Final Day of Prelim Play at 2020 World Juniors

It was the last day to get things in order for the medal rounds of the 2020 World Junior Championship and teams were busy. Russia, Switzerland, Canada and Sweden (duh) all won today to help set up the tournament going forward.

We begin with the Swedes versus Slovakia. Sweden has now gone thirteen straight World Juniors without losing a game in the preliminary rounds. Sure, things might get dicey for them when the medal round comes along, but they are nothing but dominant in this part of the tournament. They won today, 6-2 to continue their unbelievable streak.

Nikola Pasic finished the game with two shots on goal and an even plus/minus in 15:15 of total ice time.

Sweden got on the board first ten seconds after Slovakia had killed off a too many men on the ice penalty when Alexander Holtz scored from Victor Soderstrom and Lucas Raymond.

Less than a minute later (13 seconds to be exact), Albin Eriksson scored from Karl Henriksson and Oskar Back to make it 2-0.

At the 12:10 mark of the first, Samuel Fagemo took an interference penalty to put Sweden down a man. But even being shorthanded, it’s hard to stop the Swedes. Philip Broberg scored from Linus Nassen 1:06 into the penalty kill for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 lead.

Five minutes and eight seconds into the second, Back scored from Adam Ginning and Jonatan Berggren to make it 4-0.

Holtz scored his second of the game at 16:09 (assists to Soderstrom and Berggren) to make it 5-0.

In the third, just 4:30 in, Nils Hoglander was off for high-sticking and Kristian Kovacik finally got the Slovaks on the board to make it 5-1. Oliver Okuliar and Marko Stacha had the assists.

Robert Dzugan further cut into the Sweden lead at 18:03 when he scored from Martin Fasko-Rudas.

Just after the goal, Sweden’s Ginning and Slovakia’s Fasko-Rudas took matching roughing minors to put things at 4-on-4.

Just over a minute into the 4-on-4, Slovakia’s Maxim Cajkovic was called for hooking putting Sweden up on a 4-on-3 power play. They would score as Fagemo scored with 16 seconds remaining to make it 6-2. Hoglander and Nils Lundkvist had the asssits.

Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt made 16 saves on just 18 Slovak shots while Samuel Hlavaj was 36-for-42 in net for Slovakia.

The Swedes move on to the quarterfinals where they will take on the Czech Republic at the Ostravar Arena while Slovakia will face Canada in their quarterfinal matchup.

We now move from Group A to Group B as Russia and Germany met today with the Russians winning this one 6-1.

Danil MIsyul had a shot on goal and was a plus-2 plus/minus in 15:22 of ice time.

Russia scored just 6:10 in when Kirill Marchenko made it 1-0 from Nikita Alexandrov and Ivan Morozov. Marchenko notched his second at the 13:19 mark of the first to make it 2-0 getting assists from Vasili Podkolzin and Dmitri Voronkov.

Grigori Denisenko scored 14:19 into the second (from Alexander Khovanov) on the power play to make it 3-0. Immediately following the goal, Dennis Lobach was caught for slashing and Russia was right back on the power play. They converted on this one too, making it 4-0 when Pavel Dorofeyev scored from Marchenko and Alexander Romanov.

That goal came at 14:59, 40 seconds elapsed on the power play. At 17:06, Germany’s Daniel Wirt was called for a slash and the Russians were right back on the power play. Dorofeyev scored again, getting assists from Marchenko and Romanov again to make it 5-0.

Starting the third period, Germany swapped out goaltender Hendrik Hane for Tobias Ancicka. He would give up Russia’s sixth goal just 38 seconds into the frame. It came when Voronkov scored from Marchenko and Podkolzin. Marchenko had a hand in an amazing five of Russia’s six goals on the night.

With just about three minutes and 17 seconds to go in the game, Germany got on the board when Nino Kinder scored (Philipp Mass with the lone assist) to make it 6-1. They avoided the shutout, but it was too little, too late. Russia won with goalie Yaroslav Askarov making 22 saves on 23 German shots. For Germany, Hane and Ancicka combined to make 25 saves on 31 Russian shots.

