Each week, World Hockey Hub highlights a few of the most exciting upcoming games in youth hockey. From the hottest rivalries to the biggest tournaments, we focus on matchups that will impact the landscape among top teams in the sport.
‘06 Russian teams continue season series
Fresh off a 5-0 victory against HC Balashikha, No. 14 Spartak Moscow (12-3-2) has its sights set on No. 5 Dynamo Moscow (10-3-0). The two teams have clashed once already this season, and Sunday’s matchup serves as the de facto tiebreaker.
|Sunday, December 4|
Spartak has relied on its potent offense to propel them through a recent stretch of success. Averaging five goals a game during their current six-game win streak have opponents trying to figure out how to stop them. Their attack can be attributed to the leadership of Silantiy Kozhushko and Ivan Kosarev. Kozhushko, known for being more of a playmaker, has collected 18 points, using incredible vision to find teammates anywhere on the ice. Kosarev sits closely behind with five goals and 15 points.
Aiming to prevent them from finding the score sheet will be Dynamo’s goaltending duo of Sergey Vyskrebentsev and Ilya Podsukha. While getting a majority of the starts in net, Podsukha has garnered a 1.52 goals-against average with Vyskrebentsev sitting at a respectable 2.51 goals against.
The season series is tied between these two programs, with Spartak taking the first game 6-2 and Dynamo edging out a 4-3 shootout victory back on Oct. 2. Ivan Ryabkin came up big in that one for Dynamo, as he netted a goal in regulation and the lone shootout tally. Bogdan Kiselev also added a goal and two assists for Dynamo.
Pete’s Pick: Spartak has been playing great hockey lately, and I expect them to continue their hot streak heading into this matchup. While the goaltending for Dynamo is solid, they boast more depth up front offensively and will use that to their advantage. Spartak takes a close one 3-2.
Craig’s Pick: These two teams stack up super close. I like Dynamo’s goaltending situation just a little bit better than Spartak. Top forward Ivan Ryabkin plays a major factor in this one with multiple points, and Spartak gets a stellar performance out of whichever goaltender man’s the net. Spartak defeats Dynamo for the second time this season, 4-1.
‘09 KalPa, KooKoo suit up for two
If KooKoo Black’s (10-2-2) recent six-game unbeaten streak is a sign that the team is firing on all cylinders, then KalPa P Black (10-2-0) will have its hands full. KooKoo, ranked No. 8 among 2009-born Finnish teams, will take on No. 4-ranked KalPa in a two-game series on Saturday.
|Saturday, December 3|
The play of KooKoo’s leading scorer, Aapo Vainikka has helped them jump to the first overall spot in Group F. Dynamic on both sides of the puck, he has notched 16 goals and 30 points through 14 games, sitting just outside the Top 10 scorers of his group.
While Vainikka’s numbers are impressive, KalPa counters with the two leading scorers of their group, Veeti Pisto and Luukas Kokkonen. Pisto has found the back of the net an incredible 21 times over 14 games, and has added 25 assists as well. Kokkonen has struck for 21 goals and 37 points.
Both players have also seen some playing time among U15 KalPa Musta’s club as well, showing that they have the talent to play up an age group.
Pete’s Pick: While KooKoo is riding a hotter streak, KalPa’s schedule has consisted of tougher opponents. However, KooKoo decisively beat KalPa E Keltainen earlier this season by scores of 5-1 and 9-1. KooKoo takes both games in a tight series.
Craig’s Pick: I think we’ll see a split in this one. Both teams have shown they’re the two best clubs in Group 4. KooKoo Black and KalPa Black appear to be sizably better than the seven other teams in their group. I fully expect them to trade blows in a heavyweight bout for group supremacy. Each team earns a dub this weekend.
Kings, Red Wings collide in 2011 Top 25 matchup
The No. 12 Vaughan Kings (22-5-1) and No. 25 Toronto Red Wings (13-7-5) will face off for the first time this season on Friday.
|Friday, December 2 @ 6:30 PM|
Vaughan is eager to get back in the win column, as they were bested by the No. 1 Toronto Jr. Canadiens 6-1 last time out following a solid showing at the 2022 International Silver Sticks Tournament. The Red Wings have been unbeaten in three, settling for a 3-3 tie with the North York Rangers in their last tilt.
The key to this game will be if Toronto’s defense can hold up to the explosive ability of the Kings to find the back of the net. A plus-93 goal differential is what most opponents have to contend with from Vaughan, compared to a plus-28 goal differential of Toronto. It will be a “bend, don’t break” mentality from Toronto. If they can weather the storm, a total team effort will be needed in order to take advantage of a key opportunity to build their resume.
Pete’s Pick: Vaughan boasts one of the most prolific scoring corps of their birth year, and they will easily cruise past Toronto in this one 5-1.
Craig’s Pick: “Not so fast, my friend!” North York, Ontario, becomes Upset City on Friday. That’s right, the Kings are just 1-4-0 in their last five games against Top-25 teams. They played a lot of hockey — and a lot of good hockey — last weekend at Silver Sticks. This feels like a let-down spot to me, and the Red Wings take advantage, 4-2.