Hometown team mounts third-period comeback in championship game against Czechs

Teams from six countries came to Quebec for the prestigious tournament, but it was the hometown team that emerged victorious.

With a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime victory over the Czech Knights, the Montreal Canadiens won the AAA division at the 2022 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament Sunday afternoon.

It was the first of its kind — a springtime showcase for the famed international youth hockey tournament. Due to COVID-19 restrictions interrupting the previously scheduled February tournament, organizers made sure the Pee Wee Quebec still took place, this time running it from May 1 – 15. The AAA division started on May 9, with the championship wrapping things up Sunday.

The Canadiens battled back in the final — more on that later — but they also battled back for the duration of their Pee-Wee Quebec experience. The little Habs, coached by former NHL pro Jason Pominville, started tournament play with a 3-2 loss to Latvia’s Riga HS on Wednesday, which put them on the brink of elimination from the start.

It turns out that the loss was the wake-up call the Canadiens needed, as they exorcised some demons over the next three games. On Friday, they posted an 8-1 win over the Middlesex Islanders to let everybody know they weren’t bowing out of their hometown tournament easy.

From there, they posted a 7-1 win over the Adirondack Jr. Wings on Saturday morning. Later in the same day, they hit double digits in the scoring column, as the Habs beat Providence Hockey Club 11-1 to earn a date with the Czechs in the final.

Montreal outscored the competition 26-3 in their bounce-back run to the title game.

There, they needed to once again prove their mental toughness, as the Czechs raced out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, and a 3-1 lead after the second. The Canadiens scored four goals in the third period, however, and despite the Knights finding the back of the net one more time, the game went to overtime.

There, Alexis Joseph — who scored the last goal in regulation for the Habs — broke a 4-4 tie at the 0:45 mark of the extra period to give his team a championship victory at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 

Joseph, who accomplished something the majority of players could only dream of with his third period and OT goal in one of the biggest youth hockey tournaments in the world, also led the tournament in scoring with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in five games.

His teammate, Jayden Pominville, had four goals and seven assists for 11 points to tie for second in the tournament scoring race.

Jeremy Freeman of the Oakville Rangers and Braiden Scuderi of the Philadelphia Flyers also had 11 points in tournament play; Freeman hit that points total in four games and Scuderi in only three. 

Zack Arsenault of the Quebec Ramparts and Jaakko Wycisk of the Sun County Panthers were the two other players to crack double digits at the tournament, as both finished with 10 points in four games.

Vincent Dussiaume-Latour led the way for the Canadiens between the pipes, playing 112:18 worth of hockey over four games. He finished with a 4-1-0-0 record (that’s one overtime win) and a 1.98 goals-against average. Crease partner Zack Desmarais played in 72:42 over three contests, and finished with a 2.04 goals-against.

Marek Besta of the Czech Knights played in 111 mins of action over three games, and finished with a 1.67 goals-against average. 

Want more coverage of premier youth hockey events like Pee-Wee Quebec? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

15U Finale Comes Down To A Border Battle At World Selects

The 13th annual 15U World Selects International Trophy concluded on Sunday with one of the best rivalries in hockey. The International Stars — with a heavy contingent of players from across the United States — squared off against Pro Hockey, whose roster consisted of representatives from six different Canadian provinces and territories.

In a game that featured a wealth of soon-to-be CHL Draft Picks, USHL selections, Division-I commits and NHL superstars, it was Pro Hockey that came away with the 2-1 win over International Stars at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville.

Near the halfway mark of the first period, defenseman Reese Hamilton fired a wrist shot past goaltender Joey Slavick to put Pro Hockey on the board first. Forwards Ryan Roobroeck and Gavin McKenna helped set up the strike by Hamilton, as the duo finished first and second in the tournament in scoring; Roobroeck with 28 points and McKenna with 21.

Less than two minutes later, Hayden Harsanyi tapped in a goal from the weak side after Liam Kilfoil found him with a back-door pass. Just like that, the Canadians were up 2-0 and in control of the contest.

The Stars wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. Despite going into the half trailing by two goals, forwards Evan Jardine, Cullen Potter and John Mooney led a charge to get back into the contest. Five minutes into the second half, Alex Baughman hit a streaking Will Horcoff who came flying into the high slot. Horcoff gripped and ripped a wrist shot past goaltender Owen Butler’s blocker and into the net, putting the Stars on the board and cutting the deficit in half.

