Ilmarsson, Valdebenito, Reimdal, Asplund provide diverse scoring threat for Södertälje

Team depth is always a vital component of determining success during the course of a season. The ability of a club to rely on more than one or two players to produce allows for better flow and chemistry amongst the roster to develop naturally.

No team showed more depth at the 2022 Maxi Nacka Cup for 2009-born teams than Södertälje SK. The club boasted four of the top five scorers in the tournament, and it is from this immense spread of wealth that Södertälje was able to come home with a silver medal.

In their first game of the tournament, Nahuel Valdebenito used his strong hockey sense and quick hands to supply all the goals Södertälje would need in a 2-0 win against Värdmö HC.

Winston Ilmarsson — whose 11 points (4G, 7A) not only led Södertälje but were tops among all players at the games — was a constant threat to make something happen offensively every time he stepped onto the ice.

Despite this, Ilmarsson didn’t find the scoresheet until the team’s second game against Lidingö. He more than made up for it with the first two goals of the matchup and added an assist later.

In the following game — a 6-0 rout of Lidingö — Valdebenito did not record a single point. Insert Willie Asplund, who netted his first goal of the weekend only to end up tied with two other players at the tournament in total points with six (2G, 4A). Ilmarsson again added two tallies of his own as well.

In the team’s next victory, a second straight shutout this time against SDE, Neo Reimdal joined the fray in bolstering his offensive numbers with two goals, one assisted by Ilmarsson and the other by Valdebenito. Reimdal would find himself tied for third in points with Lidingö’s Wilhelm Andersson Jöhnk at tournament’s end with seven (4G, 3A).

In an 8-2 drubbing of Boo HC, Södertälje’s squad fully had their skating legs under them and it was evident from puck drop how comfortable the group was playing. 

Out of the club’s eight goals, Ilmarsson, Asplund, Reimdal and Valdebenito all had a hand in six of them in some way. Boo was no match for the incredible chemistry on display from Södertälje’s top attackers.

Asplund fed Valdebenito with a fantastic pass to tie things up 1-1 in the first period of their first playoff game against Västerås. Wanting to add to his goal total, Asplund finished off a pretty passing play between Reimdal and Ilmarsson to give Södertälje a 2-1 lead five minutes later in an eventual 4-1 win.

What became evident as the tournament progressed was the incredible ability for Södertälje to work as a cohesive unit. If one player was shut down, another was ready to step in his place and produce results.

If anything, they entered their club in the mix of ‘09 teams to be reckoned with this season in Sweden.

Want to stay updated on Södertälje and other Sweden 2009 teams in youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

Junior, College and Pro scouts converge on Pittsburgh for early-season showcase

The USHL Fall Classic is here to ceremoniously start both the junior hockey season and the tournament season for a lot of youth hockey programs.

In what has become a premiere event over the last six seasons, the USHL Fall Classic brings all of the USHL member clubs under one roof for the first two games of each team’s schedule. Alongside that Tier-1 junior league showcase is a youth hockey one with even more participating clubs, as teams from across the country flock to the greater Pittsburgh area for a unique opportunity to compete in front of scouts and coaches of the USHL clubs, who are literally right there in the UPMC Lemieux Center Ice Arena with them. The concentrated amount of hockey across so many different age groups makes it a must-see event for scouts of junior, college and professional teams.

While the youth edition of the Fall Classic spans from Thursday to Monday, teams will be playing in jam-packed three-day tournaments, with the 14U and 15O teams playing Thursday-Saturday and the 16U and 18U teams playing Saturday-Monday.

All four age groups will play in a high-stakes preliminary round, having three games to establish themselves as one of the four teams that advance right to the semifinals. While the tournament fields quickly get whittled down, all of the participating teams will still play in consolation games to make the trip to Pittsburgh worthwhile and maximize exposure opportunities for the players.

The tournament schedulers did their homework while putting together the matchups for the preliminary round. If things go as expected — though youth hockey sure is unpredictable — there will be some monster early-season games between teams ranked very, very high on the initial U.S. rankings for the 2022-23 campaign. That’s not to say that there aren’t some big games to keep an eye on in the round-robin; we’re going to take a look at some matchups to watch below. 

In the 14U division, the 2008 birth year has 16 teams in the Fall Classic, and five of them are in the American Top 10. The top-ranked Windy City Storm show up in Pittsburgh, as does No. 3 Bishop Kearney, No. 7 Pittsburgh Vengeance, No. 8 Seacoast Performance Academy and No. 10 Mount St. Charles.

On Friday at 4 p.m. the Windy City Storm and SPA wrap up the round-robin for the two highly-ranked squads. Meanwhile, four hours later, it’s the Battle of Pittsburgh, as the Vengeance gets Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 14U in the 14U preliminary-round finale.

Mount St. Charles better bring their ‘A’ game for their first tilt Thursday, as well, as they square off with HP Team Minnesota — you never know what type of talent might be lurking in a Minnesota all-star squad.

