Host Cities Announced for the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series

Canada Russia

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with title partner CIBC, the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, today announced the six Canadian host cities for the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series to be played November 5-15.

The six-game series features regional league teams of Canadian National Junior Team candidates competing against the Russian National Junior Team and is an integral part of the identification process for Team Canada prior to the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.  The 2018 event will open with two games in the WHL, followed by two OHL matchups, and ending with a pair of contests hosted by the QMJHL.

Next season’s event begins in British Columbia with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and Vancouver Giants hosting Game’s 1 and 2 respectively on Monday November 5 and Tuesday November 6.  When the series shifts to Ontario it will be the OHL’s Sarnia Sting hosting Game 3 on Thursday November 8 followed by the Oshawa Generals hosting Game 4 on Monday November 12.  The series wraps up in Quebec with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix hosting Game 5 on Tuesday November 13 and the Drummondville Voltigeurs hosting Game 6 on Thursday November 15.

“Over the past 15 years we’ve seen the Canada and Russia rivalry ignite passion in CHL communities across our great country,” said CHL President David Branch. “This is truly a special event that showcases many of our league’s best players and future Canadian National Junior Team stars who will compete to defend gold on home soil at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria.”

Since the event first began in 2003, CHL teams have played to an overall record of 61-22-1-6 and have won 12 of the 15 series including three straight.  The competitiveness of the rivalry has grown in recent years with five of the last eight series decided in the final game including last season where a shootout was required to decide the overall winner for the first time in event history.  A total of 36 players from last season’s event competed in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo including 17 CHL players who won gold for Canada.

“The Canada-Russia rivalry is legendary and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast will be cheering on our Canadian teams as they take in the action for this iconic showdown,” said Stephen Forbes, Executive Vice President, Banking Centres, CIBC.  “We congratulate the six host cities of the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series and we look forward to celebrating with our clients and employees in these communities, as we support the next generation of hockey talent through our partnership with the CHL.”

All six cities selected for games in 2018 have previously hosted this event including Kamloops, Sarnia, and Drummondville who will tie Sudbury’s CHL record with their fourth game.  Kamloops first hosted in 2006 with Team WHL skating to an 8-1 win, then in 2010 with Russia earning a 7-6 shootout win, and most recently in 2015 with Team WHL winning Game 2 of the series by a 4-2 score.  Sarnia hosted a 4-0 win for Team OHL in 2003, a 5-0 OHL win in 2006, and a 2-1 OHL victory in 2012.  Drummondville’s past three games include 2005 where Team QMJHL defeated Russia 7-4, 2009 where the QMJHL won 3-1, and most recently in 2010 won 4-3 by Russia.  Oshawa has hosted twice before including 2006 where Team OHL won by a 4-3 score, and in 2013 with Team Russia skating to a 5-2 win.  The other two clubs have hosted once with Vancouver’s game resulting in a 1-0 shootout win for Team WHL in 2012, and Sherbrooke’s event featuring a 4-3 win for Team QMJHL in 2013.

The 2018 CIBC Canada Russia series is supported by CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tires and Sherwin-Williams.  All games will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series Schedule:

Game 1 – Monday November 5 at Kamloops, BC

Game 2 – Tuesday November 6 at Vancouver, BC

Game 3 – Thursday November 8 at Sarnia, ON

Game 4 – Monday November 12 at Oshawa, ON

Game 5 – Tuesday November 13 at Sherbrooke, QC

Game 6 – Thursday November 15 at Drummondville, QC

For event information please visit http://chlcanadarussia.ca.

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World Juniors Recap: Day 7

Scores

Czech 4 Finland 3

Canada 8 Switzerland 2

Sweden 3 Slovakia 2

USA 4 Russia 2

Belarus 4 Denmark 5 (best of 3 relegation round, Denmark leads 1-0)

Upcoming games (Medal rounds begin)

January 4, 2018

Belarus vs Denmark (relegation round)

Sweden vs USA

Canada vs Czech

January 5, 2018

Belarus vs Denmark (if necessary)

Winner of Sweden/USA vs Winner of Canada/Czech for gold medal

Losers meet for the silver medal

Necas scores SO winner

It was another uninspired start for Finland, and today it cost the team dearly. They rallied and took the lead, but the Czechs scored late to tie the game.

Kristian Reichel and Martin Necas then scored in the shootout for the Czechs while only Kristian Vesalainen scored for Finland.

Shots favoured Finland, 54-30, but that stat didn’t matter after the game. Josef Korenar was great in goal for the Czechs.

“It feels awesome,” Reichel, the son of Czech legend Robert, said. “We worked so hard for this. We deserved it. They were better but we were luckier in the shootout. Now we’re celebrating.”

