Eight teams vying for gold at annual tournament

This week, eight teams will travel to Stockholm, Sweden for the 15U AAA World Selects Trophy. The annual tournament is an opportunity for teams to compete nationally among fellow players of their birth year. Czech Knights, Astana HC, Slovenia Selects, TPH Selects, DevCo Hockey, Finland SHD, Sweden SHD Yellow and Sweden SHD Blue will be the participating clubs. The top six squads will qualify for the playoff round, with the top two seeds securing automatic spots in the semifinals.

Sweden spreading the wealth

Of the players making up the rosters of Sweden SHD Blue and Yellow, five of the top Swedish ‘08 WHH-ranked programs will have numerous players represented. Nacka HK and Södertälje SK will have the most representatives with five each. Mikail Kim was a standout winger at the Uplandia Trophy back in April for Nacka. He will suit up for SHD Blue. Defenseman Arvid Ermeskog will join him as a crucial part of the team’s defensive unit. All five skaters from Södertälje will be on SHD Blue as well. Christian Furuvik’s heroics at the Folke Filbyter Cup helped Södertälje win gold. The team hopes he still has some of that magic left for this run. 

Four players from Boo HC will lace up the skates for SHD Yellow. The trio of Viggo Fors, Lukas Svensson and Alexander Engman will be a hassle for any opponent. All three lit up the scoresheet at the Folke Lindström Cup, helping Boo to a championship. Defender Gustav Révay will be the fourth player from their group. Some of AIK Hockey’s top producers will be joining SHD Yellow as well. Defensemen Henry Nicolaysen and Sixten Zakrisson will bolster the blue line. Viggo Låhdö’s offensive skill will be a big boost to the roster’s forward selections. Låhdö and Nicolaysen finished as the top two point scorers for AIK at the Folke Lindström Cup and helped the team nab a second-place finish. Flemingsbergs IK rounds out the world-ranked portion of players with the addition of Salim Ismailov to SHD Yellow. 

Best odds for success

Given the immense talent divided among both Sweden teams, it would not be surprising to find one of them as the last team standing once the dust settles. Their preliminary round schedules are fairly similar and each has a matchup with the Czech Knights. The Knights went unbeaten in pool play last year and have already won championships at other World Selects events this year. They are a program that knows how to produce talent to win at these types of showcases. The Knights stand as the biggest obstacle in the way of any Sweden success. Time will tell if they will face off against one another in the playoffs. Should that happen, it will be a thrilling 40 minutes of hockey. 

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Become first program to hold titles at multiple age groups in same season since 2011

The 2009 and 2010-born teams for the Czech Knights accomplished what no other program has been able to do in more than a decade. Both squads secured championships at the 14U and 13U World Selects Invitationals over the weekend. The last organization to do so was CSKA Moscow in 2011, who won the 15U, 13U and 12U tournaments in the same season. 

For the ‘09 Knights, it was the first WSI title for the program at the 14U age level. The ‘10s won the club’s second 13U championship.. 

Pešout, Uhel backstop ‘09 Czechs to victory

Simon Pešout and Tomáš Uhel were sensational between the pipes for the Knights. Each goaltender saw action in three playoff contests, with Uhel getting the start twice. In the team’s first matchup against Barys, Uhel turned aside all 14 shots he faced. Defenseman Lukáš Kachlíř, who emerged as a dependable source of production, opened the scoring in the first period. He later added a power-play goal in the second period en route to a 4-0 win. Next up was Pešout’s turn in net, where he also recorded a 14-save shutout of the Eastern U.S. Selects. Kachlíř once again struck on the power play, recording his third and final goal of the playoffs. Pro Hockey’s Noah Laus and Eloan le Gallic would finish tied for first with Kachlíř in playoff goal scoring with three each. The stage was set for a championship matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. 

In the rematch against Pro Hockey, Uhel was back in the crease. It would be his busiest game of the playoff round, as Pro Hockey put 33 shots on goal. After a scoreless opening frame where Pro Hockey outshot the Knights 18-13, both sides broke through in the second. le Gallic helped Pro Hockey build a 2-0 lead  just under three minutes into the period when he scored the first goal and assisted on another. However, like in its preliminary-round loss to the Knights, Pro Hockey was unable to hold onto the lead. In a span of about 11 minutes, the Czechs scored four times to lock down the win. 