Over the next 15 minutes, the Stars swarmed the Pro Hockey net, outshooting the Canadians 17-3 in the second half. Butler came up big for the boys in blue, though, frustrating American shooters as he had done all tournament long. In five games, he stopped 92-of-95 shots and won all five starts, including the championship game. The strong second-half push from the Americans would be denied though, as Butler and Pro Hockey held on to the 2-1 gold medal victory. 

It is Pro Hockey’s fourth World Selects Invitational championship all-time, and first ever at the 15U age group. In 2019, this ‘07 group won the 12U Elite tournament in Bolzano, Italy, making five members on the current squad — Roobroeck, McKenna, Shayne Gould, Will Sharpe and Jayden Connors — two-time WSI champions. 

Ryan Roobroeck (right) celebrates with Callum Mainville (left) and Gavin McKenna (front).

Roobroeck’s Record-Breaking Run

The World Selects Invitational series has seen more than 300 future NHL superstars come through its tournament doors over the last two decades. Names like Alexander Barkov, Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, Trevor Zegras and Adam Fox have littered the scoring leaderboard in years past. No player at the 15U level has ever amassed the numbers Roobroeck reached this past week in Nashville though.

The 6-foot-2 power forward led all scorers with 28 points, surpassing Jesse Puljujarvi’s single-tournament mark of 21 points in 2013. Roobroeck also joins Zack Stringer (69), Matthew Savoie (58), Jack Devine (57), Ilya Ivantsov (55) and Connor Bedard (53) as the only players in tournament history to reach the 50-point plateau. In 2019, Roobroeck led the 12U Elite event in scoring as well with 22 points. His 50 total points puts him sixth all-time in tournament scoring. 

Pro Hockey’s Perfect Run

Appearing in the World Selects tournaments more than 50 times in the past 10 years, Pro Hockey has fielded both boys and girls teams across all age levels. The ‘07 team in Nashville dominated pool play, going 5-0-0 and out-scoring its opponent 43-4. Twelve different skaters recorded multiple goals, with Roobroeck, McKenna and Callum Mainville finishing one, two and three in scoring. 

That earned them the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye. Pro Hockey made quick work of TPH Selects in the round of 16 and Alps Selects in the quarterfinals before taking on the 12-seed and defending champion DraftDay-Black. Jordan Switzer pitched the team’s fourth shutout of the tournament, with Roobroeck, Kilfoil, Harsanyi, Savin Virk and Kieran Riley tallying a goal apiece in the 5-0 win.

2007-born Pro Hockey (Canada) wins the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville 2-1 over International Stars (USA).

A high-powered offense elevated Pro Hockey to the championship game with International Stars. However, Butler stole the show in net with a sensational effort and 28 saves to win Pro Hockey’s lowest-scoring game of the tournament.

A First Look At The Next Wave

Jakob Ihs-Wozniak led all European skaters in scoring with 12 points.

It may be the first time that Canadian prospects like Ryan Roobroeck, Gavin McKenna and Cole Reschny go head-to-head with Americans Evan Jardine, Cole McKinney and John Mooney on the ice, but it certainly won’t be the last. That’s not to mention the 100-plus other Europeans that competed in the tournament from Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, France and Kazakhstan. 

Jakob Ihs-Wozinak and Anton Frondell pushed Sweden Selects into the No. 2-seed after going 5-0-0 in pool play. The Swedes scored a last-minute goal from Ruben Westerling to defeat DHI Ontario 5-4 in the second round of the playoffs. They then knocked off the Czech Knights in the quarterfinals before losing to International Stars in the semifinals. 

Czech forward Adam Novotny scored six goals in pool play — tied for third among skaters — as the Knights qualified as the No. 10-seed in the playoffs. Matyas Jonak scored two goals and an assist to defeat LivePolar Hockey 5-4, before the Czechs were eliminated in the next round. 

Alps Selects — with a roster of players from four different central European countries — finished as one-of-four teams to finish without a regulation loss during pool play. They qualified as the No. 8-seed after tiebreakers were resolved. Matey Pekar and Adam Feher both recorded multi-point games in Alps’ 4-1 win over Twin Cities Selects. In the next round, they would be eliminated by eventual champion Pro Hockey.

Whether it’s the U18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, U20 IIHF World Juniors, the Olympics or NHL Playoffs, many of these players will certainly share the ice on an international stage again in the near future.