Reichel channelled family history into his shootout goal. “When we were at the bench before the shootout, the coach asked us who wants to shoot first and who doesn’t,” Reichel explained. “I said I want to go first. I want to score a goal for everyone in Czech Republic. After I scored, I remembered it was 20 years ago that my dad scored on the first shot against Canada in the semi-finals at the Olympics.”

“We did it! It’s unbelievable,” enthused Filip Zadina, who scored twice for the Czechs. “We played great. I’m so happy. We owe a big thanks to our goalie. He played so well.”

“We had plenty of chances to put the puck in the net, but the Czechs kept going and their goalie was amazing,” said Finland coach Jussi Ahokas. “He played a great game, and we didn’t score. That was the difference.”

The win ends a long semi-finals drought for the Czech Republic. The team hadn’t made it as far as the semis since 2005 when it won bronze. Finland, meanwhile, won gold in 2014 and 2016 and is going home early. The Czechs will now play the winner of Canada-Finland in one semi-finals on Thursday.

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Canada rolls along, 8-2

It took Canada 48 seconds to confirm Swiss coach Christian Wohlwend’s prediction of what would happen in today’s quarter-finals.

That is, Maxime Comtois fired a hard pass to Brett Howden on a two-on-two, and Howden buried the shot to give Canada a 1-0 lead.

It would be unfair to say that the game was over at that point, but the goal confirmed what Wohlwend had predicted – that Canada was bigger, faster, stronger. Better. Plain and simple.

“That was a bit of reverse psychology,” captain Dillon Dube suggested. “But that got us focused to playing our own game. It helped a bit. We came out strong. That first one helped settle us down, and then the floodgates opened.”

The dominating 8-2 win gives Canada a place in the semi-finals on Thursday and a date with the Czech Republic. The winner of that game plays for gold.

“They’re a good team, and they’re fast,” defenceman Cale Makar said of the Czechs. “We’ll turn our focus to them now. We’re excited to play them. We haven’t played our best yet. I know we can step our game up.”

“We played the Czechs before the tournament, so we know a little bit about them,” said Brett Howden, who had a goal and three assists tonight. “They’ve changed a few things, I think, but we’ll address that tomorrow on our day off and get ready for them.”

The Swiss go home now after an 8th-place finish.

“I think we had a good team here,” offered Swiss captain Nando Eggenberger. “We won the deciding game in the preliminary round and wanted to get further, but we have to realize that they were simply stronger. Now we have to start preparing for next year. Every player must become stronger, more disciplined and smarter.”

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Swedes hold off Slovaks

Isac Lundestrom scored twice as unbeaten Sweden edged a gutsy Slovak side 3-2 at HarborCenter on Tuesday to advance to the 2018 World Junior semi-finals.

The Swedes will take on the winner of the USA-Russia quarter-final on Thursday. The result guarantees they will play for a medal for the 12th straight year. “I think we still need another level or two coming up in the next games,” said Alexander Nylander. “We’ve just got to step it up and play playoff hockey.”

Fabian Zetterlund also scored for Sweden, and Tim Soderlund had two assists. Captain Martin Bodak scored both goals for Slovakia. Sweden last medaled on home ice in Malmo in 2014 (silver) when Tomas Monten was an assistant coach. Now the 40-year-old is hoping to win gold in his second stint as head coach. The Swedes have only won gold twice before (1981, 2012).

In a showdown between two of the tournament’s top-performing goalies, Filip Gustavsson prevailed over Slovakia’s Roman Durny. Sweden outshot Slovakia 39-22. Of Durny, Bodak said: “He was all the time outstanding in this tournament. He’s a really good guy in the locker room and on the ice.”

It was Sweden’s fourth quarter-final victory over Slovakia in the last five years, but it was a much tighter result than usual. The Juniorkronorna won 6-0 in 2014, 6-0 in 2016, and 8-3 in 2017.

The Slovaks’ last quarter-final victory was 3-0 over the Czech Republic in 2015, when they marched to an unexpected bronze medal in Montreal. Despite seeing their 2018 medal hopes go up in smoke, they can be proud of what they accomplished in Buffalo, including a 3-2 upset over the United States.

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USA back to semis

Dylan Samberg fired a shoot-in into the corner at just the right angle, and as the puck caromed back into the slot Bellows tore in and one-timed a blistering shot over Vladislav Sukhachyov’s shoulder at 12:31.

This kind of goal was made famous by Gordie Howe-Ted Lindsay-Sid Abel with the Detroit Red Wings when goalies rarely roamed from their crease.

“I think it was just simple hockey,” Bellows offered. “He put the puck deep and I knew the boards are lively back there, so I thought I could just forecheck and put the puck on net. Lucky enough it went in.”

Bellows scored twice for the winners and now leads the tournament with six goals. Teammate Casey Mittelstadt had an assist and continues to lead the points race with 10.

With the win the United States will now play Sweden in the semi-finals on Thursday afternoon. Canada and the Czechs face off in the other semi.

