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(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Latvia down to last chance to avoid relegation round

by Ken McKenna
on
(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Latvia down to last chance to avoid relegation round

Photo: Team Latvia forward and 2016 prospect Haralds Strombergs competed for HK Riga of the MHL in 2015-16, where he posted three assists in 20 games (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

As it always is, the mantra for Team Latvia at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship is to avoid the relegation round. But talking about doing it has been easier than accomplishing that goal as Latvia find themselves winless after three games at this tournament, with their final match of the preliminary round coming later today against a Russian squad that has an overtime win in two games. Read more »

(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Zadina impresses in Czech loss to Canada

by Ken McKenna
on
(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Zadina impresses in Czech loss to Canada

Photo: Team Czech Republic forward and 2018 prospect Filip Zadina netted the lone goal for his country in their loss to Canada on Day 3 of the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

After a somewhat sluggish 25 minutes of play in their faceoff with Canada at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship, the Czech Republic put forth a concerted but unsuccessful effort to overcome a 3-0 deficit, ultimately dropping a 3-1 decision at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Read more »

(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Shaw provides mix of offense, grit for Canada

by Ken McKenna
on
(Video) 2016 U18 World Championship: Shaw provides mix of offense, grit for Canada

Photo: Medicine Hat Tigers forward and 2017 prospect Mason Shaw had a productive season for the rebuilding Tigers, scoring 17 goals and 60 points in 67 games (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Canada posted their second win of the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship, although it didn’t come as easily as their first win on Friday night. The Czech Republic provided the opposition on Saturday, and, after Canada took a 3-0 lead, the Czechs gave the Canadians all they could handle before finally bowing, 3-1. Read more »

2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Switzerland looking to do more than simply avoid relegation

by Rafik Soliman
on
2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Switzerland looking to do more than simply avoid relegation

Photo: Team Switzerland competed in the medal round of the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship in front of their home crowd, and will look to make a return at this year’s event in Grand Forks, ND.

At last year’s IIHF U18 World Championship, Switzerland finished the tournament supported by a partisan home crowd in Zug, ultimately placing fourth. It was the second time the Swiss finished a championship at home in the top-4 of the world. The core of that group, who snuck into the medal round with a last minute overtime win against Latvia, was built around the 97-class, which was one of the strongest and deepest Switzerland has ever produced. Read more »

2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Finland should be in the medal round mix

by Tony Piscotta
on
2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Finland should be in the medal round mix

Photo: Saginaw Spirit defenseman and 2016 prospect Markus Niemelainen netted a goal and 27 points in 65 OHL games in the 2015-16 season (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

With some of Finland’s top players in this age group playing all over the world — and four competing for the Finland U20 team that won a gold medal in Helsinki at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship — the 2015-16 season has been one of experimentation and mixing and matching for Finland U18 head coach Jussi Ahokas. Read more »

2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Czechs hoping for return to medal round

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Czechs hoping for return to medal round

Photo: Saskatoon Blades defenseman Libor Hajak competed for Team Orr at the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, picking up an assist in his team’s 3-2 win over Team Cherry (courtesy of Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

After a big silver medal win in Finland at the 2014 U18 IIHF World Championship, where players such as David Pastrnak and Jakub Vrana had the scouting community licking their chops, last spring’s Czech Republic squad proved to be competitive but bland despite featuring players such as Pavel Zacha and Jakub Zboril, both of whom ended up being first round draft picks. Despite making the playoffs rather handily, the team was stopped dead in its tracks by eventual gold medalist Team USA, getting spanked by a 7-2 score. Read more »

Columbus Blue Jackets boast abundant pool of prospects

by Chris Roberts
on
Columbus Blue Jackets boast abundant pool of prospects

Photo: Zach Werenski finished with 36 points in 36 games for the University of Michigan. (Courtesy of Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets may have had a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, but there is plenty of organizational depth in the system in terms of prospects. It’s not as though the team is due for another few years of rebuilding either. General Manager Jarmo Kekäläinen is committed to building a winner and he showed that last summer by trading for budding star Brandon Saad. Read more »

Once a source of strength, questions abound for Detroit Red Wings prospects in Europe

by Ryan Womeldorf
on
Once a source of strength, questions abound for Detroit Red Wings prospects in Europe

Photo: Detroit’s seventh-round pick of 2014, Axel Holmstrom, has been the team’s top-performing prospect in Europe for two seasons (courtesy of Skelleftea AIK/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

Though many of the best prospects in the Detroit Red Wings system to start the 2015-16 season have graduated into the NHL, the franchise still has some quality prospects across the system. In particular, the team seems to have invested heavily in the European hockey scene. They have a half-dozen prospects playing abroad right now, led by names like Joren van Pottelberghe and Axel Holmstrom. Though the majority of their top prospects are CHL products, there are a few potential gems hidden across the pond. In addition to those prospects, the Red Wings have taken a chance on a few prospects who will develop at the collegiate level. No one on the list possesses the quality of one-time Michigan Wolverine Dylan Larkin, but there are a few late-round picks that have the talent to develop.

Read more »

2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Inexperienced Latvia squad hard-pressed to avoid relegation

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Inexperienced Latvia squad hard-pressed to avoid relegation

Image: Team Latvia will send a mostly internationally inexperienced team to the 2016 IIHF World Championship, where they hope to avoid relegation to D-1.

After making their way up from Division I in 2014, the Latvians played a wonderful tournament in Switzerland at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship. Things started off with a wild 11-6 loss to Canada, but the team showed that it would not back down and would find ways to be dangerous. Read more »

2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Glimpse of a better future for Slovakia team that remain underdogs

by Chapin Landvogt
on
2016 U18 World Championship Preview: Glimpse of a better future for Slovakia team that remain underdogs

Photo: Team Slovakia forward and 2017 prospect Sam Bucek began the 2015-16 with Nitra MHC but elected to move to North America to play for the Chicago Steel of the USHL (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)

Slovakia’s entry at last spring’s IIHF U18 World Championship started its tournament off with a bang by defeating Sweden, 3-1, but the tournament went downhill from there. Although a victory over eventually relegated Germany allowed Slovakia to finish the preliminary round with two victories, their playoff performance looked like that of a team that didn’t belong there. Read more »

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