The Jr. Predators Tier I Host Weekend is a USA Hockey sanctioned Tier-I tournament located in Nashville, Tennessee. The tournament will take place on November 11-14, 2022, and will include boys 14U through 11U AAA and girls 12U AA divisions, live scoring and updates on the mobile app, as well as on-site vendors and tournament apparel at both rinks. Enjoy exploring what the Music City has to offer as rinks are 10-20 minutes from downtown Nashville.
Commonly known as the Music City, Nashville is home to country music, the Grand Ole Opry House, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well as dozens of honky-tonks and bars loaded with live music. Located on the Cumberland River, the city provides a southern charm, ringing in as the 23rd most populous city in the United States. A Proud sports city with professional football and hockey teams, and two major universities in Vanderbilt and Belmont.
Satisfy curiosity and learn new things at the Nashville Adventure Science Center.
Get perfectly-fried Nashville Hot Chicken and soulful sides at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken.
Play duckpin bowling, pinball, plenty of retro arcade games and more at 16-Bit.
Indulge in decadent chocolate tastings at the Goo Goo Clusters Factory.
This is a stay-to-play event, meaning that all participants traveling more than 100 miles to participate in the event are required to stay in hotel rooms provided by Welcome Travel Services.
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On the morning of April 4, Chicago Mission captured the 2022 USA Hockey National Championship at the Tier-I 15-Only age group, arguably the most prestigious title in American youth hockey today. With an emphasis on having players stay in their own birth-year for their junior draft season, the 15-Only classification has increasingly become the place to play for athletes looking to establish themselves in the eyes of junior scouts.
Mission finished the season with a 50-22-2 record, and finished as the top-ranked team in the country as well as the fourth overall team in the world rankings. The ’06 black and neon green squad out-scored its competition by 134 goals, with an average margin of victory of 1.81 goals.
Season stats don’t appear to be available anywhere online, but the national tournament totals give a good look at the leaders for the Mission squad. Charles Pardue, Jake Merens and Eero Butella all tied for the team scoring lead in the country-wide playoffs, posting 10 points apiece in six games. John Delaney had seven, Charles Arend had five, while Michael Phelan and Ryan Kroll tied for the lead among defensemen with four.
Nicholas Kempf was the dominating force between the pipes for Mission, recording a 1.41 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in his five starts out of the six games Mission needed to win the national title.
So what did the in-season success mean for the Mission roster’s off-season? Well, we start with a look at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP), which invited two of the Mission stars to its annual evaluation camp to finalize next year’s Under-17 Team. Pardue and Kempf were invited, and much like their other spring trip to Plymouth, they made that one count too, as both were named to the national team for the upcoming season.
Seven Mission players were selected in the USHL Phase-I Draft, which was the first part of a two-day draft process where the Tier-I junior league selected players exclusively from the 2006 birth-year class. Here were the Chicago players chosen:
Round 2, No. 23 overall – Waterloo – Eero Butella, forward
Round 3, No. 39 overall – Fargo – Jake Merens, forward
Round 6, No. 79 overall – Waterloo – Michael Phelan, defense
Round 6, No. 83 overall – Tri-City – Ryan Kroll, defense
Round 6, No. 87 overall – Dubuque – Charlie Arend, forward
Round 7, No. 95 – Fargo – Justin Bartley, defense
Round 9, No. 132 – Dubuque – Robert Bartell, forward
Only one team had more players selected in the USHL Phase-I Draft than Mission, and that was Detroit Compuware with eight. However, when you add the two players selected for the NTDP – which competes in the USHL – Mission would have the “top spot” in terms of players selected by the members of the top American junior league.
Two players were selected in the OHL Draft, and they were late-round picks. Butella was selected by Mississauga in the 10th round, 198 overall, while Pardue was chosen by Sudbury in the 14th round, 266 overall. Late-round American picks serve as a way for an OHL team to maintain a talented player’s rights, should the player ever consider a change of scenery as well.
Delaney and Frank DeRosa were also selected by the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights in the NCDC Entry Draft.
College programs are allowed to extend verbal offers to the 2006 birth year starting on Aug. 1, and many of these names could resurface as commitment candidates before the summer is over.
Our community mailbag is full of amazing stories, but this one we had to share. 14-year-old Martin saw a problem when it came to the fit of his hockey equipment and set out to solve it. Enter “Duzter,” the cut resistant base layer for youth players!
You’re going to want to listen close to Martin’s story and then sprint to his social media accounts to stay up to date on all things Duzter Hockey.
Want more from the Our Kids Play Hockey podcast and other publications from the world of youth hockey? Explore our Podcast Central for the latest episodes on hot topics from the game and follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!
The Western Hockey League held its annual WHL Prospects Draft this week, as the major junior league’s teams took turns selecting from the 2007 birth-year class.
The WHL splits their draft process along country lines; the league first held a U.S. Priority Draft on Wednesday before a Canadian-centric WHL Prospects Draft Thursday. American players not selected Wednesday were also available to the teams Thursday.
Prospects eligible for the 2022 WHL drafts all hailed from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Since it’s primarily a Canadian league, we’re going to start with Thursday’s WHL Prospects Draft, and take a look at how the picks unfolded.
Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna U18 Prep forward Gavin McKenna was the first player off the board Thursday, as the Medicine Hat Tigers made him the No. 1 overall pick. It didn’t come as much of a surprise after McKenna posted 65 points in 35 games playing against U18 competition in his U15 season, and he signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement right after the selection was announced.
McKenna was the only first-round selection who did not play in his birth-year, as the rest of the class played U15. What McKenna does have in common with the majority of the class, however, is what league he played in — the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL). Sixteen of the 22 picks came from the CSSHL, as the league continues to establish itself as the top destination for elite youth hockey players in Western Canada.
The first three rounds of Thursday’s draft featured 36 players who skated in the CSSHL this season — 54.5 percent of the total selections.
Here is the rest of the first round:
No. 1 – Medicine Hat – Gavin McKenna (Forward, Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna U18 Prep)
No. 2 – Tri-City – Jackson Smith (Defense, Edge School U15 Prep)
No. 3 – Victoria – Cole Reschny (Forward, Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep)
No. 4 – Calgary – Reese Hamilton (Defense, Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep)
No. 5 – Regina – Cole Temple (Forward, Brandon Wheat Kings U15)
No. 6 – Swift Current – Peyton Kettles (Defense, Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg U15 Prep)
No. 7 – Vancouver – Cameron Schmidt (Forward, Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna U15 Prep)
No. 8 – Spokane – Chase Harrington (Forward, Delta Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
No. 9 – Prince George – Lee Shurgot (Forward, Saskatoon Generals U15)
No. 10 – Seattle – Braeden Cootes (Forward, Yale Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
No. 11 – Lethbridge – William Sharpe (Defense, Yale Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
No .12 – Brandon – Joby Baumuller (Forward, Notre Dame Hounds U15 Prep)
No. 13 – Kamloops – Nathan Behm (Forward, Edge School U15 Prep)
No. 14 – Moose Jaw – Connor Schmidt (Defense, Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
No. 15 – Prince Albert – Luke Moroz (Forward, Prairie Storm U15)
No. 16 – Medicine Hat – Hayden Harsanyi (Forward, Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep)
No. 17 – Red Deer – Luke Vlooswyk (Defense, Calgary Bisons U15)
No. 18 – Portland – Graham Jones (Forward, Rink Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
No. 19 – Vancouver – Aaron Obobaifo (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U)
No. 20 – Everett – Julien Maze (OHA Edmonton U15 Prep)
No. 21 – Saskatoon – Isaac Poll (Forward, Prairie Storm U15)
No. 22 – Vancouver – Jakob Oreskovic (Forward, Delta Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
Over the course of Thursday’s draft, Alberta led the provincial branches, producing 83 players. British Columbia and the Yukon produced 70, while 50 came from Saskatchewan and 31 came from Manitoba. Six players were taken from the United States, after the initial 44 were claimed on Wednesday.
On that note, let’s take a look at the U.S. portion of the draft now. The first-overall pick honors in Wednesday’s WHL U.S. Priority Draft went to defenseman Blake Fiddler of Frisco, Texas and the Dallas Stars Elite 14U team. Fiddler is the son of former NHLer Vernon Fiddler, who played for the Kelowna Rockets during his junior days.
Three other NHL alums saw their sons selected – Brad Stuart’s son Jake Stuart was selected second overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings, and Owen Nolan’s son Dylan Nolan was selected No. 10 overall by the Prince Albert Raiders. Grant Jennings’ son Gordon Jennings was claimed by the Prince Albert Raiders, as well, at No. 35.
At No. 4, Lethbridge claimed Harrison Boettiger, a goaltender out of Shattuck-St. Mary’s. That’s certainly noteworthy – you rarely see a goaltender selected that high in a junior league draft.
Here’s a look at the full first round of the U.S. Priority Draft:
No. 1 – Edmonton – Blake Fiddler (Defense, Dallas Stars Elite 14U)
No. 2 – Brandon – Jake Stuart (Forward, Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U)
No. 3 – Regina – Dylan Lebret (Defense, Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U)
No. 4 – Lethbridge – Harrison Boettiger (Goaltender, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U)
No. 5 – Moose Jaw – Carter Murphy (Defense, Dallas Stars Elite 14U)
No. 6 – Seattle – Lukas Sawchyn (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U)
No. 7 – Victoria – Rui Han (Forward, St. George’s School U15 Prep)
No. 8 – Spokane – Landon Hafele (Forward, Green Bay Jr. Gamblers 14U)
No. 9 – Tri-City – Brady Turner (Forward, Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 14U)
No. 10 – Prince Albert – Dylan Nolan (Forward, San Jose Jr. Sharks 14U)
No. 11 – Winnipeg – Carson Steinhoff (Defense, Minnesota Blades 14U)
No. 12 – Swift Current – Tyson Ulmer (Forward, North Dakota BEL)
No. 13 – Everett – Ben Kevan (Forward, Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U)
No. 14 – Red Deer – Jeramiah Roberts (Defense, Colorado Rampage 14U)
No. 15 – Calgary – Brandon Gorzynski (Forward, Phoenix Jr. Coyotes 14U)
No. 16 – Prince George – Jackson Crowder (Forward, Dallas Stars Elite 14U)
No. 17 – Kelowna – Jackson Gillespie (Defense, Dallas Stars Elite 14U)
No. 18 – Kamloops – Conrad Fondrk (Forward, Mount St. Charles 14U)
No. 19 – Saskatoon – Trace Frieden (Forward, St. George’s School U15 Prep)
No. 20 – Portland – Gavin Kor (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U)
No. 21 – Vancouver – Masun Fleece (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U)
No. 22 – Medicine Hat – Max Silver (Forward, Fairmont Prep Warriors 15s)
California led the way of the 11 states with players selected, as 13 Golden State products were chosen. Minnesota was second with nine, while Texas had four and Colorado had three.