Jonáš Vaníček got on the board for the Knights shortly after the club went down 2-0. Oliver Ozogany then tied things up with a penalty shot goal. Eliáš Matoušek joined in the action with two goals in 1:34, including an empty-net goal to finish the game. Uhel made 15 saves in the second period, finishing with 31. Throughout all appearances, he recorded a 0.89 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. Pešout skated to a 2.29 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. 

Novak leads ‘10 Knights’ unstoppable offense

The Knights kicked off their playoff run with a 8-0 statement win against DraftDay. The offense was spread throughout the lineup, as six players recorded two or more points. They also cashed in on three out of four power-play opportunities. Nicolas Novak scored a goal and assist for his first points of the playoffs. Novak was back at it in the second game, this time against Eastern U.S. Selects. The Czechs faced a 1-0 deficit after the first period, but Novak would swing momentum back in their favor early in the second. After Novak’s tying goal just 47 seconds into the period, the Knights went on to score four more unanswered goals. After the 5-1 win, awaiting the Knights were Slovakia Selects with the WSI championship on the line. 

It was a quick start for the Knights when they built up a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Novak once again got the scoring started and Denis Dobiáš tallied the final two goals of the period. Novak continued the offensive outburst when he wired home his fourth goal and final point of the playoffs early in the final period. In total, Novak scored four goals and two assists in the playoff run. Coupled with his preliminary-round performance, Novak ended with seven goals and 12 points across all contests. 

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Duo of Tomaštík, Železný lead team to championship

Oliver Tomaštík and Dominik Železný came out flying at the ‘11 Elite World Selects Invitational. With a combined 28 points over five games, the forwards led Slovakia Selects to a 4-0-1 preliminary round record. That run secured the No. 2-seed heading into the playoff rounds. It was there they carried the team to three more wins en route to the championship. The gold medal was Slovakia’s first at the tournament. 

Dual hat tricks contribute to offensive outburst

Slovakia scored the most goals out of all 10 participating clubs in pool play. Domination that many expected to continue into the playoffs. Against Finland Selects, both Tomaštík (3G, 1A) and Železný (3G, 2A) recorded hat tricks to propel Slovakia to a 8-0 victory. Next up was Pro Hockey, who managed to put up some offense on Slovakia. However, it was not enough in a 5-3 loss. That win sent Slovakia into the final game against Sweden Selects. Sweden upset the heavily favored Czech Knights in the semifinals with an overtime victory. 

Sweden shocks Knights in OT thriller

The odds were looking good for the Knights to defend their title from last year’s tournament. Skating into the playoffs as the only undefeated team, they made a statement with a 16-0 quarterfinal win over ALPS Selects. Riding that momentum, the Knights opened the scoring against Sweden just over three minutes into the game. Determined to not let things get out of hand, Sweden responded with three goals in nine minutes to take a 3-1 lead into intermission. 

After Sweden increased its lead to 4-1 early in the second, the Czechs flipped a switch. Displaying the depth that got them to the semifinals, three different players scored for the Knights to tie the game at four. In overtime, Liam Klarén finished off the win for Sweden 1:26 into the extra frame. The victory secured Sweden’s spot in a rematch against Slovakia for the title. Earlier in the tournament, Slovakia bested Sweden 3-2. 

Slovakia earns gold with complete performance

Like in their previous meeting, Sweden had no answer for the offensive attack of Slovakia. After blazing out to a 3-0 lead, Sweden cut into Slovakia’s lead only to surrender two more goals before the first period ended. Gustav Grundström and Tomaštík tallied the only goals of the second to end their run with a 6-2 win. Tomaštík and Železný only collected one point apiece, leaving Tomáš Brázdil as the lone Slovakian player with more than one (2G). The championship was Slovakia’s first at the ‘11 Elite World Selects Invite. 

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Two tournaments, two cities, two world champions of youth hockey

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.

Can Sweden Selects be the first organization to repeat as 14U WSI champions?

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.

13U WSI returns for the first time in four years

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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Defending champions undefeated heading into playoff round

As preliminary round play concluded on Thursday, there was only one club left standing with an unblemished record at the 2011 Elite World Selects Invitational. The Czech Knights entered this year’s tournament with sights set on repeating at 12U champions. The squad has gotten off to a stellar start, going 5-0-0 in pool play and enters the playoff round as the No. 1-seed. As all eight participating teams make the playoff round, we preview the initial matchups and which clubs stand the best chance to move on. 

