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..
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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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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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The third annual World Youth Championships (WYC) in Philadelphia are set to begin on Friday. Thirty-eight teams will compete in the ’08 Division, with players from as many as 10 different countries in attendance. More than 500 individuals from the U.S. and Canada, as well teams from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia will be on hand. Players from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Austria and China are also rostered amongst participating teams.
Over the course of the next three days, teams will compete in five pool-play games. From there, 16 teams will advance to the single-elimination playoffs, where a champion will be determined by Tuesday afternoon.
Maroon Hockey won the ‘07 tournament last spring, and the organization returns to defend its title. Blue Army won the inaugural ‘06 tournament in 2021, and they too, look to win a second WYC title as well. In that span, 54.1 percent of all games have been decided by two goals or fewer. The ’08 WYC is loaded with teams in an event that’s proven to be highly competitive. The next 90-plus games from the Voorhees Skate Zones are certain to be high level, and packed with late-game heroics.
Less than a week after playing in the 15U World Selects Invitational, Provorovs Selects remains states-side to compete in the ’08 WYC. The 800-mile trip from Nashville to Philadelphia this week was a quick jaunt compared to the 5,000-mile transcontinental flight from Yaroslavl, Russia.
Provorovs Selects went 3-2-0 in pool play at the WSI, and was knocked out in the first round of playoffs. Aleksandr Shalabanov, Dmitrii Drobyshevskii and Vladimir Provorov will be hoping for better results this week in Philly.
Shalabanov led the team in scoring with eight points, factoring in on the offense in all six tournament games. He’ll need to continue that production at the ’08 WYC for Provorovs to have success.
Provorovs Selects won’t be the only organization to compete at both events back-to-back. Boston Hockey Club, DevCo Hockey, DraftDay and National Hockey Prospects will all migrate from Nashville to Philly for this weekend’s event.
Alex McLean is coming off of a record-breaking performance at last week’s WSI. He’ll look to continue his dominance over the ‘08 birth year while skating for Everest Academy this Friday. McLean will once again be joined by Kent Greer. The tandem played together this season for No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite. They also helped CCM All Out win the WSI championship last week. Can McLean and Greer help carry another team to a championship this week in Philadelphia?
Rudolfs Berzkalns and Max Crete — CCM All Out teammates of McLean and Greer’s — will now become foes at the World Youth Championships. They worked together to win the ‘08 WSI championship on Sunday and will now compete against one another to win a WYC.
Berzkalns scored nine goals and 25 points last week. He joins an Evolve Hockey team loaded with players from Pens Elite and Bishop Kearney Selects.
Maroon Hockey looks to defend its title as 15U WYC champs with a bevy of top Canadian prospects. Alessandro Di Iorio, Evan Hendrick and Andrew Robinson are among those suiting up for Maroon after playing this past season for No. 1 Vaughan Kings.
Top talent from the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) will suit up for WCAN Prime as well. Edge School’s Cruz Pavao and Landon DuPont, as well as Northern Alberta Xtreme’s Knox Bendera and Maddox Rose were standout performers in Western Canada’s top youth hockey league this past season.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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From Feb. 8-19, 28 2010-born AAA youth hockey teams participated in the 63rd annual Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. After a stretch of highly competitive and fast-paced action, the Czech Knights were crowned champions on Sunday with a 4-2 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings.
It was not an easy road for the Knights despite being the odds-on favorite to win their third tournament in the past five years. After opening up play with back-to-back victories over Lions Lac St-Louis and Laval Patriotes, the real tests began. The Philadelphia Flyers were on deck, armed with one of the best offenses of any club. The Flyers had outscored opponents by a combined 8-1 in their two contests heading into the tilt.
Tobias Orechovsky was chosen as the netminder to help the Czechs get past the Flyers, which he did in perfect fashion. Orechovsky turned aside every shot he faced en route to a 3-0 victory. He was also in net for their next game against No. 9 U.S.-ranked Buffalo Jr. Sabres, who he also held to no goals in a 1-0 win. Two shutout performances that set the table for a semifinal appearance against the No. 8 World-Ranked Sun County Panthers.
After taking a 2-0 deficit into the first intermission, Lucas Andrejko decided to change the script in the second period. Shortly once things got underway, Andrejko nabbed his fourth point of the tournament by cutting into the Panthers’ lead. Just 43 seconds into the third period, the Knights’ second leading scorer Nicolas Novak would knot things up at two. Robin Mach would eventually net the winning goal to advance the Knights into the championship.
