Rebels trio have plenty of memories, highlights from WJC
Red Deer Rebels captain Adam Musil didn’t win a medal at this year’s world junior hockey championship but is convinced he’s a better player due to the experience.
“It was something new to me but obviously I learned a lot,” said Musil, who along with fellow Rebels forward Michael Spacek suited up for the Czech Republic in the tournament played in Toronto and Montreal.
Red Deer netminder Lasse Petersen also played in the tournament, stopping pucks for Denmark.
“It was (meeting) new guys, new coaches . . . and the level of competition was unbelievable,” said Musil.
The Czechs opened with a 2-1 victory over defending champion Finland — with Musil assisting on Spacek’s late third-period winner — on Boxing Day and went on to post a 1-0-2-1 record before falling 5-3 to Canada in a quarter-final.
“The first game is always big to win in these short tournaments, no matter who you play against,” said Musil. “We lost to Denmark and Switzerland, games that on paper we probably should win.
“But every game is a hard game and we got what we deserved there.”
Musil was impressed with Spacek’s WJC performance. The shifty and talented Winnipeg Jets prospect scored once and added two assists in five games and was selected as one of the top three Czech players in the tournament.
“He just carried his play from Red Deer to the tournament,” said Musil, who recorded three assists for the Czechs. “He’s been awesome here and he was pretty good at the tournament as well.”
For Spacek it was his third appearance in the world juniors.
“I just want to play hard for team and for my country,” he said. “I was happy. I was good there, we have good guys there.
“Montreal has very nice rink and lots of fans there. That was nice.”
Spacek’s personal highlight was notching the winner against Finland.
“It was a good game, we play very well. I scored, it was nice and a good feeling,” he said
Having Musil along to share in the experience was a tournament high point for the Rebels’ leading scorer this season.
“He’s my very good friend. He helped me out here last year and this year,” said Spacek.
Petersen, meanwhile, posted a single win — 3-2 over the Czech Republic in overtime— while finishing with a 1-2 record, 4.26 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.
Denmark was a surprising 1-1-1-1 in Group A preliminary play before losing 4-0 to Russia in the quarter-finals.
“It was great, we definitely did better than we thought,” said Petersen. “We reached our initial goal of reaching the quarter final.
“Finishing second in (Group A) round robin, we didn’t expect that. We all kind of thought it would come down to the game against Switzerland (a 5-4 shootout loss for Denmark).
“A win over Finland and another win over the Czech Republic was huge for us. I definitely have a lot of great memories from the tournament.”
Just being part of a national team on the rise was a highlight for Petersen.
“It’s awesome. You see all the ambition in the other kids for next year, the guys from last year too,” he said. “It’s like we believe in ourselves so much, probably more than (players) from another nation believe in themselves.
“We knew we can get so much respect from the other nations if we just stick to our game plan and play with lots of heart.”
Petersen didn’t get the playing time he was anticipating in round-robin action.
“I was maybe expecting to get more time in the round-robin but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to,” he said. “That being said, I was happy for my teammate (goaltender Kasper Krog) when he played because my goalie partner had a great tournament.
Petersen’s preliminary stats weren’t great — mainly due to a 6-1 opening day loss to Sweden — and he struggled after getting the start in the quarter-finals and was replaced by Krog after giving up a pair of goals.
“I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I would start (in the quarter-final). I was prepared to get the start because we’d been switching every game,” he said.
“But my goalie partner had taken a least a point in every start so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just wanted to be ready for it.”
Instead, he fell somewhat victim to his nerves, surrendered two goals on nine shots and was replaced by Krog.
Petersen could take special solace in the face he defeated the Czechs and his Red Deer teammates.
“It was tons of fun. It was a great game by both teams,” he said of the overtime conquest. “There’s a lot of tactics in three-on-three and we got a bit of a lucky bounce and (Mathias) From capitalized on it.”
Petersen has decided not to taunt Musil and Spacek over the outcome of the contest. “No, I better not,” he said. “I had a tough quarter-final.”
The Rebels return to WHL action Friday against the visiting Vancouver Giants. With the second half of the season just underway, Musil is eager to prove the Rebels are a better team than they displayed through a so-so, uneven first half.
“For sure, we’re a lot better team. We just have to prove it,” he said.
The Giants won their second game in succession Wednesday, edging the host Edmonton Oil Kings 3-2. Vancouver is 5-4-0-1 in the last 10 games and with a 16-20-1-2 record sits fifth in the B.C. Division and 10th in the Western Conference . . . RW Tyler Benson is the club’s top points producer. The Edmonton Oilers prospect has scored 11 goals and picked up 32 assists for 42 points in 33 games. Next in line are NY Rangers draft pick RW Ty Ronning (15-17-32) and LW Radovan Bondra (18-11-29 in 29 games) who was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL entry draft and played with Slovakia at this year’s world junior championship . . . Thomas Foster (10-16-26) and fellow C James Malm (11-14-25) have also cracked the 20-point barrier . . . Darian Skeoch is the Giants top D in terms of plus-minus at plus-4. He has also recorded a team high 46 minutes in penalties . . . Ryan Kubic is 24th among WHL netminders with a 3.49 save percentage. The 18-year-old product of St. Andrews, Man., made 40 saves in Wednesday’s win and sports an .894 save percentage.
Injuries: Vancouver — C Dawson Holt (upper body, 3-4 weeks), D Ryely McKinstry (upper body, indefinite), D Darian Skeoch (lower body, day-to-day), RW Johny Wesley (upper body, 4-6 weeks). Red Deer — RW Brandon Cutler (upper body, day-to-day), D Jacob Herauf (lower body, day-to-day), RW Reese Johnson (upper body, indefinite), LW Grayson Pawlenchuk (lower body, indefinite).
Special teams: Vancouver — Power play 14.7 per cent, 21st overall; penalty kill 74.2 per cent, 22nd. Red Deer — Power play 17.3 per cent, 16th overall; penalty kill 77.1 per cent, 15th.