Dynamic trio leads Knights’ offense

The Knights were able to put up 50 goals during pool play contests. Those numbers were largely aided by the stellar play of Arnošt Binter, Gabriel Wsol and Michal Hruška. All three forwards produced 15 points, with Wsol leading all players at the Invitational with 12 goals. Six of the club’s 11 skaters have 10 or more points, giving the Czechs some of the best depth among any team. If they can keep the production spread throughout the lineup, and Binter can continue to show off insane skill like on the goal below, the Czechs will be a tough out. 

Taking on the Knights in the quarterfinal round will be ALPS Selects, who went winless during preliminary round games. The Knights bested them 19-2 in their previous meeting on Wednesday. The Czechs should have no issue recording a second victory and moving on. Either the Latvia Selects or Sweden Selects will be waiting in the semifinals.  

Slovakia has found footing after opening loss

After suffering a 6-5 opening overtime loss to Latvia Selects, the Slovakia Selects haven’t looked back. Finishing pool play with four consecutive wins, they secured the No. 2-seed and will take on Finland Selects. Having played each other once already, Slovakia was victorious against Finland in a 20-1 final earlier today. In that win, 12 players collected at least two points, led by Matias Krúpa’s six assists. Oliver Tomaštík (11G, 6A) and Dominik Železný (9G, 7A) will lead the charge for Slovakia. The two enter as the top scorers thus far among all players. Having only scored nine goals total, it will be all hands on deck for Finland. The winner of this tilt will take on whoever emerges from the clash between Pro Hockey and Südtirol

Goaltending backstops Pro Hockey to No. 3-seed

Pro Hockey skated to a 4-1-0 record to lock down a matchup with No. 6-seeded Südtirol. The lone blemish was a 7-3 loss to the Knights. Tyson Orr has impressed on the offensive side with 11 goals and 15 points. Pro Hockey’s success also hinged on the strong performances of goaltender Donovan Knapp. Knapp was between the pipes for three wins, recording a 1.60 goals-against average and .948 save percentage. Both numbers were good enough for second overall among all goalies in preliminary round play. Only four goals managed to find their way past Knapp in those three appearances. Continued consistency from him will be paramount to playoff success, especially against an interesting opponent like Südtirol. Despite lower offensive numbers than Pro Hockey, the club still managed two wins in pool play. 

Sweden aims for sweep of Latvia

For the No. 4 and No. 5-seeds, Latvia Selects will face off with Sweden Selects for the second time at the showcase. In the prior meeting, Sweden shut out Latvia 7-0, with Charles Wikström producing two goals. In net, Hampus Trygg made 24 saves and was unable to be solved by Latvia. If Sweden puts him back in the crease for the rematch, Latvia will have to come up with a new strategy to get pucks by him. Both rosters are close in skill, so of all the quarterfinal games this one feels like it can go either way. If the head-to-head results are any indication, Sweden will have no issue moving on. 

Want more coverage of the 2023 World Selects Invitational series? WHH is the exclusive media provider of all 12 WSI events, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news!

Czech Knights look to defend 2022 title 

This week, eight teams from eight countries will lace up the skates at the 2011 Elite World Selects Invitational in Bolzano, Italy. The Czech Knights will have their sights set on repeating as 12U champions, as their 2010 squad won the championship last year. But they will not be the only ones with aspirations of adding to their trophy case. Pro Hockey, a collection of North American players, will be in search of its third championship. They won back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, and most recently 2019. Finland Selects, winners in 2013, will also be on the hunt to be the last team standing. 

Making things interesting will be that all three teams will play one another during pool play. The Knights open their schedule against Finland before taking on Pro Hockey on Thursday. Finland will cash with Pro Hockey on Wednesday, which is the third game for each squad out of five pool play contests. Joining them will be Sweden Selects, Slovakia Selects, Südtirol, ALPS Selects and Latvia Selects. Following the opening round, all eight teams will be seeded 1-8 for the playoff rounds which begins on Friday. The semifinals and championship game will both take place on Saturday. 

