As mentioned earlier this week, the ‘09 and ‘10 World Selects Invitationals (WSI) are running concurrently in two separate European cities. While the international tournaments have been vastly different, the favorites to win both events may hail from the same club. The ‘09 Czech Knights completed pool play with a 5-0-0 record and are the top seed entering the 14U playoffs. Their ‘10 team is also 5-0-0, and they enter playoffs as the No. 1 seed as well.
The Czech Knights have proven to be a wildly successful club on the international stage. The organization has two WSI championships to its name already. They’ve also won the PeeWee Quebec in 2018 and 2020, as well as finalists in 2016 and 2019.
The ‘10 squad won last year’s 12U tournament, and is off to an undefeated start to the 13U event this week as well. If the Knights were able to claim two WSI titles simultaneously, it would be the first time since 2011 that one club won at multiple age groups in the same season. That year, CSKA Moscow won the 15U, 13U and 12U tournaments in the same spring season.
He played the ‘22-23 season for Chicago Mission, and now, Oliver McKinney is the front-runner to win the scoring title at the ‘09 WSI. As the top forward for Pro Hockey, McKinney has scored five goals and eight points through pool play. His performance, along with teammates Michael Tang and Tyler Lee have put Pro Hockey into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed with a 3-2-0 record.
While the Czech Knights are undefeated, Pro Hockey may stand the best chance at knocking off the Euros in the playoffs. The two teams began the tournament on Tuesday, with the Knights pulling away with a 7-4 win. Goals from McKinney and Tang gave Pro Hockey a 3-1 lead early in the game, which is the only time the Czechs have trailed in the tournament thus far. Three goals in a four-minute span allowed the Knights to escape defeat. However, can a championship rematch net a different result? McKinney and company will certainly hope so.
The Czechs will draw Barys in the quarterfinals, while Pro Hockey faces off against Finland Selects. Should chalk prevail, a championship matchup of the Czech Knights and Pro Hockey would be the first 1-v-2 finale since top-seeded CSKA Moscow defeated No. 2 WCAN in 2019.
The highest scoring offense at the ‘10 WSI is neither the No. 1 or No. 2 seed heading into the playoffs. Three-seeded Slovakia Selects has scored a tournament-high 42 goals in five games, with the top seven point producers. Patrik Šušoliak, Dominik Bičkoš and Dominik Domonkoš are tied for the tournament lead with 12 points apiece. Teammates David Macejka and Luka Križanovič are close behind with 10 points each. Simon Sisík (nine points) and Leonard Švajda (eight) add even more scoring depth to an already deep Slovakia Selects squad.
However, a 6-4 loss to top-seeded Barys has kept the Slovaks out of a top spot in the playoffs.
Miras Zhumabay recorded a hat trick in that game for Barys. As the team’s leading scorer, he has six goals and eight points in the tournament thus far. They’ll draw DraftDay in a quarterfinal matchup Friday morning; a team they beat 5-2 earlier in the week. A win there could set the stage for a potential Slovakia-Barys rematch on Friday evening with a trip to the championship at stake.
The ‘10 WSI has featured plenty of offense, averaging 8.1 goals per game. It hasn’t been favorable for the goalies, however, three have managed to post shutouts in the tournament thus far. None were more important than Yegor Togobitskiy’s 10-save performance for Barys. It may not have been an overwhelming workload in terms of shots, but the 2-0 result left little room for error for Togobitskiy in net.
With 19 and 20 points respectively, Dylan Dean and Sammy Nelson became the highest-scoring duo to take the ice at the 15U World Youth Championships in Philadelphia. It was also the first time that teammates had finished one and two among scoring leaders, with Nelson setting the tournament record of 20 points in nine games. Both were crucial to SDP Elite’s success in the tournament, as one or both of them factored in on 29 of their team’s 54 goals.
Nelson is a proven producer, having been one of the top scorers in the 14U Minnesota High Performance League last fall. The 5-foot-11, 155-pound forward got a chance to show the world what makes him such a dangerous offensive threat at the ‘08 WYC. He opened up the tournament with a hat trick against RSG Selects. That would be the first of eight multi-point performances Nelson put on at the ‘08 WYC. His 20 points in nine games breaks the previous tournament record of 19 held by 2006-born Malcolm Spence.
