Finland 8 @ Sloavkia 5
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM
Wild first rounder Mikael Granlund had 1 goal and 4 points to help lead Finland to an 8-5 win over Slovakia. His brother Markus, a Flames second rounder, chipped in 2 goals and 3 points, as well. Lightning prospect Adam Janosik was an admirable +2 despite his team giving up a snowman in the contest. He also had a secondary assist on a power play goal by Red Wings fourth rounder Marek Tvrdon with 30 seconds left in the first period. Slovakia will finish their tournament in the 5th/6th Place Game on Wednesday against (spoiler alert) Czech Republic.
Russia 2 @ Czech Republic 1 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-5-6, +7, 2 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 1-3-4, +8, 4 PIM
Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov assisted on defenseman Grigori Zheldakov's overtime goal to lift Russia to a 2-1 Quarterfinals victory over Czech Republic. Kucherov was on the ice after leaving the box following Russia's kill of a high sticking minor. The game featured an epic goaltending battle between Wings fifth rounder Petr Mrazek, who stopped 43 of 45 in defeat, and draft eligible 17 year old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, who stopped 38 of 39 he faced. Russia moves on to the Semifinals to face Canada in what should be an epic battle between two of the world's great hockey powers on Tuesday.
Sweden will face Finland in a battle of Scandinavian rivals to determine which of the two will move on to the Finals to face the winner of Canada vs. Russia.
Slovakia 6 @ Switzerland 4
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Thanks in part to 4 assists by Red Wings draft pick Tomas Jurco, the Slovakians overcame a pair of 2 goal deficits to beat Switzerland 6-4 and punch their ticket to the medal round. Lightning prospect Adam Janosik was +2 in the match. Slovakia moves on to face Finland in the Quarterfinals on Monday. Switzerland falls into the Relegation bracket against Denmark, also on Monday.
Canada 3 @ USA 2
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 4-1-5, +5, 4 PIM
Canada held off a furious US comeback to scrape by the Americans 3-2. Brett Connolly's first period goal ended up being the game winner. Credit to the already Relegation Round saddled US side for not caving after falling down 3-0 in the first and giving Canada all they could handle. Canada earns a bye to the Semifinals on Tuesday. The US draws Latvia on Tuesday, and I suspect will cut a wide swath of destruction through the loser's bracket.
Russia 3 @ Sweden 4 (OT)
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-4-5, +6, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 4 GP, 1-3-4, +7, 4 PIM
Whereas a 3 goal third period lead is a death sentence in pro hockey, it's not quite so in junior hockey. Ducks draft pick Max Friberg scored an extra attacker goal to cap a 3 goal third period comeback for the Swedes and Blackhawks draft pick Joakim Nordstrom scored the overtime winner in their thrilling 4-3 win over Russia. Sweden clinches a bye to the Semis with the win. Russia now faces a Quarterfinal match with the Czech Republic on Monday. Lightning prospects Nikita Nesterov and Nikita Kucherov, who were on the ice for Friberg's goal, took their first minuses of the tournament. Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg perhaps deserves considerable credit for a Steve Ludzik-like goalie switch just before the goal to get a cheap timeout after burning his official timeout earlier in the game. It was a blast from the past for older Lightning fans.
Denmark 2 @ Canada 10
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-1-2, +3, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 3-1-4, +4, 4 PIM
Brett Connolly had a shorthanded goal and an even strength assist as the Canadians punished Denmark for showing up to the building 10-2. Connolly also took an undisciplined third period penalty for cross checking. Canada wraps up their Preliminary Round on Saturday against Team USA.
Latvia 0 @ Russia 14
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-3-3, +5, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 1-2-3, +5, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-3-4, +8, 2 PIM
If the Canadians set the standard Thursday night for unrelenting butt whippings, the Russians quickly rewrote it in breaking former breakaway republic Latvia 14-0. Nikita Gusev, the longtime line mate of Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, had 2 goals and 7 points in the match and still wasn't the team's leading scorer. That distinction went to captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov's "Kuznetztrick" stat line of 3-6-9. For their parts, Lightning representatives Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov contributed a combined 1 goal and 6 points to the rout. Russia finishes their last prelim on Saturday versus Sweden.
Canada 5 @ Czech Republic 0
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-2, +1, 2 PIM
Brett Connolly scored the nail-in-coffin third goal for Canada late in the second period in their 5-0 win over Czech Republic. The goal showed some absolutely lethal stickhandling moves by Connolly, beating multiple defenders and the netminder on a joy ride through a crowded slot area. It was a man against boys moment. The forward also took a minor for interference in the match. Jets first rounder Mark Scheifele had a pair of goals in the win for the Canadians. Canada draws Denmark on Thursday. Lord have mercy on the Danes souls, because the Czechs made the Canadians work for it today, and they're bound to be grumpy.
Russia 3 @ Slovakia 1
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-1-1, +3, 2 PIM
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
It took a Nikita Kucherov insurance marker late in the third period for the Russians to finally put away a spunky Slovakian squad 3-1. Fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov had a secondary assist on the goal. Kucherov was second on Team Russia with 5 shots behind Yevgeni Kuznetsov's impressive 9 bids on net. Russia draws Latvia on Thursday. The same grumpiness likely will apply to Team Russia. Slovakia gets Sweden on Friday.
