Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vladar’s strong play helps Czech Republic down West

Press Release

NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – West had a 34-18 advantage in shots on goal, but the Czech Republic had the advantage where it counts, scoring a 5-2 win over the Canadian side Tuesday at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar was the story, finishing with 32 saves. He was at his best over the final 40 minutes; West outshot the Czechs 26-9 in periods two and three.

The Europeans’ 3-1 lead after the first period turned out to be too much for West; the Czechs scored three times on their first seven shots for a two-goal lead they would not relinquish.

Daniel Krenzelok opened the scoring on the Czechs’ very first shot, converting on a power play just 52 seconds in, and Filip Dvorak and David Kase had the other goals in first 20 minutes.

Jayden Halbgewachs (Emerald Park, Sask./Regina, SMAAAHL) was the lone scorer for West in the opening period.

Halbgewachs’ goal was a memorable one, snapping a wrist shot over Vladar’s glove after taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Lane Pederson (Saskatoon, Sask./Saskatoon Blazers, SMAAAHL).

Kase netted the lone goal of the second period, sending the Czechs to the intermission with their biggest lead of the game at 4-1, and Filip Chlapik scored with the man advantage just past the midway point of the third period to make it 5-1.

Keegan Kolesar (Winnipeg, Man./Seattle, WHL) scored a power play goal of his own a minute-and-a-half after Chlapik’s goal when a Czech defender couldn’t clear away an in-crease rebound.

Other than Kase, Simon Stransky was the only skater to record more than one point; he finished with two assists.

While the West offence struggled to set up in the offensive zone, its defense was solid, blocking countless shots and holding the talented Czechs under 20 shots on goal.

West will try again for its first win when it takes on unbeaten Sweden in a New Year’s Day matinee (2 p.m. AT) in North Sydney, while the Czech Republic tries to keep pace with the leaders atop Group A, taking on Sweden on Wednesday night (7 p.m. AT) at the Emera Centre Northside.

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

Tyanulin leads Russia past Germany for first win

Press Release

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. – Artur Tyanulin scored two goals and added two assists as Russia defeated Germany 7-2 Tuesday afternoon at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Dmitry Zhukenov had a goal and two assists, while Denis Alekseev, Denis Tsukanov, Ivan Emets and Denis Gurianov had the other Russian markers.

Lois Spitzner and Philipp Halbauer scored for Germany.

The win improved Russia’s record to 1-1, while Germany dropped to 0-3 in Group B play.

The game was marred by a scary incident in the third period when Russian defenceman Timur Fatkullin checked German forward Tobias Eder in the head. Eder stayed down for more than four minutes but left the ice on his own and was checked out after the game. Fatkullin received a match penalty on the play.

Germany took a 1-0 lead after one period. Spitzner intercepted a poor Russian clearing attempt along the boards, skated toward the net and casually flipped a backhand short-side over goalie Nikita Kolesnikov’s shoulder. Those responsible for the arena’s music definitely approved, playing “Moves Like Jagger” as Spitzner skated back to the bench to accept congratulations from his teammates.

Russia came out more energized to start the second period. With an extra attacker on for a delayed penalty call, the team worked the puck around the offensive zone, with Tsukanov eventually knocking a rebound past goalie Cody Brenner.

After Germany pulled ahead again three minutes later off the stick of Halbauer, Russia scored three times in under five minutes to close out the second period with a 4-2 lead.

The Russians would add three more goals in the third period.

Germany wraps up its preliminary round against Atlantic in the first of two games New Year’s Day in Sydney (2 p.m. AT). Russia will be on the ice for the second game at Centre 200 against Ontario (7 p.m. AT).

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

Blue Jackets sign Kerby Rychel to a three-year, entry level contract

Press Release

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed left wing Kerby Rychel of the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm to a three-year entry level contract, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. Rychel was the club’s second of three first round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft, selected 19th overall.

“Kerby is a hard-nosed player who is very competitive and possesses a mixture of skill, the ability to score goals and grit,” said Kekalainen. “We believe he will be an important part of our organization for years to come as he continues to grow and develop as a player.”

Rychel, 19, has tallied 17 goals and 28 assists for 45 points with 17 penalty minutes and a +16 plus/minus rating to go along with five power play and four game-winning goals in 30 games with Windsor and Guelph this season. He has picked up 1-5-6, 2 penalty minutes and a +3 plus/minus rating in three games since joining the Storm, which currently boasts the second-best record in the OHL at 26-7-2-1.

He has appeared in 228 career OHL games, registering 105-112-227, 238 penalty minutes and a +2 plus/minus rating with Guelph, Windsor and Mississauga since 2010. He posted back-to-back 40-goal seasons the past two years with Windsor, racking up 41-33-74 in 68 games in 2011-12 and 40-47-87 in 68 games in 2012-13. His 87 points ranked eighth in the OHL last season. Rychel is currently playing for Team Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden. He has also represented Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championships (bronze medal) as well as the 2011 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (gold).

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

Jets agree to terms with Ryan Olsen

Press Release

The Winnipeg Jets are pleased to announce they have agreed to terms with forward Ryan Olsen on a three-year, two-way, entry level contract with an average annual value of $726,700.

Olsen, 19, has played in 34 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL so far this season. In that time, the right-handed centre has recorded 34 points (17G, 17A) and 36 penalty minutes. The Delta, BC native has played in 238 career WHL games, between Saskatoon and Kelowna, for 136 career points (71G, 65A) and 228 career penalty minutes.

He was originally drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the sixth round, 160th overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

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

Grzelewski commits to Knights

Press Release

LONDON, ONTARIO: London Knights General Manager Mark Hunter announced today that left winger Zach Grzelewski has committed to and entered into an Ontario Hockey League Standard Player's Agreement with the London Knights.  Grzelewski, a Thunder Bay, ON native, was a 6th round pick (104th overall) of the Knights in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.

Grzelewski is a product of the Thunder Bay Kings Minor Hockey Organization and spent the first half of the 2013-14 season with the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. 

He’ll play in his first Ontario Hockey League game today as the Knights host the Sarnia Sting for the first game in the annual home at home New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day special.  Grzelewski will wear #81.

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

Dunn suspended for five games

Press Release

The Director of Player Safety of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Raymond Bolduc, today suspended Vince Dunn of the Gatineau Olympiques for 5 games. The suspension was handed out following an incident that occurred on December 28 against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

Here is the rationale that led to the decision:

The Armada player was battling an opponent for the puck along the boards at the face-off level in his zone.
He was stooped over, his head at the height of the boards.

The player at fault was near the goal.

He took three to four strides, glided for several feet and hit his opponent who was in a vulnerable position and wasn’t able to see him.

He headed towards his opponent at an angle and hit his upper body and head sumultaneously and with force.
The player at fault made no effort to minimize the contact or play the puck.

His opponent was injured.

This was not the first offense of the player at fault.

The Director of Player Safety took this decision after having viewed videos of the incident, considered the officials report, spoken to the players and organizations involved and after consulting the Advisory Committee for disciplinary action.

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

Biega busts out in Express' four-point weekend and earns POW

Press Release

Coquitlam Express defenceman Marc Biega has been named the BCHL Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 29, the league announced Monday.

Biega scored the game-winning goal in both games as the Express swept their home-and-home set with the Langley Rivermen. The Pointe-Claire, Que. native opened with a hat trick and an assist and an overtime winner on top in a 6-5 OT road win Saturday where he was named 3rd Star. He followed that up with a pair of goals and a 1st Star nod in a 3-2 win at home.

Honourable mentions this week:

Chilliwack Chiefs F Austin Plevy: 1G, 2A, GWG, 1st Star

Chilliwack Chiefs F Tanner Cochrane: 2G, 1A, 2nd Star

Coquitlam Express F Adam Rockwood: 5A, 2nd Star

Surrey Eagles F Mitch Fyffe: 2G, 1A

Langley Rivermen F Gage Torrel: 1G, 1A, 3rd Star

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

Lancers to unveil Teammates jerseys on Thursday

Press Release

RALSTON, NE – Alongside the co-founder of the TeamMates Mentoring Program, Nebraska icon Tom Osborne, and in advance of the organization’s “TeamMates Night” on January 4th, 2014 vs. the Lincoln Stars, the Omaha Lancers will unveil their specialty “TeamMates” jerseys, to be worn during Saturday’s game and subsequently auctioned off with all proceeds to benefit TeamMates, at a 2:30 pm Thursday press conference at Ralston Arena, the team announced Monday.

Thursday’s press conference will be open to all Lancers fans, season ticket holders, corporate partners and the general public and will feature comments from Osborne, Lancers Owner, President and Managing Partner Ben Robert, Ralston Arena General Manager Paul Hendrickson and TeamMates Executive Director Suzanne Hince. Following scheduled comments, Thursday’s ceremony will also feature Lancers players clad in their full TeamMates uniforms and serve as the public’s first look at the Lancers’ distinctive, uniquely-Nebraskan specialty attire.

Attendees Thursday are advised to arrive at Ralston Arena no later than 2:00 pm to ensure a seat at the event and a timely start to the proceedings. While seating is limited at Thursday’s ceremony, standing room options will be available.