After leading No. 7-ranked Mount St. Charles in scoring this past season, Dean got to showcase his scoring ability on the international stage at the ‘08 WYC. His nine goals and 19 points would have tied the tournament record, if not for the efforts of his SDP Elite teammate. Dean put together seven multi-point performances, none bigger than his two-goal, three-assist game against Czech Republic’s Crazy Hockey. That five-point display was the most by any player in a single game.
While Nelson led all skaters in goals (11) and points (20), a trio of forwards nearly out-did him with their ability to find the back of the net. Teammate Mikey Berchild and RSG Selects’ Ryan Tserlin each scored 10 goals apiece; one shy of Nelson’s mark. In fact, Tserlin accounted for more of his team’s offense than any other individual in the tournament. The 5-foot-7 New Jersey native factored in on 68 percent of RSG’s goals scored.
Berchild was one of the leading scorers in the country this past season for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. At the ‘08 WYC, he showed he could produce at the international level as well, finishing in the top five among scorers.
Underager Landon Dupont scored six goals and 12 points for Western Canada Prime. Both marks were tops among defensemen in the tournament. The 2009-born defender was second in the U15 Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) this past season playing up an age level for Edge School as well. Dupont is quickly emerging as one of the top prospects of the birth year.
All individuals at the ‘08 World Youth Championships took part in off-ice combine testing. Those exercises included vertical jump, multi-rebound jump, broad jump, 20-meter sprint, fastest sprinter, pro agility, pull-ups and grip strength. Results were provided to each of the participants, with the top 10 performers from each exercise made public below.
Playing for Chill Hockey Club, Spencer Thornborough topped the overall leaderboard with a 1.836 Z-Score. Chase Petrova followed close behind with a 1.720, but after that, no other participant surpassed a 1.50 Z-Score. Thornborough ranked first in vertical jump, multi-rebound jump and pro agility. He also finished in the top three in broad jump and 20-meter sprint.
The off-ice combine was conducted by The Park Sports Facility, which is run by sports technologist Ryan Smyth.
Tournament MVP: Sammy Nelson, SDP Elite
Top Forward: Sammy Nelson, SDP Elite
Best Defenseman: Landon Dupont, WCAN Prime
Top Goalie: Luke Carrithers, SDP Elite
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The 2009 and 2010-born World Selects Invitational tournaments take place simultaneously this week in separate European cities. Games will get underway on Tuesday with teams competing in host cities Bolzano, Italy and Chamonix, France. Eight 13U teams will clash for the ‘10 WSI while eight other 14U teams compete for the ‘09 championship. Last month, CCM All Out won the 15U championship in Nashville, while Team Minnesota won the 16U championship. Plus, Slovakia Selects won the 12U WSI this past weekend to become world champions as well. The pair of tournaments this week will close the book on WSI Elite tournaments for the 2023 season.
We take a closer look at each of the ‘09 and ‘10 WSIs before action gets underway on Tuesday.
Sweden Selects won the 14U World Selects Invitational last spring thanks to the efforts of ‘08-born Marcus Nordmark and Alexander Command. If the ‘09s are going to repeat as WSI champions for Sweden, they’ll need big performances from the likes of Love Lorentzon, Tom Pråhl and Oliver Sundberg.
If Sweden returns to prominence in Bolzano this week, it would be the first time an organization has ever gone back-to-back at the 14U WSI.
A repeat will be no easy task, as seven other teams from around the world make a case for championship gold as well. North American-based Pro Hockey has four players from the No. 1-ranked team in Canada, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Similarly, Finland Selects brings players from various Top-10 teams as well, including Kiekko-Espoo, Tappara and Jokerit.
Czech Knights, ALPS Selects and Latvia Selects all draw players from various Central European regions. Plus, Barys (Kazakhstan) and Eastern U.S. Selects round out the field of participating teams.
Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the ’09 WSI championship final going down on Saturday.
CSKA Moscow was the last 13U team to win the World Selects Invitational in 2019. That was a tournament of top ‘06-born players in the city of Chamonix. Four years later, the ‘10s return to the same city in search of the first 13U WSI championship since CSKA hoisted the trophy.
Due to COVID-19 and significant travel restrictions, there has been a drought in 13U champions. Now in 2023, eight teams from around the world look to be the first to recapture gold in the age group.
