Bobby Spang, Brody Antignani, Oliver Ozogany put up huge numbers at tournament

The World Youth Championships wrapped up in Prague on Sunday, with three teams securing titles. West Can Prime, East Coast Prime and Pro Selects Slovakia emerged victorious in the 2011, 2010 and 2009 divisions, respectively. All entered the playoff round as the respective No. 1-seeds of their birth year. 

Three tournament champions from three different countries hoisted the WYC trophy. American 2010-born Bobby Spang, Canadian ‘11 Brody Antignani and ‘09 Oliver Ozogany from Slovakia were key contributors in their respective divisions. All helped their squads claim gold in Europe over the weekend.

Antignani, Van Kemenade propel ‘11 West Can’s perfect run

A large reason why West Can was able to find itself with a perfect 5-0-0 record heading out of pool play was the team’s dynamic offense. The biggest contributors of that attack were Brody Antignani (15G, 13A) and Beck Van Kemenade (7G, 21A). Picking up where they left off, West Can shut out Europe Hockey Selects in the quarterfinals, 5-0. Van Kemenade’s incredible play-making ability was on display, helping him record a goal and three assists. In the championship, the duo combined for another seven points in a 6-2 victory over Midwest Prime. 

The two forwards ended as the second and third leading scorers across the entire tournament. They were second only to Max Prudovsky, who finished with 18 goals and 29 points for East Coast Prime. 

East Coast Prime completes sweep of West Can for ‘10 trophy

In the preliminary round, East Coast Prime bested West Can Prime by a score of 7-2. In that game, Matthew Lynn had his best game of the tournament for East Coast by scoring three goals and two assists. Helping Lynn propel East Coast into the championship game was Bobby Spang. Spang entered the playoffs as co-leader of the team with Lynn 12 points. Over the next two playoff contests, Lynn added three points (1G, 2A) and Spang nabbed six (4G, 2A). A solid showing that allowed Spang to end up as the second overall scorer among the 2010 division behind West Can’s Liam Pue. Pue was the best goal scorer of any 2010-born skater, putting up 19 goals. 

In the championship game, East Coast’s defense and goaltending held Pue off the scoresheet. Without production from its leading scorer, West Can struggled to put up offense. However,  Spang and Lynn continued their production, combining for four points. With the 5-1 win, East Coast secured the 2010 division. 

Slovakia’s fearsome offense continued into ‘09 playoff rounds

No other team in the 2009 division was able to produce quite like Pro Selects Slovakia. Across seven games, the team produced a tournament-best goal differential of plus-34. Heading the charge were Oliver Ozogany and Elias Matousek, who finished their runs with 20 and 16 points, respectively. The two ended as the top point-getters for ‘09 players. The next three following them in the Top 10 also hailed from Slovakia. 

In the final meeting, East Coast Prime had the daunting task of trying to halt Slovakia’s potent firepower. But armed with some of the most gifted players at the tournament, Slovakia secured a 10-1 win. Ozogany and Matousek alone combined for eight points. Slovakian forward Michal Lazovsky totaled the most goals among 2009-born skaters with 10. 

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‘11 forward leads tournament in points, goals heading into playoff round

With pool play wrapping up today at the World Youth Championships in Prague, a clearer picture is beginning to emerge as to playoff matchups heading into the weekend. The top two teams from the ‘09,’10, and ‘11 divisions have already locked up spots. The remaining four teams in each birth year will face off in play-in games to determine the third and fourth seeds for playoff positioning. One player who led East Coast Prime to secure one of those top seeds was 2011-born forward Max Prudovsky. After pool play, Prudovsky leads all skaters across all birth years with 17 goals and 27 points in just five games. He has also scored at an incredible pace of 5.40 points per game. Here’s a look at who else has stood out thus far and which teams have the best chances to compete for the championship…

Dynamic offenses on display among ‘11s

A main reason why West Can Prime and East Coast Prime were able to finish as the top two teams in the 2011 division was scoring depth. Matching the incredible output by Prudovsky was West Can’s Brody Antignani (11G, 11A) and Beck Van Kemenade (6G, 15A). Carter Watson has been a dependable secondary source of offense behind Prudovsky, collecting 11 goals and 24 points. In the lone matchup between the two teams in the preliminary round, Antignani notched a hat trick and Van Kemenade added a goal as well. Prudvosky was held to two assists. West Can will attempt to keep their perfect 5-0-0 record alive in the playoffs, and don’t be surprised if it’s these two squads battling it out for the 2011 championship on Saturday. 