World Hockey Hub has exclusive coverage of all things youth hockey! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube. WHH has exclusive previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!
BY & Motts are here to open up the mailbag and answer all of your questions this week! But first, the guys get into some NHL playoff talk and recap the latest #MottsMoment and his weekend at the NHL Network. Then a local legend being up for some well deserved hardware and who would win in a five round shoot out LeBron or Tom Brady? Following that the boys dive into the mailbag and give their feedback on:
Tournament rules resulting in games being on time
Hockey names for puppies
Attending hockey academies
Fighting through anxiety on the ice
The My Hockey Rankings Question of the Week!
BY & Motts wrap up this week’s episode pumping up the Connor Crushes Cancer event which happens June 9th at Florian Hall and the guys provide more details about The Rink Shrinks street hockey tournament which will be taking place this August! Stay tuned for more details.
Want more from the Rink Shrinks podcast and other publications from the world of youth hockey? Explore our Podcast Central for the latest episodes on hot topics from the game and follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Lee recently had the opportunity to coach overseas with the Peterborough Phantoms in the UK’s NIHL. For a majority of the season he did so remotely.
What is it like to coach in a different country? Lee gives us the scoop!
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Want more from the Our Kids Play Hockey podcast and other publications from the world of youth hockey? Explore our Podcast Central for the latest episodes on hot topics from the game and follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!
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.
It’s not usually in May, but nobody’s complaining.
The AAA division of the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament kicked off on Monday, as a select group of young hockey players from across the world are fortunate enough to experience one of the coolest events in all of youth sports.
Twenty-two teams are participating in this year’s tournament, after tournament organizers jumped through as many hoops as possible to make sure the prestigious tournament would take place, albeit in the spring instead of its usual middle-of-winter locale.
The tournament is taking place across two weeks (15 days to be exact), with the AA-Elite, AA and A divisions playing from May 1-8, and the AAA, BB and School divisions playing May 9-15. In all, 130 teams from 13 different countries are taking part in the unique springtime Pee Wee Quebec. For the AAA teams, six countries are represented – Canada, the United States, Latvia, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia.
“It wasn’t a simple task to move the tournament,” said Patrick Dom, the general manager of the Pee-Wee Tournament in January when the organizers announced the move to May. “Our biggest challenge was the availability of the Videotron Center. It is between shows and games of the Remparts de Québec that the schedule will be built. We have no choice but to hold the event over two weeks to get it all together.”
It won’t look like it normally does, but that doesn’t mean that the 22 AAA teams won’t be bringing the heat.
Canada’s squads seem ready to defend home ice, as five of the top 10 teams on our last World Hockey Hockey Canadian rankings for the age group appear on the Pee Wee Quebec schedule.
The No. 1 ranked Huron Perth Lakers are coming off a historic season in which they captured the first All-Ontario Championship in their association’s history, and they also won an Alliance title too. Needless to say, they’re a heavy favorite heading into this one, especially when you consider that they’ve gotten a little rest after winning those winter season titles.
The other four ranked squads will have something to say about that, of course. The No. 5 North York Rangers, the No. 8 Semiahmoo Ravens (from all the way on the west coast of Canada), the No. 9 Sun County Panthers and the No. 10 North Shore Winter Club (from Vancouver) will all be ready to go in the biggest tournament these kids have ever played in.
Meanwhile, the U.S. clubs participating will be looking to make their spring hockey opportunities count, too. The New Jersey Devils squad is a collection of top players in the area, but when you consider that the New Jersey Hockey Academy finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country, that means they’ve got some strong skaters getting ready to don that Devils black and red for the tournament. The Boston Jr. Terriers finished ranked No. 6 in the country, as well, so expect some bite from them.
The teams that are traveling in from across the pond certainly will want to make their stays count, as well. They look to be a collection of tournament teams hailing from the aforementioned Latvia, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia. The Czech Knights ’09 group just watched their 2010 counterparts win a World Selects Invitational title in dominating fashion – if they skate anything like their younger peers, they will certainly be a team to watch in Quebec.
The other foreign clubs competing are the Hungary Talent, Riga HS, and Slovakia K&B Stars. We can’t wait to see what they do against their North American competition after the last few seasons have limited – or prevented entirely – cross-continent competition in youth hockey.