Following Thursday’s media event, the Lancers return to the Ralston Arena ice on Friday for a 7:05 pm clash with their Western Conference rivals, the Des Moines Buccaneers, on United Way Night before Saturday’s tilt with Lincoln on “TeamMates Night” presented by Land O Lakes, an evening highlighted by a ceremonial puck drop featuring TeamMates co-founders Tom and Nancy Osborne and a postgame jersey auction of the Lancers’ specialty “TeamMates” jerseys.

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

Good enough Finnish

Press Release

 Finland came second in Group B despite losing 4-3 to the Swiss in a shootout. The Finns face the Czechs while Switzerland takes on Canada in the quarter-finals.

Switzerland's Claude Paschoud scored the only goal in the shootout. It was the last New Year's Eve game, and now the playoffs loom large.

Flavio Schmütz, Fabrice Herzog and Nico Dunner scored for Switzerland, which finished fourth in Group B with five points.

Ville Pokka, Aleksi Mustonen and Saku Mäenalanen scored for Finland, which wound up with seven points.

The Finns had a hard time finding their rhythm against a determined Swiss squad. Last year in Ufa, the Swiss were sixth, while Finland underachieved with a seventh-place finish.

Prior to the comeback, Finnish starter Ville Husso was pulled halfway through the game for Juuse Saros. Melvin Nyffeler went the distance for Switzerland, which was outshot 40-34.

The Finns were undermanned for the second straight game. Star defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen (illness) and top-line forward Artturi Lehkonen (leg injury) also were sidelined during the 4-1 victory over Russia.

Past the midway mark of the first period, the Finns nearly opened the scoring on an odd-man break where Ville Leskinen fed Topi Nättinen and he rang it off Nyffeler’s post. A couple of minutes later, Nyffeler stoned Saku Kinnunen from close range.

With 1:10 left in the second period, the Swiss drew first blood. Flavio Schmütz zipped down left wing and unleashed a wrister that handcuffed Husso, fluttering over his glove.

The Finns redeemed themselves for that blunder with 26 seconds left. Poised in the left faceoff circle, Pokka one-timed a nice cross-ice pass from Esa Lindell high into the Swiss net to tie it up on the power play.

In the second period, the Swiss kept coming. Just before the seven-minute mark, Herzog managed to shovel in a loose puck down on his knees in a scrum.

At 9:49, Dunner went to the net and gobbled up a juicy rebound that Husso surrendered on Marco Muller’s initial shot, backhanding it past the goalie’s outstretched left pad for a 3-1 Swiss lead. This wasn't the way the Finns had imagined things going.

That was it for Husso, who was yanked by Finnish coach Karri Kivi in favour of incumbent Juuse Saros.

The Finns responded as desired to the goaltending switch with a goal just 40 seconds later. Henri Ikonen hustled down the left side and whacked a shot toward the Swiss net, and Mustonen surprised Nyffeler by deflecting it in high on the short side, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Mäenalanen evened the score at 3-3 just 35 seconds into the third period, reaching back to tip in a Teuvo Teräväinen shot. The play was video-reviewed and it was determined that it wasn’t a high stick.

Switzerland had a huge opportunity to go ahead again with a mid-period two-man advantage, but couldn’t capitalize against the tournament-leading Finnish penalty kill.

Penalties hurt Switzerland's hopes down the stretch. The Finns thought they had the power play winner with 3:17 left, but the goal was waved off due to a crease violation.

Then the Finns had a scare of their own when Mustonen was sent off for high-sticking with under three minutes left. Saros had to be sharp when Kevin Fiala whirled out of the corner to test him from right in front.

Finland's last World Junior medal was bronze in 2006. The Swiss won their only medal in 1998, also bronze.

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

Captain of the Moncton Wildcats, Ryan Penny, traded for 2014 Draft Picks

Press Release

Moncton NB – The Moncton Wildcats Team Captain, #9 Ryan Penny, has been traded to Rouyn-Noranda for 2nd and 4th round picks in the 2014 Draft.

Roger Shannon, Director of Hockey Operations for the Moncton Wildcats said, “Trading a player like Ryan is never easy.  Our staff did a great job getting quality picks like this for Ryan and we could not refuse this trade.  Ryan is our Team Captain and has played a very significant role in our exciting first half of the season.  We want to thank Ryan for his four years with the Wildcats and we wish him well in his new town, Rouyn-Noranda”.

The entire Moncton Wildcats organization would like to thank Ryan for his outstanding leadership and dedication to the team over these last 4 seasons.  We wish him the very best as he begins a new chapter in his hockey career.

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

Screaming Eagles trade defensemen Nicholson

Press Release

Sydney – The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles announced today that they have traded 18-year-old defensemen Gareth Nicholson (1995-06-08) to the Moncton Wildcats in exchanged for a 2014 10th round draft pick.

The Screaming Eagles drafted Nicholson in the 6th round of the 2012 QMJHL Entry Draft.  In 74 career games with the Screaming Eagles, Nicholson had 1 goal, 6 assists and 27 penalty minutes. 

The QMJHL mid-season trade period ends on Tuesday, January 7th at 12 noon.

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

OHL Cup Minor Midget Top-10 Rankings

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the eighth edition of the weekly minor midget rankings for the 2014 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament hosted by the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

The weekly rankings are determined by a panel of OHL Central Scouting Staff and represent the top teams that are competing to play in the annual year-end championship tournament which takes place March 11-16, 2014, at Buckingham Arena in Toronto, ON.

The eighth edition of the rankings follows the annual Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic tournament held this past weekend and won by the host Marlies over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens by a 5-1 score.  The Ottawa Jr. 67’s and the Ottawa Valley Titans both qualified for the Semi-Finals along with the Marlies and Jr. Canadiens.  For more information about this event including participating teams and results please visit www.torontomarlboros.com.

Minor Midget Rankings for the 2014 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament – Week 8
Toronto Marlies
Detroit Honeybaked
Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Ottawa Jr. 67's
Vaughan Kings
Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
Mississauga Senators
York Simcoe Express
Whitby Wildcats
Barrie Jr. Colts
  Honourable Mention
  Ottawa Valley Titans
  Waterloo Wolves
  Halton Hurricanes

The 2014 OHL Cup will once again include 20 participating teams from across Ontario and the United States however a new tournament structure has been introduced for this season.  17 of the 20 spots will be guaranteed through league competition with the final three spots earned in a new Wild Card series of games.  The 17 guaranteed spots will include all four GTHL Semi-Finalists, and the top four teams that place at the OMHA Championship.  Three teams from the ALLIANCE will be guaranteed a spot in the tournament including the Champion and Finalist, along with the winner of a best-of-three Semi-Final Wild Card Series to be played between the losers of the two league Semi-Finals.  The OEMHL Champion and Finalist will also be guaranteed spots in the tournament, along with two United States entries, one HNO representative, and one NOHA representative.

The final three Wild Card spots will be determined among six teams that will play a one game ‘win and in’ scenario on Tuesday March 11 prior to the start of the tournament.  The six competing teams aiming for the final three tournament spots will include the fifth place team at the OMHA Championship, the loser of the ALLIANCE Semi-Final Wild Card Series, and four teams named by the Tournament Selection Committee based on regular season, playoff, and tournament play.  All three Wild Card matchups and times on Tuesday March 11 will be determined by random draw among the six competing teams.

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

Canada tops U.S. 3-2 in thriller

Press Release

 Canada defeated USA 3-2 to take first place in Group A heading to the quarter-finals on Thursday. The New Year's Eve game was thrilling from start to finish.

The first period was exactly as one might have expected: plenty of hitting, end-to-end action, and some tentative play. The Americans had the better of puck possession perhaps, but Canada had its moments and goalie Zachary Furcale made the biggest save of the period when he robbed Riley Barber with his glove hand.

Nerves out of the way, teams played a more lively second, aided in part by a couple of penalties that paved the way for the opening goal. With teams playing four a side, U.S. captain Riley Barber got the puck to the side of the Canadian net and skated to the far side where his wraparound fooled Furcale, who thought Barber would skate in front on the near side.

The goal, at 3:29, woke the Canadians up, and they dominated much of the rest of the period. Jonathan Drouin ripped a shot off the post on a two-on-one, and Canada got even at 12:19 on a great effort from Anthony Mantha.

After making a nice deke with his long reach in the slot, and while being hauled down to draw a penalty, he pushed the puck over to Nic Petan who had the open side of the goal to work with. He didn’t miss.

Teams exchanged power plays early in the third, and it was Canada which capitalized. Connor McDavid pushed the puck through a maze that beat Jon Gillies from in close at 3:54 to give Canada its first lead.

Canada drew another penalty soon after and scored again with the extra man to make it 3-1. This time it was a great pass from Drouin in the corner to Curtis Lazar, who merely had to re-direct the puck past Gilles.

Canada was in full control at this point, and the fans were partying like they were in Moose Jaw, not Malmo. But on another power play the team got complacent and surrendered a breakaway to Connor Garrick, who was stoned by Furcale to keep the two-goal lead.

No sooner had Furcale made the great save, though, than he whiffed on a routine shot from Stefan Matteau at 17:15 to set up a tense finish.

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

Rosy result for Sweden

Press Release

 Jacob de la Rose's late goal gave Sweden a 3-2 win over Russia. The host nation, first in Group B, will face Slovakia in Thursday’s quarter-finals in Malmö.

