The road to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, this December began this past week in Kamloops at the 2018 World Junior Showcase featuring 40 of Canada’s National Junior Team hopefuls and an overall assembly of 47 Canadian Hockey League stars.
Finland, Sweden, and the United States joined the host Canadians over the eight day event that included 11 showcase games.
After competing with split squads for the first two days, Canada and the United States met as single units on Saturday each holding wins over the Finns and the Swedes. A spirited battle ended 6-5 in favour of Canada who wrapped up the showcase with three consecutive victories.
“I talked to our group during the game about, they’re all trying to score, but they’re really going to impress me by playing the right way,” said Team Canada head coach Tim Hunter (Moose Jaw Warriors). “If you play the right way, that’s the process, the end result will be what we get, and that’s a win.”
Here’s a closer look at all 11 games highlighting top CHL performances.
2018 World Junior Showcase Results:
Monday July 30:
Sweden 3 vs United States Blue 1
Rickard Hugg (Kitchener Rangers) scored shorthanded at 17:28 of the third period to provide Sweden with insurance to claim their first win of the showcase. This was the first test for the United States with a split squad that featured forwards Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67’s) and Jacob McGrew (Spokane Chiefs), along with defenceman Alec Regula (London Knights) in action.
United States White 5 vs Finland 2
Cole Coskey (Saginaw Spirit) scored just 2:06 into the opening frame and tied for a team-high with two points as USA White picked up the win in the first of two split-squad games. Minnesota Wild prospect Ivan Lodnia (Erie Otters) scored an empty-net goal and New York Rangers prospect Joey Keane (Barrie Colts) picked up one assist in the win.
Tuesday July 31:
Finland 4 vs Sweden 3 SO
Linus Nyman (Kingston Frontenacs) scored the game-tying goal then added one in the shootout lifting Finland to their first showcase victory. Chicago Blackhawks prospect and future London Knight Adam Boqvist had one assist in the contest for Sweden.
United States Blue 3 vs Canada White 2
San Jose Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67’s) scored the game’s first and last goals lifting USA Blue to their first win. Arizona Coyotes first round pick Barrett Hayton (Soo Greyhounds) and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks) scored for Canada White. Boston Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser (Oshawa Generals) picked up the win in goal with 23 saves opposite Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs) 8/10 and Matthew Welsh (Charlottetown Islanders) 13/14.
United States White 7 vs Canada Red 5
Ivan Lodnia (Erie Otters) and Jason Robertson (Kingston Frontenacs) each scored once with an assist in USA White’s second straight win. Antoine Morand (Halifax Mooseheads) tied for the Canada Red lead with a goal and an assist while his former Acadie-Bathurst Titan teammate Noah Dobson chipped in a goal. Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick Liam Foudy (London Knights) tallied two assists with other Canada goals coming from Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack) and Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph Storm). Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires) 13/18 and Matthew Villalta (Soo Greyhounds) 12/13 split goaltending duties in their showcase debut.
Thursday August 2:
United States 5 vs Sweden 4 OT
Rickard Hugg (Kitchener Rangers) scored 16 seconds into the contest and added his second at 3:02 to give Sweden an early 2-0 lead. The United States battled back with Dallas Stars prospect Jason Robertson (Kingston Frontenacs) contributing a goal in the team’s first victory as a single unit at the summer showcase.
Canada 4 Finland 3 OT
Returning National Junior Team gold medalist Maxime Comtois (Drummondville Voltigeurs) scored the OT winner at 4:33 of the extra frame with help from fellow Anaheim Ducks prospect Antoine Morand (Halifax Mooseheads) and Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes) who had two assists. New York Islanders first round pick Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) had two goals and Detroit Red Wings prospect Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans) finished with a goal and an assist. Matthew Welsh (Charlottetown Islanders) got the start in goal making eight saves on nine shots, with Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs) earning the win with nine saves on 11 shots.
Friday August 3:
United States 2 vs Finland 1
Kyle Keyser (Oshawa Generals) got the start for Team USA and stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced in first half action helping the red, white, and blue secure their second straight victory. Just one day after announcing his commitment to the Sudbury Wolves, Buffalo Sabres prospect and third overall CHL Import Draft pick Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 29 saves on 31 shots for Finland.
Canada 4 vs Sweden 1
Four different goal scorers helped pace Canada’s offense leading to a second straight showcase victory. Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads), Alex Formenton (London Knights), MacKenzie Entwistle (Hamilton Bulldogs), and Joel Teasdale (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada) each found the back of the net. Matthew Villalta (Soo Greyhounds) was perfect in goal with eight saves giving way to Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires) who finished the game with 18 saves on 19 shots.
Saturday August 4:
Canada 6 vs United States 5
Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds) and Jack Studnicka (Oshawa Generals) had a goal and an assist each leading Canada to a third consecutive win to wrap up showcase action for the hosts. Canada built a four-goal lead with additional singles from Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack), Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans) and MacKenzie Entwistle (Hamilton Bulldogs) before the Americans battled back to tie the game. Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes) broke the 5-5 tie with his second goal of the showcase at 4:01 of the final frame. Los Angeles Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Spokane Chiefs) provided two assists for Canada, while Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67’s), Joey Keane (Barrie Colts), and Jason Robertson (Kingston Frontenacs) all contributed single assists for USA. Matthew Welsh (Charlottetown Islanders) started for the Canadians and made 11 saves on 13 shots before giving way to Matthew Villalta (Soo Greyhounds) who made 23 saves on 26 shots in the game’s second half.
Sweden 5 vs Finland 3
The Swedes put a cap on summer showcase action in Kamloops with a 5-3 victory over Finland in a see-saw affair. The teams traded goals and were even at 2-2 after 40 minutes before Sweden pulled ahead for good with a pair in the opening five minutes of the third. Rickard Hugg (Kitchener Rangers) had one assist in the finale.
With the eight-day summer showcase now complete, Brad McEwen, head scout for Hockey Canada, will continue to monitor and scout the Canadian camp attendees and other potential team candidates at the start of the 2018-19 season and at the CHL’s CIBC Canada-Russia Series to determine the invites to Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp in December. Following the selection camp, 22 players will wear the red-and-white looking for back-to-back gold medals when they REPRESENT Canada on home ice at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship from Dec. 26, 2018 to Jan. 5, 2019.
Fans from across all of Canada, and around the world, are gearing up to REPRESENT when the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship opens in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26, 2018. The sale of full-event ticket packages have outpaced initial projections as the West Coast prepares to REPRESENT for the first time since 2006. Limited full-event ticket packages are available at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets.
For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Junior Team, and the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on Facebook, and Twitter or #WorldJuniors.