At the 2007 birth year, 22 teams from the 15O classification converge on Pittsburgh, including seven of the names appearing in the Top 10: No. 3 Mid-Fairfield, No. 4 Mount St. Charles, No. 5 Little Caesars, No. 6 Bishop Kearney, No. 7 Los Angeles Jr. Kings, No. 8 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and No. 9 Buffalo Jr. Sabres.

Little Caesars has quite the gauntlet to get through if they want to reach the semifinals, as the Detroit-based program starts things off with the home team Pittsburgh Penguins Elite on Thursday before playing Bishop Kearney Friday morning.

After that game, BK gets to play the Jr. Kings in their Friday night matchup, which means quite a day for the Selects, too.

The largest field of them all is at 16U, where 26 teams will battle for four spots in the playoffs Monday. The No. 4 ranked Boston Jr. Eagles lead the field, alongside the No. 6 Buffalo Jr. Sabres, No. 7 Windy City Storm, No. 8 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, No. 9 North Jersey Avs and No. 10 Little Caesars.

The biggest game we’ve got circled on the calendar is No. 7 Windy City vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, which takes place at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. 

It’s a crazy weekend of hockey, but it does provide an early idea of which teams the hockey world should be watching this season, as teams from across the U.S. come together for the annual USHL Fall Classic.

For more coverage of the USHL Fall Classic and other major youth hockey events around the world, follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

Finish atop group play, take home gold medal

Last weekend, ten teams at the 2009 birth year clashed at the Björknäs Ice Hall in Nacka, Sweden, as they battled one another at the 2022 Maxi Nacka Cup.

The tournament was designed to split the clubs into two groups of five, totaling a number of four games per team in the group stage. Games consisted of two, 15-minute periods, ending in a tie if necessary. Brinkens IF was placed into Group B, along with Västerås, Viggbyholms IK, Huddinge IK and Almtuna IS.

Brinkens opened group play with a 4-0 shutout of Västerås. Forward Leonard Torgner’s hot stick would help him find the back of the net three times, with Erik Sevallius adding the team’s fourth of the game. While not the busiest night in net, goaltender Arvid Carlgren turned aside all 11 shots he faced, helping Brinkens off to a perfect start. 

Next up was Almtuna, who was handled by Brinkens in a 5-2 win. Sevallius’ dynamic offensive ability was on display yet again, as he struck twine four times. Oskar Mivell’s ability to find players in open ice largely contributed to the victory, as he connected with Sevallius on three of his four tallies. Assisted by a strong defensive effort, goaltender Sebastian Rosenberg only faced 10 shots, turning aside eight.

Viggbyholms, coming off a 6-3 loss to Västerås in their third game, was next up for Brinkens. After a first period that would end with Brinkens up 2-1, two quick goals by Carl de Wall and Anton Roos Olsen put Viggbyholms on top 3-2 in the second period. But with just about four minutes left in the game, Torgner would play the hero yet again for Brinkens to tie the game 3-3, which is where things would eventually stand.

Brinkens would follow that tie up with a 1-0 shutout of Huddinge, with Torgner’s goal-scoring prowess providing the only offense needed and Rosenberg’s perfect game between the pipes.

After going 3-0-1 in group play, the first playoff test for Brinkens was Värmdö HC, who also went 3-0-1 in Group A. With both teams showing high offensive ability and tight defense, it appeared as if this game would be an even match of skill.

However, Värmdö was unable to corral the dynamic forwards of Brinkens which ultimately resulted in a 7-2 loss. It was a complete team effort for Brinkens, as they peppered the opposing goalie John Kaarle with 26 shots. Värmdö managed to get their scoring chances, but could not finish most of them as a result of the tight-checking defense and solid performance of Rosenberg yet again.

The gold medal match was set between Brinkens and Group A leader Södertälje SK, who came into the championship game with an undefeated 5-0-0 record, dispatching both Group A opponents and playoff foes with ease.

An eye-popping stat alone, they only allowed two goals against during the entire group stage. The only team to score on them was Boo HC, and prior to that they shut out Värmdö, Lindingö and SDE. A large result of that was Södertälje’s top goalie tandem of Vilmer Salén Forsberg and Jonatan Duse, who combined to only let five goals in across all appearances.

At 10:11 of the first period, Nahuel Valdebenito opened the scoring, with assists from Wille Asplund and Winston Ilmarsson. Just over a minute later, Jack Lundvall would tie it 1-1.

Brinkens would waste no time gaining the lead in the second period. Just 26 seconds after action had begun, William Arbin rocketed a shot past Forsberg for a 2-1 lead.

Up to that point in the tournament, Forsberg had been the goalie for Södertälje in three of their five wins, splitting time with Duse in the 4-0 victory over SDE. In those appearances, Forsberg only let in one goal.

Supplied with their own set of stellar goalies, Brinkens would deploy both Rosenberg and Arvid Carlgren in the gold medal game, who combined to stop 13 shots.

