The second live game for me in this years WJC was the encounter between Slovakia and
Finland. Once again my hopes were high; Finland had surprised me in their game against Canada, and Marian Gaborik
was going to be on the ice for Slovakia. The two teams met last week in a exhibition game in Piteå, and Slovakia won the game by four goals to two. The game was very similar to last nights game between Finland and Canada. The first period didn’t provide any amusement, but the game took off in the second when Slovakia scored the prettiest goal so far in the tournament on a three-on-one, Branislav Mezei put the puck in the net, assisted wonderfully by Marian Gaborik. As in the game against Canada, the finns were forced to score in the final period, and this time they got it right, Arto Tukio scored the gametying goal in power-play. The game ended dramatically when Finlands Riku Hahl (one of their best players of the game) took a wrist shot from the blueline in the very last second that hit the bar! The game finally ended 1-1 (0-0 1-0 0-1).
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The Czechs and the Americans skated to a 2-2 tie in the first game of the day, and the Finns and the Slovaks tied 1-1 after Finland almost won the game with a shot that hit the crossbar in the final second of the game.
Team USA looked good in exhibition against Sweden playing a disciplined game, and they did the same again today. They didn’t allow many good scoring chances for the Czechs and when they did goalie Rick DiPietro was there to make the save. The 1981-born DiPietro appears to have assumed the role of starting goaltender ahead of Colorado Avalanche draftpick Philippe Sauve, and DiPietro certainly deserves it. Goalies who like to handle the puck are plentiful, but goalies with the hockey sense to actually do something good with the puck and help his team out with his puckhandling are more scarce. DiPietro is in the latter group – he almost never handles the puck without purpose, which is refreshing to see. DiPietro also looks very solid making his saves, and it shows that he has earned the trust of his defense. He could well be a star of this tournament. Almost all of Team USA’s offense was generated by center Jeff Taffe and winger Barrett Heisten (Buffalo). Heisten scored the first goal of the game on a nice move in close on the power play, and the pair seemed to have good chemistry all game. Taffe is tall center with good puckhandling skills, and Heisten more of a shooter. For all of the third period they got a defenseman for a left winger as defenseman Pat Aufiero (Rangers) lined up besided them. The Americans also recieved good penalty-killing a che Read more »
After the first day of any competition there shouldn’t be any dramatic
conclusions drawn, but often there are signs that point in certain
directions. In the first day of Group A action from the Junior World
Championships in Skellefteå it seems that the team who wants to beat the
Czechs must stop their powerful powerplay unit lead by Michal Sivek, Milan
Kraft and Martin Havlat. That is the strongest impression that the first day
of competition left. Game-summaries at the bottom of the page.
The Czech’s beat Slovakia 5-2, after a hat-trick and one assist from
Penguins firstround pick Milan Kraft, who also serves as captain. The
Czech’s played a typically european game almost to perfection while the
Slovakian team went more for emotion and enthusiasm in the early going. The
Czech team seemed very confident in their style and play a calm and patient
game. The deciding factor in this game, just like in so many other games was
the special teams. A mild judgment of the Slovakians powerplay is ”not
good”; the only time they generated anything that resembled offense was when
17-year olds Marian Gaborik and Tomas Kopecky was on the ice, but that line Read more »
Henrik Zetterberg – the next star
Henrik Zetterberg has been playing great the whole season. He was drafted very
late (210 overall) by Detroit Red Wings in 1999. The truth is that he wasn’t a
top prospect last season. But the way he is playing this year is incredible.
He has dominated in the 2nd Tier League with Timra and been playing great on
the National Junior Team. Detroit made a real bust when they drafted him. He
is expected to join an Elite league team next season and that will make him
one of the top candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. So far Zetterberg
has 23 points (15g, 8a) in 28 games with Timra.
So what makes Henrik so special? He is not big, but he has great moves and an
impressing scoring touch. His skating skills are above average and he’s good
Zetterberg was the best player in Sweden’s (vs Switzerland) opening game in
WJC. He showed some great puckhandling skills and scored a highlight goal on
his own. He got much ice-time, on the power-play as well as on the penalty
The report above was courtesy of Johan Nilsson, who runs his own Elitserien page located
at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/. I highly recommend
checking this site out, as it is one of the best sites on the net in regards to hard to find Swedish hockey info. Read more »
Sweden-Switzerland 7-1 (1-1, 2-0, 4-0)
Sweden got off to a good start to this years tournament as they cruised past Switzerland in a 7-1-win. The Swiss took a surprising lead in the first period after a mistake from Swedish goalie Johan Asplund. Asplund was just gonna stop the puck and put his glove on it, but he failed to stop it and Flavien Conne snapped it up and sent it to the net. After the goal the Swedes looked nervous and the passing game didn’t work out as well as coach Lars Molin wanted it to. But the Swedes got an opportunity as the Swiss got a man sent to the box. A misunderstanding between the Swiss defenders on the blue-line saw Christian Berglund skate through and alone with Swiss-goalie Simon Züger he some how managed to score the equaliser. Züger threw himself in front off the stick of Berglund, but he missed the puck, which slid under him.
The second period saw more nervous playing from the Swedes and Switzerland had a few chances to score, including a shot in the bar. But halfway through the period Sweden started to look as the better team and within 41 seconds they went from 1-1 to 3-1, after goals from Henrik Zetterberg and Gabriel Karlsson. Zetterberg did it on his own, breaking in in front of the goal while the Swiss were just looking at him and sent the puck past Züger. The goal from Karlsson on the other hand was a created by Björn Melin who set up Karlsson with a beautiful pass and Karlsson made no mistake alone with Züger.