Russia will now move on to play Switzerland in the quarters while Germany moves on to the relegation round against Kazakhstan.

Speaking of Switzerland, they took on Finland today and won 5-2. Akira Schmid did suit up, but was on the bench as Stephane Charlin’s backup.

Finland scored on the power play to begin the game, taking a 1-0 lead when Anttoni Honka scored from Ville Heinola and Kristian Tanus at 12:49. From there on out, it was all Switzerland.

Fabian Berri scored 19 seconds into the second with Sandro Schmid getting the lone assist. That tied the game at one.

At the 2:18 mark of the second, Gaetan Jobin scored from David Aebischer and Stephane Patry to give the Swiss their first lead of the day. And they would barely look back.

Joonas Oden scored for the Finns at 8:33 to make it 2-2 off of helpers from Lassi Thomson and Kim Nousiainen.

The Swiss took the lead again at 16:03 when Berri notched his second from Gian-Marco Wetter and Sandro Schmid to make it 3-2.

They scored their fourth at 10:03 of the third when Simon Knak (off assists from Tim Berni and Aebischer) found the back of the net.

At 18:01, Patry took a hooking penalty to put Finland on the power play. The Finns would pull goalie Justus Annunen for the 6-on-4 attack, but instead, Valentin Nussbaumer scored into the open net at 19:48 to ice the win for the Swiss at 5-2.

Annunen made 17 saves on 22 shots for Finland while Charlin stopped 36 of the Finns’ 38 shots on goal. An amazing night for him.

So now the Swiss, as mentioned, get the Russians in the quarters while Finland will face the USA. Both of those games will take place at the Werk Arena in Trinec.

The final game of the day that involved Devils prospects was Canada taking on the Czech Republic.

Canada ended up winning Group B with a big 7-2 victory over the Czechs.

Ty Smith had two assists for two points plus a shot on goal and a plus-2 plus/minus in 15:00 of total ice time. Kevin Bahl had two shots on goal and was a minus-1 in 14:31.

Canada scored early and often in this one. Just 4:41 in, Joe Veleno scored from Barrett Hayton and Calen Addison to make it 1-0.

At 7:59, the Czechs’ Matej Pekar was called for a high-stick, putting Canada on the power play. It took almost the full two minutes with Nolan Foote scoring at 9:57 from Bowen Byram and Smith for the Canadians to make it 2-0.

At 13:09, Czech Republic’s Otakar Sik got five minutes for slashing plus a game misconduct, putting Canada on the power play and having the Czechs lose him for the game. Canada scored twenty seconds later when Hayton got one from Dylan Cozens and Veleno.

They scored again at 14:30 when Connor McMichael scored from Cozens and Hayton to make it 4-0. After this goal, Czech Republic pulled starting goalie Lukas Parik in favor of Nick Malik.

The Czechs finally got one when Vojtech Strondala scored 11:10 into the second on the power play. Michal Teply and Simon Kubicek had the assists while Veleno was off for slashing.

Almost miraculously, the Czechs cut the Canadian lead in half when Libor Zabransky scored at 11:24 of the second, just 14 seconds after their first. Jan Mysak and Karel Klikorka had the assists. Unfortunately for Patrik Elias and the Czechs, that 14 second outburst was the best it got for them.

At 11:34, Canada got one back when Liam Foudy scored from Smith and Jared McIsaac. The Czech Republic took a delay of game penalty following the goal and Canada was back on the power play. They converted on this one at 12:30 when Cozens scored from Addison and Hayton. After that quick minute and a half or so of action, Canada was on top 6-2.

McIsaac got the Canadians’ last goal of the evening when he scored from Cozens and Veleno at the 10 minute mark of the third. And that was it. Joel Hofer made 17 saves on 19 Czech shots while Parik and Malik combined for 24 saves on 31 Canadian shots.

Canada, having won Group B will now take on Slovakia in the quartfinals while the Czechs will face off with Sweden in the next round.