In years past, prospects like Connor Bedard, Macklin Celebrini and Alexey Dontsov have made their mark in this very tournament. Dontsov is a top European prospect in the 2024 NHL Draft class; he currently plays for No. 1-ranked CSKA Moscow. Celebrini was just named the USHL Player of the Year after scoring 86 points in the Tier-I junior league. And Bedard, the all-time leading scorer of the 13U WSI, is slated to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft next month.
The youth hockey community will get a good look at a ’10 WSI tournament that’s featured some of the best youth hockey players in the world. The eight participating teams hail from Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia, as well as the Alps region of Europe. Additionally, DraftDay and Eastern U.S. Selects bring top prospects from North America. Barys will represent Kazakhstan, as the club participates in its third World Selects event of the spring.
Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the championship final going down on Saturday. There’s also an All-Star Game consisting of top performers from the tournament slotted for Friday afternoon.
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At last year’s 15U World Selects Invitational (WSI), Ryan Roobroeck broke the all-time tournament record for points. A mark that stood for 10 years, Roobroeck scored 28 points for Pro Hockey to help break the record and win the 2022 WSI. That mark stood for just 350 days, as Alex McLean would one-up Roobroeck’s mark this past weekend in Nashville.
McLean — a Canadian-born forward who played for No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite this season — scored an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left in the tournament to put the championship game away, 4-1 over DraftDay-Black. That goal broke the scoring record and set a new mark of 29 points in a single tournament. Additionally, the final goal of the ‘08 WSI earned CCM All Out the gold medal, and title as 15U world champions of youth hockey.
The team’s 9-0-0 record in the Music City, and an astounding plus-62 goal differential is one of the most dominant performances in WSI history. Especially considering that the tournament featured 51 games decided by two goals or fewer, CCM All Out stood out from the crowd in a very competitive field of teams. Eighteen games were decided by a shootout, but not when it came to CCM. They defeated opponents by an average margin of victory of nearly seven goals per game.
McLean, Rudlfs Berzkalns, Maximus Crete and Kent Greer were some of the biggest performers for CCM — and the entire tournament — on their path to a 15U world championship.
Alex McLean began the tournament with a six-point performance against Toronto Elite Hockey on Wednesday. The following day, McLean recorded back-to-back multi-point performances against ALPS Selects and NorthStar Elite Green. The 5-foot-9 forward finished pool play with 20 points, as CCM All Out earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Teammates Rudolfs Berzkalns and Maximus Crete were major factors in the offense as well. Berzkahlns — a Lativa native who played last season for national champion Bishop Kearney Selects — factored in on 18 of McLean’s 29 points scored this week. He finished second with 20 total points, while Crete had 19.
Additionally impressive was the performance of McLean’s teammate Kent Greer. Both played for Pens Elite this past season, both played for CCM All Out this weekend, and both led their respective positions in scoring. Greer is a 5-foot-9 defenseman who is one of the best at the position in North America. He led all defensemen with 18 points; 10 more than any other D-man.
In the elimination rounds, McLean scored four goals and nine points. That was nearly half of his team’s offense in the playoffs, with 7-1, 6-0, 3-0 and 4-1 wins en route to a championship. In 360 minutes of game action, CCM All Out never trailed.
The ‘08 WSI in Nashville was just one of 12 World Selects events scheduled for this spring and summer. Team Minnesota was victorious at the ‘07 WSI this weekend as well, after defeating Performance Hockey 4-1 in the championship. North American Prospects won the first girls’ tournament of the season, taking the U14 title over Sweden Selects. On top of that, Toronto Elite won the 12U AAA tournament in Bolzano, Italy, as well.
Three more World Selects tournaments are slated for this week. The 2011 Boys Elite square off in Italy as well. ‘09 AAA and ‘10 AAA tournaments take place in Prague, Czech Republic and Chamonix, France on Wednesday.
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Pool play is over at the ‘08 World Selects Invitational from Nashville. A field that started with 34 teams has been cut down to 24 left in the hunt for youth hockey’s world championship. Eighty-five games featuring some of the best 2008-born youth hockey players has seen 44 of those contests decided by two goals or fewer. It’s been a tightly contested tournament thus far, and playoff hockey moving forward should only continue that trend.
Elimination rounds begin on Friday afternoon with eight play-in games. Winners of those matchups will advance to face the top eight seeds in the round of 16.