Russia’s seeding depends on the outcome of the Finland-Switzerland game, the round-robin closer. The Russians, who came back from a 2-0 deficit with two power play goals but couldn't seize the victory, will be either second or third in the group.

De la Rose went to the front of the net and tipped Gustav Olofsson's point shot past Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski with 2:22 left.

"It feels really amazing right now," said de la Rose. "It was a great goal for us and we really needed it."

It was an amazing atmosphere again at the Malmö Arena, with 11,528 mostly yellow-clad fans stacked to the rafters, and constant clapping and cheering that rivalled anything witnessed at recent IIHF World Championship games in Sweden.

Andreas Johnson and Nick Sörensen also scored for Sweden, and Lucas Wallmark had two assists. Alexander Barabanov and Mikhail Grigorenko scored for Russia.

"I thought we were really close to getting three points in this game," Grigorenko said. "It was 2-2, and Sweden was a little bit luckier than us at the end. I guess we had too many penalties today. We can’t really do that against teams like that."

Now the medal quest begins in earnest. Sweden won gold in 2012 and silver last year, while the Russians took gold in 2011, silver in 2012, and bronze in 2013.

"Obviously our goal was to win the group," said Swedish captain Filip Forsberg. "Now we’ve done that. But now the tournament really starts with the playoff games. We have to get ready for the quarter-final here."

In a showdown between two of the tournament’s top goalies, Sweden’s Oscar Dansk prevailed over Vasilevski. Shots on goal favoured Sweden 32-25.

Puck possession ruled the day, and coach Rikard Grönborg’s crew did a better job on balance.

Clearly, both teams were determined not to give an inch defensively from the start, backchecking with zeal. Sometimes it went a little too far.

At 2:23, Russia’s Georgi Busarov ran Oskar Sundqvist from behind into the boards at the Russian bench. The Swedes made them pay on the power play just over a minute later. The Russians were trying to clear the puck when Sebastian Collberg grabbed it in the middle of the ice and dished it across to Andreas Johnson, who beat Vasilevski on the stick side.

Sweden continued to test the Russian netminder, who had to be sharp when Erik Karlsson cut to the net past the defence and knifed a dangerous backhand. The Russians struggled to get their attack going, taking the next three minor penalties.

With under four minutes left in the first, Damir Zhafyarov nearly finished off a dandy solo rush, splitting the Swedish defence but failing to get the puck past Dansk’s right pad.

At 17:01, Sweden seized a 2-0 lead. Wallmark got the puck to Andre Burakowsky behind the Russian net, and he put it in the slot to Nick Sörensen, whose shot arced past Vasilevski.

The Swedes nearly got a third goal in the final minute of the first, Jesper Pettersson whiffing on a wide-open net with a delayed penalty coming up to Russia.

At 4:47 of the second period, the Russians cut the deficit to 2-1 on the power play after some excellent pressure. Vyacheslav Osnovin centered it from the corner to Barabanov, who tipped it past Dansk.

Halfway through the game, Russia got caught with too many players on the ice, but Tre Kronor couldn’t take advantage on the power play. Forsberg rang one off the crossbar. Seconds after the man advantage expired, Vasilevski made an incredible close-range save on Elias Lindholm after Forsberg found him in front with a perfect pass.

Russian assistant captain Andrei Mironov nearly tied it at the end of the second, firing a howitzer that deflected up and off Dansk’s right post.

Johnson gave Russia another great chance early in the third after he was nabbed for knocking over Vasilevski. But the Swedes weathered the Russian onslaught as the crowd jeered their foes with deafening whistling.

Russia made it 2-2 on the power play with 8:08 left in the third. Grigorenko, standing in front, smartly tipped Pavel Buchnevich's rising shot past Dansk.

"It was a power play, and our other unit started the power play," said Grigorenko. "It wasn’t really working well. When we changed, I wasn’t supposed to be in front of the net, but the situation was that I was just next to the net. Buchnevich tried to make a one-timer, I think, but he missed it a little bit. I just redirected it and it went in."

Swedish buzzsaw Anton Karlsson sat this one out with a shoulder injury.

The last time Russia beat Sweden at an IIHF World Junior Championship was January 3, 2011, a 4-3 win in a semi-final shootout. The Swedes won the following three times prior to this encounter, including Mika Zibanejad’s 1-0 overtime winner in the 2012 gold medal game in Calgary.

"I think we’re pretty confident," said Sörensen. "We’re playing in front of a big crowd and we know everyone’s behind us. Five-on-five, all over the ice, and except on the power play, I think we were the better team. If we can come back against the Russians and get a goal in the end and not be too worried, it shows a lot of strength for the playoffs."

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

Czechs off to playoffs

Press Release

 The Czech Republic scored 18 seconds into the game and never looked back, skating to a convincing 4-1 win over Slovakia.

The win moves the team from last place and relegation series all the way to third place in the Group A standings to qualify for the quarter-finals on January 2.

With the loss, the Slovaks drop down to fourth place, good enough to qualify for the playoffs as well but having to play one of Sweden, Finland, or Russia on Thursday, a daunting task, to say the least (as will the Czechs, who will play the second-place team from Group B in the crossover quarters).

"I think they had the better motivation because we didn't have to win," said Slovakian forward Martin Reway. "We didn't work as hard as we should have, and they got a quick goal."

"It's Slovakia and against Czech, which is a great rivalry," said Czech Petr Sidlik. "They weren't going to just let us win or play lightly. We started well, and came ready, so we played as we wanted."

The ice was still wet when the Czechs opened the scoring. Martin Prochazka took a quick shot in front which was stopped by Samuel Baros. The goalie couldn’t control the rebound, though, and David Patrnak swept the loose puck in for a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds in.

The Czechs struck again at 3:54 on a great breakaway pass from Jan Kostalek to Ondrej Kase. Kase made one move to his backhand and flipped the puck over the outstretched pad of Baros to make it 2-0.

"We needed a quick start," said Sidlik. "We wanted to get a lot of shots on their goal, and we did that well. We didn't do that against Germany when we lost."

The Slovaks got their bearings and played solid hockey the rest of the period but couldn’t generate much offense. They had their best chance late when they had a two-man advantage for 62 seconds, but they failed to test Marek Langhamer with any quality shots.

The Czechs threatened to run away with the game early in the second with two more goals. Dominik Simon intercepted a pass and got the puck to Procahzka, and his hard shot found the back of the net at 2:00.

This prompted Slovakia’s coach Ernest Bokros to pull Baros in favour of Richard Sabol, but less than five minutes later the Czechs extended their lead to 4-0. This time it was a point shot on the power play from Petr Sidlik that did the damage.

Slovakia had a great chance to get back in it, though, after Patrik Marcel took a major and game misconduct for spearing David Minarik. Yet on the power play the Slovaks took a minor, and during the other three minutes they failed to get a decent scoring chance.

The top line did get the team on the board with only 4.4 seconds left in the period. David Griger stole the puck inside the Czech blue line and spotted captain Milan Kolena in front, and he made no mistake. The assist gave Griger a tournament best seven, and the point gave him tem, tops among all players.

"We have to be mentally prepared for the next game," said Reway. "There will be a lot of people there, and some of our guys haven't played in front of 15,000 fans before. We have to be ready.

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

Gennaro leads Pacific past West in All-Canadian match-up

Press Release

NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Matteo Gennaro (St. Albert, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) scored two goals and added an assist as Pacific defeated West 6-3 in a preliminary round game Monday at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Brad Morrison (Prince George, B.C./Prinace George, WHL), Giorgio Estephan (Edmonton, Alta./Lethbridge, WHL), Tyler Benson (Edmonton, Alta./Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) and Tyler Soy (Surrey, B.C./Victoria, WHL) also scored for Pacific.

Colton Conrad (St. Alphonse, Man./Shattuck-St. Mary’s, U.S. Prep) scored twice for West, while Connor Hobbs (Saskatoon, Sask./Saskatoon, WHL) added the other goal.

Coming off a disappointing loss to Quebec the night before, Pacific (1-1) was looking to bounce back against its western neighbours. But West was playing its first game of the tournament and came out strong, fresh legs flying.

The teams exchanged early first period goals. Gennaro pounced on a giveaway by West defenceman Ethan Bear (Ochapowace, Sask./Seattle, WHL) to put Pacific up a goal. Two minutes later, Matthew Campese (Prince Albert, Sask./Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) shot wide of the Pacific net, but the boards returned the puck to Conrad’s stick, which redirected the puck past goalie Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL).

After Morrison and Estephan made it 3-1 Pacific, the lively boards at the Emera Centre Northside got their second assist of the evening. A point shot from Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL) went wide, but 15-year-old Benson stuffed the ricocheted puck into the back of the net.

Hobbs scored the only goal of the second period on the power play to cut the Pacific lead to 4-2.

Gennaro netted his second goal of the game a minute into the third, with a slap shot from the right boards.

West was given a great opportunity to cut the deficit after Gennaro (tripping) and Sawchenko (delay of game) were whistled for minors 30 seconds apart. Conrad capitalized on the two-man advantage by burying his own rebound.

Soy put the game out of reach with less than three minutes to play on an outstanding individual effort on the power play. Skating toward the net from the right boards, he dragged the puck from his backhand to his forehand as he crossed in front of the crease and slipped the puck past West netminder Logan Flodell (Regina, Sask./Regina, SMAAAHL).