Torgner would tally his tournament-leading ninth goal in the waning stages of the period to secure the win for Brinkens.  

Ilmarsson would end the Nacka Cup as the leading point-getter with 11 points (4G, 7A), followed by Torgner (9G) and fellow teammate Valdebenito (6G, 3A) with nine points.

Want more coverage of the top Sweden 2009 teams in youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

Advice from the NTDP’s head of scouting

It is USA Hockey’s premiere destination for American-born youth hockey players.

USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP), located in Plymouth, Mich., brings together top players in each birth year to develop and prepare for international competitions and success at hockey’s highest leagues.

The program’s alumni list reads like a fantasy hockey dream team, with the likes of Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, Jack Eichel, Zach Werenski, Cole Caufield and Trevor Zegras, as well as the Tkachuk brothers and the Hughes brothers, just scratching the surface of a substantial Wikipedia scroll.

So who gets to play at the NTDP?

Kevin Reiter plays a substantial role in answering that question. As the director of player personnel for the NTDP, Reiter leads the scouting operations, overseeing both the two birth years currently participating in the program, and, more importantly, the birth year that will make up next year’s Under-17 Team.

“My biggest role here with USA Hockey and the National Team Development Program is basically to identify, educate, evaluate, recruit our next group of NTDP players,” Reiter said. “This year, coming into the season, it will be the 2007s. We’ve already picked our 2005 and 2006s. Now in saying that, we’re watching those ‘05s and ‘06s throughout the year, as well, both for guys [outside the NTDP] who may be passing our players up, or we have injuries or we have illnesses or we have academic issues – any things that come along, we’re trying to find replacement players… One of our interns was recently going through some of the paperwork from last year and he said, ‘you guys had more than 75 players come and practice with you’ just from when we’re short bodies or different things.

“In short, my main role is knowing these birth years, one we’re actively educating, scouting and recruiting, and then the two we have here with the NTDP.”

While the majority of youth hockey players will not make the NTDP — players from other countries need not even apply — understanding what they look for in a hockey player, both on and off the ice, is valuable information for anyone aspiring to reach hockey’s highest levels. 

“I think from our perspective, there’s a big misconception that everyone thinks we just want the best players,” Reiter said. “I can tell you that we’re looking for the right players for our program. Ones that have the inner drive, perseverance, can be successful on a daily basis. We’re looking for players who we truly believe over a course of two years will develop and reach their true potential and someday they will help us win a gold medal internationally. I always tell parents one of the biggest things is that we want good young men who come from good families who will represent our country in a first-class manner, and that’s on and off the ice, on a daily basis, no matter who they are dealing with or where they are at.

“Whether it’s a teacher, it’s at a Holiday Inn somewhere, they’re on a plane to wherever – we don’t only want to be proud of them as hockey players, but as human beings, as well. This place is for players who are driven and want to be hockey players. Our players face a tremendous amount of adversity, and it’s all about how they respond.”

In terms of what he’s looking for on the ice, here’s a breakdown of Reiter’s most important traits:

Skating

“The game’s fast, and it’s getting faster. You have to be a good skater. It’s funny, having been here for a while now, having some of the players come back and talk, some of those first guys I worked with here, the Zach Werenski‘s and the like, they’re talking about how fast the game’s getting, and how much faster it is now. You have to be a good skater because the game’s fast.”

Stick/Puck Skills

“Obviously we talk about stick skill, how important it is, because you need to be able to make plays. There’s a certain threshold of skating and stick skill and all that to be a National Team player. You have to make plays in tight areas and not just play one-on-one hockey — a lot of youth hockey is one-on-one but your ability to use your teammates and make give-and-go plays, that’s going to help us play fast and that’s one of our mottos as a country.”

Hockey Sense/IQ

“We talk hockey sense, hockey IQ all the time. Players that can think the game at a high level, they’re able to get better and better because they can take what our coaches tell them and apply it – and apply it quickly. We’re looking for guys who create time and space for themselves and their teammates, and playing away from the puck is a big one. Ninety, ninety-five percent of the game is playing without the puck, and putting yourself in good places. We need players who are able to find that next play and are able to have patience. Guys I’ve been around here, they have an unbelievable amount of deception and manipulation skills. Scanning the ice is a big one now that [NTDP Under-18 Team Head Coach] Dan Muse is talking about, knowing and being aware of their surroundings – processing that information and being able to find that next play.”

Competitiveness

“Our coaches say it all the time, ‘wins in life, wins in hockey’ – we’re looking for natural competitors. Our best players treat every drill in practice and in skill sessions, they’re out there for a purpose, they want to compete and get better. They show up every day to prove that they’re not only the best player in their birth year or the country but in the world. Some of the top players that have come through here, that’s what separates them from other players – they just have an inner drive. When they wake up, they want it more than the next guy and they have an extraordinary work ethic. There’s no substitute for hard work. The competitiveness, inner drive, perseverance, those things are really important.”

