Belarus, Wheat Kings Eliminated

The quest for a championship has come to an end for two Devils prospects. Artur Gavrus and Belarus fell to Canada in the quarterfinals of the IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic. At roughly the same time half way around the world, John Quenneville’s Brandon Wheat Kings were being swept out of the Western Hockey League’s championship series. Both teams made great runs but fell just short.

For Belarus, it was like hitting a buzzsaw. Canada blitzed them 9-0 as Brent Burns scored 27 seconds into the game and they never looked back. Tyler Seguin had a hat trick and Burns and Ryan O’Reilly had two goals each as the Canadians cruised to victory. Tyler Ennis and Jason Spezza rounded out the scoring for Canada. They will now face the winner of Tuomo Ruutu’s Finland club versus the Czech Republic, to be played later on May 14 at the O2 Arena in Prague.

Gavrus finished up as the fourth leading scorer for Belarus with two goals and three assists for five points. He also tied with Andrei Kostitsyn for the team lead in shots. They each had twenty. Belarus finished seventh overall, the second straight World Championship tournament that they have done so.

In addition to Ruutu and Finland still being alive, Jacob Josefson and the Swedes will faceoff with Russia in the next round. That game, a rematch of last year’s semifinal, should be a good one. Sweden finished the preliminary round 4-0-2-1 with 16 points and was second in Group A. Josefson has two goals and two assists for four points in the tournament so far. Ruutu has one assist for Finland, who will also see a rematch from last year’s semifinal against the Czech Republic. Finland finished 4-2-0-1 with 16 points, one behind Group B winner Team USA (who will play Switzerland in the next round).

The Brandon Wheat Kings, led by John Quenneville, met a similar fate in Game 4 of the WHL Finals when they were shutout 3-0 by the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets completed the sweep and will head to Quebec City to play in the Memorial Cup Championship. The MVP of the playoffs was Kelowna’s Leon Draisaitl, who also had the Rockets’ first goal (a shorthanded goal) of the evening. The Rockets will now play the Quebec Remparts on Friday, May 22 in the opening of the round robin Memorial Cup tournament.

Quenneville finished the playoffs tied for second in scoring for Brandon. He had ten goals and nine assists for a total of nineteen points.

Although both guys came up short in the chance to win a title, their individual efforts for their teams were commendable. The Devils have taken notice, as the progress of both men was featured heavily on the Devils official website. Hopefully these performances bode well and their talent can translate to the NHL level if and when they get a chance to play with the big club (be it in training camp or out).

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