West’s next game is against the Czech Republic on Tuesday afternoon in North Sydney (2 p.m. AT). Pacific has tomorrow off before it gets its chance versus the Czechs on Wednesday night, also in North Sydney (7 p.m. AT).

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

Frontenacs Offer Fans Double-Header Gold Medal Sunday

Press Release

Kingston— The World Junior Championship Gold Medal game is coming to the Rogers K-Rock Centre. In a deal with TSN and Hockey Canada, the Kingston Frontenacs have secured the rights to air the broadcast of the Gold Medal game live on the centre-ice video board at the Rogers K-Rock Centre on Sunday, January 5, 2014. The event is free for ticket holders for the Sunday, January 5 game when the Kingston Frontenacs host the Windsor Spitfires. With the conflicting game times, the Kingston Frontenacs have pushed back their game time to 4:00 p.m. Doors will open at 12:00 p.m.

"The World Juniors are the ultimate showcase of junior hockey, and like our fans, we get swept up in cheering for Team Canada," said Justin Chenier, Executive Director of Business Operations with the Kingston Frontenacs. "Thanks to TSN and Hockey Canada, our fans can take in the action from both games without missing a play, in the best place in Kingston to see hockey, the Rogers K-Rock Centre."

This may also result in Fronts Fans seeing their favorite Frontenacs represent their home country of Finland. Defenceman, Mikko Vainonen and Forward, Henri Ikonen are currently participating at the World Juniors in Sweden. 

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

Bulls’ Elie is OHL Player of the Week

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Dallas Stars prospect Remi Elie of the Belleville Bulls is the OHL Player of the Week with nine points in three games during the two week period ending December 29 including games just before and after the Holiday Break.

Elie scored four goals and five assists and recorded a plus-minus rating of plus-5 for the Bulls however his week was highlighted by an incredible seven-point performance on Sunday with a hat-trick and four assists earning first star honours in a wild 9-6 win over the Kingston Frontenacs.  Just one point shy of a Bulls franchise records for points in a single game, Elie netted his first career hat-trick scoring twice in the first period and once in the third.  His assists included a setup of Stephen Harper’s game-winner while also chipping in on all three of teammate Cameron Brace’s goals helping him record his first hat-trick of the season.  Before the Holiday Break, Elie scored the game-winner and picked up an assist as second star of a 4-1 win over the Plymouth Whalers December 18.  He was held without a point on Saturday in a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa 67’s.

Elie, an 18-year-old from Green Valley, ON, is playing in his second career OHL season.  The second round pick of the Stars in the 2013 NHL Draft won an OHL Championship with the London Knights before joining the Bulls early this season where he has scored 15 goals and 20 assists in 29 games in Belleville for a season total of 38 points in 35 games.

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

Hurricanes recall goalie Jonny Hogue

Press Release

Lethbridge, AB – Lethbridge Hurricanes General Manager, Brad Robson announced Monday Goalie Jonny Hogue has been recalled for the team’s Saskatchewan road trip.

Hurricanes back-up goalie, Teagan Sacher was injured in the first 5 minutes of Saturday’s game at Medicine Hat when he was hit and suffered an upper body injury that is expected to sideline him for a couple of weeks.

Hogue started in the Hurricanes home and season opener on September 20th before being reassigned to the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL in mid-October. The 17-year old native of Lethbridge has played 9 games for the Dragons posting a 5-3 record with a goals against average of 3.18 and a .877 save percentage.

Hogue will back-up Corbin Boes as the Hurricanes embark on a Saskatchewan road trip that will see them play 3 games in 4 nights starting New Year’s Day in Regina. The Hurricanes will play in Prince Albert on Friday and close out the East Division road swing Saturday night in Saskatoon.

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

Spencer Meyer returns home

Press Release

Lethbridge, AB – The Lethbridge Hurricanes announced today that 17-year old Forward Spencer Meyer is returning home.

“It was a mutually agreed upon decision and he’ll be returning home to go to school” said General Manager Brad Robson.

The native of Surrey, BC was acquired just prior to the start of the season when the Hurricanes traded Craig Leverton to the Prince Albert Raiders. Meyer appeared in 26 games with the Hurricanes where he was a -4 plus/minus rating to go along with 35 PIM’s

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

Nic Petan signs with Winnipeg Jets

Press Release

Portland Winterhawks center Nic Petan has signed a three-year entry level contract with the Winnipeg Jets. Petan was selected in the second round, 43rd overall, by the Jets in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Petan leads the Winterhawks, and ranks second among all WHL players, with 66 points in 32 games this season. Last season Petan and teammate Brendan Leipsic were the top scorers across the Canadian Hockey League, each posting 120 points. He went on to add 28 points in 21 playoff games to help lead the Winterhawks to the WHL championship.

“Signing an entry level contract is an exciting time for any player, and we’re incredibly happy for Nic,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston. “He’s become an elite player in our league and I know the Jets have very high hopes for him.”

Petan is currently representing Canada at the World Junior Championship. In this morning’s game against Slovakia, he scored two goals, including the game-winner, to help lead Canada to a 5-3 win. Canada finishes round robin play tomorrow against the United States.

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

Duclair, Boudens and Martel named the TELUS three stars of the week

Press Release

BOUCHERVILLE, Monday December 30, 2013 - Anthony Duclair, Matthew Boudens and Danick Martel were named today the TELUS three stars of the week for December 23 to 29, 2013.

The first star of the week is awarded to Anthony Duclair, Quebec Remparts forward. In two games against Rimouski, Duclair scored 2 goals and added 4 assists. Saturday, he got 4 points in a 5-4 overtime win. Sunday, Anthony scored the tying goal to force overtime but the Remparts eventually lost 3-2. In 37 games this season, Duclair has collected 57 points.

Matthew Boudens of the Drummondville Voltigeurs is the second star of the week. The Voltigeurs got 2 wins against the Sherbrooke Phoenix this weekend. Boudens contributed with 5 points, 3 of them goals. In 38 games this season, Boudens has averaged almost a point per game with a total of 36.

The third star is the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada forward, Danick Martel. In two games against the Gatineau Olympiques, Martel made 2 goals and added 3 assists while maintaining a +/- of +3. In Sunday's win, Martel scored 2 goals and added 2 assists on top of being named first star of the game. In 38 games he has collected 42 points this season.

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

Ontario beats Atlantic to stay perfect

Press Release

SYDNEY, N.S. – Once Ontario and Atlantic stepped onto the ice Monday night at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, it took only a few shifts for the Centre 200 crowd to realize the all-Canadian match-up was going to be a typical Canadian game – high tempo and very physical.

In the end, it was Ontario earning a 5-1 victory to remain unbeaten and keep pace with the United States atop Group B, although it was the 2,000-plus fans in Sydney who went home as winners.

Graham Knott (Holland Landing, Ont./Niagara, OHL) led the way with two goals for Ontario, while Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL), with a goal and an assist, and Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), with two helpers, also had multiple-point nights.

Knott got the scoring started just 4:25, and Ontario looked set to pull away early with back-to-back five-on-three power plays midway through the opening period, but the Atlantic penalty kill got the job done, holding Ontario to just three shots.

Atlantic was strong while shorthanded all night, holding Ontario’s lethal five-man unit without a goal in eight chances, thanks in large part to goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S./Valley, MHL), was the early hero for the hosts.

Strome doubled the Ontario lead midway through the second period with a beautiful goal, winning a defensive zone face-off before streaking around an Atlantic defender and squeezing a wrist shot past Mann-Dixon.

Knott’s second of the game made it 3-0 after two periods.

Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) added his first goal of the tournament less than two minutes into the third period for a 4-0 lead before Colby Tower (Troy, N.S./Valley, MHL) set up Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, N.S./Shawinigan, LHJMQ), uncovered in the slot, with a terrific cross-crease backhand pass to get Atlantic on the board on the power play.

Hayden McCool (Whitby, Ont./Niagara, OHL) added the final Ontario goal in the last minute.

Atlantic is back at it Tuesday night (7 p.m. AT) for a New Year’s Eve showdown with the U.S., in Sydney, while Ontario won’t play again until 2014; it faces Russia on Wednesday night (7 p.m. AT) at Centre 200.

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

Kirwan notches five points as USA routs Germany

Press Release

NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Three American skaters contributed multiple goals – and 15 players found their way onto the scoresheet – as the United States hammered Germany 14-1 on Day 2 of the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Jordan Greenway and Luke Kirwan scored hat tricks, and Colin White added two goals to pace the American attack. Kirwan also added two assists. The line of Kirwan, White and Jeremy Bracco combined for 10 points.

Bracco, Matthew Tkachuk, Charles McAvoy, Dennis Yan, Christian Evers and Luke Kunin also scored for the United States, which improved to 2-0 in Group B.

Lois Spitzner scored the lone goal for Germany, which dropped to 0-2 overall.

The floodgates opened eight minutes into the first period, when Tkachuk scored on the power play. In a sign of things to come, and the United States now leading 2-0, a German defender accidently blocked a clearing attempt by his teammate, and when trying to clear the puck himself promptly delivered the puck right to Auston Matthews, who fed McAvoy for the third goal for the U.S.

With Kirwan serving a tripping minor shortly thereafter, Germany finally had the chance to assert some offensive pressure of its own. But even on the power play the Germans seemed to be on their heels.