There’s a lot more to it than that, however. Reiter talked about scouting for character, which is crucial to the NTDP, but not unique for player evaluation. Think a team only cares about what you do on the ice? Think again. The NTDP — and a lot of other programs — will be digging deep into your hockey background to learn more about what type of person you are, both to decide on whether you belong on a Team USA roster, and also if you’re going to thrive while doing so.

“We talk about character a ton,” Reiter said. “You have to be a great teammate. You can’t be a great hockey player without being a good person, is what we say. Being a good teammate, having a team-first mentality, being coachable, our coaches say it all the time, we don’t want to coach punks, we don’t want to coach guys with bad body language or who aren’t good teammates or are going to talk back if we’re going to talk to them, yelling things at a teammate, coming back to the bench and slamming their stick, all of those things are things we’re looking for and trying to figure out. For me, character is huge and we dig and dig and dig as much as we can, not only with former coaches but maybe current teammates, current people that are in their circles, how do we get to know these players as much as we can because character is becoming more and more important.”

The NTDP U17 Team plays a full slate of USHL games, along with international competitions. The NTDP U18 Team gets NCAA Division-I opponents thrown in, too. It’s all on purpose, as they put the players through as much adversity as possible. Whether you play there or play elsewhere, you’re going to get pushed to your limit if you want to ‘make it’ in hockey.

“The best ones here, they get back up. They’re still confident, they’re not embarrassed by failing. You know how much adversity we put our guys through here, and they just keep getting back up. It’s pretty neat to watch, and I always just go back to the best guys because now, I’ve got a perspective through experience, not that it’s fool-proof by any means. Projecting players, believe me, is difficult. You have to find out which players can make the most growth here among their teammates in two years. It’s pretty cool to see now which guys made it and why they made it and other guys, this is probably why he didn’t make it.”

So what else can players — and their parents — do to help their chances of hockey career success? Reiter said it’s crucial to surround yourself with the right type of people.

“My goal is to give parents and players all of the information so that they take that information and hopefully make the best decisions possible as they navigate this hockey world. I’ve got a lot friends – it’s weird, I’m getting older – with kids who are coming up in those certain age groups, and surrounding their sons and daughters with coaches and support staffs and team managers who, here at the program, we deeply care about their sons, and that’s what you want. That’s who you want your kids to be around. Those types of situations. In my opinion, there are some youth hockey organizations that could be toxic, but finding a place, I just relate to what we do here, we show up here every day, and meet all of the time about how can we make these players better. Finding a way to make your son better. The coaches spend a ton of time together trying to figure out how to make these players better, not only better hockey players but better people.

One piece of advice, specifically for the parents? Don’t make it harder.

“We need parents to support their sons and daughters and not make it harder for them. We want them to embrace the adversity they’re going to have throughout the year, but block out all the noise, block out the distractions, things that don’t matter. If they can help their kids focus on being a good teammate, embracing the adversity that’s going to happen, and just choosing excellence on a daily basis, they’re going to grow, they’re going to become better hockey players, and they’re going to have a good experience and have an opportunity to make our team.”

In the end, it’s all going to work itself out.

“We often talk about how the player pool changes drastically. Seth Appert talked the other day about Joel Farabee and Logan Cooley. A few months before the NTDP tryout, they weren’t named to the Youth Olympic roster. Parents could have went crazy, and you know what? We didn’t get a call. They just believed in the process, trusted the process. Joel Farabee got called up at the end of his first year and ended up helping the ’99 team win a World Championship. Logan Cooley wasn’t on the Youth Olympic team, and we can argue where he was at when he came in here, but they both ended up being the best player in their birth year at the end of the two years.

“One thing we always say is that the path isn’t going to define the player, that player is going to define their path with their work ethic, their talent, their character, their decisions on a daily basis – that’s going to determine their path.”

Want more in-depth insight from hockey experts like Kevin Reiter? Follow WHH for exclusive content from around the world on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

Top ’08 Canadian team aims to continue hot start

Each week, World Hockey Hub will highlight a few of the most exciting upcoming games. From the hottest rivalries to the biggest tournaments, we focus on matchups that should have your attention this week.

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Friday, September 23 @ 7:10 pm EST
Westwoods Arenas

The Vaughan Kings come into the 2022-23 season with lofty expectations.

For a team that finished last season with a 59-1-3 record, why would anyone expect anything less?

And if their start to this season is any indication, it seems as if they are picking up right where they left off, showing why the Kings deserved the top spot in our Canadian team rankings for the 2008 birth year.

Just three games into their campaign, the Kings have amassed 2-0-1 record, defeating the North York Rangers, Toronto Marlboros, with a 1-1- tie coming against the Barrie Colts last weekend. Their next matchup is slated for this Friday against the Mississauga Rebels.

The Rebels have one game under their belts; a 4-4 tie with the Don Mills Flyers.