The Ice Bears Selects will take on Midwest Prime and Top Speed will clash with Europe Hockey Selects in the play-in games later today to determine the fourth and fifth seeds.

Liam Pue propels West Can Prime in ‘10 group 

There has been no better goal scorer among 2010 players at this year’s tournament than Liam Pue. Averaging close to three goals per game, Pue was only held off the scoresheet once in five pool play contests. He amassed 16 goals in those games. The next closest skater to that total is teammate Reid Nicol, who currently sits with nine. Across all divisions, Pue’s goal total is second only to Prudovsky. With a 4-1-0 record, West Can Prime will enter the playoff round in second behind East Coast Prime. 

It comes as no surprise that East Coast has been helped by the dynamic play of  forward Matthew Lynn. Lynn, who skated with the No. 1 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers this season, was a constant source of leadership and production for the team. He has carried that momentum into the WYC, tied for first in team points with Bobby Spang. The forward duo has each collected 12 points. Lynn’s best game came against West Can, where he put up three goals and two assists. The lone blemish on East Coast’s run was a 7-6 shootout loss to Midwest Prime. Following that, the team rebounded with a 7-0 shutout of Pro Selects Slovakia. Given the skill on each roster, it’s shaping up to be a rematch between East Coast and West Can for the ‘10 title. 

Pro Selects Slovakia is set to take on STASA Hockey, while the North Wind Selects will attempt to defeat Midwest Prime in the play-in games later today. 

Ozogany, Matousek getting it done for ‘09 Slovakia

Pro Selects Slovakia have been able to handle each team they have squared off with thus far. The offense that Oliver Ozogany and Elias Matousek have provided has been a spark to an undefeated run. Each forward has recorded 14 points and a combined credit on three game-winning goals. Armed with one of the more daunting attacks among the ‘09s, Slovakia has scored at least seven goals in four of its five pool play games. 

Holding down second place, Midwest Prime, is the favored team to be able to contend with Slovakia for the championship. However, in their preliminary round meeting, Slovakia bested Midwest 7-2. Ozogany and Matousek each impressed in that game with three points each. In order for Midwest to have any chance in a rematch, team depth will need to be stronger. The trio of Dominic Slevin, Grady Anaka and Gianfranco D’Agata have supplied most of the points for Midwest. If anyone has a chance to slow down Slovakia, it’s them. 

TSH Selects drops the puck against East Coast Prime to settle positioning in the first play-in game. Following that tilt, Top Speed will drop the puck with Crazy Hockey to see who moves on to the playoffs. 

You can catch all the playoff action this weekend with live streams of the games HERE

Want more from the World Youth Championships? WHH will have exclusive coverage of the tournament in Prague all week long. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for more!

More than 300 players from Ontario and USA set to participate in 20-team event

Some of the best 2008 and 2009-born youth hockey players will travel to Ontario this week for Play Hockey’s All-Star Prospects Showcase. Each birth year will consist of 10 teams, with participants taking part in on and off-ice combine testing as well as competitive games. Of the 300-plus players that will be attending, 114 played on world-ranked teams during the 2022-23 season. The exclusive, invite-only event is a perfect opportunity for players to test their skills against the best of their peers. 

Jr. Greyhounds well represented among ‘08s

Among the ‘08s will be 10 players from No. 9 Soo. Jr. Greyhounds, who make up a large portion of Team Northern Ontario. That includes top scorer Nik Rossetto, who finished the ‘22-23 season with 88 points for the Jr. Greyhounds. Several players from the No. 8 Peterborough Petes will be split between Prospects ETA and Prospects East. Teammates during the regular season, Colin Fitzgerald, Ryan Chamberlain, Matt Souter and Kale Mace will look to score on their fellow Petes goaltender Morgan Hyndman. They won’t be the only teammates competing against one another. Five players from the No. 1 Vaughan Kings will be split between Prospects GTA and Prospects East. That includes the team’s most prolific offensive talent Ben Bowen on one end, going against Kings goaltender Joseph D’Angelo

Three of the five skaters from No. 4 York Simcoe Express are set to fill out the roster for Prospects East. Two others were placed on Prospects ETA. Ten attendees from No. 5 Oakville Rangers will be split among the 10 showcase teams. Six of them have been placed onto Team SCTA. A pair of top players from the No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite will skate for The Ottawa District. Canadians Kent Greer and Alexander McLean look to continue strong off-season campaigns.

