took only 24 seconds for the Czechs to cash in--Jakub Zboril set up by Pastrnak, who had himself quite a game.

Not happy with what he was seeing, Swedish coach Anders Eriksen called a timeout at the 2:30 mark of the period, and his team came out gunning for the next while but they were still unable to penetrate Vanecek.

In the last minute of the middle frame, the Czechs increased the lead to three--Michal Kovarcik centered in front to Radek Vesely, and Linus Soderstrom initally made a nice save, but Milan Svarc got his stick on the puck in the crease and knocked it across the line to make it 3-0 after two periods.

The Swedes seemed snake-bitten, but they kept plugging away. Axel Holmstrom was in alone on Vanecek early in the third period but backhanded the puck just wide. But this team full of talent was obviously not finished, and one had the feeling a big push was coming.

With just over eight minutes to play, Dmytro Timashov fed Oskar Lindbolm in front, and he had all the time in the world to pick the corner and put his team on the board. The Swedish train was on the rails.

The Swedes were now playing inspired hockey and went to the power play when Karabacek went off for tripping. Two minutes after the Lindbolm goal, Nylander Altelius crossed the blueline on a Swedish rush and fired a perfect shot to bring his team within one.

Less than a minute after the Nystrom Altelius goal, the Czechs went to the power play when Gutav Forslund was called for holding, but the Swedes came oh so close to tying the game shorthaned--Gustav Franzen fed Adrian Kempe, but Vanecek robbed him.

On the ensuing counter-attack up the ice, Kempe dumped a Czech backchecker in the neutral zone, giving the Czechs a two-man advantage. Just after Forslund´s penalty ended, but before he could get back into the play, Pyrochta fed Pastrnak again, and his one-timer beat Soderstrom high to the blocker side. The Czech crowd went wild and Pastrnak jumped against the glass to rev them up even more.

At that point, the Swedish comeback seemed halted. They pulled their goalie late, and Lukas Vopelka shot it from deep in his own zone into the empty net to make it a 5-2 score with 56 seconds left, effectively punching the Czechs´ ticket into the semfinals on Friday. 

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Russia finally arrive at the party to secure semi-final spot

Press Release

 It is fair to say that coming into Thursday’s afternoon game, the Russians have flattered to deceive at this year’s tournament. After a tricky 2-1 victory over Slovakia, they fell to the U.S.A., which meant that they needed a regulation victory against Finland in order to make the semi-finals.

Russia head coach Pavel Baulin accordingly made some tweaks to his roster, as Maxim Sidorov got the start in goal, while Eduard Nasybullin replaced Ivan Nikolishin as team captain. It was clear to see that the Russians were fired up for today’s game, as they took the game to their Finnish opponents. The Russians outshot the Finns 15-6 in the opening frame, and Damir Sharipzyanov went close to scoring in the fifth minute, but Kaapo Kahkonen made a great save to deny the Russian defenceman.

Finally Russia’s pressure would pay off, as they went on to score a pair of goals 59 seconds apart to jump out to a 2-0 lead by the 11:47 mark. Firstly, smart puck movement in the Finnish zone saw the puck worked to Ilya Dervuk at the point, and the Avangard Omsk junior made use of Yevgeni Svechnikov’s screen to beat Kaapo Kahkonen in the Finnish net. Kahkonen would want the second goal back, as Kirill Pilipenko’s shot from the left wing beat him near post to give the Russians a two goal lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the Finns as defenceman Jarkko Parikka blew a tire in the neutral zone, giving the Russians a 2 on 1 counter attack. Artur Boltanov took the puck up the left wing and found Maxim Ryzhkov in the slot, whose hard slapshot beat Kahkonen five hole.

Team Finland captain Manu Honkanen said after the game, ‘We gave three easy goals to Russia in the first period. I talked to the guys in the locker room and said that it was not enough. The coach said the same thing.’

Whatever was said in the intermission seemed to work for Finland, as they rallied back and scored three unanswered goals. Three minutes in, Markus Haapanen scored straight off a faceoff, while Finland’s impressive first line picked up another goal, as Juho Lammikko’s shot from the left wing beat Sidorov to cut the lead to one seven minutes in.

Russia rallied back and put the pressure back on the Finns. Ivan Nikolishin and Daniil Vovchenko both hit the post mid-way through the frame, while Kahkonen had to be at his best to deny Svechnikov. With five minutes left to play in the second period, Svechnikov would take a two minute hooking penalty and with Finland loading up the points, Sami Niku unleashed a rocket of a shot which flew into Sidorov’s goal, levelling the game going into the third period.