Canucks, Jr. Rangers set for home-and-home matchups

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Saturday, Sept. 24 @ 1:30 pm EST
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex

The newly-rebranded Elgin-Middlesex Canucks head into the weekend on the heels of a 4-4- tie vs. the Oakville Rangers last Sunday, bringing their overall record to 1-0-1.

On the other side of the ice, the Kitchener Jr. Rangers first action of this season will be against the Canucks.

Elgin-Middlesex debuted in the No. 8 spot amongst Canadian ’08-born clubs. Kitchener was not ranked, but will certainly raise some eyebrows with a competitive series this upcoming weekend. The two teams square off on consecutive days, with an opportunity to make an early-season statement.

Saturday will see the two sides meet in Kitchener’s home rink, with game two scheduled in EMC territory on Sunday. Both squads will have plenty to prove in these games.

For the Canucks, it serves as an opportunity to bolster their standing as one of the top teams in the country. The Rangers on the other hand, have a chance to prove that they can compete with the best this birth year has to offer.

Nacka ready to make noise at 2022 DIF Elitcup U14

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Friday, Sept. 23 @ 1:20 pm CET
Mälarhöjdens Ice Hall

After kicking off their season at the 2022 Farsta Games, Nacka HK is set for the upcoming DIF Elitcup for 2009 birth year squads from September 23-25.

Currently ninth in our preseason rankings, Nacka could use a successful run at this tournament to both raise their profile among fellow Sweden clubs. IFK Täby HC finds themselves on the outside looking in of the Top 10 Sweden rankings, and also kicked off their season at the Farsta Games. Both Nacka and Täby finished towards the bottom of the group in that tournament, but what will be interesting to see is if any emotion carries over into the Elitcup.

This meeting will be the second game of the tournament for each club, so both should have their legs underneath them and in prime playing shape. Nacka’s first opponent will be Rögle BK, while Täby opens their slate of games against the Malmö Redhawks.

These two teams both ended their tournament runs at the Farsta Games with back-to-back games against one another; Nacka took both via shutout win, 2-0 and 1-0. Sam Detterfelt led Nacka in points during the Farsta Games, with three goals and one assist, with Theo Carpenwall Grenalt (1G, 2A) and Dante Bovin (2G, 1A) both behind him with three points apiece.

One can be sure revenge will be on the mind of Täby’s players, so it will take Nacka everything they have to come out on the winning side in this matchup.

Dynamo Moscow, Lokomotiv 2004 highlight Russia schedule

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Saturday, Sept. 24 @ 1:00 pm MSK

Turning our attention to Russia, where Dynamo Moscow will be taking on Lokomotiv 2004 Yaroslavl in a battle of 2010-born teams.

Dynamo has had a successful start to their season, accumulating a 9-4-0 record. Lokomotiv has also had a solid start, going 10-4-0, with their most recent game being an 8-4 loss to first-ranked CSKA Moscow.  

Both clubs are off on the right foot, so this matchup is one to certainly keep an eye on. Dynamo currently sits third in our Russia Rankings and Lokomotiv not far behind at fifth.

It will not be the first time these two programs will be facing off on the ice this year, as back in August Dynamo bested Lokomotiv 5-3.

Overall, the two teams have suited up for eight games against one another, with Dynamo leading the all-time series 5-2-1, scoring 40 goals across their five wins.

Yegor Groza (3G, 3A) and Matvey Fedorenko (3G, 3A) lead Dynamo with six points (3G, 3A), while behind them are Maxim Goloshchapov with five points (3G, 2A) and Vladislav Gorbunov (4G) and Arseny Rychagov (4A) each with four points.

For Lokomotiv, they are led by Filipp Vychuhzhanin (2G, 4A) and Artyom Loginov (5G, 1A) whose six points each lead the team. They are followed closely by Anton Malinovsky (4A) and Mark Pritchin (2G, 1A).

Want more coverage of the top games in youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

Episode 94: Hacks to Get Back To Hockey Season

How do you prepare getting back to the rink and into the swing of things again? Our Kids Play Hockey discusses their hacks and secrets to help you make the beginning of the season go smoothly!

Want more from the Our Kids Play Hockey podcast and other publications from the world of youth hockey? Explore our Podcast Central for the latest episodes on hot topics from the game and follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

Frondell, Ihs-Wozniak, Novotny lead all scorers after group play 

TV-Pucken is a Swedish national ice hockey event where the 24 districts of the country compete in an under-16, all-star style tournament. Each district is represented by the top players in each area, and are divided up into four pools of six teams. The top two teams from each group advance to the single-elimination playoffs, set for November 4 – 6th. This season, some of the best 2007s from across Sweden represented their respective districts, with the first portion of the tournament taking place last weekend.