“Obviously our goal is a gold medal, and going through Sweden right now is our focus,” said Adam Fox. “They’re a skilled team. They have a lot of great players. We’ll do our pre-scout and be ready for them.”

Russia, meanwhile, had the longest active medal streak in U20 play, reaching the podium each of the last seven years. Tonight’s result, then, can only be seen as a disappointment.

The game was chippy and emotional, and the Americans were at a disadvantage in that they dressed only 18 skaters (the Russians had the standard 20).

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World Juniors Recap: Day 5

Scores

Czech 6 Belarus 5

Sweden 7 Switzerland 2

Finland 5 Slovakia 2

Denmark 0 Canada 8

Upcoming games

December 31, 2017

Switzerland vs Czech

Slovakia vs Denmark

USA vs Finland

Russia vs Sweden

January 2, 2018

Medal round begins

STANDINGS

Group A

TEAM GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Canada 4 3 0 1 0 10 15
Finland 3 2 0 0 1 6 4
USA 3 1 1 0 1 5 9
Slovakia 3 1 0 0 2 3 -8
Denmark 3 0 0 0 3 0 -20

 

Group B

TEAM GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Sweden 3 3 0 0 0 9 12
Czech 3 2 0 0 1 6 0
Russia 3 2 0 0 1 6 5
Switzerland 3 1 0 0 2 3 -7
Belarus 4 0 0 0 4 0 -10

 

Czechs outgun Belarus

Captain Marek Zachar, who had the eventual winner with 6:37 left, and Filip Chytil each added a goal and an assist. Libor Hajek and Filip Zadina had the other Czech goals, and Vojtech Budik had two assists.

“We really underestimated the game,” said Hajek. “Everyone wants to score, everyone wants to play just for himself. That’s why we almost lost. We had good luck today. But it was kind of a terrible game.”

The Czechs trailed 2-0 early in the second period. After pulling goalie Josef Korenar in favor of Jakub Skarek, they stormed back with five unanswered goals, but then almost blew their hefty lead.

Yegor Sharangovich scored twice, Ivan Drozdov had a goal and an assist, and Igor Martynov and Vladislav Gabrus added singles for Belarus, which also swapped out goalies. Captain Maxim Sushko, Vladislav Yeryomenko, and Viktor Bovbel recorded two assists apiece.

Shots favored the Czechs 39-21.

“Sometimes we need to play an easier game,” said Zadina. “We’re trying to find hard passes. It was a tough game. I’m happy we won today.”

The Czechs have one more chance to shore up their quarter-final seeding when they face Switzerland on New Year’s Eve. Both nations are enduring long World Junior medal droughts. The Czechs last won bronze in 2005 and Switzerland in 1998.

It was a gutsy effort by the underdog Belarusians, but they came away with nothing to show for it. Winless in all four group games, they will play in the relegation round. The Belarusians have been outscored 20-10 so far.

“It was our best game so far, but we had a bad second period,” said Drozdov. “We played well for 30 minutes and we have to build on this.”

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Sweden beats Swiss, 7-2 

The win gives Sweden a 3-0 record and first place in Group B. With the loss, the Swiss are 1-2 and stuck in fourth place, but that’s as low as they can go. Belarus, winless in all four games, will be the Group B representative in the relegation round, and the Swiss will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Perhaps the nicest goal was the last of the game. Elias Pettersson danced around defenceman Simon le Coultre, cut in on goal, and swept the puck in the far side to make it a 7-2 game.

Pettersson and Lias Andersson both had two goals and an assist for the winners, who outshot the Swiss, 42-22.

“Switzerland started pretty fast today, but we got better as the game went on,” said Alexander Nylander, who played on a line with Pettersson and Linus Lindstrom. “Our third period was really strong. We showed how we can play when we’re playing well. They were forechecking hard in the first two periods, and we had to just simplify our game, which we did.”

“We played very well,” echoed defenceman Rasmus Dahlin. “We were strong out there, but we also played well against the Czechs. Those were different games, but we are playing well right now.”

The Swedes got one power-play goal and another short-handed. They opened the scoring in the first with the extra man. Nylander made a perfect slap-pass to Andersson cutting in front, and Andersson made a nice deflection past Mattheo Ritz.

Switzerland tied the game on a brilliant little play from Nicolas Muller. He noticed that Swedish defenceman Linus Hogberg cut dangerously close to his goalie heading up ice and slapped Hogberg’s stick. In the process, the puck went into the net past an unsuspecting Filip Larsson.

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Finns overcome Slovaks 

Markus Nurmi added a goal and an assist, and Joona Koppanen, Aapeli Rasanen and Henri Ikonen also scored for Finland. Martin Bodak and Samuel Bucek replied for Slovakia.

“Even though we are kind of the bigger country in hockey, Slovakia is a good team too,” said Finland’s Olli Juolevi. “They were a tough opponent for us today. I’m happy we got the win.”