Finland 1 @ Canada 8
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM
Senators prospect Mark Stone had a hat trick and Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau had 1 goal and 5 points in Canada's 8-1 slaughter of Finland. Lightning prospect Brett Connolly also had a goal in the contest, and was named an assistant captain for the Canadians. Canada draws Czech Republic next on Wednesday.
Switzerland 0 @ Russia 3
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, +2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski weathered 40 shots for the shootout victory in Russia's 3-0 win over Switzerland. Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov assisted on the Russian's final goal, an insurance marker by Mikhail Grigorienko late in the second period. For his part, fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov (pictured) continued the theme of his season going +2. No one collects pluses quite like Nikita Nesterov. He also took a minor for interference early in the third period. Russia faces Slovakia next on Wednesday.
Canada 7 vs. Switzerland 1
RW Brett Connolly, CAN: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Canada earned their second pre-tournament win in two games before the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships in Alberta. Connolly did not register a point, but as one of the teamâ€™s alternate captains was entrusted with penalty kill duty â€“ a sign of respect from legendary junior coach Don Hay.
Russia 5 vs. Czech Republic 3
These totals are very unofficial as no score was listed on the tournamentâ€™s official site and the boxscore was posted on a message board. If it helps, one of the comments from someone at the game said Kucherov looked good. Letâ€™s just assume itâ€™s true. Namestnikov and Nesterov werenâ€™t on the scoresheet, so they could have been scoreless or they may not have played. In fact, respected Russian reporter Dmitry Chesnokov is reporting Namestnikov was cut from the team. Nesterov and Kucherov made the team. (Photo of Kucherov's celebration is from the USA game earlier this week)
Slovakia 0 vs. Finland 3
D Adam Janosik, SVK: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Finland topped Slovakia in pre-tournament action Wednesday.
Russia 6 vs. USA 3 (Pre-tournament match)
Russia beat the U.S. 6-3 in Red Deer, Alberta, Tuesday night in pre-World Junior Championship exhibition play. The stats listed above are unofficial and based off comments from reporters at the game. Kucherovâ€™s first goal was on the power play and his second was scored into an empty net. Russia still has to cut six players, but all Lightning prospects should be safe. The â€œrealâ€ games start the day after Christmas. (Pictured: Kucherov scoring on Stars first rounder Jack Campbell)
Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will proudly don their home countryâ€™s sweater this holiday season to compete in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. The WJCs are arguably the most exciting international hockey tournament outside of the Olympics and playing for oneâ€™s country during this event is a career builder.
Last year Carter Ashton, Brett Connolly, and Canada came up short in the finals, allowing five third period goals to Russia in the gold medal game to lose, 5-3. Host team USA beat Sweden for the bronze in Buffalo, New York.
The last Lightning prospect to win a gold medal was Dustin Tokarski for Canada in 2009 when â€œThe Tikâ€ was player of the game in the championship game â€“ a win over Victor Hedman and Sweden. Dana Tyrell was also a part of that Canadian team, but was injured in pre-tournament action and missed the tournament.
Hereâ€™s a look at each Lightning prospect participating in this yearâ€™s event, to be held December 26 through January 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Check NHL Network listings for broadcasts.
Halifax Mooseheads 2 @ Moncton Wildcats 0
D Daniel Milan, MON: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 29 GP, 0-4-4, -9, 27 PIM
Milanâ€™s scoreless streak hit 11 games in the loss.
QMJHL Note: Lightning prospect Adam Janosik of Gatineau has joined Team Slovakia in preparation for the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships.
Guelph Storm 1 @ London Knights 3
C Vladislav Namestnikov, LDN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 17-23-40, +10, 28 PIM
Former Lightning camper Seth Griffith scored an empty net goal for his 26th goal of the season as London topped division rival Guelph, 3-1. The undrafted Griffith has 46 points in 33 games to go with a plus-17 rating. He has a 12 game point streak going and has had at least a point in 24 of his last 26 games. He was passed over in last yearâ€™s draft and camped with the Lightning before being sent back to the OHL without a contract. He sits in sixth in the OHL in points and is second in goals.
Owen Sound Attack 3 @ Sarnia Sting 5
D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 22 GP, 0-7-7, -1, 16 PIM
Likely 2012 top-3 pick Nail Yakupov had a goal and an assist in Sarniaâ€™s win over Geoffrey Schemitsch and Owen Sound. The Russian has 51 points in 25 games. Yakupov, Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, and Quebec Rempart Mikhail Grigorenko are expected to be the offensive leaders for Russia in the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships.
JYP 0 @ Pelicans 1 (SO)
Riku Helenius, JYP, DNP
Season totals: 14 GP, 8-6-0, 6 SO, 1.51 GAA, .931 sv%
Riku Helenius sat backup to Joni Myllykoski as Myllykoski posted his first shutout of the season (Helenius has 6) only to fall to defeat in the shootout. JYP outshot Lahti 33-24 in the match, but no cigar. JYP draws Blues Espoo on Friday.
Elsewhere, Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov have been named to Russia's 2012 U20 World Junior Championships preliminary roster, and began participation in Russia's pre-tournament camp which will run from 12/7 to 12/18 in Novogorsk.