When Kirwan batted the puck out of mid-air to score his second goal 30 seconds before the end of the first period and Bracco scored 46 seconds into the second period, the rout was officially on. The team scored five more times before the second intermission.

Germany finally got on the board 15 minutes into the second period. When Spitzner flicked a shot past American goalie Luke Opilka, the crowd greeted him with the loudest ovation of the afternoon.

The United States found the back of the net four more times in a seven-minute span of the third period to finish the scoring.

Germany next plays Russia on Tuesday afternoon (2 p.m. AT) in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., while the United States takes on Atlantic on New Year’s Eve in Sydney, N.S. (7 p.m. AT).

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

Czechs score four unanswered goals in third period to beat Quebec

Press Release

SYDNEY, N.S. – If Monday’s Czech Republic-Quebec game had ended after two periods, it would have been called a great defensive battle. Unfortunately for Quebec, the Czechs scored four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to break open a 1-1 tie and claim a 5-1 victory.

Quebec quickly capitalized on an early power play when Nicolas Meloche (Rosemère, Que./Baie-Comeau, LHJMQ) set up Anthony Beauvillier (Sorel, Que./Shawinigan, LHJMQ) for the game’s first goal just 1:16 in, the lone scoring play of the first period.

The Czechs drew even early in the second period when forward Simon Stransky made a great individual effort, deking through four Quebec players before beating goaltender Callum Booth (Montreal, Que./Québec, LHJMQ) with the first shot of the period at 1:56.

Booth was fantastic in the middle frame, turning aside the other 13 shots he faced to keep his team in what was then a very close game.

Defense was key for both teams, with the Czechs and Canadians clearing the front of the net at every opportunity and keeping rebounds to a minimum.

The Czech defense corps was particularly solid in the neutral zone, cutting off countless stretch passes from the Quebec defensemen and making sure that entering their defensive zone was a tough task.

The third period belonged to the Czechs, and it started early; David Kase split the Quebec defense before roofing a backhand over Booth just 23 seconds after the puck dropped to begin the final frame, and Roman Dymacek doubled the lead less than two minutes later.

Josef Zajic scored into an empty net to make it 4-1 in the final minute before Dymacek capped the scoring with 23 seconds left, his second of the period.

Both teams will be back in action Tuesday, both in North Sydney, N.S.; the Czechs will take on West in a matinee (2 p.m. AT), before Quebec meets Sweden in the night cap (7 p.m. AT).

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

Postponed game versus Amarillo rescheduled for Jan. 7

Press Release

ODESSA, TX – The Odessa Jackalopes, members of the North American Hockey League, announce that December 8th’s game in Amarillo, which was postponed due to inclement weather, will be made up on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014. The time of the game is 6:05PM CST from the Amarillo Civic Center.

The game will be broadcast on Classic Rock 102.1 FM and FASTHockey.com at 5:50PM with the H and S Valve Pregame Show. The voice of the Jacks, Joey Battaino will be on the call.

In 2013-14, the Odessa Jackalopes will embark upon their third season in the North American Hockey League and 17th in the Permian Basin. Single game tickets are on sale now! To reserve your seats, contact the Jackalopes’ ticket office today at 432-552-7825 or log on to www.jackalopes.org for more information.

Be sure to follow the Jackalopes on Twitter @LetsGoJacks all year long and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the official “Odessa Jackalopes” fan page on Facebook.

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

USHL Honors - Week 15

Press Release

 The United States Hockey League today announced the CCM and Reebok player awards for the 15th week of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.

Winners include Tyler Vesel of the Omaha Lancers, recognized as CCM Forward of the Week; Terrance Amorosa of the Sioux City Musketeers, chosen as CCM Defenseman of the Week; and Cal Petersen of the Waterloo Black Hawks, named Reebok Goaltender of the Week.

Tyler Vesel, F, Omaha Lancers: The 19-year-old had a monster weekend, recording seven points (2g, 5a) over two games.  He tallied a career high five points (1g, 4a) as he helped the Lancers record a season high in goals during Friday’s 8-3 win over the Tri-City Storm.  His five points and four assists both equaled USHL season highs.  On Saturday, the University of Nebraska-Omaha commit scored a goal and assisted on another in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Lincoln Stars.  Both of his goals over the weekend came on the power play which gives him eight for the season, ranking third in the League.  The Rochester, Minnesota native leads the USHL with 24 goals, which includes five over his last six games, and ranks second in scoring with 45 points (24g, 21a) over 29 games this season.  His plus-28 rating also leads the League.

Terrance Amorosa, D, Sioux City Musketeers:  The defenseman scored a pair of goals and posted a plus-three rating over two games to help the Musketeers extend their winning streak to seven.  After posting a plus-one rating in Friday’s 4-2 win against the Lincoln Stars, he had a career night on Saturday.  He netted his first USHL goal late in the second period, which proved to be the game-winner in the 8-2 victory against the Fargo Force.  The 19-year-old then added a second goal during a five-goal third period for Sioux City.   A commit of Providence College, he was also part of a penalty killing unit that successfully stopped 12-of-13 opponent power plays on the weekend.   The native of Kirkland, Quebec is a 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Cal Petersen, G, Waterloo Black Hawks: The Waterloo, Iowa product backstopped the Hawks to a pair of wins over the weekend while posting a 1.50 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in the process.  On Friday night, the University of Notre Dame commit turned out a 27-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Steel.  The 19-year-old then stopped 14 shots in a 6-2 victory over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Saturday to record his 15th victory of the season.  A 2013 NHL Draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Petersen has won four straight and seven of his last eight appearances, posting a 1.67 GAA and .943 SV% in those victories.  He currently ranks second in the League in wins (15), fourth in SV% (.919), and sixth in GAA (2.48).

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

Steelers’ Frederiksen named MJHL Recycle Everywhere Player of the Week

Press Release

 Thanks to a hat trick performance last week, Soren Frederiksen of the Selkirk Steelers has been named the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week for the week.

Frederiksen, a 19-year-old forward from Winnipeg, has a season total 19 goals and 24 points after 33 games for the Steelers who sit second (54 points) in the tight Addison Division.

The runners up are 20 year old forward Jordan McCallum of the Winnipeg Blues and 20 year old forward Luke Karakas of the Neepawa Natives.

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

Nogier to have season-ending surgery

Press Release

The Saskatoon Blades and general manager Lorne Molleken have announced that defenceman and alternate captain Nelson Nogier will undergo surgery to repair an injured shoulder.

"Nelson Nogier injured his shoulder during a fight in Edmonton on December 15th," announced Molleken.  "He'll head in for surgery later this month to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and we fully expect it to be a season-ending injury."

The procedure is expected to sideline the Saskatoon product anywhere from 3 to 4 months.

"Obviously it's an unfortunate thing to happen," said the Blades defenceman.  "But, injuries come with the game so I'm just going to have to deal with it and try and move on in my career."

Nogier had appeared in 37 games this season prior to suffering the injury.  The 6'2, 193 pound blueliner had posted 6 points, 25 PIMs and a -2 rating while also scoring his first career WHL goal on October 9th against the Vancouver Giants.

The injury will also force the 71st overall selection in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft to miss this year's edition of the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects game on January 15th in Calgary.  Jacob Middleton of the Ottawa 67's will replace Nogier on Team Cherry for the event.

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

NAHL announces Easton Divisional Stars of the Week

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton for the week ending December 29, 2013.  The Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2013-14 regular season that honors the top performing players in each of the four NAHL divisions. Only players that are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the Divisional Players of the Week award.

Central Division Star of the Week: Bjorn Sigurdarson, forward, Aberdeen Wings

Icelandic-born forward Bjorn Sigurdarson, 19, will represent his home country at the Division II Group B IIHF World Junior Championships in Spain in a few weeks and he warmed up nicely as he helped the Aberdeen Wings to a weekend home and home sweep of the Minot Minotauros. Sigurdarson (5’11/175) had two goals and two assists in the two games and was +2. Both of his goals each night were the game-winners. On Friday, he had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 3-2 win. On Saturday, he added another game-winning goal and an assist in a 4-1 road win. For the season, Sigurdarson is second on the Wings in scoring with 23 points in 29 games. “Bjorn was great for us this past weekend. He’s a player that is really improving and has been one of our best players the last month or so,” said Wings head coach Travis Winter. “He has the ability to be a difference maker for us and we look forward to his continued growth.”

2nd Star: Conor Andrle, forward, Brookings Blizzard

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Chad Catt, goaltender, Aberdeen Wings – Brandon Parker, defenseman, Brookings Blizzard

Midwest Division Star of the Week: Kris Oldham, goaltender, Kenai River Brown Bears

Although he played in just one game this past weekend, Brown Bears rookie netminder Kris Oldham made it count. The 16-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, posted his first career NAHL shutout on Saturday night as the Brown Bears blanked the Minnesota Wilderness, 3-0. Oldham (6’4/215) made 33 saves in the game, including 14 in the 3rd period when the Brown Bears were outshot, 14-2. For the season, Oldham has a 5-3-2 record with a 2.95 goals against average and a 91.1% save percentage. “We needed a lift this weekend and Kris came through with a great performance on Saturday night,” said Brown Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant. “He was confident and focused all game long and saved his best hockey for the last period when we were shorthanded for a long period of time.”