Finland and the U.S. will face off in a likely showdown for second place in the group on New Year’s Eve. Finland has won two straight since dropping its Boxing Day opener to Canada.

“After the Canada game, we’ve improved our play and have the two wins,” said Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. “Of course, we could have been better against Canada, but we can’t do anything about that now. We have to get ready now for tomorrow and play well against the U.S.”

Could the Slovaks maintain the extraordinary focus and emotional level they reached in their 3-2 win over the defending champion Americans? Heading into this game, that was the question on everyone’s mind. Slovak goalie Roman Durny got his second straight start after his upset debut, and he was busy as Finland outshot Slovakia 39-26.

“We have already put the U.S. game behind us,” said Slovakia’s Filip Krivosik. “Today was a new day. We wanted to take at least one point from today’s game to make sure we got into the playoffs, but we didn’t do that.”

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Canada finishes first 

Canada now has two days off before the quarter-finals on January 2. It will not play Sweden, but could still potentially play any of Russia, Czech Republic, or Switzerland.

“We knew if we won tonight we’d finish in first place,” said Sam Steel, “so we wanted to play the right way and be prepared for the quarter-finals. Yesterday was a crazy day, and we were all a little exhausted last night, physically and mentally, but we re-focused and came to the rink ready to play today.”

“We wanted to come out and play hard, play the Canadian way, so it’s good to get back in the win column,” said defenceman Kale Clague. “But I think we still have more. Our goal is to build our game throughout the tournament, and I think going forward we’re going to get better.”

The loss leaves Denmark winless ot 0-3 and puts the team in a must-win situation tomorrow in its final round-robin game against Slovakia. If the Danes don’t win in regulation, they are off to the relegation round. If they do win in 60 minutes, the Slovakians will be off to the best-of-three survival series.

Over and above this fact is that Denmark has scored just once in three games while surrendering 21.

Carter Hart got the shutout for Canada by stopping 18 shots while Canada peppered Emil Gransoe with 44.

Brett Howden had two goals while Cal Foote had three assists in the game.

“it was a good overall effort by everyone,” enthused Hart. “Our goal was to come out flying, and we played that way the whole game. Now we have to get ready and prepare for the quarter-finals.”

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World Juniors Recap: Day 4

Scores

Belarus 2 Russia 5

Canada 3 USA 4 (shootout)

Upcoming games

December 30, 2017

Czech vs Belarus

Sweden vs Switzerland

Finland vs Slovakia

Denmark vs Canada

December 31, 2017

Switzerland vs Czech

Slovakia vs Denmark

USA vs Finland

Russia vs Sweden

January 2, 2018

Medal round begins

STANDINGS

Group A

TEAM GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Canada 3 2 0 1 0 7 7
USA 3 1 1 0 1 5 9
Finland 2 1 0 0 1 3 1
Slovakia 2 1 0 0 1 3 -5
Denmark 2 0 0 0 2 0 -12

 

Group B

TEAM GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Sweden 2 2 0 0 0 6 7
Russia 3 2 0 0 1 6 5
Czech 2 1 0 0 1 3 -1
Switzerland 2 1 0 0 1 3 -2
Belarus 3 0 0 0 3 0 -9

 

Juolevi rides again

Let’s recap. 2016 was a dream year for this Helsinki native. After earning U20 gold and a tournament all-star berth in his hometown on a team featuring Patrik Laine, Sebastian Aho, and Jesse Puljujarvi, Juolevi won the Memorial Cup with the OHL’s London Knights. He was also selected fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL Draft.

But the following season proved painful. Juolevi was named the captain of the Finnish U20 national team at the World Juniors in Montreal, but losses to the Czechs, Danes, and Swedes doomed his team to the relegation round and a ninth-place finish. Critics also claimed the development of his low-key, puck-moving game had stalled.

Now, as the lone returnee who played for both the 2016 and 2017 Suomi squads, Juolevi seems to have found stability. The Canucks loaned the Jokerit-schooled player to TPS Turku this season, and he’s put up 14 points in 20 games. His World Junior defence partner, Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks, has nothing but praise.

“Of course, you can see the experience he has,” said Jokiharju. “He’s a role model for me. He’s a year older than me and did the same thing, going to the Canadian Hockey League and stuff like that. I enjoy playing with him a lot and I think we have good chemistry.”

We chatted with Juolevi after Finland’s dominating 4-1 win over Denmark on Thursday. This evening they will play Slovakia.

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Russians down Belarus

“I can’t talk about myself personally,” said Kostin. “I can just talk about my teammates, who made sure that I scored. I think their performance was 100 percent today.”

German Rubtsov and Artur Kayumov notched a goal and an assist apiece, and Alexei Polodyan also scored for Russia. Artyom Manukyan and Andrei Svechnikov both chipped in two assists.