We will have continuing coverage for you as the tournament progresses.

Devils Finish Up at Day 2 of 2018 Draft

The Devils made five more picks in the 2018 NHL Draft as the second and final day concluded down in Dallas. They had a pick in the fourth round (110th overall), two in the fifth round (136th overall and 141st overall), one in the sixth round (172nd overall) and one in the seventh round (203rd overall).

In the fourth round, the Devils selected Xavier Bernard 110th overall. According to the Last Word on Hockey website prospect report, Bernard is a left-hand shooting defenseman from Mercier, Quebec. He was born January 6, 2000, making him 18-years old. He is 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs 208 pounds. He was taken out of the QMJHL from the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Last Word on Hockey article, written by Ben Kerr, mentions that Bernard struggled in his first junior season in 2016-17, but “broke out in his second season” in the Q. He had 35 points in 2017-18 (11 goals and 24 assists) “in 66 games and improved to a +35.” He “added a goal and two assists for three points in 10 playoff games.”

Kerr also mentioned that he represented Canada internationally at the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, scoring “one assist in five tournament games” and “also played in the CHL Top Prospects Game.”

With the 136th overall pick, the Devils took a goaltender, Akira Schmid. According to EuroHockey.com, Schmid is an 18-year old Swiss-born goalie, born May 12, 2000. He catches left and spent last season with the SC Langnau Tigers of the Swiss National League. He represented Switzerland in the World Junior Championships, playing two games for them with a 6.50 goals against average and a .865 save percentage. He also posted a shutout.

Schmid becomes the second Swiss goalie taken by the Devils in the last few years (Gilles Senn is the other) and the fourth Swiss player in the Devils organization along with Mirco Mueller and Nico Hischier.

The Devils stayed in Europe for their next pick, also in the fifth round, as they took Yegor Sharangovich 141st overall. According to EliteProspects.com, Sharangovich is a little bit older at 20 years old (he was born June 6, 1998). The native of Minsk, Belarus is a left-shooting center who played for Dinamo Minsk of the KHL last season. In 47 games with them, he notched four goals and eight assists for 12 points to go with 11 penalty minutes. He was ranked 51 by the NHL Central Scouting Department among European skaters. He is 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs 196 pounds.

The Devils returned back to North America for their sixth round pick, taking Mitchell Hoelscher 172nd overall. Hoelscher is 18-years old, born Janury 27, 2000 and is a native of Waterloo, Ontario. He is a left-shooting center and is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs 165 pounds.

He played last season with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL where he had 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 67 games played. He also posted 46 penalty minutes and was a plus-1. In the playoffs, he played in five games and had a goal and an assist for two points and a pair of penalty minutes. He was also a minus-3. Hoelscher was ranked 62 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. All of this information comes from EliteProspects.com.

The Devils’ final pick of the 2018 Draft was Eetu Pakkila (taken 203rd overall). Pakkila is an older 18 year old, born October 3, 1999 in Oulu, Finland. He is a lefty-shooting left winger ranked 123 by NHL Central Scouting among European players. He split last season between Karpat U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga where he played 48 games and scored 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points. He also played one game (a playoff game no less) for the big club (Karpat of LIiga) where he was a minus-1. By contrast he was a plus-15 for his junior team.

Pakkila is 6-feet tall and is 168 pounds. All information on him comes from EliteProspects.com as well.

So that wraps up a busy day at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Devils filled some needs that will hopefully pan out. Congratulations to all of the players chosen and good luck to them.

In another bit of news semi-related to the Devils. Mark your calendars for February 5 and get your voices ready. That is the night that the Los Angeles Kings come into town with an old friend.

Yes, the Ilya Kovalchuk saga is over. Kovalchuk signed a three-year deal with LA that sees the 35-year-old Russian star return to the NHL and bring his talents to Tinseltown.

Hey, at least it’s over and he is in the Western Conference. We only have to see him once a year and can boo him out of the building for that night. But most importantly, he’s the Kings and their fans’ problem now.