January 03, 2018

WJC Quarterfinals Recap: The Czechs upset Finland – Canada cruises to semifinals

UPSET. The Czech Republic beat Finland in dramatic fashion. Photo: All Over Press

Czech Republic 4, Finland 3

The first quarterfinal game on Day 8 was arguably the best of the bunch. The Czechs battled back from two different one-goal deficits including a game-tying goal with under three minutes to go in the third period. The Finns dominated the shot clock, peppering 51 shots on net, but Josef Korenar put up an excellent performance to keep the Czechs alive. The two teams then went into a shootout that the Czechs would win after Korenar stoned Olli Juolevi in the fifth round. 

The win will send the Czech republic to the semifinals for the first time since 2005 when they won bronze. On the other hand, the frustration for Finland continues. Last year, they ended up in the relegation round, and this year, they’ll be playing in a placement game. It’s certainly a disappointing result after winning gold in 2014 and 2016. 

Canada 8, Switzerland 2

To nobody’s surprise, Canada rolled over Switzerland in the quarterfinal to book a ticket to the semifinals. They scored a goal under a minute into the game and didn’t take the foot off the gas, eventually giving themselves a 5-0 lead before the game was half finished. The Swiss managed to score two goals, but this game was all Canada, as they peppered 50 shots on goal and had seven different goal scorers. 

Sweden 3, Slovakia 2

This was a game that nobody expected to be so close, but Slovakia kept things tight in a difficult game against Sweden. The Swedes grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Slovakia battled back and brought it to within one before the end of the period. In the third, Isac Lundeström made it 3-1, but the Slovaks battled back to make it 3-2 with Martin Bodák’s second goal of the game. Ultimately, though, the Swedes were able to slam the door to book a ticket to the semifinal. They’ll have an opportunity to advance to the gold medal game for the first time since losing to Finland in 2014. 

USA 4, Russia 2

The United States and Russia matched up in a heated quarterfinal game in which the loser would have their tournament finished much earlier than anticipated. Kieffer Bellows got things going early to give the United States a lead, then Marsel Sholokhov and Kailer Yamamoto exchanged goals to send the Americans into the second period with a 2-1 lead. Early in the third, Russia tied the game, but Bellows buried the game winner with seven minutes to go. The Americans got 40 shots on goal to Russia’s 29 and were clearly the better team, but the Russians had a gritty effort and didn’t make life easy on the Americans. 

They’ll play Sweden in the semifinal on their pursuit of winning a World Juniors gold on home soil for the first time in the program’s history. 

Three Stars

First Star – Josef Korenar (CZE) 

An easy choice for first star honours, Korenar stole the game for Finland in the quarterfinal with a 51-save performance. Even after his 51 saves in regulation and overtime, Korenar was excellent in the shootout, stopping four of five Finland chances. He now has a .922 save percentage for the tournament in four appearances. 

Second Star – Kieffer Bellows (USA)

The United States faced a difficult task against a pesky Russian team in the quarterfinals, but Kieffer Bellows played arguably his best game of the tournament to help push the Americans over the top. He scored two goals, the game-opener and the game-winner, good enough for second star honours. He now leads the tournament with six goals. 

Third Star – Brett Howden (CAN)

Though it wasn’t at all surprising that Canada hammered Switzerland in the quarterfinal, Brett Howden deserves third star honours for a breakout performance. Howden had a huge game, racking up a goal and three assists, which more than doubled his tournament output. One of Canada’s best strengths is their offensive depth, and Howden displayed that yesterday. 