Chemistry will play vital role in team success

Pro Hockey will consist of some of the best 2011-born talent in Canada. Tyson Orr, defenseman for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Rouhi Assal of the Vaughan Kings bring their talents to the team. Both the Jr. Canadiens and Kings are among the premier teams in the  World Rankings

Finland Selects roster will consist of numerous teammates from various Finnish programs. Defenseman Justus Liikanen, forward Viljam Huuskonen and goaltender Alex Oliver Maslov all hail from KJT Hockey. Manu Vähäsöyrinki and Richard WEI, a pair of forwards from Kiekko-Espoo Blues, will bolster scoring depth. Joining them will be K-Espoo Blues teammate Eemeli Salminen, whose task it will be to help patrol the blue line. 

The Czechs have two pairs of players from the same team. Goaltender Nikita Kuzin and defenseman Kirill Rudenko from Slavia Praha. Coming from BK Mlada Boleslav are defenseman David Skořepa and goaltender Milan Kobrle. Viggbyholms IK and Värmdö will have multiple representatives on Sweden. Latvia’s roster will largely be made up of players from HS Riga and Prizma. These are collectively the skaters on each team with experience playing with each other  in competitive action. Chemistry that should lead to thrilling plays and exciting matchups throughout the duration of the showcase. 

Want more coverage of the 2023 World Selects Invitational series? WHH is the exclusive media provider of all 12 WSI events, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news!

Team skates to 8-0-0 run in Chamonix, France

A major reason why North America Prospects had been undefeated heading into the playoff round at the U14 Girls World Selects Invitational was goaltending. In our Round 1 recap, we looked at the performances of Bailey Unruh and Rylee Allison as two key factors in the success of the club. Throughout the playoffs, both Unruh and Allison continued their solid play to backstop NAP to a championship over the Sweden Selects

In Sweden’s semifinal win against Minnesota Prospects, the team’s incredible scoring depth was on full display. Six different players found the back of the net, allowing them to take a 6-2 lead into the second period. Liv Heinicke took advantage of a power play opportunity to make it a three-goal deficit. However, Minnesota was unable to gain any momentum offensively other than that. Alice Nilson (1G, 2A), Ida Lindberg (2A) and Elsa Lake (2A) all collected two points for Sweden. With the win, Sweden guaranteed its spot in the final against North American Prospects. 

After NAP defeated DraftDay 5-1 in the quarterfinals, France was the next opponent on their calendar. Despite having one of the best team defenses at the tournament, they were unable to contain the high-powered offense of NAP in a 4-2 loss. Things started well for France in the game, as Gabrielle Roussel opened the scoring 3:25 into the first period. Mia Skinner tied the game at 1-1, which is where things stood heading into the first intermission. Both squads exchanged goals in the early moments of the second half before NAP pulled away. Goals from Lily Martin and Maya Dutton secured the victory. Allison stopped 16 of 18 shots she faced between the pipes. 

NAP edges Sweden in shootout for WSI championship

Sweden came out hot in the championship game, putting up two goals in just over a minute to take a 2-0 lead. Nova Krantz struck first at 11:25 before Emma Hesselvall netted her third of the playoffs. Hessselvall scored in all three of Sweden’s playoff matchups. Shortly after, NAP cut the lead in half when Melaina Struna found the back of the net. At 4:23 of the second period, Adrienne Erickson tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal. Despite outshooting Sweden 18-2 in the second, NAP was unable to find another goal. The championship would be decided in a shootout. Jaiden Krushelniski, who led NAP in the preliminary round with seven points, was the only shooter to score in the skills competition. Allison once more came up huge in net, making 22 saves. 

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Pens Elite forward puts on dominant performance for North America-based CCM All Out team at 2023 WSI

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.

McLean Makes WSI History with tournament-leading 29 points

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.

World Selects Tournament Series Continues

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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Eight clubs attempted to lay claim on championship trophy

The 2023 12U World Selects Trophy was held this week in Bolzano, Italy. Eight teams from seven different countries participated in the annual tournament. The players were not distracted from the stunning views and food of the host city, as the games were action–packed with great talent on display. In the end, Toronto Elite emerged victorious over Pro Hockey after getting hot once the playoff round kicked off on Saturday. Here’s how they got to the final contest, and who were the biggest performers. 

Toronto rebounds after opening loss

Despite scoring first in its introductory matchup of the tournament, Toronto was unable to keep the Czech Knights at bay for the rest of the contest. The Knights went on to score three unanswered goals. Despite a heroic performance in net by Ethan Rodrigues, where he made 32 saves on 35 shots, Toronto was unable to claw its way back. It was a difficult game for Elite to stay out of the penalty box as well, as they were whistled for six infractions. The Czechs were able to take advantage of two of those power plays. 