Stockholm North and Stockholm South topped Group A with records of 5-0-0 and 4-1-0 respectively. South’s only loss was a 4-3 decision to North; the final game of pool play on Sunday, with Eric Nilson scoring the deciding goal in the final 10 minutes of regulation. It was his second goal of the game and seventh of the weekend, as he tied with Södermanland forward Samuel Kjellström for the top spot.

Nilson plays for Järfälla during the winter season; he was the only representative from his club on the Stockholm North squad. The 23-man roster featured players from 11 different clubs, including five from Mälarö Hockey, four from Täby HC and three from Solna SK. Nilson’s teammate Melvin Novotny tied with Stockholm South forward Anton Frondell for the group lead in scoring with 13 points apiece. Novotny averaged a point per game last season for Täby as an underage ‘07 playing amongst 2006-born players. Similarly, Frondell played up in ‘21-22 for Djurgårdens IF, leading the team in goals and points, and is eyeing a spot on the club’s J18 squad this upcoming season.

In Group B, the Ångermanland and Norrbotten Districts claimed the top two spots. 

Ångermanland was the one of three Districts over the weekend to claim all 15 possible points in the standings. Their roster consisted of players from eight different winter clubs; MoDo Hockey being the most reputable of the bunch with 10 skaters. The team’s perfect record came in large part due to the efforts of Markus Skröder in net. The 5-foot-11 goaltender played in four of the five contests, posting a 1.50 goals-against average. The only goalie to best Skröder between the pipes was Norrbotten’s Love Härenstam. He played all but 58 seconds of game action for Norrbotten, while posting a 1.41 goals-against average. Luckily for youth hockey fans, both goaltenders will have the opportunity to shine in the playoff rounds as both teams advanced to the quarterfinals.

The leading scorer in the entire tournament thus far is Jakob Ihs-Wozniak. He represents the Norrbotten District out of Luleå HF. Ihs-Wozniak is coming off of a strong performance at the 2022 World Selects Invitational and was the leading scorer on U16 Luleå last season. Be sure to check out WHH’s exclusive interview from Nashville with the Swedish prospect below.

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Härenstam made his mark nationally last spring when he backstopped his Djurgårdens squad to a U16 national championship. He is competing for a spot on Luleå HF J18 squad this season.

Småland District swept through Group C play with a 5-0-0 record. The team was primarily made of players from HV 71 and Växjö Lakers, and out-scored opponents 41-10 over the weekend. Noel Skarby (13), Liam Andersson (12), Albin Laksonen (11) and Filip Alvudd (eight) finished one, two, three and four in scoring.

Despite losing 11-2 to top-ranked Småland on the final day, the Göteborg District had clinched a bid to the playoffs prior to its meeting with the No. 1 seed. A 3-1 win over Skåne District Sunday morning guaranteed Småland a spot in the eight-team field for November. Ivar Stenberg scored a pair of goals, with Hugo Lundberg cashing in an insurance goal to secure the win and the second spot in the standings, all prior to its meeting with Småland.

Group D had plenty of parody, with all six teams picking up at least one win, and the lowest average goal differential of all four groups. Five games were decided by two goals or fewer, including a 3-2 decision between Dalarna District and Örebro Iän District. 

While Gästrikland went 5-0-0 to secure the top spot, the second bid was very much up for grabs with both Dalarna and Örebro Iän in the hunt. A power-play goal from Robbin Stenström gave Örebro Iän the head-to-head victory over Dalarna on Saturday. However, Dalarna would go on to defeat Västmanland and Östergötland down the stretch to accumulate nine points in the standings and propel themselves past Örebro Iän for the final spot in the playoff field.

Dalarna goaltenders Carl Englund (Borlänge HF) and Emil Andersson (Leksands IF) were two of the top three performers in Group D. Their combined 1.83 goals-against average was only out-done by Gästrikland’s William Forsberg (Brynäs IF) who allowed just six goals in four games.

The Stockholm District has won the tournament 17 times — most in history — and last season, Stockholm North defeated Stockholm South 3-1 in the championship game. It is widely considered a great accomplishment for a Swedish hockey player represent their district in the TV-pucken. The tournament is named “TV-pucken” because when it was first played in 1959, every game was broadcast on television. Now, only playoff games are shown nationally. Playoffs are set to get underway on November 4th, with the following districts representing the best 2007-born players in Sweden:

Ångermanland
Gästrikland
Göteborg
Norrbotten
Småland
Stockholm North
Stockholm South
Västerbotten

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Big weekend for AIK leads to solid position in rankings

With the tournament season well underway in Sweden for the 2009 birth year, teams have been kicking off their 2022-23 campaigns against some tough competition right out of the gate.

And the lineup at the 2022 Farsta Games saw a majority of these top teams in action.

Five of the Top 10 teams in Sweden in our preseason rankings for ’09 birth year took to the ice at the Farsta Games, with AIK second-place finish and a 4-2-1 record on the weekend.

AIK opened their tournament with 3-0 and 5-2 wins against Nacka HK and IFK Täby HC, respectively. They then followed up their decent start by being shut out by Tyresö Hanviken Hockey 3-0.