For Belarus, Sergei Pishuk led the way with a goal and an assist, and Dmitri Deryabin had the other goal.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin doesn’t have as much talent to deploy as in recent years, but his team seems to be getting back on track after a surprising 5-4 loss to the Czechs and a 5-2 win over Switzerland that was harder than it needed to be.

“We play together as a fist,” said Kostin of suiting up for Bragin. “His teams are always extremely close-knit, like a family, and I always enjoy playing for him.”

Russia has medaled at every World Juniors since last winning the tournament in Buffalo in 2011 under Bragin. It took bronze last year.

The Russians often experience peaks and valleys during the preliminary round. They will get a better test of their mettle against the talented Swedes on New Year’s Eve in a game that will likely decide first place in Group B.

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USA wins Snow Bowl, 4-3

Aesthetics aside, the U.S. rallied from 3-1 down in the third to send the game to overtime, then scored the only two goals of the shootout to defeat Canada in an outdoor classic.

Kieffer Bellows and Brady Tkachuk scored in the shootout while all three Canadians missed the target. The first Canadian shooter, Sam Steel, hit the post, but that was as close as they got.

“I just came down the left side,” Bellows described of his shootout. “I kind of analyzed what I was going to do, depending on the goalie’s position. I just thought five-hole was the best opportunity for me, and I tried to shoot it as quick as possible.”

Buffalo Sabres 2017 draft choice Casey Mittlestadt followed up his sensational goal yesterday with three assists today and now leads all scorers with six points in three games.

“The game, the crowd, everything was amazing,” Mittelstadt enthused. “The snow came down hard especially in the second period. At the same time, it made it that much more fun. It was a little different than a normal game. It felt like you’re back outside on the pond.”

“I think the biggest thing was just staying positive throughout this whole game,” suggested American defenceman Mikey Anderson. “We didn’t lose any belief in our room that we were going to come back, and we knew that if we got that first one, we were going to get the next one. We just stuck with it and kept plugging away.”

The game was played before a record crowd for a World Junior Championship game, and fans were treated to another North American classic that included a magnificent snowstorm as the backdrop to events at New Era Field in Buffalo.

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World Juniors Recap: Day3

Scores

Finland 4 Denmark 1

Russia 5 Switzerland 2

Sweden 3 Czech 1

USA 2 Slovakia 3

Upcoming games

December 29, 2017

Belarus vs Russia

Canada vs USA (outdoors)

December 30, 2017

Czech vs Belarus

Sweden vs Switzerland

Finland vs Slovakia

Denmark vs Canada

STANDINGS

Group A

Team GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Canada 2 2 0 0 0 6 8
USA 2 1 0 0 1 3 8
Finland 2 1 0 0 1 3 1
Slovakia 2 1 0 0 1 3 -5
Denmark 2 0 0 0 2 0 -12

 

Group B

Team GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Sweden 2 2 0 0 0 6 7
Russia 2 1 0 0 1 3 2
Czech 2 1 0 0 1 3 -1
Switzerland 2 1 0 0 1 3 -2
Belarus 2 0 0 0 2 0 -6

 

Kayumov rescues Russia

Kayumov took a nice pass from Klim Kostin and snapped a shot over the glove of Philip Wuthrich to beat a stubborn Swiss team that twice rallied to even the score. Two late goals sealed the Swiss fate, but it was a good game for both teams.

Nonetheless, after outshooting Switzerland by a 37-13 margin, the Russians were full measure for the win. They had lost to the Czechs 5-4 on opening day but played a determined game today.

The Swiss, winners in their debut yesterday, fell to 1-1 with the loss.

“We played more of a team game and made some adjustments,” Kayumov said. “The score was tied in the third period, I think, because of our own mistakes. We gave them good chances, and they scored. But we played better today than in the first game.”

“We played better defensively and created more offensively,” agreed forward Vitali Abramov. “They played a good game, and their goalie played really well today.”

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Sweden holds off Czechs

Alexander Nylander had a goal and an assist for Sweden, and Marcus Davidsson and Elias Pettersson chipped in singles for Sweden, which cashed in twice on the power play. Rasmus Dahlin added two assists.

“I think we played well in the first and third periods,” said Pettersson. “The second period was the Czechs’ period. But overall, it was a great game.”

Swedish coach Tomas Monten continued to ride the phenomenal Dahlin, who logged a team-high 24:05. The 17-year-old Frolunda Gothenburg defenceman also led the team with 20:50 in the 6-1 win over Belarus.

“I play hockey because I love it,” said Dahlin. “I’m having fun out there. Why not have fun?”

Filip Zadina replied for the Czechs.

“The first period was bad,” said Zadina. “We received penalties and we didn’t compete. That’s the reason why we were down 2-0. We got up in the second period and we tried to play better. I think we did. It’s tough to play against this team. They are so good.”

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Bucek masterpiece stuns U.S.