‘After two periods, we knew in the locker room that we had to win,’ were the words of Team Russia forward Ivan Nikolishin following the game.

‘It was maybe our most important game because in the next tournament we can’t all be together because a lot of guys will go the CHL so they won’t let us play for Russia.’

Russia were able to turn the game on its head in the third period as less than two minutes in, Maxim Lazarev crashed Kahkonen’s net and was able to bundle the puck over the line. Less than a minute later and the Russians had jumped out to a two goal lead, as Artur Boltanov added to his earlier assist by lighting the lamp with a hard shot glove side.

Boltanov’s goal seemed to take the wind out of Finland’s sails, as they struggled to really create any meaningful scoring opportunities. Joel Kiviranta went close with a slapshot on a shorthanded break, but Sidorov made a fine glove save to deny the Finnish sharpshooter.

Finland replaced Kaapo Kahkonen with Joona Voutilainen half way through the period, but the Jokerit junior was unable to keep out Yevgeni Nazarkin’s shot from the left wing circle; the Russian defenceman benefitting from some great passing between Vladislav Kodola and Ilya Dervuk.

Desperation set in as when given a powerplay opportunity, Finland went with six attackers with five and a half minutes left to play, however, Sidorov was only really tested by a Jere Rouhiainen point shot, which he kicked away with his right pad. Sidorov made 15 saves in total, while the Russians scored seven times on 41 shots.

Maxim Lazarev would eventually score on the empty net with two and a half minutes left, which sparked celebrations on the Russian bench, as they were able to secure their place in the semi finals after a slow start to their 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup campaign.

On the other hand, the Finns face a nail biting wait to see if the Slovaks can pull an upset out of the bag against the United States. When asked about Slovakia’s chances, Finnish captain Honkanen replied, ‘Anything is possible’.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Five-star U.S.A. finish top in Piešťany

Press Release

In the early stages of the game, Slovakia were more than a match for their American opponents. No doubt helped by the powerplay chances given to them by the United States, both Patrick Maier and Samuel Ivanič went close with point shots, but Blake Weyrick, starting in place of Alex Nedeljkovic, made the necessary saves.

However, despite keeping pace in the opening ten minutes, the second half of the first period was an entirely different story. At the 13:00 minute mark the U.S. took the lead as Portland Winterhawks forward Paul Bittner managed to bang the puck in after some great puck movement by Nick Schmaltz. Three and a half minutes later, while the game was being played 4 on 4, the Americans doubled their advantage. This time it was Nick Schmaltz turning from provider to scorer, riding the hit by Jakub Bajanik and keeping his balance before beating Maximillián Pajpach five hole.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side as the United States then went on to score two goals in twelve seconds, first through Keegan Iverson who carried the puck into the zone on the right wing before wiring a shot over Pajpach’s shoulder, and then through Schmaltz who got his second of the game after a defensive collapse by Slovakia. That was the end of Pajpach’s night, as the Poprad netminder was unable to repeat his heroics from Monday evening, as the Americans scored four times on thirteen first period shots.

We had a complete three minute collapse in the first period where we conceded three goals and three individual errors left us down on our knees’, said Slovak head coach Anton Bartánus following the game. ‘In the first intermission I had to raise my voice. I do not want to blame our boys though.’

Two minutes into the second period things got interesting as Filip Kundrát was hooked down on a breakaway by Ryan Mantha, and the Slovak forward appeared to be seriously injured as a result. Kundrát left the game on a stretcher and Mantha was handed a 5+Game penalty for hooking, to go along with the awarded penalty shot. Step forward Adam Haščič, who made a beautiful move, cutting in from the left side and moving the puck back to his forehand. .

Fifteen seconds later and the Slovaks were within two, as defenceman Christian Jaroš let rip a hammer of a slapshot which flew into the top corner of the goal, eluding the grasp of Blake Weyrick. .

Despite this, the U.S. seemingly remained in control of the game. Defenceman Brandon Carlo commented after the game, ‘I thought we had the game under control. After that I knew we weren’t going to let them come back. We already let them get those two goals and that was enough so we shut them down after that.’ .

Commenting on the loss of Mantha, Carlo added, ‘Everybody has to go through some adversity, and we will play with 6D if we have to.’ .

U.S. head coach Bob Corkum spoke after the game and said, ‘We knew that we had the firepower to get any goals back that we needed. The Slovaks played hard, they got a little momentum off the penalty shot and then the powerplay. We did a good job regrouping after that. The fifth goal was a big goal.’

This fifth goal came four minutes later, as Joseph Snively blazed through the neutral zone and dropped the puck back for Kyle Connor. The Youngstown Phantoms forward got the shot away which beat Stanislav Škorvánek high, playing in relief of Pajpach.

