The World Junior Hockey Championships is always extremely interesting to watch. It’s fun to observe many of the players that will be tomorrow’s stars in the NHL before the big bucks change their love for the game. This year’s tournament has been a roller coaster ride with plenty of upsets and lots of sidebars that have made the action extremely entertaining. Team Canada has found itself in the thick of things and has found an old rivalry against the Russian bear boil over. The players have made this something to remember, in more ways that one.
There have been some excellent performances, and some that make you scratch your head. Some players make you sit straight up when they make a play, and others make you hide your eyes before they play the puck. Because many of these young men have been drafted, or scrutinized to death, certain expectations are placed on these players, sometimes unfairly. Consider that when reading the reviews. They are one person’s opinion of what has been observed in a short tournament, one that is really not long enough to properly gauge a player except to flag him for further scouting, against the best competition possible for the age group of the players in question.
Jay Bouwmeester – The un-drafted Bouwmeester has been in the public spotlight for several years now. He has been touted as the number one pick for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft for three years. If there was a player that had unfair expectations to live up to, it is Jay Bouwmeester. Funny thing is that this kid lives up to them, Read more »
The Czech Republic got some vindication, Team Quebec jumped for joy and Team Western watched its medal hopes vanish.
That summed up the fifth day of the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, where the Czechs bounced back from a heart-breaking, disputed setback on Tuesday to play the role of spoiler last night in front of 2,063 fans at the Selkirk Arena.
The Czechs, who protested their 5-4 loss to Quebec on Tuesday but had it thrown out yesterday morning, got four goals from Jakub Sindel — his first of the tournament — in a 7-2 thumping of tournament host Team Western.
Team Western, which finished 2-2 and only needed a win or tie last night to qualify for the playoffs, fell to fourth in Pool A and will play for seventh place today against Team Atlantic in Stonewall at 2 o’clock.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Western forward Stefan Meyer, who had a second-period goal. “For the past games it looked like we came to win, but tonight it looked like we just had no desire to win. That Czech team worked hard tonight and they deserved this win more than us.”
Team Quebec was smiling because its 2-1-1 record in Pool A after a 4-4 draw with Team USA yesterday afternoon landed it in a semifinal tonight (7:30) in Stonewall against Team Pacific, which beat Russia 5-0 last night in Stonewall to finish at 4-0.
The U.S. (3-0-1) will play 3-1 Team Ontario, who blanked Finland 3-0 yesterday, in the other semifinal tonight in Selkirk at 7:30.
Team Western had a 35-25 edge in the shot department, but Czech netminder Vladislav Koutsky made some outst Read more »
With the progression of the calendar comes the glimmer of new hopes and new dreams for a new year. For the Kootenay ICE, the new year still holds that promise. It just didn’t show itself on the year’s first day with a 5-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers and when it will show up is anyone’s guess.
In what could very well turn out to be the one of the more crucial home stands’ of the year, the ICE have struck out the first two out of three and have two formidable opponents in the on-deck circle. In the past week Kootenay has offered up a Christmas turkey in the form of last Friday’s 3-0 drubbing by the Moose Jaw Warrior, the first time in recent memory that the club has been shutout at home. They’ve been a force in more than just the goals column of the score-sheet with the six-goal, six-fight outburst as the Lethbridge Hurricanes were doubled 6-3 the very next night. Completing the up again, down again cycle, the aforementioned drubbing by the Tigers to start off 2002 with a whiff.
Coach Ryan McGill knew why his depleted club didn’t succeed against the Tigers after an all-around team effort in the win over Lethbridge just three nights earlier. He just didn’t know why his players didn’t. “It’s a concern everyday,” said McGill of what seems like the two different clubs that don the ICE jerseys on any given night. “Our biggest thing tonight is that every mental mistake we made they put in the back of the net and consequently at the other end, we couldn’t score.
“That was the bottom line. We had no mental intensity in any area tonight.”
McGill also fin Read more »
HF: Tonight you were defeated for the first time by a very strong Finland team, what can you say about the game?
Aulin: Finland has a very good team. Tonight they were simply better then us.
HF: In the quarter finals you will face Sweden. What do you know about them?