Bucek roared down the left side, went behind the American goal when Joseph Woll over-committed, and tried to tuck the puck in the back side. Woll made a great lunging save, but Bucek got the rebound and found the net.

Bucek also assisted on the other two Slovakian goals, both scored by Filip Krivosik.

The Americans got goals from Brady Tkachuk and Casey Mittelstadt.

“I drove in and faked a shot, and the defenceman dived in,” Bucek described. “I went wraparound and the goalie made the save, but then I saw the loose puck there, and I just put it in.”

One thing must be made clear. Yes, the Americans were heavy favourites coming into the game. Yes, their loss was stunning. But, the Slovaks deserve all the credit in the world for the win. They got timely scoring, played great defence, and got the better goaltending.

It was the first Slovak win over the U.S. at the World Juniors since the 2009 quarter-finals, a string of six losses in between.

“I remember that game,” Bucek recalled. “I was a kid watching with my parents, and you know, something was going through my head. I’m like, ‘I want to be here one day and want to accomplish the same as what the Slovakians did in 2002 [winning World Championship gold].’ We did it tonight. And it’s just something amazing. It’s a big moment for our country and our hockey.”

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World Juniors Recap: Day 2

Scores

Switzerland 3 Belarus 2

Canada 6 Slovakia 0

Upcoming games

December 28, 2017

Finland vs Denmark

Russia vs Switzerland

Sweden vs Czech Republic

December 29, 2017

Belarus vs Russia

Canada vs USA (outdoor game, weather permitting)

STANDINGS

GROUP A

Team GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Canada 2 2 0 0 0 6 8
USA 1 1 0 0 0 3 9
Finland 1 0 0 0 1 0 -2
Slovakia 1 0 0 0 1 0 -6
Denmark 1 0 0 0 1 0 -9

 

GROUP B

Team GP W OTW OTL L PTS +/-
Sweden 1 0 0 0 0 3 5
Czech 1 0 0 0 0 3 1
Switzerland 1 1 0 0 0 3 1
Russia 1 0 0 0 1 0 -1
Belarus 2 0 0 0 2 0 -6

 

Swiss edge Belarus

Nicolas Muller and Valentin Nussbaumer also scored for Switzerland. For Belarus, Maxim Sushko had a goal and an assist and Viktor Bovbel had the other goal.

“It was a tough game but we won, and that’s the most important thing,” said Kurashev.

It was the second straight loss for newly promoted Belarus, whose starting goalie Andrei Grishenko performed valiantly as shots on goal favored Switzerland 40-29.

“Our start was not so good,” said Belarus’s Igor Martynov. “We had a lot of mistakes and gave up a goal. But then we managed to play better. However, the last two goals broke our game. We should play better, we should fight, we should attack. Then I think everything will be OK.”

Diligent and disciplined as always, the Swiss lack a Nico Hischier-style game-breaker this year, and are looking for scoring by committee.

“We didn’t take advantage of our chances in the first two periods and that made it tough for us,” said captain Nando Eggenberger. “In the third, we were much more effective. We have to score on our chances, especially the rest of the tournament as the games get more important. We had a lot of shots but not many goals.”

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Canada moves to 2-0

Colton Point, making his Team Canada debut, stopped 20 mostly harmless shots to record the shutout.

Jonah Gadjovich had two goals while Jordan Kyrou had a goal and two assists to take over the tournament scoring lead with four points.

“I thought that we got better as the game went on,” Gadjovich remarked, “and I think we’ve gotten better every period. We’re doing well in building our game, and I thought I did well contributing in all areas of the ice. It’s special. You watch guys from the past who have scored, and it means a lot to help our country.”

Steel agreed. “We’re building. Each and every period, we want to get better. We didn’t have quite the effort we wanted yesterday, but I thought tonight we got better every period. We’re going in the right direction.”

The result couldn’t have been a surprise given that Canada has never lost to Slovakia in 20 years of U20 play. The record is now 12 wins and a tie, and that small sign of life from Slovakia was only a scoreless draw in 1998.

Canada now has two days off to prepare for its monumental showdown with the U.S., outdoors at New Era Field. The Slovaks play those same Americans tomorrow night, indoors, at Key Bank Center.

Tonight, Canada showed great speed and puck pursuit, using superior tenacity and strength to claim most of the loose pucks and maintain possession.

Steel’s opening marker came off a deflected pass in the slot. The puck wound up on his stick with goalie David Hrenak looking for a shot the other way. Steel had an open net, which he hit, at 3:39.

