2006 WJC: Islanders WJC update

By Leslie Treff

The New York Islanders have four prospects currently playing in the 2006 World Junior Championships. Forwards Ryan O’Marra and Blake Comeau have suited up for Canada, Sergei Ogorodnikov is playing for Russia, and defenseman Jaroslav Mrazek is in uniform for the Czech Republic. The players all have gotten off to a good start.

During the regular season, O’Marra, Comeau, and Mrazek play for teams in the Canadian Hockey League, but Ogorodnikov, who plays for CKSA Moscow, is no stranger to North American ice. Just last month Ogorodnikov was Russia’s star player in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. Showcasing his skills across Canada, he scored five goals in that 10-day tournament, while serving as the captain of the Russian Selects team. In an interview with Hockey’s Future from Kelowna, Ogorodnikov told HF that he believes his performance in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge was part of the reason he was chosen to play on the Russian team in the 2006 World Junior Championships.

“(During the ADT) I spent a lot of time on the ice and I think I had three goals and gave three assists. It was good for me, good practice for me to play there. I think I played not bad, that’s probably why I came here (to the WJC) on this team.”

The 19-year-old Ogorodnikov was drafted 82nd overall by the New York Islanders in 2004, and at
5’11, 170 pounds, he does not intimidate as a power forward, nor does he try to establish a physical presence along the boards. He feels he has greatly improved his skating and foot speed over the past season. Ogordonikov is currently working hard to learn the English language.

He is focusing on bulking up and improving his strength this year, as requested by the Islanders’ management. The Islanders staff recently took a trip to Moscow to watch him play.

“Yes, they have called me and a few weeks ago they came to me in Moscow and we talked. They want me to work hard and score as much as I can. And I should become a little stronger. I am young now and I should go to the gym every day (laughs). But I am really looking forward to the training camp next summer.”

When asked about the smaller North American ice, he said that the hockey is much faster here.

“If you play smart here and if you can score and give assists here, you can play everywhere, I think.”

In Russia’s first WJC game, which was played on December 26, 2005, Ogorodnikov played on the second line, with forwards Alex Radulov (NAS) and Roman Voloshenko (MIN). In the team’s 5-1 win over Sweden, Ogorodnikov registered an assist on a second period goal by Voloshenko.

Both of the Islanders’ Canadian-born prospects played in Canada’s first game against Finland on Monday evening. Canada won the game, 5-1, with both Comeau and O’Marra registering points. Comeau (6’1, 198; 2nd Round, 47th overall, 2004) scored the game-winning goal in the second period, and had an assist on a goal scored by Dustin Boyd (CGY) in the last period. Comeau’s breakaway second period goal was scored with the primary assist from linemate O’Marra (6’1, 193; 1st round, 15th overall, 2005).

Mrazek (6’3, 209; 6th round, 179 overall, 2004) played in the Czech Republic’s first game, also played on Monday. The Czech Republic beat the Latvian team 5-1, in Mrazek’s first appearance on an U20 World Junior team. Mrazek took two penalties, neither of which resulted in a goal for Latvia.

Glen Erickson contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.