Jr. Canadiens, Marlboros, Sun County top lists of ‘09 players

No. 1 Toronto Jr. Canadiens will have nine representatives among the ‘09 group of players. Four of them will play for Prospects ETA, including Jax Pereira and Keaton Ardagh. That tandem topped the list of performers at the U14 OHL Cup two months ago. Four of Prospect East’s roster spots were given to invitees from No. 8 Toronto Marlboros. In total, 10 players from the Marlboros will compete in the ‘09 group. Seven skaters from No. 9 Huron-Perth Lakers will be divided among Prospects East and Prospects West. 

Fellow Toronto-based No. 4 Titans and No. 7 Red Wings will also have representation. Five players from No. 2 Don Mills Flyers were divided across four different teams. No. 5 Sun County Panthers and its nine invitees were placed on two teams. Seven of them found will play for Prospects West. Five of six participants from No. 10 Ottawa Myers Automotive will play for the Ottawa District. 

Chicago, Pittsburgh bring U.S. names to showcase

Since 2018, the All-Star Prospects Showcase has included one team of players from the United States. This year’s prospects include top talent from some of the best programs south of the border. Dominic Pajkic of No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s will patrol the blue line for Prospects USA. The No. 6 Los Angeles Jr. Kings will be represented by two players in Ontario as well. No. 1 Chicago Reapers and No. 5 Chicago Mission will bring three and two skaters, respectively, for the ‘09s. No. 4 Pens Elite’s Nolan Snyder will join them. High-profile forward Trevor Daley from Florida Alliance earned an invite as well. 

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Players from ‘09,’10,’11 birth years set to compete at annual tournament

This week, the World Youth Championships will host the second event of its spring season in Prague, Czech Republic. Players born in 2009, 2010 and 2011 will be split into three divisions of six teams each. Among those age groups will be participants from six different countries. The first stop of the World Youth Championship was held earlier this month in Philadelphia for those born in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 

Over the course of the next four days, teams will compete in five pool-play matchups. Following that, the top four seeds in each division will advance to a semifinal playoff round. A champion will be determined by Saturday. Teams began arriving in the city last weekend, with many taking in the sights and sounds to get in the spirit. 

Players to Watch at WYC

TSH Selects and Top Speed are two of the 2009-born teams with loads of talent. Viggo Mallmin led No. 1 Swedish-ranked Brinkens IF to gold at the 2023 Uplandia Trophy. He will look to do the same here for Top Speed. Bolstering that squad will be Marks Gusevs from No. 4 SDE Hockey. Priam Lelang — a teammate of Mallmin’s on Brinkens — will be skating for TSH. The forward pair of Eric Wei and Conny Törnqvist will also aid TSH. Both hail from No. 2 Kiekko-Espoo Blues II

East Coast Prime in the 2010 division will have a few of the top names from the 2022-23 winter season. Among them will be forwards Matthew Lynn and Bo Christini from the No. 1 ranked Philadelphia Jr. Flyers. The two have led the Jr. Flyers in previous tournaments this season such as the Eastern Exposure Cup and Penguins Elite Mid-Winter Classic. Joining them will be defenseman Samuel Fishbone from No. 5 Boston Jr. Eagles and Jack Riehl from No. 9 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite

For the 2011s, forward Tyler Kyle from former No. 10 U.S.-ranked South Shore Kings will patrol the blue line for East Coast Prime. 

You can watch all of the on-ice action this week with live streams of the games HERE

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Annual tournament kicked off milestone season on May 5th

One of the biggest youth hockey summer tournaments is in full swing this month. Over the course of five weekends, boys and girls from multiple birth years take to the ice in the Montreal Meltdown. The field for the 30th Anniversary event will be made up of more than 200 teams across 10 age groups. Two divisions have already kicked off action earlier this month, with the next installment set to begin this weekend. 

This year’s tournament starts with the youngest age groups of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 birth years and goes all the way up to an 18U division for ‘05, ‘06 and ‘07 birth years. Some age groups have as many as three different competition levels, presumably for AAA, AA and A-level teams. 

Division 2 and 3-level ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12 and ‘13 age groups got underway on May 5th. The 18U and ‘08 age groups followed last weekend with 52 teams in action. Friday, 48 more teams from the ‘11 age group as well as ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14 teams will compete. Then, on June 1st, ‘09, ‘10 and ‘15 age groups will take to the ice. There is a AAA-level weekend for ‘12 through ‘16 birth years, however, dates have not been made public.