2nd Star: Brett Gervais, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Cam Bleck, forward, Coulee Region Chill – Ben Campbell, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Kasimir Kaskisuo, goaltender, Minnesota Wilderness – Matt Rudin, forward, Kenai River Brown Bears

North Division Star of the Week: Stefanos Lekkas, goaltender, Springfield Jr. Blues

Springfield rookie goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, 17, helped his team to a weekend split in Topeka. On Friday night, the native of Elburn, Illinois made 46 saves in a 2-0 loss to the RoadRunners. On Saturday night, Lekkas (5’11/165) stopped all 45 shots that came his way in regulation and it overtime, and then he stopped all three shooters in the shootout for the 1-0 shutout win. It was his first career NAHL shutout. For the weekend, Lekkas faced 93 shots and stopped 91 of them. For the season, Lekkas is in the top 10 in NAHL goaltending statistics including wins (10), goals against average (2.17) and save percentage (93.4%). “Stefanos was great all weekend. All we ask is that he gives is a chance to win every night and that’s what he has done for us,” said Jr. Blues head coach Tony Zasowski. “His strength is his quickness and he manages to make the saves he probably shouldn’t make, which keeps us in the game.”

2nd Star: Logan Halladay, goaltender, Janesville Jets

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Zach Avolio, forward, Janesville Jets

South Division Star of the Week: Forbes Ploszaj, goaltender, Corpus Christi IceRays

Corpus Christi goaltender Forbes Ploszaj, who celebrates his 17th birthday today, helped the IceRays pick up a weekend home and home split with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. On Friday, the native of Gilbert, Arizona made 29 saves in a 2-1 loss at home to the Killer Bees. The next night, Ploszaj (6’0/180) stopped all 20 shots that came his way for his first career NAHL shutout in a 1-0 win over the Killer Bees. For the weekend, he stopped 49 of a possible 51 shots in the two games. For the season, Ploszaj has a 6-7-1 record with a 2.33 goals against average and a 91.1% save percentage.“Forbes stepped up in a big way with Ben Myers out,” said IceRays head coach John Becanic. “He gave us an opportunity each night to get points and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.”

2nd Star: Jake Kamrass, forward, Topeka RoadRunners

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): PJ Bridges, goaltender, Topeka RoadRunners – Collin Delia, goaltender, Amarillo Bulls – Kyle Froese, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays

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

Switzerland downs Norway

Press Release

 With a gritty 3-2 win on Monday night, Switzerland secured a quarter-final berth, sending Norway to the Relegation Round. Anthony Rouiller got the late winner.

For the fifth straight year, Switzerland is guaranteed a top-eight finish. It has just one medal all-time, 1998's bronze.

"We’re very happy with this win," said Swiss forward Jason Fuchs. "A loss would be really tough. Now the tournament starts. It’s the fun part now. We’ll keep on working."

Norway will face either the Czech Republic or Germany in the best-of-three relegation series.

"It’s going to be tough, of course," said Norwegian captain Erlend Lesund. "We’re going to get two days off now and just change our mindset. We have to be ready for the two or three games that are coming up, and make the best of it."

Fabrice Herzog and Mirco Müller tallied the other goals for Switzerland. Kevin Fiala and Sandro Zangger both got a pair of assists.

Lesund had a goal and an assist for Norway, and Christoffer Rasch also scored.

"I’m sad now," said Norwegian coach Ørjan Løvdal. "We worked hard and tried all game. It’s tough right now."

Swiss netminder Melvin Nyffeler outdueled Norway’s Joachim Svendsen, with shots favouring Switzerland 38-26.

Both teams came out skating hard, Norway knowing this was its final shot at avoiding the Relegation Round. The last time the Norwegians didn’t get relegated immediately after promotion was 1989 -- they survived to play until 1991 at the top U20 level.

Norway scored first when Lesund grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, busted through a gap in the Swiss defence, and blasted a slap shot over Nyffeler’s glove at 9:27.

"I saw they had a bad change and I just jumped in on offence and fired the puck," Lesund said.

The Norwegians nearly went up by two goals on a late first period power play when a puck squeezed through Nyffeler’s pads, but it stopped next to the post and was swept away.

After Norway’s Endre Medby was sent off for interference at 17:16, the Swiss mounted heavy offensive zone pressure, but couldn’t capitalize. Fiala hit the goal post, and Svendsen slid across to stymie Rouiller.

The Swiss continued to be snake-bitten early in the second period, hitting another goal post in tight. The middle frame turned into a parade of mostly ineffective power plays, with Switzerland accounting for five minors to Norway’s four.

Switzerland finally ended its power play drought at 14:39. Working with a two-man advantage, Fiala burst down right wing into the Norwegian and lofted a high backhand pass toward the net, Herzog batting it in out of mid-air.

The Norwegians failed to convert on their own period-ending two-man advantage, coming close with assistant captain Mattias Nørstebø ringing one off Svendsen’s left post.

The third period was a see-saw battle.

Switzerland went up 2-1 at 6:17, as Sandro Zangger came down right wing and threw a shot on goal that Svendsen kicked out with his right pad, enabling a Johnny-on-the-spot Müller to put home the rebound.

At 9:00, Norway tied it up on Rasch's power play marker. But the boys in the polar bear jerseys couldn't celebrate their good fortune for long.

At 11:42, Rouiller restored Switzerland's lead for good with another power play goal, hammering a one-timer from the left faceoff circle on a sweet feed by Fiala.

"Offensively, we played very well," said Fuchs. "We put the pressure on them and we were a bit unlucky. We hit a few posts, but the important thing is to win the game, and we did it."

The Norwegians tried to make a late push, using their timeout in the final minute, but couldn't get the puck into the Swiss zone in the dying seconds.

This was just the third all-time meeting between Switzerland and Norway in IIHF World Junior Championship history. The Swiss won 2-1 on January 3, 1991 and 2-0 on December 27, 2005.

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

Nugnes commits to University of Maine

Press Release

On December 26th, EHL Goalie Nik Nugnes accepted an offer from the University of Maine effective for the start of the remainder of the scholastic year. Nik, a '93 from West Barnstable, MA has been an Oiler since the teams relocation to CT in 2012. Nik currently has a record of 13-6 with a 3.18 GAA and .924 SV% and is top 10 in the league in all 3 categories.

Nik has been a standout on the ice and leader off of the ice, we are very proud of and happy for him. Congratulations and all the best to Nik and his family!

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

Petan the Great saves Canada

Press Release

 Nic Petan's two late goals lifted Canada past Slovakia 5-3. Anthony Mantha had a goal and three assists for the winners, who trailed 3-1 in the second period.

Most of the 2,558 fans at the Isstadion wore red and white and cheered for Canada, and the fans got exactly what they wanted – a Canadian win.

But the Slovaks were unfazed and silenced the fans with a power-play goal just 1:40 into the game. The man advantage was the result of a completely unnecessary hitting to the head penalty against Jonathan Drouin just ten seconds after the opening faceoff (and carried with it an automatic 10-minute misconduct).

Jakub Predajniansky’s point shot went wide to the near side of Zachary Furcale but came out the other where David Griger snapped it into the open side. The rest of the period was dominated by Canada, but despite the puck possession the players had trouble finishing around the goal.

Finally, though, the team got a late power play and converted when Anthony Mantha found Curtis Lazar at the top of the crease at 18:12 to tie the score, 1-1.

The second period was full of event thanks to a total loss of discipline on the part of the Canadians. After coming up empty on an early power play, they took four successive minors the rest of the middle 20 minutes, twice giving the Slovakians long 5-on-3 chances, twice surrendering goals.

And, as always, it was the top line of Griger-Milan Kolena-Martin Reway that did the damage. In the first instance, Reway drilled a great shot over the shoulder of Fucale, off the crossbar and in, at 7:07. Then, five minutes later, Griger finished a lovely passing play from his linemates to hit the open and back side of the net.

The Canadian fans were incensed at the refereeing, but they had only their own team to blame for the meltdown and parade to the sin bin. And then, just when it seemed the Canadian cause had all been lost, they clawed their way back.

Aaron Ekblad threw a quick shot at Samuel Baros in the Czech goal. The goalie failed to control the puck and over-sized Anthony Mantha muscled the puck in to make it 3-2.

The emotions ran high as the Slovak coach Ernest Bokros tried to keep his team calm in the face of a massive victory and his counterpart, Brent Sutter, had to find a way to do the same – calm his team down, in the face of supreme adversity for his teenage charges.

Canada waited until under six minutes to go to tie the game. Mantha banged Erik Cernak off the puck behind the goal and got it out front to Drouin, who snapped it instantly behind Baros to make it 3-3.

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

Finland subdues Russia

Press Release

op seed in Group B is still up for grabs after Finland beat Russia 4-1 on Monday afternoon. Henrik Haapala potted the winner in the second period.

Finland wraps up its round-robin against Switzerland on New Year’s Eve, while the Russians face group-leading Sweden earlier that day.

If the Finns beat the Swiss in regulation time and Russia defeats Sweden in regulation time, there'll be a three-way tie for first place, and the seeding will be determined by goal differential in the games between these three teams.

Saku Mäenalanen, Rasmus Kulmala and Joni Nikko also scored for Finland, while captain Teuvo Teräväinen added a pair of assists.

It was a positive sign for the Finns, who are attempting to avenge last year's underwhelming seventh-place finish.