For more coverage of the World Selects Invitational series, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube. WHH has exclusive previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

The world’s best are represented with names like Roobroeck, Frondell, Jardine, Härenstam

If you stay on the World Selects Invitational landing page and watch the names rotate through, it reads like a who’s who of the biggest names in hockey.

Andrei Svechnikov, Adam Fox, Mitch Marner, Kaapo Kakko, Rasmus Dahlin, Trevor Zegras, Aaron Ekblad — no matter the type of player or the nationality, you can find whatever you’re looking for when scrolling through.

With top talent from across the globe coming to the tournament spring after spring, it has become a marquee event for the youth hockey community. It’s also great to have it back and fully operational this time around as the tournament is underway in Nashville, Tenn.

Eight different countries are taking part in this year’s 15U World Selects Trophy, as the 2007 birth-year really begins to make some noise in the hockey circles leading into their junior draft year.

One of those players certainly standing out to the scouts in attendance is Ryan Roobroeck, who has posted a remarkable 18 points in four games to jump out to the lead in the scoring race. Roobroeck, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward, won an Alliance Hockey league title with the London Jr. Knights in the winter season, and now he’s skating with the Pro Hockey ’07 team at World Selects.

He said it’s humbling to be included among the top players in his birth-year, but knows it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of his hockey career.

“Yeah, but we’re still young,” Roobroeck said. “There’s still a lot to be done, and everybody’s still learning to play and everything, so being at the top right now is nothing special, until later.”

To put his performance in perspective, Roobroeck’s taking quite the swing at the all-time points leaders totals — Jesse Puljujarvi recorded 21 in 2013, while seven players have posted 19 — most recently, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U18 Team captain Rutger McGroarty in 2019.

Pro Hockey teammates Gavin McKenna and Callum Mainville join Roobroeck at the top of the points chart with 14 and 12, respectively, while Sweden’s Jakob Ihs-Wozniak has the most points of any European player with 10. It’s quite an adjustment for the Euros to all of a sudden be playing world-class competition in Nashville, as summarized by Sweden Selects teammate Anton Frondell, another highly-regarded ’07 prospect.

“I think the biggest difference is the rink,” said Frondell, who won a Swedish U16 national title playing with the ’06 Djurgården IF club. “In Sweden we have a bit of a bigger rink, so here it’s more physical, there are more hits, and you’re always closer to the boards. When you have the puck, you’re closer to the net, and you always have a good scoring chance. I think that’s the biggest difference.”

The players know they are skating in a must-see showcase for junior, college and professional scouts. Cole Reschny, skating with Pro Hockey after an impressive winter campaign with the Northern Alberta Xtreme of the CCSHL, acknowledged that he’s at least aware of some of the extra attention this week. However, he isn’t letting that impact his performance, as he has eight points in four games. Reschny knows how to find the back of the net; he had 92 points in 25 games with his Xtreme team this year.

“That’s in the back of my mind, but I just try to play my game, improve myself, show my skill and what I can do here,” Reschny said.

With the combination of elite talent and brand-new rosters, life can be difficult for the goaltenders, but the brave souls entering the crease at World Selects are holding their own. Troy Wright of Laytonsville, Maryland and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers is standing on his head, as he holds a .50 goals-against average and .970 save percentage for Top Line Selects.

Owen Butler of Pro Hockey has the same goals-against, and with one shot on goal less than Wright, he’s got a .969 save percentage.

Bjorn Bronas, fresh off leading Chicago Mission to a USA Hockey national championship, has a 1.03 goals-against average and .960 save percentage. Meanwhile, Love Härenstam of Sweden is leading all the European goaltenders with a 2.00 goals-against and .958 save percentage.

The playoff bracket kicks off Friday evening. These players have spent the last several months competing for national recognition and now with the spotlight bright in the Music City, will clash for world supremacy.

Want more from the World Selects Invitational Trophy? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

Czech Selects go ‘from worst to first’ in impressive playoff turnaround

In one of the more stunning outcomes in World Selects Invitationals history, the Czech Selects shocked the girls youth hockey world last week, winning the 14U championship. 

After the conclusion of pool play, the Czechs were fifth out of six teams in the standings, and it’s only regulation win was over the sixth-seeded Alps Selects. When the elimination rounds began, the Czechs needed a 2-0 win over Germany Selects in the quarterfinals. That win gave them a rematch with top-seeded Sweden Selects; a team that had beaten them 4-1 just three days earlier. The Swedes had dominated their way to the top spot, out-scoring opponents 26-3 in round-robin action. 