The pool of teams is made up primarily of Eastern Canada representatives, with a few U.S. clubs also taking part in the festivities from as far south as Tennessee. Matchups have been taking place at either the Sportplexe Pierrefonds or Complexe Sportif St-Raphael. The 2013, 2014 and D1 2011 divisions will each be split into two groups. The 2012 division is one group of nine teams. After this month-long competition, the next big date on the Canadian calendar will be the Brick Invitational. That is slated to begin July 4th and run through July 10th. 

Fans can download an exclusive app to keep track of the latest scores, stats and standings HERE. Games will also be streamed live thanks to High Button Sports, which can be found HERE

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A look at the No. 1 teams in final rankings of 2022-23 season

​​For the last 36 weeks, the most elite teams in AAA hockey have bolstered their resumes, won tournaments, league championships and national titles. The results are in, schedules completed and the World Rankings, presented by World Hockey Hub, have been finalized.

As the 2022-23 season comes to a close, we crown the No. 1 teams across six different age groups to finish as the best in the youth hockey landscape: 

2006: Long Island Gulls (59-10-4)

Ending the ‘22-23 campaign as National Champions among 2006-born U.S. teams, the Long Island Gulls cemented their status as the best program in that birth year. A 17-game unbeaten streak to start the season would only be a sign of further things to come for this squad. They secured a district title at the New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. That victory earned them a spot at USA Hockey Nationals, where the team skated to a 5-1-0 record. Long Island deservedly won the championship by shutting out Little Caesars 2-0 in the title matchup. In 15 of the 17 World Rankings updates this season, the Gulls were the No. 1 team.

Forward Jesse Orlowsky and defenseman Donato Bracco were invited to the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’s (USNTDP) annual U17 Evaluation Camp. Bracco was later announced as having earned a spot on the team. Earlier this month, five Gulls were selected in the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Phase-I Draft. Orlowsky, Ethan Wyttenbach, Malachi McKinnon, Nicholas Sykora and Brendan DeFeo all had their names called. 

2007: Little Caesars (71-7-2)

You would be hard pressed to find another youth hockey team this season that won as much as ‘07 Little Caesars. After alternating wins and losses in the first four games of the year, the team hit its stride with a 46-game unbeaten streak. Along the way, Caesars nabbed titles at the CCM World Invite and USHL Youth Fall Classic. At USA Hockey Nationals, the skilled group was positioned as favorites to win the tournament. That was, until they fell in the semifinal round in overtime to Shattuck-St. Mary’s. 

Despite a tough ending to an almost storybook season, players from Caesars were among some of the most popular this offseason. Goaltender Joey Slavick, defenseman Charlie Thretheway and forward Will Horcoff were named to the USNTDP U17 roster. Additionally, seven players — including Horcoff and Tretheway — were also chosen in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Draft. Six others were also selected in the USHL’s Phase-I Draft as well.

2008: Vaughan Kings (76-6-2)

The Vaughan Kings have held down the No. 1 spot  in the ‘09 World Rankings for 24 consecutive weeks. They made their first big splash of the season by going undefeated at the Little Caesars Invitational. The team continued to roll along into the Vaughan Kings Classic, where they defeated York Simcoe Express in the final. The New Year began with another tournament win, this time by emerging as champions at the International Silver Stick. It was the second year in a row that the Kings were the last team standing at the major event. Next up was the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) Championships. It was here that Vaughan bested the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in a tough five-game series. The Kings wrapped up the campaign with an appearance at the U15 All-Ontario Championships. In the title game, they shut out the Soo Jr. Greyhounds 4-0. 

2009: Toronto Jr. Canadiens (54-14-1)

The ‘09 Toronto Jr. Canadiens had a strong finish to their ‘22-23 schedule. This allowed them to hold onto the No. 1 World Rankings spot since May 7th. Since that date, JRC were winners in 10 of its final 13 contests. The pinnacle of their season was a 5-0-0 run at the U14 OHL Cup. Included in that performance were victories over fellow World-ranked teams Don Mills Flyers and Sun County Panthers. The club was undefeated in three different stretches of at least eight games. One of the most offensively gifted rosters in the world, the Jr. Canadiens finished with an incredible goal differential of plus-199. 

2010: CSKA Moscow (45-0-1)

What else can be said about 2011-born CSKA Moscow that hasn’t been written already? The team opened their schedule with one of the best winning streaks in recent memory. Winding up in the win column in the first 36 games of a season is nothing short of spectacular. And when adversity finally did hit, they rebounded in full. After they suffered their only loss of the season — in overtime to Spartak — . The major players who helped CSKA’s incredible performance were the dynamic duo of Nikita Siniken and Roman Andreev. Siniken used stellar hockey sense and puck-handling skills en route to putting up 76 goals and 169 points. Andreev managed to record 98 goals and 165 points. Odds were one of these two were tasked with getting the job done if a big play was needed.