Here’s how I see the playoffs unfolding in the Music City:
Chaos in the early rounds could lead to chalk in the later rounds. I like Team Minnesota — the last team to qualify for the playoffs as the 24-seed — to pull off not one, but two upsets. Andrew Clark, Danny Peate and Ryder Siedow have shown to be offensive threats. Plus, I feel like Kazakhstan Selects may have benefitted from a weaker schedule in pool play. Obviously, not something they could control but all three of their wins came against teams that have already been eliminated from the tournament. I like Team MN to be victorious, but really whoever wins that 9-v-24 matchup should make it to the quarterfinals.
I like another Minnesota-based team to pull off a stunner in the opening round as well. Hard not to, I mean there’s six playoff teams that call the State of Hockey home. Similar to Kazakhstan, I think Swiss Selects benefitted from a 3-0-0 start against opponents that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Minnesota Generals, on the other hand, have played everyone tough, even in defeat. They win on Friday and set the stage for a Generals-vs-SKA Yunost rematch from Thursday — SKA defeated the Generals 4-1 and out-shot them 30-19 in the process.
CCM Selects and Finland Selects have set themselves apart from the group in a big way. I like the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to cruise to the semifinals, but only have one of them making it to the championship.
Should ID Selects and CCM clash in one half of the bracket, it’ll be the greatest collection of ‘08-born North American talent you’ll find in one place all year. J.P. Hurlbert, Michael Berchild, Cam Nimmer, Lukas Zajic on one side for ID. Alex McLean, Kent Greer, Maximus Crete, Avry Antsis on the other for CCM. It has the makings for an offensive track meet; a 6-4 type final. If you win that game, you win the tournament.
Finland Selects’ top players are something special. We’ve talked about players like Oliver Torkki and Viljo Kahkonen for about six months now. The team’s offense is dynamic, but in the playoffs of these elite tournaments, I think Finland may struggle to score. Teams tighten up defensively when it’s best on best. I just don’t see those top players having enough time and space to continue producing against Minnesota Blades, ID Selects and CCM. I’ll take Finland to squeak by the Blades, but come up just short in the title game.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN — Today, PLAY Hockey announced the acquisition of the World Hockey Group’s (WHG) North American and European events. The acquisition expands PLAY Hockey’s global youth hockey events in Europe and North America. With the addition of the WHG, PLAY Hockey is now proud to host guests at over 90 events each year in addition to operating over 400 youth hockey teams.
“This strategic acquisition allows us to align the two most prestigious youth hockey brands.” said Josh Thiem, President of PLAY Hockey. “This could not have been completed without the excellent work of our corporate development team that is constantly looking for opportunities to enhance our portfolio of hockey events, and by extension, the opportunities and experiences we are able to provide to players and families.”
The addition of the WHG will merge two prominent youth hockey tournaments hosted in Europe, the World Youth Championships and World Selects Invitational (WSI), creating the most elite youth hockey event in the world. PLAY Hockey is also proud to add the North American WSI hockey events to its roster.
“This allows us to expand global opportunities for elite youth hockey players and scale up experiences for players,” said Sergai Zak, World Selects Invitational general manager. “We will now be able to deliver even more valuable opportunities for players and their families across the world.”
About PLAY Hockey
PLAY Hockey Canada and its solely owned subsidiary PLAY Hockey USA which operates as PLAY Hockey owns and operates youth hockey events in countries worldwide including Canada, USA and Europe.
About the World Hockey Group
World Hockey Group specializes in sports tours and travel throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. We offer a wide variety of experiences which includes organizing a tailored sports tour for your specific needs. Players practice, compete against, and participate in fun activities with players from many different countries. Guests also tour their destination cities, taking in area attractions including museums, historic sites, and natural wonders.
The best 2008-born youth hockey players in the world took to the ice at the 15U World Selects Invitational on Wednesday. Thirty-four teams from 12 countries squared off in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 14th annual WSI. Teams began pool play with two games each on the opening day of the tournament.
In 12 hours, more than 30 games went down across three rinks in the Music City. A lot of action crammed into a short amount of time saw plenty of standout performers. Canada’s Alex McLean, American-born Cooper Soller and Finnish forward Viljo Kahkonen were among those to make an early statement on the international stage.