Slovakia continued to battle in the third period, forcing the best from Weyrick who had to make a great glove stop on a Patrick Maier point shot, but the U.S. looked comfortably as they shut down the Slovak forwards and ran the clock down. There were yet more problems for Slovakia though, as mid way through the third period the stretcher was called for again, this time for Dominik Novák who left the game via the bench on a stretcher.

Speaking about finishing top of the group, Bob Corkum added, ‘The job’s not done yet. We’re two wins away from our ultimate goal. This is another step in that direction. I thought our team played very well tonight, very composed, despite the great officiating.’

The States will have to wait until the conclusion of the game between Sweden and the Czech Republic in Group A to find out their semi final opponent, and Brandon Carlo, when asked whether or not they would keep themselves updated about the score, said ‘I’ll watch closely but it doesn’t matter to me. Hopefully we can just keep playing like we’re playing and get into the championship game’.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Czechs fight for their lives, come back for dramatic victory over Swiss

Press Release

 In the 14th minute of the game, the Swiss scored two goals 19 seconds apart to take a 3-0 lead. After Noele Trisconi opened the scoring on a rebound at the 3:00 mark, Damien Riat (who assisted on Triconi´s goal), snuck a shot in through a crowd to make it 2-0, followed by Kevin Fiala´s bullet into the top corner at 13:55.

Czech coach Jakub Petr had now seen his team outscored 7-0 over 74 minutes of hockey and needed to act quickly if he wanted to save his team´s fleeting chances of making the semifinals. He pulled starter Jan Pechek and put in Vitek Vanecek, who had faced a 42-shot barrage against Canada the day before and expected a day off on Tuesday.

Vanecek showed the tank wasn´t empty, however, as he shut the door the rest of the night. That was all fine and good for the Czechs, but they needed offence too. After the team had two power play chances late in the first period and failed to mount much of an attack, that seemed like a tall order.

In the second period, the Czechs got their game together and were clearly the better team. As happened against Canada, a power play that looked anemic in the early going started to show life later on. Though they failed in their third attempt, they got some momentum going, and finally Jakub Vrana got his team on the board just shy of the period´s midpoint. A minute later, they got a two-on-one break, but Gauthier Descloux made a brilliant pad save off of David Pastrnak. Three minutes later it was Pastrnak with a great chance again, this time hitting Descloux in the shoulder.

And so the second period ended with the Czechs still down two goals and two men short. The Swiss nearly restored their three-goal lead n the early going, but Vanecek came up big to rob Noah Rod after a pretty passing play.

As time wound down, it looked like the Swiss would hold on to take a stranglehold atop the Breclav Group, and when the Czech bench was assessed a delay-of-game penalty with 2:09 left for taking too long on a line change, it seemed like the end of the line for the group hosts. Some fans in attendance headed for the exits, obviously thinking the same. What a finish they missed.

After Vanecek made a couple more saves to save a death-knell of a goal, he went to the bench for a fifth attacker, and the Czechs moved the puck around well in the Swiss zone. After a couple of blocked shots, Pavel Zacha moved the puck to Pavel Jenys, who fired it top corner to make it a one-goal game with 58 seconds to go.

With the Czech crowd suddenly alive as the Czech team was, they went back to work, though tying the game still seemed like a longshot. The Swiss just couldn´t clear the zone though, as the team that had looked so poised defensively against Sweden and for most of this game now in chaos. The puck came to Filip Pyrochta, whose wrist shot from the slot found its way through the traffic and in to tie it with 23 seconds left.

At this point, the arena in Breclav was in utter pandemonium, with chants of "Cesi! Cesi" raining down on the ice. The Czechs were in euphoria, while the Swiss team looked broken.

After a scoreless five-minute overtime period, the game went to a shootout--the first of this year´s tournament.

The talented Jakub Vrana was the first shooter and he made a great fake and deke on Descloux to score on the backhand. After Suter and Pastrnak were both stopped, Malgin had a great chance to tie it for the Swiss, but Vanecek reached out with his glove to save it.

Vaclav Karabacek was the next Czech shooter with a chance to end it and he did, beating Descloux with a perfect shot inside the left post. The Czech team poured off the bench as if they had won a playoff game, while the Swiss sauntered off their bench like they´d been eliminated. Never mind the Swiss still lead the group and the Czechs are still last. The Swiss, so close to being through to the semifinals, now face the task of needing to beat Canada on Wednesday for a chance to advance. As for the Czechs--while their chances may be slim, they still live to fight another day.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Dominant Finland out-class Slovakia

Press Release

The Finns took the lead 50 seconds into the first period and from that point did not look back, as Joona Jaaskelainen deflected a Sami Niku point shot, sending the puck high over the glove of Stanislav Skorvanek, who was playing in place of a rested Maximillian Pajpach.

