Michael Bartlett scored the winner early in the third period as the defending champion United States opened the world under-17 hockey challenge with a 5-4 victory Saturday over the Czech Republic. Western Canada joined the U.S. atop Pool A with a 9-0 victory over Germany. Ryan Getzlaf scored two goals and assisted on another to pace Western Canada past Germany. Chad Klassen, Jesse Fischer, Stefan Meyer, Mark Olafson, Nigel Dawes, Josh Froese and Stewart Thiessen also scored. Rejean Beauchemin got the shutout as Western Canada outshot Germany 50-23.
Also in Pool A is Quebec.
Ontario opened Pool B play with a 13-1 romp over Atlantic Canada, and Pacific Canada defeated Finland 7-1. Nate Horton scored three goals and Jeff Carter, Jamie Tardif and Luch Aquino added two each in Ontario’s rout of Atlantic Canada. Brad Richardson, Anthony Stewart and Dylan Hunter also scored. Andrew Gordon had Atlantic Canada’s lone goal late in the first period as Ontario held a 50-20 advantage in shots. David Brown got the win in goal for Ontario.
Mitch Bartley scored two goals and assisted on another to lead Pacific Canada past Finland. Tyler Czuba, Marc Connors, Colin Fraser, Cam Cunning and Ryan Stone also scored. Kim Nabb had the lone goal for Finland, midway through the second period, making the score 3-1. Also in Pool B is Russia.
Five Canadian regional teams, along with the U.S., Czech Republic, Germany, Finland and Russia are competing in the annual tournament. The 5 Canadian teams are divided in 5 different regional teams and they take on a full fledged European and USA teams that have been together all season. The 5 Canadian teams are Team Pacific (British Columbia, Alberta), Team West (Saskatchewan, Manitoba), Team Ontario, Team Quebec, and Team Atlantic (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland). The defending champions Team USA are expected to be strong who won the tournament last year beating Team Pacific. Last year no European team made it to the final 4.
When the World Juniors were held in Winnipeg in 1999 getting information on the European teams was a huge challenge especially with the Russians. Getting information on even younger European players has been more difficult. In the next 2 days we here at Hockeys Future will attempt to tell you who to watch from the 5 Canadian teams and the USA team and do our best to tell you about the European teams. Expect the Russians to be fast and offensively gifted, Finland to be workmanlike and effecient, while the Czech Republic should be a balanced team and the Germans a wildcard.
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC
By Canadian standards this team was named very early in April of 2000 following regional tournament finals. They had their 1st training camp in June 2000 and August 2000 then went on to beat Slovakia in a series and are 13-7-4 since then in 24 international games. Winning the Quadrangular Tournament in Russia last Febuary against Russia, Sweden, Finland.
Finland began country wide selection process of elite players at 14. 9 regional teams were selected and they play in a tournament with the final roster emerging from that event.
The Germans are playing in their 3rd U-17 Championship and were 10th and last in 2000, but moved to 8th in last years tournament in Nova Scotia beating Team Atlantic. The German team was choosen after a rookie camp of about 80 players in the summer of 2000 and has played in several international tournaments, although the final team was only selected last month.
This team has some highly skilled players. Among them are defencemen Nathan McIver and Kyle Murnaghan, forward Darcy Tuplin of Charlottetown JR A Abbies as well as Stephen Dixon of Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
Tomorrows article look for the list of players to look out for and for scores and stats of the games.