Coming into the tournament, CCM Selects were one of the early favorites to perform well at the 15U WSI. Alex McLean being on the roster was one of the reasons for that, after scoring 112 points for the 14U Pittsburgh Penguins Elite this past season. He delivered in a big way in the first game of the tournament, with a six-point performance in a 12-3 win over Toronto Elite Hockey.
That game was the largest margin of victory among all contests on opening day. While CCM Selects were certainly thought of as a top team in the field, the dominant win validated just that.
Their second game of the day came against another North American-based program in Top Speed Hockey. And again, provided little resistance as CCM rolled to a 9-1 win. Defenseman Zach Nyman was a standout on the No. 1 ranked Vaughan Kings this season. He proved why with back-to-back three-point performances as a major factor in both wins for CCM Selects.
With 21 goals in just the first two games of the tournament, CCM Selects players dominate the scoring leaderboard. McLean, Nyman, Maximus Crete, Avry Antsis and Rudolfs Berzkalns are all among the top producers at the WSI thus far.
For as dominant of wins as CCM Selects has had in its first two games, there have been plenty of tight contests out of the gate.
A matchup between the Carolina Whalers and Kazakhstan Selects was just that, tied 3-3 with under 10 minutes to play in regulation. Then, Cooper Soller struck not once but twice in the waning moments to give the Whalers a 5-3 victory. Soller factored in on all five goals scored in the win, plus an assist in their 5-2 loss earlier in the day. The 5-foot-9 forward is no stranger to producing offense; he scored 31 goals and 76 points for the No. 1 ranked team in the U.S., Shattuck-St. Mary’s this season.
Factoring in on six of his team’s seven goals, no other player in the tournament has accounted for more of his team’s offense so far than Soller.
Viljo Kähkönen split time this past season playing up an age group for HIFK’s U16 team. The other half, he spent playing up even further with the club’s U18 team. It didn’t matter where he played, he produced, with 10 goals and 29 points in 29 games between the two rosters. It should come as no surprise that now playing against the best of his 2008 birth year, Kähkönen continues to produce at an impressive clip.
In Finland Selects’ first game of the tournament Kähkönen scored a pair of goals and assisted on two more. That led to a dominant 7-0 win over DraftDay Red. Him and fellow HIFK teammate Oliver Torkki could prove to be an impressive tandem at the WSI. Torkki was one of the leading scorers at the U16 age group in Finland this season. He picked up a pair of points alongside Kähkönen as well.
DraftDay Black got a 28-save performance out of Andrew McLouth in Game 1 of the WSI. They needed every one of those stops against ALPS Selects as Noah Barton scored the game-winning goal with 4:08 left in regulation. The 2-1 final was one of 14 games decided by two goals or less on the opening day of action.
McLouth is a 5-foot-11 goaltender who played for HoneyBaked this season. His showing in net was one of the better performances on Day 1, fueling a DraftDay Black victory.
He wasn’t the only one to steal a victory for his team. Andover, Minnesota native, Cash Cruitt stopped 24-of-25 shots faced against Pro Hockey White. That helped his Minnesota Blades team get out to a 1-0-0 start to the tournament with a 4-1 win despite being out-shot 25-20 in the contest.
Other standouts in net include Kazkhstan Selects Arseniy Kuchkovskiy, who’s stopped 37-of-40 shots in two games. ALPS Selects goaltenders Lenny Oppikofer and Nicolas Arcilla strung together back-to-back games of 24 and 25 saves. Each have allowed just two goals against, however, ALPS was unable to win either of those games despite the strong showings in net.
The 11-team 16U World Selects Invitational is running concurrent to the 15U tournament in the Music City this week. After six games on Day 1, NorthStar Elite Green sits comfortably in first place. A pair of goals from Cruz Martin helped NorthStar to a 6-1 win over Black Bear Selects. Black Bear was the lone team to play two games on opening day. They fell to Performance Hockey 5-1 as well.
Of the six games on Day 1, three were decided by two goals or fewer. TPH Selects and DevCo Hockey needed a shootout to settle their 2-2 tie. Michael Zajac’s goal, as well as Marcus Johnson’s three stops, were the difference in the shootout for TPH Selects.
Tournament action continues Thursday with 10 pool-play games.
The U14 Girls World Selects Invitational kicked off on Wednesday in Chamonix, France. Twelve teams from nine countries are competing for the chance to be crowned world champions. All participating teams have two games under their belts after the first day of action. Here’s some of the biggest headlines out of the tournament thus far.