Aulin: I don’t know much about them really. But we will do our best to make it to the semi’s, it won’t be easy though cause all 8 teams in the quarter finals are very strong.
HF: Because of the loss tonight Finland ended up first in the group and Canada now doesn’t play the Czech Republic who surprisingly finished 4th in their group. Are you happy you avoid playing the Czechs this early in the tournament since they do have home advantage?
Aulin: It doesn’t matter, if we want to win gold we will have to beat everyone, also the Czechs.
HF: Are you satisfied with your own performance so far at this WJC?
Aulin: Yes, very much. I think my performance opened a lot of eyes for many people. I am playing very strong so far.
HF: How would you describe your game. What are your strengths and what areas of the game you need to improve?
Aulin: I’m an offensive type of player, a playmaker, in those areas are my strengths. I need to add some weight though to get more physical.
HF: What about your future? When you feel you can skate in the NHL?
Aulin: I’m hoping to claim a spot on the Kings roster next season. That would be good.
Read more »
Q: Do you agree with the opinion that the Canadians played a very dirty hockey today, e.g. when Steve Ott and Mark Popovic tried (and succeeded) to beat Alexander Svitov several times?
Volchenkov: Yes, I agree. But when playing against Canada, that´s pretty normal and one always should consider that before.
Q: Right before the first goal for Canada, Russian defender Fyodor Tyutin did not go to attack forward Jarrett Stoll, who had the puck, but went to the players bench, immediately before Stoll scored his goal. What do you think of that?
Volchenkov: Yes, that was a bad mistake, of course. Both defenders, Tyutin and Knyazev, made bad mistakes in that scene.
Q: You were drafted by the Ottawa Senators. Have you already planned when to go to North America?
Volchenkov: No, I haven´t yet thought about that.
Q: Could you also imagine to play in another European country, Germany for example, or Switzerland?
Volchenkov: No. At the moment, I play for Krlylia Sovietov (“Soviet Wings”) Moscow, and I´m quite happy there. I guess it wouldn´t give much to me to play in a Western European league. I´ll either play in Russia or in North America.
Q: What, do you think, will be better tomorrow in the game against Switzerland?
Volchenkov: Our biggest problem today were the time penalties, of which we just received too much. We´ll have to change that tomorrow, and then we can
Lukas Krajicek, a Florida Panthers 2001 first round pick, is currently performing for the Czech team at the WJC. The Peterborough
Petes defenseman answered some questions after the game against Belarus.
When did you start playing hockey?
I was about four years old when my dad brought me to the rink.
Where was it?
In Prostejov, my hometown.
Who had a bigger influence on the begin of your career – dad or older brother, also playing hockey?
Definitely both of them, the fact that my older brother Jan played hockey was essential in my decision which sport to choose, but it was
my dad who directed my first hockey steps and gave me tips.
Who is your hockey role model?
Brian Leetch, New York Rangers defenseman.
Your favorite European team?
That wouldn´t be a Czech team, I´m a fan of the Finnish Jokerit Helsinki team.
And a favorite NHL team?
Definitely the Florida Panthers.
Do you have a special number you like to wear on your jersey? Read more »
Notebook — 01/02/2002
After a somnolent ’00-01 season, the Stars minor league affiliate (the Utah Grizzlies) retooled, swapped coaching
components, and relocated to the AHL. Somehow, all of these changes (and, of course, player development) have precipitated
an unexpectantly exciting season for the hiterto yawn-inducing franchise. Midway through the season the Grizzlies find
themselves in first place with 45 points and 20 wins (and third league-wide by a deuce). Finally, something exciting’s going
on in Salt Lake City (although I’ve heard snippets that something else is going to transpire there as well).
Newly appointed coach Don Hay is getting much of the credit for the swift reversal of fortune. The former NHL coach,
Memorial Cup winner, and “greatest” coach in WHL history has taken a team with a remarkably similar make-up to last year’s
suck-squad and molded an AHL machine. And, of course, you have to dish out ample credit to Assistant Coach Bob Bassen.
Maybe. Ok, I don’t know. But I do like mentioning former Stars in my column.