Valeri Vasiliev replied for Russia. This was the first time Russia's offense has been held in check in this tournament: it produced 18 goals in the first two games.

Russian goalie Ivan Nalimov got his first start of the tournament after relieving Andrei Vasilevski halfway through the opening 11-0 romp over Norway. Nalimov, who shone for Russia during the exhibition Subway Super Series in Canada in November, gave up a couple of suspect goals. He was outdueled by Finland’s Jusse Saros as the Finns outshot Russia 31-29.

Finnish head coach Karri Kivi was missing two key players. Defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen was nursing a fever, while Artturi Lehkonen, with a leg injury, was replaced on the top line by Haapala.

Overall, it was a cautious contest between two medal contenders.

In an evenly played first period, the Russians were a little more opportunistic. They opened the scoring at 5:27 as Pavel Buchnevich made a beautiful pass from the corner that found an unguarded Vasilev in front, and the defenceman put it past Saros’s right skate.

At 2:21 of the second period, the Finns tied it up on the power play. After winning a faceoff in the Russian end, Teräväinen and Ville Pokka worked the puck around and found Mäenalanen just above the hash marks. He made no mistake, beating Nalimov on the glove side.

Finland took a 2-1 lead on a soft goal at 10:20. From the right side boards, Haapala slid the puck toward the goal along the ice and it got through Nalimov.

With 4:53 left in the middle frame, the Finns jumped into a 3-1 lead when Nalimov couldn’t contain Juuso Ikonen’s wrist from right wing on the rush, and the rebound popped out to Kulmala, who fired it into the gaping net.

Finland's Julius Honka was sent off a couple of minutes later for hitting Ivan Barbashyov from behind, but Russia couldn't cash in with the man advantage.

At 7:39 of the third, the Finnish power play struck again, with Joni Nikko taking Henri Ikonen's centering pass on the rush and whipping it past Nalimov's glove.

The Russians couldn't muster a comeback, even with a subsequent 5-on-3 man advantage. The Finns' disciplined positioning kept their foes at bay, and a deflected Alexei Bereglazov shot off the crossbar was as good as it got for coach Mikhail Varnakov's squad.

Finland is seeking its first World Junior medal since 2006’s bronze. Russia has medalled
three years in a row, and its last medal was also bronze: it came third last year on home ice in Ufa.

With the result, Russia’s all-time World Junior record versus Finland fell to 24 wins, two ties, and 10 losses.

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

Germans shock Czechs

Press Release

 You couldn’t have matched two teams seemingly headed more irrevocably in opposite directions. Yet, for the first time in U20 history, Germany beat the Czechs.

In ten previous meetings, the Czechs had outscored Germany 69-18 and won all ten games. Not today. Goalie Marvin Cupper stopped all 40 shots and forward Frederik Tiffels had two goals and an assist.

"The shutout speaks for the team," Cüpper said. "It was a huge team effort."

Ironically, the tandem of Tiffels and Czech-born Dominik Kahun (who assisted on one Tiffels goal and converted a Tiffels pass for another) was born of bad luck more than plan. "I haven't played with Dominik before," Tiffels explained, "because he played with Leon Draisaitl. Leon was suspended for today's game, so I played with him. We played in the junior leagues in Germany, though, so we knew each other a little bit."

The Czechs were coming off their first ever win against Canada in two decades while the Germans were reeling from a triple whammy of losing badly to the United States, 8-0, losing their captain to suspension, and playing with only 17 skaters because of injury for the second straight game.

The win vaults Germany into fourth place of Group A with three points whle the Czechs are in last with two. Germany, though, has played all its games and must now wait for the result of tomorrow's Slovakia-Czech Republic game. A Slovakia win would send the Czechs to the relegation round while a win would send the Germans there.

German coach Ernst Höfner had preached discipline to his team before the bad loss to the U.S. in which the team allowed six power-play goals, but today the players got the message loud and clear.
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"For starters, we tried to skate a lot more today than we did yesterday, which helped a lot," Cüpper noted.

"The U.S. is a little better than the Czech Republic, but we skated better and followed the coah's plan better today as well," Tiffels added.

A nervous and close-checking first period saw the Germans score the only goal. Kahun made a nice little pass to Tiffels at the side of the Czech goal, and Tiffels lifted the puck in the short side past a surprised Marek Langhamer.

The Germans outshot their opponents 14-8 and also had the only two power-play chances of the period. Despite playing with two fewer skaters in the line-up (Michal Plutner was serving a suspension of his own), they certainly looked like the more desperate and hungry team. As they headed to their dressing room after 20 minutes, the largely Canadian crowd (waiting for the Canada-Slovakia game later today) gave them a loud ovation for an impressive effort.

"We were really motivated and had a good first period," Cüpper enthused. "We worked hard as a team."

The Germans had a great opportunity to increase their lead early in the second period when they had a 5-on-3 for 1:19, but inaccurate passing prevented them from getting any decent, clear shots on Langhamer. The Czechs took two similar interference penalties in the centre-ice area just 41 seconds apart to create the two-man advantage.

As the crowd started chanting, “Let’s go, Germany!” the Germans turned it on. The same combination that scored the first goal worked together on the second. This time it was a great play by Tiffels to knock the puck free from Czech defender Libor Sulak and then fire a quick pass to Kahun in front. He drilled a great wrist shot over Langhamer’s glove at 15:24 to make it 2-0.

Then Tiffels went to work on his own. Skating in over the blue line on a power play, he wristed a quick shot that fooled Langhamer to make it 3-0 with just over two minutes left in the period as the crowd roared its approval.

"I was just thinking to get a shot on goal," Tiffels said. "I don't often shoot from so far out, so it was just awesome when it went in."

"We feel like we're a team now," Tiffels added. "Everybody contributed today. Everyone blocked a shot or made a big hit."

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

MJHL announces 2014 All-Star coaches

Press Release

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Metropolitan Junior Hockey League is pleased to announce that eight coaches have chosen to lead four teams that will take to the ice at Iorio Arena on January 26, 2014. The selections were made based up team winning percentage calculated immediately after the close of the 2013 MJHL Winter Holiday Showcase.

All-Star Sunday will feature two games, the MJHL Prospects Game, which begins at 11:45AM and will feature ’96 and ’97 birth year players only and the MJHL All-Star Game, which begins at 1:45pm and will feature ’93 through ’97 birth year players.

The four teams, Teams Dowd and Mariconda (Prospects Game) and Teams Francis and Mullen (All-Star Game) will be completed via a draft of nominated players and the rosters will be announced on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

Leading Team Dowd will be Boston Junior Rangers Head Coach Rich DeCaprio. The Junior Rangers are currently second in the Francis Division, and third overall in the MJHL, after reaching the Keegan Cup Championship Finals last season. Central Penn Panthers Head Coach Tom Garman will join DeCaprio on the Team Dowd bench.

Taking on Team Dowd in the MJHL Prospects Game will be Team Mariconda, led by North Jersey Avalanche Head Coach Bill McCreary. McCreary has the Avalanche atop the Mullen Division standings in the Avalanche’s first year in the MJHL following its reactivation during the offseason. McCreary will be joined on the bench by Hartford Junior Wolfpack Head Coach Chris Cerrella, who currently are in third place in the Mullen Division.

In the All-Star Game, Boston Bandits Head Coach Scott Drevitch will lead Team Francis. The Bandits lead the MJHL in goals for and against while amassing the best record in the MJHL, with only four blemishes on their record and only one coming in regulation. Drevitch will be joined on the bench by Metro Fighting Moose Head Coach Charlie Crispino, another first year MJHL Head Coach, who has the Moose right in the mix of things in the always competitive Mullen Division.

Opposing Team Francis in the MJHL All-Star Game will be Team Mullen, led by Frederick Freeze Head Coach Derek Comeau. Comeau has the Freeze sitting atop the Dowd Division. Comeau will be joined by Richmond Generals Head Coach R.C. Lyke, the head man of the Mullen Division’s second place team.

“We are very excited for this year’s All-Star Sunday,” said MJHL Director of Hockey Operations Paul Maciejewski. “We have many talented players in the MJHL and our top players will be on display at Iorio Arena. We’ve selected the coaches who have had their teams at the top of the MJHL all season long and we are expecting two great games.”

Both the MJHL Prospects Game and the MJHL All-Star Game will be broadcast via Fast Hockey.

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

All Stars and Prospects put on a show in Port Colborne

Press Release

PORT COLBORNE, ON – The 2013-2014 GOJHL All Star & Top Prospects Games were every bit as exciting as advertised as the top players from across the GOJHL put on two great shows today in Port Colborne.

The All Star Game kicked off the day’s festivities and it was a high scoring affair as both teams came out firing. In the end it was Team Vaive on top 10-4 over Team Ludzig. Goal scorers for Team Vaive were: Craig Martini (2), Trevor Sauder, Brett Clampitt, Matt Lippa (2), Cody Brown (2), Clayton Greer, and Zach Nieminen. Goal scorers for Team Ludzig were: Wes Baker, Kyle Brothers, Mark Rodgers, and Dylan Denomme.

Click here for a full recap of the All Star Game.