The Sweden Selects made a major statement in their first two contests of the preliminary round. Facing off against Midwest Prospects and Draft Day — two North American-based clubs — Sweden outscored them both by a combined 10-2. A major reason for that offensive explosion was the dependable two-way play of Ebba Hesselvall. Facing a 1-0 deficit after the first period against Midwest, Emma Holmberg tied things up 18 seconds into the second. Hesselvall would score her first two goals following that to secure a 3-1 win. Not done there, Hesselvall kicked off the scoring in the club’s second game of the day; an eventual 7-1 win over DraftDay. She would add three assists as well, ending the day atop the leaderboard with three goals and six points.
If the Sweden Selects were all about offense, France was all about defense in its first two matchups of the U14 WSI. Italy Selects and Pro Hockey squads were unable to solve the incredibly tight defense of France, as both were shutout 2-0. Italy was only able to produce three shots on goal, while Pro Hockey managed 14. Of the seven players to record at least one point thus far, three hailed from the dependable blue line corps of France. Leana Galibert, Domitille Ratto and Naïs Vala Viaux all collected assists. Adding to the team’s scoring depth are Maëlie Moussier and Gabrielle Roussel. Both forwards are tied for the team lead in points with two apiece.
The North American Prospects were down 2-1 in the second period to the Finland Selects and needed a big play to even the score. Just over three minutes after Finland’s second goal, Jaiden Krushelniski found the back of the net to tie the game. That pushed the game to overtime, where Krushelniski would again beat goaltender Peppi Kontio for her second goal of the game. That secured the victory for North American Prospects.
In the team’s second game against Swiss Selects, Krushelniski kicked off the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period. She would add her fourth of the tournament with an insurance goal in the second period to complete a 3-0 shutout win. One of the best goal scorers so far, it will be interesting to see how long Krushelniski can continue her torrid scoring rate.
World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the Girls U14 World Selects Invitational! Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news, updates and more!
The 2023 World Selects Invitational spring series of events begins on Wednesday, with the ’08 WSI Elite tournament getting underway in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. More than 500 of the top prospects from the 2008 birth year will compete in the six-day event. Participants will represent 12 different countries, as they compete across 30 select teams assembled specifically for this tournament.
This tournament series dates all the way back to 2009, when names like Alexander Barkov, Filip Forsberg and Radek Faksa debuted on the youth hockey scene. Them, along with 650 other WSI tournament alumni have gone on to be selected in the NHL Draft over the past 10 years. This year, North American prospects like Michael Berchild, Caleb Malhotra and Ethan Garden look to make their mark on international youth hockey. Additionally, top Euros like Oliver Torkki, Arvid Ermeskog and Vladimir Provorov will make the trek across the Atlantic to go toe-to-toe with North America’s best.
Last year, Ryan Roobroeck broke the tournament record for points with 28 in nine games. Twelve months later, he’s projected to be a Top-5 pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection. His teammate in the WSI last spring, Gavin McKenna, went on to be the first overall selection in the 2022 WHL Draft. Together, they led Pro Hockey to the 15U championship against an International Stars team that was loaded with top American-born prospects. So much so that seven players from the Stars’ roster were just named to the 2023-24 U.S. National Team Development Program roster.
Bottom line, the WSI regularly serves as a launching point for top prospects in youth hockey.
Still dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 last spring, the 2022 tournament only featured five European teams. Travel restrictions and difficulties kept others from making the trip overseas. This spring, that number is expected to double, as teams from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech, Slovakia and Kazakhstan will be in attendance. The Ford Ice Centers in Nashville will be packed with wall-to-wall action all week and WHH will have exclusive coverage of all the action.
The province of Ontario will be well represented in the Music City. In fact, 20 players from five of the Top-10 teams in the country are expected to be on hand for the ’08 WSI. The No. 1 ranked ‘08 team in the world, Vaughan Kings, will have five players competing for two different teams. Two of their top scorers, Caleb Malhotra and Zach Nyman will skate for CCM Selects. Their regular-season teammate and goaltender Joseph D’Angelo will suit up for opposing team Carolina Whalers; he is one of five Canadians playing for the U.S.-based select team.