Read more »
Filip Novak, Defenseman, Czech Republic: Novak, registering 2 assists and an Even +/- rating through the 4 games of the preliminary round, and the Czech Republic squared off against Finland in hopes of continuing their pursuit of a Gold Medal. Finland, coming off a 4-1 beating of Team Canada, finished as the top team in the preliminary round, while the Czech Republic finished an extremely disappointing fourth in Group B with a 1-3-0 record. The game was a close one from start to finish. New Jersey Devils’ prospect Tuomas Pihlman put the Finns on the board first with 1:11 remaining in the opening period. Forward Petr Prucha notched a power play goal to tie the game for the Czechs, 7:48 seconds into the second period. The game remained tied only for about ten minutes when Finnish forward Jarkko Immonen converted a pass from defenseman Joni Pitkanen, considered one of the top 2002 eligible prospects. The game stay that way until Tomi Maki, a 4th rounder by the Calgary Flames in 2001, finished it off with an empty net goal with only nine seconds remaining. The Czech Republic outshot Finland 18 to 15, but the Finns got strong goaltending yet again from Kari Lehtonen, arguably the top goaltender available for 2002, and won the game 3-1. After winning back-to-back Gold Medals, the Czechs disappointed this time around in their own country, and now are out of contention for a medal. The highest they can finish in this tournament now would be 5th. As for Filip Novak, the swift-skating defenseman registered no points in the contest and was a -1. The Czechs face Team USA tomorro Read more »
WJC Mid Term Report
So we’ve seen the round robin games and some players have stood out, a few even for good reasons. But what about those drafted by Toronto? To date among the most impressive you’d have to rank Canada’s Brad Boyes. A few months ago, it was the opinion of this column that perhaps Boyes might be tried on the wing to bolster the outside scoring. Seeing him dominate in the faceoff dot as much as he has at this tourney though, it would be interesting to see what he can do against stiffer competition. He certainly has the puck smarts and defensive responsibility to play the middle. While he has so far been the clear cut #1 choice.
However after Boyes, a couple of Bud blueliners check in for a very close battle for 2nd spot in Canada’s Carlo Colaiacovo and Finland’s Markus Seikola. Both are mobile defensemen who can carry the puck up ice, both have hard shots from the point, and both like to hit. Seikola looked to be the slightly heavier hitter and shooter, but Colaiacvovo looked to be a touch more mobile. Call them 2 and 2A.
On the downside, Jay Harrison, has looked very out of place on this squad. He has been beaten to the outside repeatedly, and he has blindly fired the puck anywhere but here numerous times throughout the preliminary rounds. While it’s true, he’s not here to provide offensive fireworks, in light of his defensive play, the absence of a contribution at this end leaves little positive to talk about.
Fredrik Sjostrom, Sweden – Fredrik has not been given a shot to show his talent at the World Junior Championships and his statistics have illustrated just that. Sjostrom has only 2 penalty minutes with no goals or assists in the five games he has played so far. Sjostrom has been limited to fourth line play and 13th forward duties with virtually no time on the power play and penalty kill. Fredrik will only improve and gain experience from being at the Championships when he goes back to the Calgary Hitmen.
5 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, 2 PIM, +2, 6 SOG
Ruslan Zainullan, Russia – Ruslan came over in the Nikolai Khabibulin trade from Tampa Bay and has been put in the same position that Fredrik Sjostrom has been in with Sweden. Ruslan through the quarterfinals does not have a registered shot on goal which is something he will need to address if he is to have success in his professional career. Zainullan has only one assist and 2 penalty minutes in the five games through the quarterfinals of the Championships so far. As with Sjostrom, Zainullan will gain nothing but positive experience from this.
5 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 2 PIM, -1, 0 SOG
Martin Podelsak, Czech Republic – Martin started off the tournament playing on the 2nd line along side Frantisek Lukes and Miloslav Horava. Martin has really been a disappointment at the Championships. Podelsak hasn’t registered a point in the tournament and has really disappointed the hometown fans in the Czech Republic. Podelsak is a plus one and has four shots on goal. Podelsak had really high expectations going into this tou Read more »