2011: Toronto Jr. Canadiens (53-8-3)

One of two teams from the Jr. Canadiens program to finish atop the World Rankings, the ‘11 squad for Toronto hit the ground running this season. Thrown into heavy competition early at the Toronto Marlboros Friendship, JRC collected its first trophy of the season with a tournament win. Shortly after, a perfect 6-0-0 weekend saw Toronto take gold at the CCM Motown. The team once more made it to another tournament final, this time at the International Silver Stick tournament. However, a solid run of championship success ended when they became runners up after a 4-2 loss to the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers. The club added to their trophy case when they nabbed a title at the Vaughan Kings Classic by defeating Little Caesars 6-2. 

Be sure to check out the complete world rankings, including Top 10s by country and World Top 25s for each of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 birth years.

Alberta South wins event loaded with top ‘09 players from Western Canada

Some of the best 2009-born players in Western Canada took part in DraftDay’s annual All-Star Prospects Showcase in Alberta this weekend. The competitive event serves as an opportunity for athletes to show off their skills during an important time in their youth hockey careers. Players from the 2009 birth year are just 12 months away from potentially being selected in the WHL Bantam Draft. The All-Star Prospects Showcase has served as a launching point for many, including 94 participants from last year’s event. 

The 2023 class of participants at the showcase proved to be loaded with top talent as well. One player to make a significant impact was Mirco Dufour. He along with Matthew Hilderman and Brock England, formed a power trio that helped Alberta South to a first place finish. Hilderman led all skaters with 11 goals, followed closely by England’s nine. The two were strong finishers who were often the recipients of Dufour’s incredible play-making ability. Dufour topped all skaters with 21 points in six showcase games. 

Hilderman and Dufour’s chemistry leads to championship

After suffering a 3-1 loss to Saskatchewan in its opening game, Alberta South rattled off four consecutive wins to reach the championship game. It was an opportunity to exact some revenge on the very team who handed them that loss just a few days prior. Alberta took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a goal from Nathan Cole. Once the second frame began, Dufour and Adam Halat each found the back of the net in just over two minutes. Before the period was over, Sam Failler made it a 3-1 game. 

Saskatchewan tied the game with two goals in seven seconds at the start of the final period. The teams would continue to trade goals until the end of the third, where things ended tied at five. In overtime, Hilderman secured the victory for Alberta when he once again took a perfect pass from Dufour and sent it into the net. Dufour and Hilderman had a hand in Alberta’s final three goals of the game. Dufour alone either scored or assisted on four of the team’s six total goals. 

Offense from Chorney and Stroeder not enough for Saskatchewan

Prior to their appearance in the championship game, no other team had been able to defeat Saskatchewan in five contests. A large portion of their high-powered offense was supplied by Blake Chorney and Kayden Stroeder. Chorney finished fourth in overall scoring with eight goals and 13 points. Stroeder ended up in a tie for fifth with Manitoba’s Tyden Lafournaise and Asher Gingras. Each player collected nine points. Both Chorney and Stroeder recorded hat tricks as well. Stroeder managed the feat in a 8-4 semifinal win over 2009 BC

Piling up points from the blue line

Alberta South and Saskatchewan had plenty of forwards with a knack for finding the scoresheet. But what helped the two sides reach the championship game were formidable attacks aided by offensively-gifted defensemen as well. Saskatchewan’s Calder Hamilton and Alberta’s Aden Bouchard finished tied for first among all defenders with seven points apiece. Bouchard’s biggest moment came in a semifinal battle with Manitoba. With the score deadlocked at 5-5 in the third period, Bouchard managed to put a shot through traffic into the net to break the tie. The goal would go on to serve as the game-winner, and was Bouchard’s only of the showcase. 

Next weekend, DraftDay heads to the other side of the country for a similar showcase that will be held for top Ontario prospects. The All-Star Prospects Showcase is an exclusive invite-only event and will have All-Star and prospects teams, Under Armour apparel, and both on-ice and off-ice combines. The Ontario event will also feature ‘08 and ‘09 age groups with 10 teams in each division.

Want more highlights and information about future events like the All-Star Prospect Showcase? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news, updates and more!

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. 

Want more coverage of the 2023 World Selects Invitationals? Visit our WSI Hub or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest WSI news and announcements!