Some other top performers from Ontario includ Maximus Crete, Bryson Morgan and Nikolas Rossetto. They were among the top scorers at the U15 All-Ontario Championships earlier this month. Goaltenders Cameron Ingram and Colin Elsworth were also impressive in that tournament with 1.00 and 1.50 goals-against averages respectively.
There is a plethora of American talent expected as well. Each of the top nine teams in the country will be represented by multiple players. Some of the more notable being No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s leading scorer Michael Berchild. He finished the ‘22-23 season with 106 points; the fourth-most among ‘08s in the country. J.P. Hurlbert III led all U.S. skaters with 195 points in 75 games. Him and Berchild will be teammates at the ’08 WSI for ID Selects.
Lukas Zajic and Camden Nimmer will also skate for ID Selects. They were among some of the top performers at USA Hockey Nationals earlier this month. They also went head-to-head in the national title game, as Nimmer and his Bishop Kearney Selects took home gold.
The last time a European team won the North American WSI, Oliver Wahlstrom, Rasmus Sandin and Ryan Merkley were playing for Sweden Selects. Wahlstrom is in his third season for the New York Islanders. Sandin just finished his second season in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. Merkley made his NHL debut for the San Jose Sharks last season.
None of those three will be able to help Sweden claim World Selects gold in Nashville this week. However, players like Arvid Ermeskog, Salim Ismailov and Fabian Merkle-Rohdin certainly could.
Ermeskog is a standout forward for the No. 1 ranked team in Sweden, Nacka HK. He led the Sweden Hockey Trophy in scoring last fall with 11 points in seven games. Ismailov finished closely behind with 10 points for Flemingsbergs IK. On top of that, Merkle-Rohdin was a top performer at the U15 DIF Elitcup in September as well. He scored 14 points in that tournament for HV71. He also spent 23 games playing up an age level with the club’s U16 team.
Speaking of under-agers, Oliver Torkki and Jiko Laitinen were among some of the top scorers in Finland’s U16 SM-Series this season. Playing amongst competition where 85 percent of the players were older than these two ‘08s, Torkki and Laitinen finished third and fourth in points. Torkki scored 33 goals and 77 points in 39 games for HIFK. Laitinen finished with 76 points in 40 games. They will certainly be a force for Finland Selects at the ’08 WSI.
While he maintains dual citizenship being born in Tampa, Florida, Alex Theodore played the ‘22-23 season for the U15 Pilsen Wolves. He led the team in scoring with 53 points in 34 games. He also scored 16 points in 10 games with the club’s U17 team as well. Teammate Ben Reisnecker is another standout performer from Central Europe. From the blue line, Reisnecker scored 63 points in 47 games between the Wolves’ U15 and U17 teams as well. The pair will likely lead the Czech Knights’ offensive attack this week in Nashville.
In addition to the 2008 Elite event in Nashville, two other tournaments get underway this week as well. The U14 Girls event begins on Wednesday as well, hosted in Chamonix, France. Additionally, the 2011 AAA tournament kicks off from Bolzano, Italy, on Thursday.
Twelve girls teams from nine different countries will compete for the U14 championship. Czech Selects won the tournament last year. That snapped a three-year run of North American teams winning gold.
DraftDay, Minnesota Prospects, Premier Ice Prospects (PIP) Hockey and Pro Hockey will travel across the Atlantic to represent the U.S. and Canada. Select teams from Czech, Finland, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland will make the field of teams at the U14 tournament one of the most diverse among WSI events this spring.
The 2011 AAA tournament — open to all AAA-level players — consists of 13 teams from as many as nine different countries. It is the first of three WSI events to take place in the city of Bolzano.
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The U13 Resport Trophy and U14 Uplandia Trophy regularly close the book on the youth hockey season in Scandinavia. In Sweden and Finland, the only national tournaments at the youth hockey level happen at the U16 age level. So, teams in younger age groups compete at iconic events like Resport and Uplandia, serving as de facto season-ending tournaments.
The pair of events featured 50 teams at the A, AA and AAA levels. Participants hailed from the host country of Sweden, as well as Finland, Norway, Iceland, Latvia, Denmark and Austria.
Brinkens IF, the No. 1 ranked 2009 team in Sweden, proved why it’s the top-ranked team in the country. They went 8-0-0 to win the Uplandia Trophy in Sollentuna, Sweden. Meanwhile, 15 minutes away in the city of Solna, Lukko, earned the championship at Resport Trophy.
