It was a big day for Devils’ prospects as the World Hockey Championship continued in Slovakia and the 2019 Memorial Cup kicked off in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
First to the Worlds, as host Slovakia doubled up France 6-3 in Group A action.
The Slovaks got on the board 13:25 into the first on the power play when Richard Panik scored. Antonin Manavian was off for a hook, putting the Slovaks on the man advantage. The French had taken two penalties previous to Manavian’s, but Slovakia had been unable to convert on either. That goal made it 1-0.
It would be 2-0 as the teams headed into the first break when Matus Sukel scored with 50 seconds to go in the first period.
The second period kicked off with France going on the penalty kill once again. Peter Valier was given an elbowing penalty at 3:43 and Libor Hudacek of Slovakia would score at 5:31 to make it 3-0.
Manavian would redeem himself for the penalty which led to the first Slovak goal when he scored the first French goal at 12:16 of the second to make it 3-1. Slovakia would get into penalty trouble themselves when Erik Cernak was assessed a high-sticking penalty at 14:14 and Alexandre Texier cut the Slovak lead to one when he scored for the French. That made it 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
Just 16 seconds in to the third frame, the Slovaks regained the two goal lead when Cernak scored to make it 4-2. At 1:07, Marko Dano was called for a charge but Michal Cajkovsky scored shorthanded for the Slovaks to make it 5-2.
At 3:46, Valier was off again, this time for high-sticking and Slovakia took advantage, scored with five seconds to go on the power play at 5:41 to make it 6-2.
France would pull goalie Florian Hardy in favor of Henri Coretin Buysse at this point. The two goaltenders would combine for 21 saves on 27 Slovakian shots.
France would add one more goal by Anthony Rech at 17:50, but it was too little too late as Slovakia came away with the win.
Slovak goalie Patrik Rybar made 17 saves on just 20 French shots against. Devils prospect Marian Studenic was a minus-1 plus/minus in 14:03 of ice time over 18 shifts.
Slovakia plays Great Britain tomorrow in their next game.
Speaking of Great Britain, they were involved in our next game as they were defeated by the Finns, 5-0.
The Brits held their own in the first period, battling to a scoreless game through one. But Finland began to show their strength just 24 seconds into the new period as Toni Rajala scored to make it 1-0.
Atte Ohtamaa made it 2-0 at the 5:08 mark and Joel Kiviranta made it 3-0 at 14:59 to end a second period of Finnish dominance.
Things would explode in the face of the British when they pulled goalie Ben Bowns with a little more than four minutes to go in the game. Kristian Kuusela scored into the empty net to make it 4-0. Then, at 18:45, Ben Davies took a high-sticking penalty for the British and Mikko Lehtonen converted on the ensuing power play to make it 5-0, our final. Lehtonen’s goal came with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Bowns was under siege all game, stopping 44 of 49 Finnish shots against while Finnish goalie Jussi Olkinuora had a relatively easy night, stopping all 12 shots he saw.
Kaapo Kakko had four shots on goal and an even plus/minus in 14:36 of time on ice spread over 19 shifts.
Finland next takes on France on Sunday.
Tomorrow we have a full slate of games for you, as the USA takes on Denmark, Canada faces off with Germany, Great Britain and Slovakia clash and Sweden and Switzerland do battle.
Now back to North America as the 2019 Memorial Cup began with the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders taking on the host Halifax Mooseheads. The Mooseheads, of course, feature Devils prospect Jocktan Chainey. The Mooseheads were the home team in this, the first round-robin game of the mini tournament. They won the game, 4-1 putting them in a good position in the short tournament.
Samuel Asselin got the scoring kicked off 10:49 into the game to give Halifax the 1-0 lead. A little less than eight minutes later, Xavier Parent potted what would go down as the game winner as Asselin picked up the primary assist on the goal. Asselin would finish the game with the two points and be named the game’s first star.
Noah Gregor scored at 10:46 of the second period to get Prince Albert on the board, but that was all the Raiders could muster. Gregor would be named the game’s third star.
Jake Ryczek put the Mooseheads up 3-1 when he scored on the power play 15:52 into the second. Maxim Trepanier had the primary assist on the goal (he had the secondary assist on Asselin’s goal) giving him two on the night. He was named the game’s second star.
Antoine Morand added an empty net goal to make it 4-1 with just under two minutes to go in the game as Prince Albert had pulled goaltender Ian Scott for the extra attacker. Scott made 33 saves on 36 Halifax shots while Alexis Gravel made 23 saves on 24 shots against. The Raiders were 0-for-4 on the power play while Halifax was 1-for-6. Prince Albert played a largely undisciplined game, especially in the second period, something they will need to clean up to go any further in the Memorial Cup.
Chainey finished the game with a shot on goal and an even plus/minus rating.
The Mooseheads will next take on the Guelph Storm, champions of the Ontario Hockey League in the round-robin portion of the tournament on Sunday at 7 PM local time, 6 PM eastern time.