Following that loss, Toronto regrouped and posted wins against Finland, Slovakia, Sweden and Latvia to close out pool play. In total, they out-scored their opponents in that run 21-6. The squad displayed great depth as well, with 12 of its 14 skaters recording at least one point across the preliminary round. Finishing first among the team were Liam Kozlowski and Adrian Leung, who had identical stat lines of four goals and three assists. Numbers that were good enough to tie with five other players for fifth overall among all skaters. Goaltending also played a crucial role in Toronto’s pool play performance. While Rodrigues continued to get playing time, Jordan Strathlee emerged as a valuable asset to form a dynamic tandem. He would finish with a 1.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage over the club’s first five games. The two also each recorded a shutout. 

Finishing with a 4-1-0 record, Toronto secured the No. 2-seed heading into the playoff round, which gave them a bye into the semifinals. Joining them with a straight ticket to round 2 was the No. 1-seeded Knights. No. 3-seed Slovakia guaranteed a matchup with Toronto with a victory over Latvia in the quarterfinals. The Czechs were positioned to battle No. 5-seed Pro Hockey in their quarterfinal clash. 

Hussein, Down lead club in playoff round

Caden Down finished pool play with two goals and five points, and didn’t miss a beat once the playoffs began. His goal in the first period against Slovakia ignited a three-goal opening frame for Toronto. In the second, Jordan Hussain emerged as a secondary scoring threat. With Toronto holding to a 4-2 lead, Hussain struck twice in just over a minute to open up a 6-2 lead in the second period. He added a third point with an assist on Cameron Steven’s late goal in regulation to wrap up a 7-2 win. Pro Hockey defeated Finland in the semifinals, which set up a tilt with the heavily-favored Knights. After the Czechs scored first, Finn Helminen responded quickly for Pro Hockey and tied the game at 1. 

Pro Hockey scored twice more early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead. Showing their resolve, the Knights found their way back to evening the score with two goals from Petr Potač. Lachlan McGuire stunned the Czechs when he put home a shot with just over a minute left in regulation. A win that set up a championship game meeting with Toronto. 

Toronto’s defense come up big in championship 

The opening frame was a statement from Toronto, where they opened up a 4-1 lead by its end. Down scored twice, and Hussein notched another assist on a goal from Leung. Lachlan McGuire managed to get Pro Hockey on the board to make it a 2-1 game before Toronto redoubled the lead. Despite numerous attempts to cut into the deficit, Pro Hockey was unable to get back in the game. A big reason for that was the team’s ability to keep McGuire in check for the second period. As a result, they were crowned 2011-born champions with a 5-2 final. McGuire finished pool play second overall in scoring with four goals and nine points. He had six goals and seven points to his name heading into the championship game. Hussein and Down ended up tied for second in playoff scoring with Pro Hockey’s Brendan Rogers with four points each. 

Want more coverage of the 2023 World Selects Invitational series? WHH is the exclusive media provider of all 12 WSI events, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news!

France, Minnesota Prospects, Sweden Selects, NAP make semifinal round 

When the U14 Girls World Selects Invitational kicked off on Wednesday, there were 12 participating teams with hopes of being the last club standing. After 60 preliminary round games and playoff quarterfinals, there are four teams remaining. France, Minnesota Prospects, Sweden Selects and North American Prospects are the four clubs left with an opportunity to be crowned champions on Saturday. 

Can France’s defense find consistency?

France began their pool play schedule with back to back shutouts against Italy Selects and Pro Hockey. In its next two contests, they suffered losses to Midwest Prospects and North American Prospects by scores of 2-1 and 5-0, respectively. They rebounded in the final game with a 5-0 victory over Swiss Selects. Maëlie Moussier led the team with four points, all assists. She collected one in every game but the loss to NA Prospects. Second in team scoring was Isabella De Gaulmyn with one goal and two assists. 11 of France’s remaining 15 skaters all recorded at least one point across the five preliminary round games. In the three wins, France held opponents to four shots twice, and 12 shots once. In the two losses, they gave up 29 and 21 shots. 