Top ‘08 youth hockey prospects prepare for next step in their hockey journey

The Western Hockey League (WHL) conducted its annual 2023 Prospect and Priority Selections this week. Member clubs selected youth hockey prospects from the 2008 birth year through the league’s draft process. Players eligible to be selected in the U.S. Priority Draft must be American-born and reside in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Those eligible for the Prospect draft must be Canadian-born and live in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon or the above listed American states. 

The WHL is the only junior league in North America to conduct its draft proceedings prior to the player’s U16 youth hockey season. Prospects selected in the WHL Draft are eligible to play 10 regular-season games the following Fall, but will return to their respective youth hockey clubs for the rest of their upcoming U16 season. In short, even after being selected in the WHL Draft, players are still roughly 16 months away from being a full-time, rostered player in the junior league.

Daxon Rudolph goes No. 1

Defenseman Daxon Rudolph’s year to remember continued when the Prince Albert Raiders chose him with the first overall pick in the Prospect Draft. The Lacombe, Alberta, native turned heads this season with 50 points in 30 games. He helped lead No. 4 Northern Alberta Xtreme to the U15 Prep Division Championship when he tallied the overtime winner. Rudolph was also honored as the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) U15 Defenseman of the Year. Joining him were 10 other players from NAX, including five selections in the first 39 picks. 

After Rudolph, the Raiders shored up the front end of their lineup with two other selections in the Top 10. They chose center Riley Boychuck from Airdrie Xtreme at No. 2 and winger Ty Meunier from the St. Albert Sabres with the seventh overall pick. Darius Hordal joined his Xtreme teammates when the Raiders selected him in the eighth round. 

No. 15 RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna had three players taken in the first 20 spots. Keaton Verhoff was the second defenseman taken when the Victoria Royals selected him fourth overall. Joe Iginla went to the Edmonton Oil Kings at No. 12, and Giorgos Panteras at No. 19 to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Kelowna went on to have seven other skaters taken throughout the remaining rounds. 

CSSHL picks dominate field of selections

As the Prospects Draft went on, more and more players hailing from CSSHL clubs continued to have their names called. Cruz Pavao was the first of nine players from No. 23 Edge School to find spots in the draft. The dynamic scoring winger was chosen by the Tri-City Americans at 13th overall. Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Mathis Preston was selected No. 3 to the Spokane Chiefs. Forward Liam Ruck went No. 9 to the Medicine Hat Tigers

Okanagan, Northern Alberta and the Sabres were the only three teams with multiple players taken in the first 10 picks. 

The first three rounds of the draft featured 30 players selected from the CSSHL. In all, 85 players from the CSSHL were chosen. Alberta led all provinces with 93 players selected. A total of 50 players from British Columbia were chosen, with another 44 players coming from Saskatchewan. Manitoba saw 38 players selected. 

The WHL also held its Priority Draft this week, which consisted of two rounds and 44 selections.. Forty-one of the 44 players taken came from U.S.-based programs. 

Selected first overall by the Spokane Chiefs was Brody Gillespie from RHA Kelowna. In 28 games this season, Gillespie tallied 26 goals and 54 points. Kelowna had a second forward taken at No. 2 when Cruz Waltze went to the Victoria Royals.

Four American programs from the WHH Rankings had multiple players taken across the board. No. 25 Los Angeles Jr. Kings led the way with eight, followed by six from No. 18 Dallas Stars Elite. No. 3 Shattuck-St. Mary’s had four players taken, and two from No. 12 Chicago Mission. Multiple players from these teams were standouts at USA Hockey Nationals earlier this year. Strong performances for Chicago’s Kalder Varga and Shaeffer Gordon-Carroll no doubt helped boost their profile and aided in their selections at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively. 

The Kamloops Blazers took Dallas’ J.P. Hurlburt towards the end of the first round at No. 20. After waiting patiently, the Lethbridge Hurricanes snagged Jr. Kings forward Logan Stuart with the 36th pick. Parker Trottier was the highest Shattuck player chosen at No. 12 by the Regina Pats

A total of 28 forwards, 12 defensemen and four goaltenders were selected in the Priority Draft. Players from 12 different states were chosen, with California leading the way with 10. Minnesota followed closely behind with nine and Texas with eight. 

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Playoffs set to begin on Friday, as both Czech clubs enter as undefeated top seeds

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. 

American Oliver McKinney leads ‘09 WSI scoring race

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.

Balanced offensive attack from ‘10 Slovakia Selects

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. 

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