Awaiting them there were the Detroit Red Wings, a squad whose roster was made up of skaters from No. 5 Little Caesars. It was the Red Wings’ first appearance in the final game since 2015, and leading point getter A.J. Moore was focused on propelling his team to a championship. However, it just so happened that Andrejko decided to have his best game of the tournament in this meeting.
With Orechovsky manning the crease once more, the Czechs kicked off the scoring just over two minutes into the opening frame before Moore equalized things just 13 seconds after. The second period would be scoreless but set the stage for a dramatic goal-filled third period. The Knights opened up a 2-1 lead thanks to a pretty passing play between Novak and Andrejko that was put home by Andrej Adamkov. Andrejko would get in on the scoring with a goal just before the halfway point of the period for a 3-1 advantage. Detroit kept things close by cutting into the deficit to make things 3-2 before Andrejko struck again. The powerhouse forward added his second goal and third point of the afternoon to restore the two-goal advantage, which the Knights would not relinquish.
After being held scoreless in the team’s first matchup, Andrejko notched at least one point in the next five, compiling six goals and two assists. Not to be outdone, Orechovsky was perfect between the pipes, going 5-0-0 with two shutouts and a 1.60 goals-against average. Without stellar goaltending, winning the Pee-Wee Quebec is almost impossible. Orechovsky and fellow goalie Matyas Novotny went above and beyond for the Czechs.
Since 2018, the Knights have played in every AAA championship game, going 3-2-0. As a reminder, there was no 2021 tournament due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19. They also were runners up at the 2016 Pee-Wee Quebec.
Head coach Adam Jonak shared words of praise and thanks to his team and to the organizers of the games on his Instagram.
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The 63rd annual PeeWee Quebec is down to eight teams still in the hunt for a championship at one of youth hockey’s most iconic tournaments. An event that began last Friday with 28 teams in the AAA division is now down to the quarterfinals. Who will survive and advance their way to Sunday’s championship, and ultimately be crowned as the best U13 team in North America? Our pair of experts weigh in with complete bracketology of the remaining three rounds from the Videotron Center.
There’s still three different countries in the hunt for a championship at PeeWee Quebec. I think all three will still be in the race come Saturday evening as well.
The Czech Knights have always shown well at this tournament, finishing second in last year’s tournament and winning the championship in the one before that. Tomas Albrecht is one of five players in the tournament to record a hat trick. He did it in Tuesday’s 7-4 win over Laval Patriotes. Matyas Vik and Nicolas Novak have been a steady source of offense as well for the Czechs. I like them to get past the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in the quarters, and then be in a tight one in the semifinals. More on those matchups in a minute.
The other half of the bracket features several potential rematches from contests earlier in the season. Brantford 99ers have already beaten world-ranked No. 22 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite not once, but twice this season. I like leading scorers Gavin Martin and Emry Lowe to make it a trifecta with a third win over PPE to advance to the semifinals. Martin tops all skaters with four goals and seven points through three games in Quebec.
Should the 99ers advance, it will set up yet another rematch with No. 17 Little Caesars, who competes in the tournament as the Detroit Red Wings. Those two teams met back in September, where Caesars coasted to a 6-2 win. Ryder Adams, Ben Slavick and Jack Trupiano have been the best trio in the tournament, accounting for 11 of the Red Wings’ 15 goals. I like them to roll past Brantford Saturday to get to the championship game.
That would leave Sun County Panthers as the lone Canadian representative in the field Saturday night. It’s been a fortuitous draw for the No. 8 ranked team in the world. They’ve taken care of business against three straight American-based teams with a 14-2 goal differential. Czech Knights, on the other hand, have played three games against teams that have all been ranked in their respective countries. That includes a 4-3 win against Lions Lac St-Louis and pulling away from No. 24 Patriotes Laval with three late goals in a 7-4 win. Additionally, they had to knock off the No. 1 ranked team in the U.S., Philadelphia Flyers with a 3-0 win Friday.
The Czechs have been in playoff mode since the tournament started. They’ve been battle tested all week long against top competition in close games. They are also led by a coaching staff that’s gotten multiple teams to the championship game in recent years. Not only do they eliminate Sun County — and the last remaining Canadian team — from the tournament, but they go on to win the championship on Sunday in convincing fashion as well.
You can’t ignore the past history between No. 22 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and Brantford 99ers. In two previous matchups this season, Brantford was victorious over Pens Elite by convincing scores of 3-1 and 6-2. The thing that will put the 99ers over the top is that two of the top five scorers at the PeeWee Quebec wear a Brantford jersey. As mentioned earlier, Martin (4G, 3A) and Lowe (2G, 4A) have done most of the heavy lifting for the squad, and show no signs of slowing down. Look for them to find the scoresheet once again and lead their team to the semifinals.