France entered the quarterfinals as the No. 5-seed and was once again matched with No. 4-seed Midwest Prospects. It was another close game, with a strong defensive and goaltending effort backstopping France to a 2-0 victory. Following a scoreless first period, Sophie Gailly broke the deadlock close to four minutes into the second. Domitille Ratto doubled the lead with a power-play goal near the end of regulation. In net, Maya Bidet Visconti and Alice Chevrier were unbeatable. The duo split duties and turned aside six shots and 14 shots, respectively, for the combined shutout. Next up, France will try and replicate another strong effort against the No. 1-seed North American Prospects. Whether France’s defense holds up or if the NA Prospects can find a way to break through should make for an intriguing semifinal matchup. 

NA Prospects remain undefeated

Only one team remains undefeated throughout pool play and the quarterfinal round. A large reason why North American Prospects found themselves entering the playoff round as the top-seeded club was a result of its goaltending. Statistically, Bailey Unruh and Rylee Allison have been the best players between the pipes at this year’s tournament. They have held teams to just three goals across six games thus far. Unruh has recorded a 0.32 goals-against average and .962 save percentage. Allison, meanwhile, has a 0.50 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. 

Despite a 5-0-0 record in preliminary round play, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Three victories came via shutout, but it was the Finland Selects and Czech Selects that gave NA Prospects some nervous moments. Jaiden Krushelniski, leading scorer for NAP with seven goals, put the team on her back in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against Finland. Down 2-1, she scored the tying goal late in the second period before finishing off the win with the overtime winner. Maya Dutton notched the game-winner in a 1-0 victory against the Czechs. 

In their quarterfinal matchup with Draftday, Krushelniski collected another three goals and Dutton added another in a 5-1 final. A rematch is now in the cards against France in the semifinals, who fell to NAP 5-0 in pool play. If this second battle between the two sides plays out like the first, all eyes will be on Dutton and Krushelniski. Two players that will make life difficult for France to try and contain. 

Benedict leads Minnesota Prospects’ high-flying offense

No other team scored more in the preliminary round than Minnesota Prospects. Recording 29 goals across five games, they were led by Carmen Benedict’s seven goals and nine points. Her point total was good enough to tie for second overall in pool play with Sweden SelectsEbba Hesselvall. Minnesota displayed some of the best depth of any team throughout its lineup, as all but one player recorded at least one point. For an offense that averaged close to six goals a game, time would shortly tell if they could keep up a dynamic attack in the playoffs. 

And continue it did, as they bested the defending-champion Czech Selects in the quarterfinals, 6-4. Things got off to a quick start when Amálie Karásková put the Selects up 1-0 just 59 seconds into the game. 25 seconds after, Mia Sutch struck twice in just under three minutes to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead. Helena Neckářová tied the game at 2 shortly after before Karásková collected her second goal minutes later. The Prospects swung momentum back in their favor when they pounced for four goals in the final several minutes of the period to take a 6-3 lead into intermission. The second frame was not as eventful as the first, but Karásková managed to complete her hat trick with her second shorthanded tally.

As a result, Minnesota will take to the ice against Sweden Selects in the semifinals. With players such as Sutch, Benedict and Hesselvall, it should be a fast-paced tilt with goals galore on both sides. 

Sweden Selects victorious in rematch, move on to semifinals

Heading into the final day of pool play, the Sweden Selects were one win away from a perfect 5-0-0 record. Instead, they skated to a 1-0 loss to Pro Hockey. Through fate – or just a coincidental result from overall team records – they were tasked with a second game with Pro Hockey a mere few hours later. The main difference being that the winner would move on to the semifinal round of the playoffs. 

Abbey Petro was in goal for a 26-save shutout in the first meeting, but Emily Perrier started between the pipes for the second. Right from puck drop, Sweden attacked with full force and jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period. Emma Holmberg scored twice, and Ebba Hesselvall added one as well. After the third goal, Petro was put back in the crease. The move seemed to have ignited a fire in Pro Hockey. Coming out of the intermission, they scored the next two goals which cut Sweden’s lead to 3-2. In search of the equalizer, Petro was pulled for the extra attacker. Instead it was the Selects scoring twice on the empty net to secure a 5-3 win. 

Stemming from that result, No. 2-seed Minnesota Prospects will now take on No. 3-seed Sweden for a chance at the championship game. Both squads like to score, and have plenty of top-tier talent among their rosters. If the goaltending of Minnesota holds, Sweden may be in for a long game. But if past results are any indication of things to come, the Selects know a thing or two about putting pucks in the net.

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