From that point on the rest of the first period was pure domination for the Finns, as they fired twelve shots on the Slovak net, while the hosts could only muster a paltry two. However, Skorvanek was in fine form to deny most of the Finnish efforts.

Despite the Finnish domination, the first half of the game was very similar to that of yesterday’s game between Slovakia and Russia, as while the Finns laid siege to the Slovak goal, they were unable to get the goals that perhaps their performance deserved. It took until the mid-way point in the second period for Finland to double their advantage on the powerplay. Juho Lammikko fired a shot from the right wing circle which handcuffed Skorvanek and give Finland a 2-0 lead.

This goal came just after Slovakia’s best period of the game, where they had a number of chances to score. Filip Adamcik almost scored a beautiful solo effort, but Finnish netminder Kaapo Kahkonen made a fine poke check to knock the puck off his tape. Kahkonen also had to be alert to make a great save on Simon Petras; one of fifteen he made in total.

However, hockey is a cruel game, and following Lammikko’s goal, Antti Kalupudas put the Finns three to the good with a powerful wrist shot. Despite this, Slovakia continued to forecheck hard and Patrik Kratochvila went close to getting Slovakia on the board.

Slovak captain Adrian Holesinsky praised his team following the game, saying, "Today was a very hard game because they have very good tactics, and we are a little bit tired because we have had two very hard games against Canada and Russia."

He added, "We play very well I think, but we don’t have a lot of luck. We don’t score a lot of goals. We can’t win games when we score only one goal each game."

Finland were clearly leaving plenty in reserve in the third period, but despite this, they still ran up the score. Joel Kiviranta scored Finland’s fourth in the 52nd minute, managing to find himself a scoring lane and beating Skorvanek with a wrist shot.

Slovakia would give the home fans something to cheer about with six and a half minutes to go, as Holesinsky scored on a counter attack, but this was to be the only joy that Slovakia would have during the game. With 49 seconds to go, Mikko Rantanen finished off a beautiful piece of play by Antti Kalupudas, firing high into the top corner from the slot, putting the icing on the cake for Finland.

It was an accomplished performance for Finland, who now sit top of the table with five points through two games. However, Finland cannot take their foot off the gas as they face a Russia team who will be looking to bounce back following their loss to the United States.


 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Disciplined Swiss shock Swedes in Břeclav opener

Press Release

With their star-studded lineup, not many were surprised when Team Sweden came storming out of the gate. They got the first goal when the game was barely three minutes old, with top prospects William Nylander Altelius and Filip Karlsson playing catch with each other, virtually unrestrained. Nylander circled the net and centered to Karlsson, whose low one-timer beat Gauthier Desloux, the Swiss netminder who appeared to be in for a long night.

The Swiss were tenacious however, and kept the Swedish attack relatively at bay the rest of the period. They got some good penalty killing efforts and a lot of blocked shots from their forwards and defencemen. They didn´t gain much offence however, as a lengthy power play late in the period, which included eight seconds of five-on-three time, yielded only 1 shot on Jesper Eriksson, who barely broke a sweat in the opening 20 minutes.

The game virtually turned on its head in the second period, however. The Swiss were suddenly coming out gunning, as Timo Meier had a great chance in the opening minute, forcing Eriksson to make a nice pad save, and minutes later the Swedish keeper absolutely robbed Tino Kessler on a two-on-one.

Swedish head coach Anders Eriksén tried to settle his troops down by calling a timeout, but it didn´t work. In the 29th minute, Switzerland tied the game when Noah Rod centered to Denis Malgin, whose one-timer found space just inside the post.

After a penalty kill, the Swedes seemed to be recovering their composure, and when Nylander and Filip Karlsson hooked up for the second time in the game late in the period, it looked like Tre Kronor was back in form.

Oh, but they weren´t. Right off the centre-ice faceoff, Sin Schläpfer pounced on a neutral zone turnover and fed Noele Trisconi, who waited for Eriksson to commit before firing a shot under the crossbar to tie the game back up just 11 seconds later. If Eriksén had anything to be grateful for after two periods, it was that his team had played about as bad as they possibly could and were still tied.

The third period didn´t start any better for the Swedes, as Adrian Kempe took an undisciplined cross-checking penalty in the neutral zone. While the Swiss power play hadn´t looked very potent to this point, they managed to put on some pressure this time, with Tino Kessler finally scoring on a rebound.