It was a tough semifinal, but a pair of goals from Alena Luxemburgová would change the tides in the rematch. That early offensive surge helped the Czechs knock off the No. 1 team 3-1 and advance to the gold medal game.

The stage was set for the Czechs to take on the No. 2-seeded Finland Selects; another team they lost to earlier in the tournament. Again, this rematch would be all about the Czechs as Merkéta Kafková scored four goals to lead the team to a 6-1 victory and WSI championship.

A pair of Finns Yenna Kolmonen and Julia Kuhta led round-robin action in scoring with 12 points and 10 points respectively. Eventual champion Aneta Florýková also had 10 points. Goaltender Wilma Hallbeck played 139 minutes of scoreless hockey and didn’t allow a single goal against until playoffs. France Selects Lysa Nogaretto had a .914 save percentage, stopping 53-of-58 shots.

It’s just the second time that the Czech Selects have won a girls WSI event and the first time since 2015. This tournament in particular is a unique accomplishment after the WSI had been on pause for the past two years. Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and international travel had made such events virtually impossible to operate. However, in 2022, the situation was such that several European countries were able to travel in some capacity and the six-team event was able to go off without a hitch. 

The early success of this event — and the 12U Boys Elite event — is an encouraging step back towards normalcy regarding WSI. The World Selects Trophy in Nashville will feature 30 teams from eight different countries next week as well. Coupling all that together with the remaining slate of WSI events this month, and it adds up to a lot of progress for a series that was on hold for the better part of 24 months. After a full slate of tournaments this spring, the goal for 2023 will certainly be to have a full slate of teams in the competition, and the return of North American programs in European events.

Want more coverage of the World Selects Invitationals this spring? There’s seven events over the next two weeks, and WHH will have exclusive coverage of the top teams, players and champions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the last news!

More From The World Hockey Hub

WSI returns to Europe after two-year hiatus; Six countries clash in Prague

Some of the top 2010-born European hockey players in the world gathered in Czechia last week for the 10U World Selects Invitational, and they put on quite a show.

The hometown Czech Knights ended up prevailing in the European showcase that featured teams from Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia, Sweden, Finland and the Alps. 

In the final, the Knights topped the Slovakia Kings 4-1 to capture the title inside the Letnany Ice Arena in Prague.

The win capped off a perfect week for the Czech club, as they posted a 5-0 record in the preliminary round before rolling through the playoffs, as well.

To start, they beat the Latvia Selects 5-0 Tuesday morning, before beating the Alps Selects 7-1 later in the day. On Wednesday, they took down the Slovakia Kings 4-1 and the Sweden Selects 2-1, before wrapping up the prelims with a 7-1 win over the Finland Selects on Thursday.

That earned the Knights a bye to the semifinals, where they took on the winner of the Sweden Selects vs. Alps Selects quarters. Sweden beat the Alps club 14-1, but their scoring streak ran out when they took on the Czechs, as the Knights picked up a 4-0 shutout victory. 

The Czechs wrapped things up Friday evening with the aforementioned 4-1 win over Slovakia in the final. The Knights scored four goals in the first period to take control of the contest and coast to victory in their rematch with the Slovakian club. The Slovakia Kings were undefeated in all of the other contests they played in, finishing with a 5-2 record on the week.

Czechia’s representatives thrived on their home ice, as they out-scored the competition 33-5 in their seven games. Nobody managed to score more than a single goal on them during the duration of the tournament.

Czechia’s Matyas Vik led the tournament and the Knights in scoring during the five-game preliminary round, as he racked up nine points over the five contests. Vik found the scoresheet in every game but the final, showing a consistent presence for his club each and every contest. His nine-point mark was matched by Slovakia’s Simon Sisik, who had four goals and five assists for the runners-up.

Oliver Hammerman of the Sweden Selects finished with eight points, one point off the tournament lead. Even more impressive than his eight points in five games was his eight points in two games in the playoffs, as Hammerman did everything he could to help his Swedes in the elimination rounds.

Two of the Knights — Niko Fatyka and Marek Sedlacek — both had eight points in the prelims, while Tomas Albrecht had six, and Adam Novotny had five.

In the playoffs, David Jahn and Niko Fatyka both had three points apiece, while a total of nine different Knights found their way to the scoresheet over the two games.

