Interviews and highlights from top players and teams in the tournament
NASHVILLE — We’re past the halfway point of pool play at the 2021 World Selects Trophy after participating teams pulled double duty on Tuesday. The entire field now has three games under their respective belts, with just two games left on Wednesday before the Group of 16 is set for playoffs.
If Monday’s close games were any indication of how little separates the 20 teams from one another, Tuesday only validated the competition level in Nashville. There were 11 more games decided by two goals or fewer, with five more decided by way of shootout. Among those thrilling finishes was this beauty from Detroit Jr. Red Wings forward Brecken Smith.
That shootout victory was the second time the Jr. Wings were able to win in such fashion, as they are currently 3-0 and in good position to advance to the elimination rounds.
We also caught up with several standout players from the 2006-birth year, including one of the tournament’s leading scorers, Ben Miller of DraftDay-Black.
The 6-foot-2 forward out of Woodbury, Minnesota, is tied atop the scoring list with six goals and seven points through three games. Only Bloodline’s Walker Bright and Barys’ Abzal Alibek have been able to match him. Alibek exploded in the first game of the tournament with four goals against TPH Selects. He followed up that impressive performance with another goal against Black Bear Selects and two goals in a 3-1 win over NXT Level Hockey to lead all scorers with seven goals.
Ford Ice Center in Antioch experienced a flurry of high-scoring affairs, with back-to-back games resulting in opponents combining to produce 11 total goals. Southeast Elite tallied five unanswered in the second half against NXT Level Hockey to pull off a stunning come-from-behind 6-5 victory. That game featured eight different goal scorers, headlined by a three-point performance from Southeast’s Tyler Fortson.
Just a few hours later, Elite Hockey Group defeated the Brooklyn Knighthawks, matching that same total with a 6-5 finish of their own. That contest has nine different goal scorers, one of whom was EHG’s Joseph Delaurentis who has a goal in every game so far.
Nearly half the field has a goal differential of plus-or-minus three goals — one goal for each game played thus far — and only one of the 20 teams in the field has won all three games in regulation time. It has been an impressively competitive tournament just past the halfway point of pool play, and intensity will certainly pick up on Wednesday as teams try to squeeze their way into the playoff picture.