@cooom

June 21, 2018

Grigori Denisenko – The Little Ball of Russian Hate

Picking the best player available is a common strategy during the draft. But what makes a player “the best available”? Is it talent? Attitude? A combination of...
June 19, 2018

EP Premium – a new beginning

When Johan Nilsson registered www.eliteprospects.com in his dorm room in Kalmar, Sweden back in 1999, he probably didn’t envision himself serving millions of ho...
June 19, 2018

Vitali Kravtsov – in the footsteps of Yevgeni Kuznetsov

Vitali Kravtsov was born in Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia. Today, the city has it’s own KHL team, but when he grew up, the hockey boom was yet to...
June 14, 2018

Nils Lundkvist – a Swedish surprise a head of the draft

When the 2017/18 season started, he was pretty much an unknown commodity in Swedish hockey. As we approach the 2018 NHL Entry draft in Dallas, Nils Lundkvist co...
May 23, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Detroit’s run of success finally caught up to them

After an unprecedented two-decade-long period of success that saw four Stanley Cup championships and the Hall of Fame careers of players like Steve Yzerman, Nic...
May 10, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: After disappointing season – can the Canadiens reload quickly?

If you were to sum up the 2017-18 season for the Montreal Canadiens you could probably do it in a thousand words. Or, you could do it with just one: disappointm...
May 07, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Svechnikov or Zadina – tough choice awaits the Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes faithful may soon see the fortunes of their beleaguered franchise shift after the Canes exited the April 28th NHL draft lottery with the...
May 04, 2018

From July to May – Lias Andersson’s long journey continues

How much hockey can you play without getting burned out? If you are to believe Lias Andersson, there’s no upper limit.  And he should know. The 19 year-ol...
April 30, 2018

Swedish Olympian to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs

At 26 years of age, he’s not by any means a prospect anymore. But Pär Lindholm is a late-bloomer who has had two seasons of great progress with Skellefteå...
April 29, 2018

Clock is ticking for Valeri Nichushkin – can he make a triumphant return to the NHL?

When Valeri Nichushkin was drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 10th overall pick in 2013, it was a bit of a surprise. After all, the Russian was picked ahead o...
April 26, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Senators strong at center, in need of game-changer

The Ottawa Senators made a lot of noise this season. Just not the right kind of noise. Coming off a 2016-17 campaign in which the  franchise reached its third e...
April 26, 2018

Erik Brännström cherishes the opportunity to compete with NHL stars

One by one, the established NHL players have taken over the Swedish World Championship squad. Stars like Oliver Ekman Larsson, John Klingberg and Mika Zibanejad...
April 24, 2018

Adam Boqvist looking forward to his second NHL draft

Unlike most of his peers, Adam Boqvist went to the NHL Entry Draft one summer before it was his draft year. Not because he wanted to learn about the event, take...
April 23, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: The Coyotes are better than they seem

It was another difficult season in the desert as the Coyotes finished with the worst record in the Western Conference. But, under the radar, Arizona had a solid...
April 23, 2018

Elias Pettersson – Swedish hockey’s new golden boy

The expectations were certainly high when Växjö Lakers signed Elias Pettersson to a three-year deal in early April last year. The young forward had just finishe...
April 18, 2018

The Playoff Report – which prospects are excelling in the postseason?

The old trusted adage that you need grit and experience to succeed in the playoffs is proving less and less true every day. Every day reports filter in from var...
April 13, 2018

Swedish prospect Filip Hållander to miss the World Juniors

Team Sweden will already be without first overall pick to be, Rasmus Dahlin, when the U18 World Championships starts in Russia next week. Unfortunately for the...
April 11, 2018

“The Black Ace” – a badge of honor for an NHL prospect

As legend has it, the origins of the term Black Ace can be traced back centuries. 1876, to be specific. That is the year in which famous Old West lawman “Wild B...
April 10, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: The Sabres need to win the draft lottery

The Buffalo Sabres became the first team ever to finish 31st in the NHL this year.  For their struggles, the Sabres will have the highest odds at the draft lott...
April 09, 2018

Oilers prospects turning heads during Swedish playoffs

Edmonton Oilers’ fans didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about this season. Outside of Connor McDavid‘s second straight Art Ross Trophy, which i...