They would regroup from that loss by serving up a shutout of their own; a 3-0 victory against Huddinge Hockey.

Next up on their schedule was a heavyweight bout with Brinkens IF, the eventual tournament champion and current No. 1 in Sweden in the preseason rankings. Ocean Warsi would open the scoring for AIK a little over three minutes into the matchup. A few minutes later, Viggo Malmin — one of the premier offensive players for Brinkens during the tournament — found the back of the net to tie things at 1-1.

Anton Persson would give AIK the lead right back towards the middle of the opening period, when he cashed in on a pass from Joel Johnsson for a 2-1 lead.

After a scoreless start to the second period, Malmin would tally his second goal of the game to even things up again at 7:38. That would be all for both squads as the contest would end in a 2-2 tie.

AIK would take out their frustrations over the tie in their next outing against host FOC Farsta Ishockeyförening, peppering them with goal after goal en route to a 8-1 victory. The squad’s depth was evident in the win, as they had four players record at least two points.

The stage was set for a rematch between Brinkens and AIK, but this time it was no close contest as AIK’s potent offense and stout defense were nowhere to be found in a lopsided 6-2 loss. Malmin once again was a standout for Brinkens, netting two more goals to finish his tournament run with 11, leading led all players.

Persson and Johnsson would end the tournament as the top point-getters for AIK, each tallying nine points in the form of five goals and four assists.

AIK Falls in Bronze-Medal Game at Nordic Youth Trophy

The following weekend, AIK was back in action as one of the 48 teams in attendance at the 2022 Nordic Youth Trophy in Värmland County, Sweden.

After being split into eight divisions of six teams, each ’09 club participated in a round-robin qualifying set of games against those in their division. Upon finishing the qualifiers, the field was divided even further into four playoff groups of A, B, C, and D.

AIK was placed in Group F for the qualifying round along with Nacka HK Vit, Hällefors IK/Filipstads IF, Lørenskog IK, Storhamar Hockey Gul, and Nor IK.

Day 1 of the tournament would see AIK start things off with a 4-2 victory over Nacka, followed by a 15-1 drubbing of Hällefors IK/Filipstads IF.

AIK would follow up their strong start by sweeping all three of their games during Day 2; a 7-0 win against Nor IK, a close-fought 6-5 win against Lørenskog, and a 16-0 rout of Storhamar.

By finishing the qualifying round atop Group F with a 5-0-0 record, AIK’s next opponent was Group C leader Djurgårdens IF in the quarterfinals for the A playoff group. In what would shape up to be a one-sided contest, AIK topped Djurgårdens and moved onto the the next round with a 7-0 victory.

Group F leader Flemingsbergs IK awaited in the semifinals, and AIK was quick to jump out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play thanks to goals from Persson and Lucas Sjöqvist.

However, Flemingbergs would come back for the second period with a renewed sense of urgency, striking for four unanswered goals in the span of just over 11 minutes to secure their 4-2 win.

Despite the loss, AIK had an opportunity to take home the Bronze Medal in their final game against Källered SK. Albin Lindström opened the scoring at 7:16 of the first period, before AIK’s Daniel Larsson found the back of the net nine seconds later to knot things up.

Sent to the power play at 11:41, Källered would strike on the man advantage at 11:54 to go up 2-1. With two more quick goals following that, they would end the period with a commanding 4-1 lead.

The second period would not fare any better for AIK, as they allowed four more goals to deepen their deficit. Despite two late tallies of their own, Källered would skate away with the bronze and an 8-3 win.

What didn’t help AIK was that its three leading scorers in Viking Simon (10G, 6A), Persson (10G, 4A) and Ernests Rullis (8G, 5A) could not match the firepower Källered presented at the other end of the ice.

A strong showing from AIK on consecutive weekends to open the season propelled them into the Top-10 rankings in the country, as well as the Top 25 in the world among 2009-born teams. Click HERE to see the full 2022-23 preseason rankings from all countries and birth years.

Want more coverage of the 2009 birth year as well as other age groups throughout youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news from around the world!

Your first look at the ‘22-23 preseason rankings

One of the biggest elements of WHH is youth hockey’s first — and onlyWorld Rankings. The rankings are compiled by a team of evaluators from across North America, Europe, Scandinavia and Russia who identify top teams and talent in youth hockey.

The committee compiles lists of Top-10 rankings by country, as well as a Top 25 for each of the major birth years in AAA hockey.

The ‘22-23 season will see rankings for the following countries and birth years:

United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia

2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

There are, however, a few exceptions for specific countries and birth years.

For instance, Hockey Canada does not have age classifications solely for the 2006 birth year. Top 16-year-olds are ultimately competing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Any outliers from the age group still competing in youth hockey play in a combined age group at the Under-18 (U-18) age level, consisting of 2005 and 2006 birth years for the 2022-23 season. The Sweden Ice Hockey Federation and Finnish Ice Hockey Federation follow similar models, with elite 2006-born players competing in the Juniors 18 (J18) in Sweden and the SM-Sarja U-18 in Finland. For this reason, Canadian, Swedish and Finnish teams are omitted from the 2006 World Rankings.