The Swedes tried to re-compose themselves and mount an attack, but they kept running into the stifling Swiss team defence, which no longer seemed intimidated by the talented Swedes. Descloux made a couple of fine saves as well, and they got a bit of luck when a shot in close from captain Anton Karlsson with less than six minutes to play went off the goalpost. Even during a lengthy five-on-three advantage, they couldn´t find the equalizer.

Finally, it was another undisciplined penalty by Kempe that finished the Swedes off, as he was called for cross-checking in the attacking zone with 2:06 left. Apart from a quick shorthanded rush from Henrik Tornqvist, the Swiss kept the puck far from their own net the rest of the way, hand held on for the opening-day upset. 

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Russia top of Group B after Day 1

Press Release

The opening exchanges were dominated by Russia, with Ivan Nikolishin going closest to breaking the deadlock in the first five minutes. Russia were presented a golden opportunity seven minutes into the opening frame, as Kirill Pilipenko was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. However, the Dinamo Moscow forward was denied by Pajpach, who got down low to his left to keep the puck out.

Speaking after the game, Pajpach laughed off the number of saves he had to make in today’s game, saying ‘I’m used to a lot of shots because I play in a club which is close to relegation! Every match I have to face forty or fifty shots, so I’m used to it.’

After being outshoot 19-2 in the first period, one would have been surprised at Slovakia taking the lead 79 seconds into the second frame. The sizeable home crowd were delighted as Marco Halama made good on the man advantage and fired a puck from the slot past Sergei Korobov in the Russian net.

However, from that point on, despite sporadic periods of pressure, it was all one way traffic directed at Maximillian Pajpach. After making a pair of saves on Ivan Nikolishin and Artur Boltanov, Maxim Lazarev finally beat the Poprad native, banging in the rebound off of an Eduard Nasybullin point shot while on the powerplay.

Lazarev, a product of the Ak Bars Kazan system and is due to play for Cape Breton in the QMJHL next season, commented after the game, ‘I think that the game was made quite difficult because we wasted many chances. Slovakia played their hockey, we played our hockey, but we just failed to score a lot of goals.’

With two minutes left in the second period, Pilipenko was given a second chance to make good on a breakaway after receiving a stretch pass from Nasybullin. This time the man from Yekaterinburg would make no mistake, going forehand-backhand before roofing the puck in the top left corner.

Pilipenko would leave the ice hurt in the third period after taking a hit in the Slovak zone to the head and did not return to the game. His compatriot Eduard Nasybullin also missed a few shifts after being hit by an Adrián Holešinský knee, although Nasybullin returned to the game. Following the game, head coach Pavel Baulin confirmed that they will both play in tomorrow’s afternoon game against the U.S.A.

In the third period, Slovakia looked livelier in front of goal, getting 11 shots on Korobov’s net and forcing some good saves from the SKA St. Petersburg junior. With six minutes left in the third period, Ladislav Romančík had a great chance to tie the game with a one timer from the high slot, but Korobov got his right pad in the way. Following this, both Patrik Koch and Dominik Novák had chances to score, but Korobov denied the Slovak pair.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Swedes rebound to beat Canada in chippy affair

Press Release

In a game between two of the hockey world´s best countries at producing young hockey stars, one figured this would be a tough confrontation and it was. Right from the opening faceoff, the two teams started banging and crashing, and pretty much kept up that relentless pace the whole game, with both teams getting carried away at times.

In their attempt to not allow the Canadians to out-muscle them, the Swedes may have been a bit too eager to play the body and it took them out of position a bit in their own zone. After Daniel Audette won a battle along the boards in the fourth minute, he fed Jared McCann in the slot, who was undefended. McCann made a nice move to freeze Jesper Eriksson and then beat him with a backhander to put Canada on the board.

Right after the goal, Canada´s Michael Dal Colle was called for hooking, but the Canadians killed that off without much of a Swedish threat. The game looked to be following a similar script to Monday´s win over the Czech Republic.

The Swedes wouldn´t have any of that, however, and they really turned the tide of the game in a two-minute span by scoring twice. At the 6:17 mark, Robin Kovacs sent a rocket of a shot inside the post while flying down the right wing to tie the game. Then 1:50 later, there was a mad scramble in front of the Canadian goal. After two failed attempts to clear the puck, Kevin Elgestal scored his first of two goals in the game to give the Swedes a lead they would never relinquish.

After giving up those two goals, Julio Billia bailed his team out a couple of times late in the period to keep them within a goal. The surprise starter this game after Mason McDonald was originally announced as the Canadian goaltender, he faced Sweden´s top line on a three-on-one break and made a big right-pad save.