The Top Prospects Game was a much closer checking game with the younger players working hard to impress the many scouts in attendance. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the game and the score was tied at 4 at the end of regulation and overtime. In the shootout Jesse Pereira scored for Team White but Adam Dauda replied for the Blue Team forcing the shootout to be extended. The second extra shooter for Team blue was Ryker Killilns and he scored a beauty, forcing Andrew Burns to reply but it was Blue goaltender Leo Lazerev who won the one-on-one battle with Burns, winning the game 5-4 for Team Blue.

Click here for a full recap of the Top Prospects Game.

The big winners off the ice today were the charities, as every year the GOJHL partners with charitable organizations to donate funds from the All Star and Top Prospects Games to. This year’s event raised money for the Frank Santarossa Scholarship Fund and the Steve Ludzik Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Program.

Special thanks to FASTHockey for broadcasting both games live online free of charge and thanks to all of the players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans for making the trip to the Vale Centre in Port Colborne.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quebec scores two third-period goals to beat Pacific

Press Release

NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Pacific and Quebec went back and forth Sunday night inside the Emera Centre Northside, with the eastern Canadians scoring a 4-3 win to open up the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

As expected, the all-Canadian battle between teams with gold medal aspirations showcased the best of Canadian hockey – hard-hitting and fast-paced, with plenty of chances between the two teams.

It was Pacific that came out firing, outshooting Quebec (1-0) 15-5 in the first period, but found itself trailing 2-0 through 20 minutes thanks to goals from Jason Bell (Montreal, Que./Cape Breton, QMJHL) and Nicolas Meloche (Rosemère, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL).

The Quebec power outage in the first period can be explained by the fact it was shorthanded three times in the first 15 minutes, although Pacific (0-1) went 0-for-3 in the period, and 0-for-7 overall.

Pacific’s offence finally started to click in the second period; Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL)got the westerners on the board at 3:52, finishing off a pretty passing play just as a power play expired, and Brad Morrison (Prince George, B.C./Prince George, WHL) tied it at 9:09.

In a 2-2 game through 40 minutes, both teams came out the intensity for the third period, but it was Pacific that struck first, taking its first lead on a Glenn Gawdin (Richmond, B.C./Swift Current, WHL) goal at 2:51.

But Quebec refused to roll over, and captain Jeremy Roy (Richelieu, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) took advantage of a screened Nick McBride (Maple Ridge, B.C./Prince Albert, WHL) and scored with a wrist shot from the point less than five minutes after Gawdin’s goal.

That set up the winner from Maxime Fortier (Lachine, Que./Lac St-Louis, LHMAAAQ) with just 4:53 to go; the Quebec forward came storming down the left wing and powered his way to the net, sliding the puck between McBride’s pads.

Final shots on goal were 31-20 in favor of Pacific.  

Quebec goes for a 2-0 start when it faces the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon (2 p.m. AT) in Sydney, N.S., while Pacific is back in action Monday night (7 p.m. AT) against West in North Sydney.

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

Vladimir Tkachev now a member of the Moncton Wildcats

Press Release

Moncton NB – The Moncton Wildcats are pleased to announce that the IIHF transfer has been complete and 18 year old Russian player, Vladimir Tkachev, is now a member of the Moncton Wildcats. Vladimir is now awaiting his Canadian Visa to travel.

The last hurdle is to complete his paperwork and details with the league and Hockey Canada.

Roger Shannon, Director of Hockey Operations for the Moncton Wildcats said, “We are hopeful that Vladimir will arrive and suit up in early January.  This will be an exciting day to see this young superstar in a Wildcats Jersey”

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

Sandström and Dahlström lead Sweden over Czechs

Press Release

 NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Felix Sandström was at his best for Sweden on Sunday afternoon, turning aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced to help Sweden beat the Czech Republic 3-1 in the opening game for both at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

While Sandström dominated the defensive zone, John Dahlström took care of the offensive one, as he was involved in all of the Swedish goals, finishing with a goal and two assists.

Sweden (1-0), the defending gold medalist, came out of the gate with the momentum, generating a number of chances early, and keeping the Czechs without a shot until the 11-minute mark of the opening period.

Linus Ölund was the only goal scorer of the first period, sending Sweden to the intermission with a one-goal lead, despite giving the Czech Republic (0-1) a pair of five-on-three advantages in the opening 20 minutes.

Both teams were anemic on the special teams, each going goalless on five opportunities with the man advantage. The Czechs came closest on a first-period power play, but the goal was called back as the referees ruled the puck had been kicked in.

After Dahlström doubled the Swedish lead early in the second period, David Kase pulled the Czechs back to within one at the 12:50 mark of the middle frame, setting up an exciting third period.

A 16-11 advantage in shots on goal in the final frame gave the Czechs multiple chances to tie the game, but Sandström – who was the Swedes’ back-up last year as an under-ager – stopped everything thrown his way in the third.

Oliver Erixon capped the scoring for Sweden with just one second left on the clock.

The Swedes won’t play again until Tuesday night (7 p.m. AT), when they face Quebec in North Sydney, while the Czechs head to Sydney, N.S., to take on Quebec on Monday afternoon (2 p.m. AT).

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

U.S. Gets 60 shots, hammers Russia to open u17 tournament

Press Release

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. – Brendan Warren and Michael Floodstrand had a goal and an assist each as the United States opened its Group B schedule at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 5-1 win over Russia on Sunday afternoon.

The Russians had beaten the U.S. in their last two high-profile match-ups at the tournament, the 2012 gold medal game and last year’s semifinals, but this one was all about the Americans and their offence.

Noah Hanifin, Auston Matthews and Colin White also scored for the U.S. (1-0), which fired an impressive 60 shots at Russian netminder Ilya Samsonov, including 25 in the third period when it broke open a 2-0 game.

Artur Tyanulin had the lone goal for Russia (0-1), on a third-period power play.

The Americans opened the scoring 13 minutes into the first period, off the stick of Warren, and Hanifin doubled the lead late in the second; those were the only two pucks to beat Samsonov in the first 40 minutes, despite 35 U.S. shots on goal.

The teams traded goals in the early part of the third period; Matthews extended the American lead to 3-0 at 1:45 before Tyanulin ended Michael Lackey’s shutout bid on a Russian man advantage at 4:40.

The U.S. shooting gallery resulted in two more goals in the latter half of the final frame, from White, on the power play, at 11:37 and Floodstrand at 16:26 to provide the final margin of victory.

The Americans are back in action Monday afternoon (2 p.m. AT), when they face Germany in North Sydney, N.S., while the Russians don’t see the ice again until their Tuesday matinee (2 p.m. AT) against the Germans in Port Hawkesbury.

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

Marner nets hat trick to lead Ontario over Germany

Press Release

SYDNEY, N.S. – Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) scored three goals and Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) added a goal and two assists as Ontario opened Group B play at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 8-1 win over Germany Sunday afternoon.

Matthew Kreis (Georgetown, Ont./Barrie, OHL), Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), Jakob Chychrun (Toronto, Ont./Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL) and Brett McKenzie (Vars, Ont./North Bay, OHL) also scored for Ontario.

Ontario dominated from the opening face-off and 11 players ended up on the scoresheet. The key to the game was its special teams: it scored three times on the power play and once shorthanded.

The boys in red came out quickly and built a 2-0 lead shortly after the seven-minute mark of the first period. Germany was being outskated, outhustled and outhit, but thanks to back-to-back minors on Ontario, they cashed in on the man advantage, with Jakob Mayenschein firing in a shot from the left wing.

Germany must have been feeling lucky to be trailing by only one goal as the clock ticked down on the opening period. Alas, its luck expired 30 seconds before the period did. Strome fired the puck wide of the German net, but Chychrun was Johnny-on-the-Spot and gave Ontario a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Ontario built on that momentum in the opening minutes of the second. With the team killing a tripping minor, a strong forecheck led to a short-handed tally by McKenzie.

A great individual effort by Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) to keep the puck in the German zone, followed by a pass on his stomach led to Marner making it 5-1 after the second period.

Two tic-tac-toe passing plays helped Marner finish his hat trick, and an unassisted goal by Strome completed the scoring in the third.

Ontario will look for a 2-0 start when it takes on Atlantic in an all-Canadian match-up Monday night in Sydney (7 p.m. AT), while Germany takes on the defending bronze medallists from the United States in an afternoon tilt in North Sydney (2 p.m. AT).

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

Plutnar suspended one game

Press Release 

The IIHF Disciplinary Panel has handed down a one-game suspension to Czech Republic defenceman Michal Plutnar. 
The suspension comes following an official review of an incident involving the player and linesman Eduard Metalnikov during the December 28 preliminary round game against Canada. Plutnar will miss the Czech Republic's next game on 30 December against Germany.

At the conclusion of the second period, Plutnar went after Canadian forward #17 Connor McDavid when McDavid shot the puck into the Czech goal after time expired. While trying to get to McDavid, Plutnar appeared to push Metalnikov to the ice as the linesman attempted to intercede between the two players. He was assessed a roughing penalty at the time as a result of the action.

Upon further review, the IIHF Disciplinary Panel decided that, while it was not the intent of Plutnar to intentionally injure Metalnikov, the player did in fact make deliberate contact to remove him from his position, thus preventing him from doing his job by knocking him to the ice and thus endangering his safety.
Therefore, the Panel decided that additional disciplinary measures should be taken in the form of a one-game suspension, meaning that Plutnar will miss his country’s next preliminary round game on 30 December against Germany.

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