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World Juniors Recap: Day 1

Scores

Czech Republic 5 Russia 4

Belarus 1 Sweden 6

Canada 4 Finland 2

Denmark 0 USA 9

Upcoming games

December 27, 2017

Switzerland vs Belarus

Slovakia vs Canada

December 28, 2017

Finland vs Denmark

Russia vs Switzerland

Sweden vs Czech Republic

USA vs Slovakia

STANDINGS

Group A

Team GP W OTW OTL L +/- PTS
USA 1 1 0 0 0 9 3
Canada 1 1 0 0 0 2 3
Finland 1 0 0 0 1 -2 0
Denmark 1 0 0 0 1 -9 0
Slovakia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

Group B

Team GP W OTW OTL L +/- PTS
Sweden 1 1 0 0 0 5 3
Czech 1 1 0 0 0 1 3
Russia 1 0 0 0 1 -1 0
Belarus 1 0 0 0 1 -5 0
Switzerland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

Czechs stun Russia, 5-4

The improbable win came in the opening game of the 2018 World Junior Championship and was only the second victory for the Czechs in the last eleven meetings between the two teams.

“We scored five times against the Russians, so that was big for us,” said Czech defenceman Vojtech Budik. “They’re always such a good team, but our coaches prepared us really well for this game, and we played with a lot of intensity.”

The U20 has been an event that has been as favoured by the Russians as it has been disappointing for the Czechs. Indeed, Russia has earned a medal in 22 of the last 26 U20 tournaments while the Czechs haven’t reached the medals since 2005 (bronze).

This afternoon, however, the Czechs took the initiative from the get-go and proved resilient when pressed. They opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 4:42 into the game, Martin Necas wiring a shot from the slot off a nice corner feed from Martin Kaut who had three assists in the game.

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Sweden tops Belarus

“We just talked about keeping going and doing what we do,” said Andersson. “Obviously, the first game is the first game. It was a bit shaky from us, but we kept going.”

Elias Pettersson and Erik Brannstrom had a goal and an assist apiece, and Glenn Gustafsson and Jens Boqvist also scored for Sweden, which is seeking a medal after three straight fourth-place finishes. Alexander Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin, and Fredrik Karlstrom all chipped in two assists.

“We got the win and the job done, so that’s good,” said Pettersson.

Yegor Sharangovich replied for Belarus.

Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson, named Best Goalie at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in North Dakota made just 8 saves for the win in front of the HarborCenter crowd. Andrei Grishenko, making his World Junior debut between the pipes for Belarus, had 30 saves.

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Canada off and running

Canada got goals from four scorers and solid goaltending from Carter Hart, the goalie of record in last year’s heart-breaking loss to the U.S. in the gold-medal game in Montreal.

In addition, Canada got two beneficial video reviews to allow its first goal and to disallow a possible Finnish goal. Good teams get lucky sometimes, and Canada was both good and lucky, to be sure.

“We had a pretty strong game,” offered defenceman Victor Mete, on loan from the Montreal Canadiens. “We took it to them in the first period, set the tone, and came out with the win. We have a lot of great skaters on this team, so if we can use our speed to our advantage, we will. It could have been a lot more than a 4-2 game, I think.”

Canada’s first goal was impressive. Boris Katchouk simply skated past two Finns to get to a loose puck and create a breakaway. He made a quick deke on goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, hitting the post as he pushed the puck past the goalie.

The puck then caromed off Luukkonen’s skate and went in. As this was happening, though, Katchouk crashed into the crossbar and pushed the net off its moorings. Video review showed the puck crossed the goal line while the pegs were still in contact with the holes, thus making for a “good hockey goal.”

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Home of the brave

Fan favorite Casey Mittelstadt and Kieffer Bellows delivered two goals apiece. Patrick Harper and Max Jones each had a goal and an assist, and Kailer Yamamoto, Andrew Peeke and Dylan Samberg also scored for the United States. Quinn Hughes and Josh Norris had two assists apiece. The U.S. outshot Denmark 36-17.

“We came out ready to go,” said Mittelstadt. “We got a nice goal from Jonesy right away to start it off. That got us rolling. In a tournament like this, it’s big to get the first one.”

Goalie Joseph Woll, who backed up Tyler Parsons for last year’s gold-medal team, recorded his first career World Junior shutout and third win. Danish starter Kasper Krog, whose 91.9 save percentage was third-best among 2017 goalies, will have a hard time cleaning up his stats in Buffalo. He only allowed nine goals in total last year.

The Danes are seeking their fourth consecutive quarter-final berth, but set the wrong tone at Key Bank Arena. This was their third all-time meeting with the Americans. Although not favored to prevail, they would have preferred to at least keep the score closer to their previous encounter (a 4-1 U.S. win on 31 December 2015) than their inaugural flop (an 11-3 U.S. win on 26 December 2011).

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World Junior Championship Rosters

The World Junior Championships are less then 48 hours away and the ten countries involved have finalized or continue to finalize the rosters that will bring together the best Under-20 hockey players from around the globe. Only Belarus, Russia and Slovakia need to submit their final roster.

Canada (8), Finland (1), Slovakia (3), United States (2), Belarus (1), Czech Republic (1), Russia (4), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1) have Ontario Hockey League players either on their final rosters or competing for the last remaining roster spots.