Both tournaments were full of top teams, with representation throughout Europe and Scandinavia.
From the opening game of the tournament, forward Viggo Mallmin dominated the AAA Division at Uplandia Trophy. He scored twice in Brinkens’ 4-0 win over Flemingsbergs IK. It was the second time that top-ranked Brinkens had played the No. 2 ranked FIK. Both resulted in shutouts in favor of Mallmin and Brinkens.
The left-handed forward continued to make his presence felt, scoring two goals in each of the next two games. In those games, Brinkens knocked off Diskos 6-0 and Bäcken HC 7-1. On the final day of pool play, Mallmin assisted on the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over No. 7 Kållered SK. But his best performance came in a four-point game against Latvia’s Baltic Wolves, where Brinkens won 5-2.
That wrapped up a perfect 5-0-0 run in pool play that earned Brinkens the top seed in the playoffs.
They drew unranked Viggbyholms IK in the quarterfinals, and Mallmin and company made quick work of them with a 9-3 win. In the semifinals, a familiar foe waited in Flemingsbergs. The second time the two teams had met in the tournament — and third time this season — it was tied 3-3 at the halfway point of the game. In the second half, Ognjen Martinovic scored a pair of goals, while Oskar St. John-Parker, Eric Sevallius and William Fällström all found the back of the net as well. FIK had kept the game close as long as they could, but Brinkens’ offense eventually blew the doors wide open. An 8-3 final score would give Brinkens its third victory over FIK as well as a spot in the championship.
In the final, the top team in Sweden took on the top team from Austria, Red Bull Salzburg. A balanced attack put Red Bull into the championship, as five skaters came in averaging a point per game. Their lone blemish in the tournament thus far was a 4-3 overtime loss to Södertälje SK on the final day of pool play.
Red Bull played Brinkens tough; something they had done to opponents all tournament long. While Mallmin and Brinkens maintained a significant 3-to-1 edge in shots, the game remained close down to the wire. With Mallmin held off the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament, Sevallius saw an opportunity to step up. He scored three consecutive goals to provide Brinkens with enough of a cushion, as they hung on to a 4-2 championship win.
Other champions from the 2023 U14 Uplandia Trophy include SDE Hockey, who won the AAA Tier-2 playoffs. Iceland’s One Ice Stars won the AA Division as well with a 6-3 victory in the championship.
For the first time in five seasons, a team from Finland won the U13 Resport Trophy. The No. 4 ranked team in the country, Lukko was one of three Finnish teams in the AAA Division. The other five teams in the tournament’s top division included four that were among Sweden’s Top 10 and Latvia’s Baltic Wolves.
With a jam-packed field of talented teams, Lukko went 2-1-0 on the first day of the tournament. It’s lone loss was a 1-0 decision to Sweden’s No. 3 ranked Järfälla HC. The next day would bring another one-goal loss, this time 4-3 at the hands of Sweden’s No. 6 ranked Flemingsbergs IK.
Lukko entered the playoffs as the 3-seed, where they met Flemingsbergs for the second time in as many days. This time, though, Lukko would be victorious as the offense put 41 shots on goal to overwhelm FIK in a 4-3 win.
After making quick work of the Baltic Wolves in the semifinals, Lukko set its sights on another rematch. Järfälla, the top team in the tournament — and highest ranked in the field — had already defeated Lukko on Thursday.
The championship would be all blue and white right from puck drop. Kaapo Honkaheimo made it 1-0 Lukko less than two minutes into the game. Two minutes later, Joona Lautamäki made it 2-0. Sixty seconds later, Honkaheimo scored again to swell the early lead to 3-0. Then, after a four-minute lull in the action, Lautamäki struck again as well to make it a 4-0 lead heading into the half.
Lautamäki completed the hat trick 11 minutes into the second half, and Vilho Aaltonen scored his fifth goal of the tournament to wrap up the scoring.
The 6-0 final meant Lukko had won the U13 Resport Trophy, avenging both of its tournament losses in the process. It is the first time on record that a Finland-based club has won the event, as the trophy remained with a Sweden team each of the previous four tournaments.
Mälmö Redhawks Red won the AA Division championship with a 6-1-0 record. The A Division playoffs also went to a Finland-based team, as Ässät won 5-1 over Jarfalla.