Meeting them in that game will be the Detroit Red Wings. Quite some time has passed since Brantford and Detroit met back on Sept. 30th. While Detroit won a lopsided game, many things have changed since then. One constant for the Wings has been the ability of Adams, Slavick and Trupiano to find the back of the net all season. Equipped with the formidable trio, the Red Wings have been able to score at will.
In order to reach the semifinals, they will have to take care of business against No. 23 Burnaby Winter Club. Burnaby has been going up against the best Canadian competition all season long and won’t be rattled by a talented Detroit contingent. Both squads have a talented top line, but the tipping point in the matchup will come down to depth; a facet that benefits the Red Wings more. Detroit will add another result to their win column and will move on to the championship game on Sunday.
The Sabres and Knights’ game will come down to goaltending. Olivia De Lisle, who has started both games for Buffalo had been a rock in the crease, and is a trustworthy last line of defense. It will take a concerted team effort from her and her defense in shutting down the Czech attack. Despite the Jr. Sabres’ best efforts, the championship pedigree of the Czechs will give them a slight edge here to take the win.
After that, Sun County and the Knights will duke it out for the chance to reach the championship game. Given the immense talent and how evenly these two teams match up, this one is going past regulation. Look to leading scorers Carter Trudell or Gianluca Mclure to nab the winning goal in overtime for the Panthers.
Sunday will be an all-out, offensive showcase between the Red Wings and Panthers. In the end, the scoring depth of Detroit will be too much for Sun County to overcome. Even if the main trio of players has a rare off day, there are plenty of other skill players in that lineup to take down even the most talented opponent. The PeeWee Quebec trophy will be taken home by a U.S. club for the first time since 2019.
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The 15th season of the World Selects tournament series will begin on April 25th. Following that day, 12 different events will take place over the following weeks. They’ll be hosted in five exotic locations across six different age groups for both boys and girls international youth hockey players.
The World Selects Invitational has a long and decorated history as one of, if not, the most iconic tournament series in youth hockey today.
More than 650 participants have gone on to be chosen in the NHL Draft. That includes 2022 first overall selection Juraj Slafkovsky (Slovakia Selects), 2021 sixth overall selection Simon Edvinsson (Sweden Selects), 2020 second overall selection Quinton Byfield (Canada) and 2019 second overall selection Kaapo Kakko (Finland Selects). Every NHL roster features at least one name that’s been etched in the World Selects halls of history.
The next wave of top-tier talent in youth hockey will take the stage this Spring. It begins with the 2008 Boys Elite tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, USA on April 25th. The U14 Girls Elite event will take place at the same time 4,600 miles across the globe in Chamonix, France. Also taking place that week is the 12U Boys AAA tournament in Bolzano, Italy.
That trio of events will signify the beginning of a World Selects season of events that will decorate the calendar over the next three months. Here’s a complete list of dates, ages and locations:
World Selects tournaments fall into two categories. The first is the Elite events, where participating teams apply for entry, and go through a thorough vetting process. Those teams compete in the World Selects Invitational. Participants include franchises such as DraftDay Hockey, Eastern U.S. Selects, NorthStar Elite, Premier Ice Prospects, Pro Hockey, Sweden Selects, Finland Selects and other European Selects programs.
In total, 20 different North American programs and 20 European programs will be represented this season. Additionally, teams from more than 18 different countries will take the ice including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czechia, Slovakia, France, Norway, Latvia and Kazakhstan, among others.
Teams consist of players that are carefully recruited and selected to compete in the Elite events. These are high-level AAA players capable of competing against the absolute best in the world. These teams typically represent the best youth hockey players their respective countries have to offer. Hundreds of futures NHL players, thousands of NCAA college hockey athletes and countless national team representatives from around the world.
The AAA events provide the same, exotic experience offered in Elite events, but are open to any AAA caliber youth hockey player. Hosted in many of the same locations as the Elite events, the AAA World Selects Trophy tournaments provide players — and teams — with an opportunity to compete, perform and potentially be promoted to compete at Elite events in the future.
World Hockey Hub is the exclusive media provider for all 12 World Selects tournaments and will produce one-of-a-kind content you won’t find anywhere else in youth hockey. Games can be live-streamed on SolidSport, and WHH will have complete breakdowns, commentary, analysis, highlights, photo galleries, interviews and more from some of the top players and teams in the WSI.
Join more than 28,000 people in following WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube. The WHH community will be the first to receive updates as the WSI unfolds this spring. Additionally, you’ll receive announcements regarding upcoming events, future tournaments and other news about the World Selects tournament series.