Early in the second period, however, the Swedes did increase their lead. In another scramble around the Canadian goal, a clearing attempt landed on the stick of Elgestal, who put in the unassisted goal.

The physical play heated up in the middle frame, with power play chances for each team piling up. But the Canadian power play, so potent just a day earlier, seemed stymied this game. They did get shots, but Eriksson seemed an imposing figure in the Swedish net, taking up a lot of space and frustrating the Canadian shooters.

Finally, after coming up dry on their first five man advantages, the Canadians cashed in on their sixth, in the game´s 44th minute. It wasn´t pretty, but persistence paid off and Sam Bennett put it in. But if his goal gave his team any momentum, Bennett took it away when he took a tripping penalty in the attacking zone less than two minutes later. Michal Nylander Altelius, one of Sweden´s best players Monday but hitherto invisible against Canada, restored his team´s two-goal lead with a beautiful wrist shot.

In a period of twists and turns, a potential game-changing moment occurred just 42 seconds after Nylander´s goal. With Canada´s Jake Virtanen driving to the net, Swedish defenceman Gustav Forsling tripped him, causing the Canadian winger to crash heavily into goaltender Eriksson. The Swedish keeper was down for several minutes without moving and was eventually removed from the ice on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

With the Swedes stunned by the fate of their goalie, and forced to kill a penalty with a cold Linus Soderstrom taking over in goal, the time was right for Canada to strike, and they did. Spencer Watson scored Canada´s second straight power-play goal to once again cut the deficit to 1 with 10:59 remaining.

That´s as close as Canada came, however. They were about to get another power play a minute and a half later, but a retaliation penalty by Lemieux negated it. Then with just over a minute left, a collision in the Swedish zone resulted in an injury to Sweden´s Franzen and a kneeing major and game misconduct to Canada´s Watson. They got Bilia out of the net to make it five skaters on five, but didn´t seriously threaten.

Then win ties Sweden atop the Breclav Group with Canada and Switzerland, the latter having a game in hand. 

(Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

It´s USA A-OK as the States defeat Russia

Press Release

After falling to Finland in overtime on Monday, the American team were raring to go against a Russian side that flattered to deceive against Slovakia. However, the opening ten minutes were marked by a Russian barrage at Alex Nedeljkovic in the American net, as the U.S. took four unanswered penalties. Nedeljkovic, who played last season for the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL was named as the MVP for the Americans and made 32 saves for the victory.

Speaking after the game, Nedeljkovic commented, "It was a big game. Anytime you play the Russians it’s a really big game. We’re very happy right now. We’re controlling our own destiny and we’ve got another big game tomorrow."

Team USA head coach Bob Corkum lavished praise on his goaltender following the game, adding, "He was spectacular. He was confident back there, his rebounds were good. He didn’t bobble many pucks and he found the pucks through screens. He was definitely the first star for us today, no question about it."

While the Russians went 0/4 on the power play in the opening ten minutes, the United States scored twice on the man advantage in the space of 56 seconds in the first period. Firstly, Nick Schmaltz cut in from the left wing and fired a low hard shot past Sergei Korobov in the Russian net, before Schmaltz turned provider, dishing the puck to Joey Dudek, who made no mistake and buried the puck in the back of the net.

However, one can never count the Russians out of the game. Despite only having two shots on goal in the second period, Russia halved the deficit half way through the period, as Alexei Sleptsov hammered a puck from the point which eluded the grasp of Nedeljkovic. 38 seconds into the third period and the Russians had clawed back the deficit, finally getting on the board with the man advantage. Great puck movement by Maxim Lazarev opened up the American defence and Radel Fazleyev received the past and beat Nedeljkovic down low.

"We knew we weren’t going to keep them off the board," commented Bob Corkum. "They are a very skilled team. They have high end speed and their power play is very good. They got the momentum from the power play and carried it into five on five and put us back on our heels a little bit."

With the Russians swarming, things were looking ominous for the United States. However, a Nikita Lyamkin penalty gave their power play another chance to work, and defenceman Jack Dougherty found the back of the net with a point shot to push the U.S. in front once again.

Speaking about his goal, Dougherty said, "That whole play was a team effort. We made some nice passes and Bittner set up a nice screen in front. It was a seeing eye goal. I didn’t even know I scored!" He added, "I thought yesterday we played a great game. It was a heart-breaking loss. We had a lot of shots. Today our coaches didn’t tell us to change anything because we worked so hard and I think it showed today."