Parts of Canada assemble rosters consisting of split birth years. For instance, a U14 team from Alberta may have players from the 2009 and 2010 birth years. In this case, the team would be ranked amongst 2009-born teams. 

Lastly, U12 hockey and younger in Sweden is typically structured in a 3-on-3, half-ice format. Because of that, teams from Sweden are also omitted from the 2011 rankings this season.

We value any and all feedback from the youth hockey community. We invite all members to share their own World Rankings with our team of evaluators HERE, as well as any other valuable information such as stats, team records, tournament results, photos, videos, etc.

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Top programs in action at multiple events over the weekend

Elite American teams within the 2007 birth year aren’t wasting any time battling each other as the 15-Only age group begins its junior draft season. In fact, a few of them even gathered at the home of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) this past weekend to skate in front of the organization’s scouts and coaches.

The Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, Chicago Mission, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Bishop Kearney Selects, L.A. Jr. Kings and Minnesota Blades all took part in a collection of games dubbed the NTDP Showcase at USA Hockey Arena. If the final standings are any indication, we’re going to be in for a hell of a youth hockey season at the ever important 15-only age group.

Mid-Fairfield finished with a 3-1-1 record over five games, while nobody else finished with a winning record. Penguins Elite, BK Selects and Chicago Mission all finished with 2-2-1 marks, while the Kings and the Blades both finished 2-3.

MFJR may have finished with the best record, but they were in tight games all weekend. The Jr. Rangers recorded wins over the Blades (3-2) and Penguins (3-2) on Day 1 of the showcase, and then beat Mission 4-3 on Saturday. Their tie came against the BK Selects on Sunday, while Mid-Fairfield’s lone loss came to the Kings Saturday.

Mission and the Penguins tied 3-3 when they squared off on Sunday. Chicago’s victories came against the Kings and the Minnesota Blades, the latter of which was an 8-1 thumping. The Penguins, meanwhile, beat the Kings 2-0 and beat the Blades 3-2. 

Continuing the convoluted matrix of who beat who, the BK Selects beat Mission and Pittsburgh, both with 3-0 finals.

Statistics from the weekend are not readily available just yet, but gaudy numbers will come from the star power on all of these rosters. What the weekend did tell us is the battles that will be fought across the country this season will be fun to watch, and the USA Hockey National Championship will be must-see youth hockey.

Little Caesars, Victory Honda, Compuware separate from pack in MI

While the six programs above came to Metro Detroit for a big weekend’s worth of games, Michigan’s 15-only teams were skating at the Troy Sports Center — roughly a 45-minute drive away from USA Hockey Arena — in the first of two MAHA Tier-1 Showcase events.

All of the 14U, 15O, 16U and 18U teams in Michigan gathered for a showcase at the four-sheet facility, and Little Caesars, Victory Honda and Compuware established themselves as teams to beat in the 15O age group in the Great Lakes State.

While they didn’t play everybody, Little Caesars won all three of its games by a combined 23-3 at the Showcase for an early-season statement against in-state rivals.

They opened the birth year’s showcase weekend with a 5-0 blanking of rival HoneyBaked on Friday afternoon, before prevailing over Fox Motors 5-2 on Saturday.

On Sunday, they really took care of business, beating Belle Tire 13-1.

They weren’t the only team to play to a 3-0 record, however. Victory Honda and Compuware did the same, both finishing with a 12-goal differential in the process.

VH started things off with a 4-1 win over the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, before registering a 6-1 win over Belle Tire and a 5-1 win over Biggby Coffee.

Compuware, meanwhile, started with a 7-1 win over Biggby before beating HoneyBaked 4-1 and Fox Motors 5-2.

Those three undefeated teams from the MAHA Showcase weekend will all meet throughout the season, and we’re especially interested to see what happens when they meet in the December edition of the All-Michigan showcase.

Omaha Mastery wins Steel Ice Breaker

While the ’07 birth year was busy in Michigan, even more were in action in Illinois this weekend as well. as Teams came to another Original Six city to compete in the Chicago Steel Ice Breaker tournament, hosted by SuperSeries AAA. 

Omaha Mastery prevailed in the 15O division of the early-season tournament, playing to a perfect 5-0 record on the weekend.

They started with a 4-3 win over Team Illinois on Friday, followed by a 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals later that day. On Saturday, they put up seven again, this time against Team Wisconsin.

In the playoffs, they continued their dominance, as Omaha posted a 6-1 win over the Minnesota Lakers in the semifinals, and a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fury in the finals. 

Want more coverage of the 2007 birth year as well as other age groups throughout youth hockey? Follow WHH on FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok and YouTube for the latest news from around the world!