Tobias Orechvsky and Tomas Zmitko split time between the pipes for the Czechs; in the preliminary round, Orechovsky posted a .966 save percentage with only one goal against, while Zmitko finished with a .903 save percentage and only three goals against. 

In the playoffs, Orechovsky saw 60 minutes of action between the pipes, stopping all 11 shots sent his way for a perfect 1.00 save percentage and 0.00 goals-against average. Zmitko only needed to make five saves on the six shots sent his way during his 20 minutes of postseason action; he finishes with a .833 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average. 

Slovakia’s David Brucek deserves some high praise as well – the Kings’ goaltender played every minute of the preliminary round and stood on his head while doing so. Brucek finished with a 1.40 goals-against average and .933 save percentage while allowing only seven goals in the five games. He faced 105 shots on goal in the timeframe.

Want more coverage of the World Selects Invitationals this spring? There’s seven events over the next two weeks, and WHH will have exclusive coverage of the top teams, players and champions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the last news!

More From The World Hockey Hub

Can the Eastern European country advance to the playoff rounds for a second straight year?

Barys was the lone European representative in the 2021 World Selects Trophy in Nashville, coming to the U.S. from Kazakhstan. This spring, players from the eastern European country return to the Music City, this time as one of a dozen international programs in the field of 2007-born teams.

Based out of the capital city of Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan is located south of Russia and west of China. Its selects program has competed in World Selects tournaments dating back to 2014, and last year, the ‘06 squad went 2-3-0 in pool play. Abzal Alibek was one of the leading scorers in the tournament and the team snuck into the playoffs as the 15 seed before being eliminated by eventual champion DraftDay-Black.

This year’s 2007 squad comes to the U.S. with a strong roster and looks to improve upon their countrymen’s performance from a season ago. Names like Dulat Yerkinov, Artur Glukhikh, Dinmukhamed Akhalbekov, Beibarys Chokparov and Ilkhyon Ten will hope to play impactful roles at the Ford Ice Center. Certainly, some challenges lie ahead from playing on a smaller rink — European hockey is typically played on an Olympic sheet, whereas North American hockey is generally NHL-sized — as well as differing styles of play. 

Can Kazakhstan Selects overcome those challenges are return to the elimination rounds for a second straight year? World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

2007 team led by WSI tournament veteran and top scorer

The Alps region — Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia and Switzerland — has been represented in some capacity at the World Selects tournaments each year since the ‘96 Austrian national team debuted at the 14U event in 2010. Since then, such programs as the German Eagles, Tyrol Selects, Swiss Selects and most recently, Alps Selects have taken turns carrying the torch for this sneaky good hockey hotbed. Not to mention that Bolzano, Italy, and Chamonix, France — two of the tournament’s primary host cities — are nestled in the Alps Mountains.

An area of the world that’s seen an impressive boom in terms of hockey, the Alps region has produced NHL superstars like Leon Draisaitl and Roman Josi in recent memory. In the last few years, Alps Selects has seen the likes of CHL imports Lorenzo Canonica and Attilio Biasca, as well as 2021 NHL Draft pick Brian Zanetti and 2022 NHL Draft prospect Tommaso De Luca.

This year’s squad will bring some of the best ‘07s from the region, including Bern, Switzerland, native Florian Schenk.

Schenk was Alps Selects’ leading scorer at the 12U WSI three years ago in Bolzano. He scored six goals and eight points in six tournament games, and will be leaned on heavily to produce again at the 15U tournament on May 11th. He’ll be joined by Czech native Matej Pekar, who scored 12 goals and 18 points in 10 games this winter playing on Ambri-Piotta’s U17 team. 

The tandem of Schenk and Pekar could skate with any top line in the tournament. Will Alps Selects have enough depth to make it out of pool play and advance to the elimination rounds? The last time they competed in the 15U tournament, Alps was one of 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs before being eliminated by silver medalist East Coast Selects-O.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

Most Decorated Program In Tournament History Returns to North America

The Sweden Selects program had been represented at each of the first 11 World Selects Invitational tournaments dating all the way back to 2009 in Riga, Latvia. In 2021, though, that streak ended when European teams faced significant travel challenges surrounding COVID-19.

This May, the Swedes return with a purpose, and one goal in mind: win the 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville. 