This goal seemed to steady American nerves, and they soon scored a fourth just three minutes later. Superb backchecking by Kyle Connor forced the turnover, and he found Joseph Snively as the U.S. gained the blueline. Snively used his speed to carry the puck on net, and lit the lamp with a second chance effort.

The Russians rallied back mid-way through the third period, but Nedeljkovic was more than equal to everything they could muster, denying Kirill Pilipenko and Maxim Ryzhkov in the dying minutes. The U.S. defence stood firm, keeping Russia to the points on the whole, and as the clock ticked down, the Americans were hounding Russia on the forecheck.

After scoring five power-play goals through two games, it seems that the American coaches’ special teams tactics are working. Jack Dougherty added, "We work on our special teams a lot. One of the coach’s main points is special teams, in that if you win that you have an exponentially bigger chance to win the game."

With four points through two games, the United States now have a great chance of progressing to the semi-finals on Friday, while Russia will have to look to regroup when they face Finland tomorrow.


 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Canada cruises past Czech Republic 4-0 in Memorial of Ivan Hlinka opener

Press Release

 BRECLAV, Czech Republic – Canada's men's under-18 team opened the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament with a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Monday.

Spencer Watson scored on a penalty shot for Canada, which also got goals from Michael Dal Colle, Haydn Fleury and Daniel Audette.

Goaltender Julio Billia earned a shutout stopping 13 shots, while Czech goaltender Vit Vanecek was far busier with 38 saves.

Billia was named Canada's player of the game, but head coach Dale Hunter pointed to defenceman Aaron Ekblad as key to the team's win.

Ekblad, the team's captain who Hunter calls “a big horse,” finished the game with three assists. Hunter said Ekblad is versatile as both an offensive and defensive blue-liner, and that his locker-room influence is invaluable.

“He's a leader on and off the ice. He's got a presence about himself,” said Hunter. “He cares about the kids and takes care of them. He's one of these leaders that talks to them. He doesn't yell and scream at them. They look up to him and he's got a presence about himself.”

Dal Colle started Canada's attack with a power-play goal just 2:24 into the first period, and Fleury added another on the power play with three seconds left in the period.

Watson was pulled down on a breakaway but capitalized on the penalty shot at 17:55 in the second. Audette added the game's final goal during another power play 1:24 into the third.

Canada next plays Sweden on Tuesday. The Swedes opened the tournament with a 3-2 loss to Switzerland on Monday. Elsewhere, Finland edged the United States 3-2 in overtime and Russia beat Slovakia 2-1.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

2013 U.S. Under-18 Select Team Falls to Finland, 3-2, in Overtime

Press Release sent to the World of Junior Hockey

PIESTANY, Slovakia – Paul Bittner (Crookston, Minn.) and Kyle Connor (Shelby Township, Mich.) scored, and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 20 saves, but the U.S. Under-18 Select Team dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Finland in the opening game of the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament today.

"I'm quite pleased with the effort today," said Head Coach Bob Corkum. "The guys worked hard and stuck with the systems. We generated enough chances to win the game, but we didn't have enough puck luck. I think we got better as the game went on and played our best hockey in the third period. We'll have to duplicate that effort."

Bittner started the scoring 7:54 into the opening period when got a shot past Finland goaltender Kappo Kahkonen.

Then, after Finland struck for two straight goals -- one early in the second period and one midway through the third -- Connor tied the game with a power-play goal with 2:39 remaining in regulation.

Finland took advantage of a power play and scored the game-winner just 59 seconds into overtime.

The U.S. Under-18 Select Team continues play in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament tomorrow (Aug. 6) against Russia.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

WATSON’S PAIR LEAD CANADA TO PRE-HLINKA WIN OVER SLOVAKS

Press Release

PIESTANY, Slovakia – Spencer Watson (London, Ont./Kingston, OHL) scored twice to lead the offence as Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team scored a 3-1 pre-tournament win over Slovakia on Saturday.

The game was Canada’s lone exhibition contest before it opens its quest for a sixth consecutive gold medal at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament on Monday against the Czech Republic (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).

Michael Dal Colle (Vaughan, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) had the other goal for Canada, which dominated in the offensive end, outshooting Slovakia 50-17. Dal Colle also added an assist, joining Watson as Canadians with multiple-point games.

Canada jumped out to an early two-goal lead, as goals from Watson and Dal Colle, on the power play, made it 2-0 just 13:20 in.

But Slovakian netminder Vladimir Slivka would shine after that; Slivka stopped 12 shots in the first period, all 17 he faced in the second, and 18 of 19 in the third, keeping the Canadians off the scoreboard until Watson’s insurance marker six minutes into the final frame.

