If you haven’t heard the name Miks Indrasis yet, keep your eyes and ears open. The undrafted 6-3, 196-pound winger has already made some considerable noise in his first two games for Team Latvia at the 2012 World Championships, having scored a goal against Russia in a surprisingly tight 5-2 loss and then chipping in a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory over Germany. Most impressive is the confidence he’s been able to show on the ice with the puck on his stick.
The 2012 IIHF U18 Tournament is upon us and, as in recent years, has the international scouting community licking its chops. This year's edition once again features a number of young men representing their country on the international scene who will hear their names called at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. For many of them, this tournament will be the pinnacle of all their work this season and will leave a lasting impression – whether good or bad – in the minds and notebooks of what should be well over 120 NHL scouts in attendance. For all of them, this event will be an opportunity to go out and give it everything they've got for their native country, a motivation that often has no rival in the minds and hearts of 16-18 year olds. But which country will benefit most from that attitude? What teams can least afford to take a night off? Which players should be pushing the hardest for a victory in the tournament's final game? Here's what you can expect from the frontrunners for a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U18 Tournament.
Nineteen-year-old Andrey Pedan is among those Russians who preferred venturing in the Canadian junior leagues system, rather than going for the usual route for European players; playing junior hockey back home then signing a contract directly with their draft team several years later. "My agent Alexei Dementiev advised me to go and play in the OHL, and this is what I did as I completely trust him. I think it was a good decision, I already adapted to the small ice surface last year and this year I further improved my game", Pedan said in Russian.
Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko nearly had his first Under-20 WJC appearance cut short by an ankle injury. But Grigorenko, a top prospect for the 2012 NHL Draft, has overcome that injury and is poised to help Russia defend their 2011 WJC title in the 2012 gold medal game against Sweden.
Grigorenko talked about the win over Canada and about playing Sweden in the final.
Russian defenseman Grigori Zheldakov was somewhat of an unlikely hero for Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championship. But Zheldakov has scored the biggest goal for that team so far in the tournament, as his blast from the slot gave the Russian a 2-1 overtime win over the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals and a rematch with Canada.
Zheldakov talked about his goal following the win.