Two former big-name OHL’ers, and former London Knights’ teammates, are also on the rosters. Victor Mete (Canada) is on loan from the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League. Olli Juolevi (Finland) is on loan from TPS from Finland’s Liiga.

Maxim Sushko of the Owen Sound Attack and a 4th round draft pick, 107th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2017 Entry Draft, remains in contention for a roster spot with Belarus.

For Team Russia, Alexei Lipanov of the Barrie Colts (Round 3, 76th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017), Dimitri Sokolov of the Sudbury Wolves (Round 7, 196th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2016), Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts (consensus number 2 pick in the 2018 draft) and Dmitri Samorukov of the Guelph Storm (Round 3, 84th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2017) are looking for a final roster spot.

Adam Liska of the Kitchener Rangers (eligible for the 2018 draft), Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting (Round 4, 109th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2017) and Marian Studenic of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Round 5, 143rd overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2017) are still in contention for Slovakia.

For the complete tournament schedule, click here

For standings click here

For complete stats for the current or past tournaments, visit eliteprospects.com

Here are the rosters courtesy of Elite Prospects:

Group A

Canada

Canada

Denmark

Denmark

Finland

Finland

Slovakia (final cuts to be made)

Slovakia

United States

USA

Group B

Belarus (final cuts to be made)

Belarus

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Russia (final cuts to be made)

Russia

Sweden

Sweden

Switzerland

Switzerland

HOCKEY CANADA INVITES 28 CHL PLAYERS TO CANADA’S NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM SPORT CHEK SELECTION CAMP

National Junior Team hopefuls look to represent Canada in Buffalo, N.Y. 

CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada moved one step closer to finding out who will wear the red-and-white at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, as 32 players earned an invitation to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp in St. Catharines, Ont., Dec. 12-15. 

The selection camp roster includes four goaltenders, 10 defencemen and 18 forwards. The process of evaluating and selecting the players was led by Brad McEwen, Hockey Canada’s head scout, in consultation with Joël Bouchard from the Program of Excellence management group.

Among the 32 players are seven returnees from last year’s silver-medal team: goaltender Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta./Everett, WHL); defencemen Jake Bean (Calgary/Calgary, WHL), Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta./Brandon, WHL), and Dante Fabbro (Coquitlam, B.C./Boston University, HE); and forwards Dillon Dubé (Cochrane, Alta./Kelowna, WHL), Michael McLeod (Mississauga, Ont./Mississauga, OHL), and Taylor Raddysh (Caledon, Ont./Erie, OHL).

CHL players invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp:

Goaltenders:

Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

Defencemen:

Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)

Dennis Cholowski (Prince George Cougars)

Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Cal Foote (Kelowna Rockets)

Josh Mahura (Regina Pats)

Logan Stanley (Kitchener Rangers)

Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Forwards:

Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes)

Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres)

Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)

Alex Formenton (London Knights)

Jonah Gadjovich (Owen Sound Attack)

Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks)

Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Tanner Kaspick (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Kole Lind (Kelowna Rockets)

Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

Sam Steel (Regina Pats)

Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos)

Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)

Robert Thomas (London Knights)

“Hockey at all levels across the country continues to produce talented and elite-level hockey players that makes our evaluation and selection process a difficult one,” said Shawn Bullock, Hockey Canada’s senior manager of hockey operations and men’s national teams. “With a talent pool as deep as we have in this country, we believe the 22 players eventually selected from camp will give us the best chance at bringing home a gold medal. We couldn’t be more excited for our staff and players to get together in St. Catharines and begin the journey.”

Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp will be held at the Meridian Centre, the home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara Ice Dogs, and feature a trio of games – two against a U SPORTS team on Dec. 13 and 14, and a game against Denmark on Dec. 15.

Following the four-day camp, Canada will pare down its roster to the final group of 22 players that will proudly wear the Canadian jersey in Buffalo, Dec. 26-Jan. 5, as they seek to win the nation’s 16th World Juniors gold medal.

Pre-tournament game

Prior to the official puck drop on this year’s tournament, Canada will make its final preparations with a pair of pre-tournament games. On Dec. 20, Canada will face the Czech Republic in London, Ont., where a select number of tickets are available online, by phone at 1.866.455.2849, or in-person at the box office at Budweiser Gardens. On Dec. 22, the match-up features Canada taking on Switzerland at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton with tickets available for purchase at Ticketmaster.ca, by phone at 905.529.8500 and at the Dan Lawrie Insurance Box Office.

Canada’s quest for gold officially begins on Boxing Day against Finland at 4 p.m. ET. Canada will face its U.S. rivals when they take to the outdoors on Dec. 29 at the home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y., at 3 p.m. ET. 

TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, will once again provide wall-to-wall game coverage and analysis throughout the tournament, including Canada’s two pre-tournament games; check local listings for details.