Julio Billia (St-Léonard, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) got the start in the Canadian net, allowing only Ladislav Romancik’s five-on-three goal early in the second period, before giving way to Mason McDonald (Halifax, N.S./Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) midway through the second.

Billia stopped of the nine shots he faced, while McDonald was a perfect eight-for-eight.

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

U.S. Under-18 Select Team Wins Pre-Tournament Game

Press Release sent to the World of Junior Hockey

BRECLAV, Czech Republic – Dominic Turgeon (Denver, Colo.) scored the game's only goal, and goaltenders Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) and Blake Weyrick (Ojai, Calif.) combined for a 27-save shutout to help the U.S. Under-18 Select Team defeat the Czech Republic, 1-0, in its lone pre-tournament game leading up to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

"I was very pleased with the overall effort today; the compete level was extraordinary," said Bob Corkum, head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team. "Both of our goalies were great, and our penalty kill did a great job. We sacrificed bodies to make plays, and it was a good first game for us. We'll only get better from here." 

Turgeon scored the game-winner when he converted on a rebound in front of Czech Republic goaltender Jan Pechek at 16:17 of the opening period.

Nedeljkovic, who started in net and played the first 36:07 of the game, turned away all 16 shots he faced. Weyrick entered the contest with 3:53 remaining in the middle period and stopped 11 shots to complete the Team USA shutout.

The U.S. Under-18 Select Team used tight defensive coverage to successfully kill off all eight Czech Republic power plays in the pre-tournament game.

Team USA begins play in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament on Monday (Aug. 5) against Finland.

  (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

Monday, July 29, 2013

CANADA'S SUMMER U18 TEAM ROSTER ANNOUNCED

Press Release

Goaltenders
1 Julio Billia L/G 5'10" 161 03/11/96 St-Léonard, Que. Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 2014 Dft
30 Mason McDonald R/D 6'3" 180 04/23/96 Halifax, N.S. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) 2014 Dft
Defence
2 Carl Neill R/D 6'0.5" 203 07/06/96 Boisbriand, Que. Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 2014 Dft
3 Joe Hicketts L/G 5'8" 174 05/04/96 Kamloops, B.C. Victoria (WHL) 2014 Dft
4 Haydn Fleury L/G 6'2" 204 07/08/96 Carlyle, Sask. Red Deer (WHL) 2014 Dft
5 Aaron Ekblad R/D 6'3" 213 02/08/96 Belle River, Ont. Barrie (OHL) 2014 Dft
7 Ryan Pilon L/G 6'1.5" 208 10/10/96 Duck Lake, Sask. Lethbridge (WHL) 2015 Dft
10 Alexandre Carrier R/D 5'11" 160 10/08/96 Varennes, Que. Gatineau (QMJHL) 2015 Dft
25 Roland McKeown R/D 6'0.5" 186 01/20/96 Listowel, Ont. Kingston (OHL) 2014 Dft
Forwards
8 Jayce Hawryluk R/D 5'9.5" 186 01/01/96 Roblin, Man. Brandon (WHL) 2014 Dft
9 Robby Fabbri L/G 5'9.5" 160 01/22/96 Mississauga, Ont. Guelph (OHL) 2014 Dft
11 Sam Bennett L/G 6'0" 168 06/30/96 Holland Landing, Ont. Kingston (OHL) 2014 Dft
12 Jared McCann L/G 6'0" 174 05/31/96 London, Ont. Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 2014 Dft
14 Rourke Chartier L/G 5'10" 165 04/03/96 Saskatoon, Sask. Kelowna (WHL) 2014 Dft
15 Spencer Watson R/D 5'9.5" 157 04/25/96 London, Ont. Kingston (OHL) 2014 Dft
17 Michael Dal Colle L/G 6'2" 171 06/20/96 Vaughan, Ont. Oshawa (OHL) 2014 Dft
18 Brayden Point R/D 5'8" 155 03/12/96 Calgary, Alta. Moose Jaw (WHL) 2014 Dft
19 Jake Virtanen R/D 6'0" 199 08/17/96 Abbotsford, B.C. Calgary (WHL) 2014 Dft
21 Brendan Lemieux L/G 6'0" 190 03/15/96 Buckingham, Que. Barrie (OHL) 2014 Dft
22 Clark Bishop L/G 5'11.5" 179 03/29/96 St. John's, N.L. Cape Breton (QMJHL) 2014 Dft
23 Daniel Audette L/G 5'8" 168 05/06/96 Blainville, Que. Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 2014 Dft
26 Alexis Pépin R/D 6'2" 203 04/24/96 Candiac, Que. Charlottetown (QMJHL) 2014 Dft


 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)