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The first World Junior Championship game I ever witnessed live
was the encounter between Finland and Canada on Christmas Day. My hopes for the
game were extremely high, but were tainted a bit by the absence of candians John Erskine, Ross Lupaschuk, Ramzi Abid, Kris Beech and Michael Henrich, players I had been looking forward to seeing. Canada finally won the game 3-2 (1-0 2-0 0-2) after a strong third period by the finns. The result was probably a bit unfair, as Finland was the better of the two teams, but Team Canada played a solid defensive game and didn’t allow the finns to score in the first two periods despite numerous power play opportunities. I was dissapointed by the power-play efforts from both of the two teams, especially the finnish power play. They didn’t create any serious goal-scoring opportunities in the second period, despite almost three minutes 5 on 3.
#30 Maxime Ouellet G – Maxime displayed a solid performance, the two finnish goals came from goal-mouth scrambles and was not his fault. Good positional play throughout the game.
#3 Jay Bouwmeester D – I had high hopes about for the very first time seeing the two canadian 16-year olds Bouwmeester and Spezza. Jay didn’t have much ice time, but he showed up a solid play with very few mistakes
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The WJC’s are just two days away. The tournament is set to start in
Skellefteå and Umeå, Sweden, on Christmas Day. This year there isn’t one
team everyone agrees being the clear favourites to win it all, which makes
for a more interesting tournament. The Swedes should nevertheless go into
the tournament as favourites, closely followed by the Russians, Canadians
and Finns, in that order.
Sweden, knowing that it was high time to make a serious bid to win the
gold this year as hosts, has adopted a new strategy this year to help the
players considered for the JWC squad. The main idea is to make sure that no
player warms the bench all season before going to the JWC’s to have a
significant role. So, in coalition with Elitserien club teams the Swedish Ice
Hockey Federation created a rule which allows the players considered for the
JWC’s to leave their Elitserien team on loan if they are not getting into
the lineup there to play for teams in the Allsvenskan instead, which is the
level of senior hockey competition one notch below Elitserien. A significant
number of the players on Team Sweden are players who have benefited from Read more »
Ten years from now, when we look back at this years World Junior Championships, we
will be amazed how many big stars that were present. Sure, a few of the biggest
names are missing because they have not been released by their NHL-clubs, but
many of the players who will battle for the gold-medal will become big stars in NHL sometime down the road.
This years tournament will be held in Skellefteå and Umeå, Sweden. The first game will be played on December 25th and the final will take place on January 4th. The ten teams are divided into two groups with Canada, USA, Slovakia, Finland and Czech Republic in Group A and Sweden, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Switzerland in Group B. A difference from last years tournament is that the group-winner will not be automatically qualified for the semi-final. This year the winner in Group A will play the fourth-placed team from Group B, the second-placed team in Group A will play the third-placed team from Group B and so on.
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Pavel Brendl continues to impress the New York Rangers at the Junior Level. Brendl was named WHL player of the week after his 4-3-7 in 3 games performance and is currently leading the WHL in scoring with 33-31-64, one pt ahead of teammate Brad Moran(33-30-63).
The upcoming World Junior A Championships begin Christmas Day and several New York Rangers prospects are to be donning their national team jersey. A preliminary listing includes: Pat Aufiero and Dave Inman (TEAM USA), Manny Malhorta and Jamie Lundmark (TEAM CANADA), Johan Asplund (SWEDEN), Arto Laatikainen (FINLAND). Of this group, many eyes will be on TEAM CANADA captain and seldom used New York Rangers center Manny Malhotra (6-3 218). Malhotra fell out of favor in New York with the emergence of Mike York and the resurgence of Alexander Daigle. Malhotra may be packaged to acquire a Keith Primeau or Bill Guerin type player. The World`s will provide him with the opportunity to showcase his talents and possible gain more ice time in New York. But Team Canada struggled early in a training match , falling 7-1 to SWEDEN. The USA fell to RUSSIA 3-1 as well.
The baby Rangers continue to play well in Hartford (16-8-5-1) and one point behind Division Leader Portland. Derek Armstrong (11-20-31), Brad Smyth (17-13-30), Mike Harder (12-11-23) and Ken Gernander (8-13-21) are the leading scorers in Hartford and will represent Canada and Planet USA in the upcoming AHL all-star game. Tomas Kloucek has also been named to the Planet USA Team.
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The year 2000 is quickly approaching. By any definition, a new millennium symbolizes abundant change. What does the future hold? Some predict it will bring the end of the world, while others, more optimistic in outlook, believe 2000 will herald the beginning of a technological golden age, the beginning of a glorious new era. For sports fans it is a chance to fondly reflect on the past, dynasties and heroes alike, and move towards a brighter tomorrow. If the legends of yesterday have been surpassed in terms of skill, imagine the significance and impact of those yet to come. Who will they be?
Michael Jordan will forever be remembered as one of the finest and fiercest competitors in basketball history. The symbol of pure brilliance and centerpiece of 6 NBA crowns, his legend will live on for an eternity. Sadly however, interest in basketball has plummeted since Jordan announced his retirement. Superstar talent still exists, but it is hard to determine who exactly caught the torch.
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