by PuckStopsHere on 01/01/12 at 05:15 PM ET
The World Junior Hockey Championships have been underway in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. This is a great tournament to get to see players who may have significant impacts upon the NHL in the future. The teams were sorted into two groups in the preliminary round, which is now complete.
Group A was played in Calgary and consisted of Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. Here is a report on the teams in the order of finish:
1. Sweden An overtime victory against Russia in the final game of the preliminary round. This team was undefeated in the preliminary round but required overtime to defeat both the Swiss and the Russians. Offensively they have been led by Max Friberg (Anaheim prospect), Sebastian Collberg (2012 draft eligible) and Erik Thorell (undrafted). Their goaltending has been split between Anton Forsberg (Columbus prospect) and Johan Gustafsson (Minnesota prospect).
2. Russia Russia looked poised to win this group with a 20-1 goal differential before they lost the Sweden game in overtime. Nikita Gusev (undrafted) and Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington prospect) tied for the preliminary round scoring lead with nine points each. Andrei Vasilevski (2012 draft eligible) has been their top goaltender.
3. Slovakia The Slovaks lost to both of the teams above them and defeated the two below them. This gave them a third place finish. Tomas Jurco (Detroit prospect) led them in scoring with support from Matus Chovan (undrafted) and Marek Tvrdon (Detroit prospect). Juraj Simboch (undrafted) has been their top goaltender.
4. Switzerland The Swiss were a tough opponent. They pushed the Swedes to overtime but they were only capable of defeating Latvia. Their top scorers were Joel Vermin (undrafted) and Christoph Bertschy (2012 draft eligible). Their goaltending was split by Tim Wolf (undrafted) and Lukas Meili (Winnipeg prospect).
5. Latvia Latvia was outclassed here. They were outscored by 23 goals and failed to win any games. Nikita Jevpalovs (2012 draft eligible) was their top scorer. Kristers Gudlevskis (undrafted) was their top goaltender.
Group B was played in Edmonton and consisted of Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and USA. Here is a report on these teams in their order of finish:
1. Canada Canada was undefeated. Their only close game was a 3-2 victory against USA. They outscored opponents by 21 goals. Top scorers were Mark Stone (Ottawa prospect) tied for the lead in scoring in the preliminary round. He was followed closely by Ryan Strome (New York Islanders prospect) and Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida prospect). Goaltending was split by Scott Wedgewood (New Jersey prospect) and Mark Visentin (Phoenix prospect).
2. Finland The Finns lost to Canada 8—1 in their opening game but looked strong winning their remaining games. Mikael Granlund (Minnesota prospect) and Miikka Salomaki (Nashville prospect) were their top scorers. Sami Aittokallio (Colorado prospect) has been their top goaltender.
3. Czech Republic The Czechs failed to score in their games against Canada and Finland but were very strong in their other two games. Tomas Hertl (2012 draft eligible) and Tomas Filippi (undrafted) were their top scorers. Petr Mrazek (Detroit prospect) offered strong goaltending especially in defeating USA.
4. USA The Americans have been the disappointment here. They only defeated Denmark. Despite that they still finished with a +1 goal differential. Charlie Coyle (San Jose prospect), Bill Arnold (Calgary prospect) and Jason Zucker (Minnesota prospect) were their top scorers. Jack Campbell (Dallas prospect) was the top goaltender.
5. Denmark The Danes were outscored by 32 goals as they lost all their games. They were outclassed here. Top scorers were Patrick Bjorkstrand (undrafted) and Niklas Jensen (Vancouver prospect). Sebastian Feuk (undrafted) was their top goalie.
The top three teams in each division carry on in pursuit of the World Junior title. Finland will play Slovakia in one quarter-final. Russia will play the Czech Republic in the other. The winners of those games play Sweden and Canada in the semi-finals. The winners of those two games meet in the gold medal game.
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