They’ll have plenty of weapons to get the job done, starting with Djurgårdens IF goaltender Love Härenstam, who’s fresh off a national championship run. He went 15-2-0 this season — including 5-0-0 in the U16 playoffs — with a .943 save percentage as one of the best goalies in the country.

A winter club teammate of Härenstam’s, Anton Frondell led DIF in scoring with 25 goals and 43 points on a team that had 26 players older than him, including 22 from the 2006 birth year. Frondell was a leading scorer the last time he represented Sweden Selects as well, at the 12U WSI in Bolzano, Italy.

Forward Jakob Ihs-Wozniak and defenseman Oliwer Sjöström round out the team’s leadership group. Ihs-Wozniak led Luleå IF in scoring, and spent time playing for both the program’s U16 and U18 teams this winter. Sjöström was a top defender in Sweden all season long for IF Björklöven.

Sweden Selects has won three WSI tournaments all-time. Two of those have been at the 15U age level, with the most recent coming in Philadelphia in 2015. That squad featured future NHL Draft picks Ryan Merkley, Rasmus Sandin, Lucas Wernblom and Oliver Wahlstrom.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

European Team Has Proven Success At The 2007 Age Group

The last time the Czech Knights came across the Atlantic for an international tournament, they brought gold back with them.

Two years ago, standout ‘07s Adam Benak and Vaclav Raichl dominated the U13 PeeWee Quebec International Tournament, as the Knights went 5-1-0 against teams from Quebec, Ontario and Wisconsin. They made it all the way to championship Sunday, where the Knights defeated the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers 3-0 as the best team at one of the most iconic tournaments in youth hockey. 

Today, that group returns stateside — with Benak and Raichl, as well as many other top players from Czech — with their sights set on winning another historic tournament in the sport; the 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville.

The Knights will be among a half-dozen European-based programs traveling abroad to compete in the international event. They could certainly be considered one of the early favorites to win the entire tournament as well.

Benak is already a member of the Czech U16 national team. He is a fantastic skater with a high hockey IQ and can single-handedly change the flow of the game. The 5-foot-6 forward did so at the 2020 PeeWee Quebec, as the leading scorer of the tournament and continues to impress this season. Playing against opponents one and two years older than him, Benak led his U17 HC Plzen squad in scoring with 31 goals and 64 points in 34 games.

Raichl is strong at both ends of the ice and has a knack for creating offensive plays with each shift; a proven playmaker for U17 HC Litvinov. Jan Chovan is a Slovakian-born forward who currently plays U16 in Finland. He scored 16 goals and 45 points for Tappara.

The Czech Knights are a selects program that has previously competed in the World Selects tournament series under the Czech Selects name. Peter Jonak is the program director and his teams have won a WSI elite tournament on three separate occasions in 2011, 2015, and 2018. None of those championships came at the 15U age group, though, so Benak, Raichl and Chovan will look to add another accomplishment to the Czech trophy case.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub

The World’s Best 2007-Born Youth Hockey Players Take Center Stage In The Music City

It is one of the most iconic events in youth hockey.

The 2022 World Selects Trophy 15U tournament returns to Music City, USA, for the second consecutive year. A field of 32 teams from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Central and Western Europe will feature some of the absolute best 2007-born youth hockey players in the game today. More than a dozen different countries will be represented at the 13th annual 15U WSI — a tournament that has seen more than 400 future NHL Draft picks and 1,000 NCAA athletes during its run.

The 2022 event is sure to be loaded with top talent yet again, with programs like DraftDay, Pro Hockey and ELD Hockey Academy representing the best players from across Canada. Stateside, various programs come from coast to coast. From the California Patriots to New England’s Exposure Hockey, and everywhere in between. Hockey hotbeds like Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts represented by MN Fire, International Stars and Power Play Operations. Other notable programs like 1NE Academy, DHI Octane, HD Engine, Live Polar Hockey, Northstar Elite, Pittsburgh Oilers, Topline Selects and Total Package Hockey filling in any gaps throughout the lower 48.

European programs like Sweden Selects, Finland Selects, Norway Selects and Czech Knights will compete on behalf of their native countries. Alps Selects are made up of as many as eight central European countries on its own, and Barys will bring some of the best from western Europe.

Teams will take to the ice on Wednesday, May 11, where they will compete in five pool games. The top 20 teams will advance to the elimination rounds that will begin on Saturday morning, and will be whittled down to a champion by Sunday afternoon. Complete tournament schedule, standings and stats will be available HERE

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

More From The World Hockey Hub