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!
March is the final month of competition in all eight districts of the Russian Hockey Federation (FHR). Each district recognizes champions at each of the age groups between 2005 and 2011 birth years. District play spans throughout the entire season with a round-robin format in which teams played one another. The team with the most points in the standings after all games are completed would earn the title as champion of their respective district.
District champions of three oldest age groups – 2005, 2006 and 2007 – earn an automatic bid to the 2022 Championships of Russia, slated to begin in late April. This is a similar format to that of USA Hockey and its 12 districts.
The FHR is broken up into nine districts across the country:
With district championships nearing their conclusions, first-place finishers will advance to their respective national tournaments.
The 2006 age group will be the first to take the ice, when teams come together in St. Petersburg from April 28 to May 8. After that, the 2007s will compete in Sochi at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics from May 14 – 24. The oldest group, the 2005s, will overlap a bit with the U15s as their tournament will run from May 16 – 26 in Chelyabinsk.
All three tournaments will follow a similar format to that of district championships. Teams will play a round-robin format schedule. The team with the most points in the standings at the end of the tournament will once again be crowned as national champion.
World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of all three Russian national championships, featuring top players, highlights, recaps and more. Be sure to follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest regarding Russia youth hockey.
Known globally as the premier international event in youth hockey, the World Selects Invitational (WSI) tournament series is slated to begin April 12th, and returns with high expectations for all 11 events scheduled for the 2022 spring season. From 18U girls to 2010-born boys, the mountains of Chamonix to the honky tonks of Nashville, the lineup of events is second to none for this world-class spectacle. For five consecutive weeks, elite youth hockey athletes of various age groups and genders will compete in exotic cities in the ultimate clash of culture and competition.
14U Girls Elite in Chamonix, France
April 12 – 16, 2022
Some of the best amateur girls hockey players on the planet will be in the resort area where France, Switzerland and Italy all come together in the heart of Europe. Near the base of Mont Blanc — the highest summit in the Alps — the only thing more unique than the scenic landscape is the backdrop at the Courmayeur Ice Rink. This event is typically the first opportunity for girls athletes to experience the WSI; a starting point for future events and locations in the years that follow.
15U Girls Elite in Chamonix, France
April 19 – 23, 2022
Less than 48 hours after the 14U girls vacate the rink, hotels, local shops and restaurants, the 15U girls pick up right where their younger counterparts leave off. More exciting action, more sight-seeing and another world champion crowned after the older girls take their turn on the ice. Current NCAA standout and Canadian native, Katie Chan holds the all-time tournament scoring record with 23; a mark that hasn’t been touched since 2015.
12U Boys Elite in Bolzano, Italy
April 26 – 30, 2022
A team from Canada or Russia has accounted for each of the last five 12U Elite championships. The best boys from the 2010-birth year and below will take to the ice in the South Tyrol city of Bolzano. PalaOnda Ice Arena has hosted several WSIs in previous years, and will do so once again with teams from around the world expected to be in attendance. In 2016, Matthew Savoie (28), Ivan Miroshnichenko (27) and Shane Wright (22) finished one, two and three in scoring in what proved to be one of the highest-scoring events in the tournaments’ history. Six years later, that trio of names is slated to be high first-round picks in this summer’s NHL Draft.
14U Boys Elite in Bolzano, Italy
May 3 – 7, 2022
The boys go back-to-back in Bolzano, with the 14U Elites stepping in the very next week. The 2008s were supposed to make their WSI debut in the spring of 2020, before COVID-19 shut down — or restricted — international travel for the next 18 months. So two years later, the world will get its first look at top-level 14U talent. The past five teams to win the 14U tournament have come from five different countries: East Coast Selects (USA), DraftDay (CAN), RUSS Moscow (RUS), Finland Selects (FIN) and Czech Selects (CZE). The 2022 event is anyone’s to win.
2009 Boys AAA in Chamonix, France
May 4 – 7, 2022
The AAA series of WSI tournaments is unique, in that it works similar to that of relegation and promotion in soccer leagues. If a team wins the AAA tournament, they could find themselves competing in the elite event the following season. It’s a way for any AAA-level player to enjoy the same experience as the elite events, while potentially earning a spot in the following season’s premier field of teams. One of four WSI events — joining 14U and 15U girls, and 13U boys elite — slated to be in Chamonix, it is the most WSI tournaments hosted in one location in a single season.
2010 Boys AAA in Prague, Czech Republic
May 4 – 7, 2022
The first event of the spring in the city of Prague, this field of teams will have a heavy European contingent. In fact, it will be the most diverse group out of all WSI events with representatives from Alps, Austria, Czech, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Ukraine. The week will be filled with the beautiful sights of medieval castles and gothic cathedrals, as well as an competitive champion looking to climb the WSI ladder to greater heights in the years to come.
15U Boys Elite in Nashville, Tennessee, USA
May 10 – 15, 2022
DraftDay is the reigning, defending, two-time champion of the 15U Elite tournament. The event moved to the Music City for the first time last summer, and will return again this May. The best 2007-born athletes on the planet will be on-hand to compete for the world championship in one of the most highly-scouted events of the summer. Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Adam Fox, Andrei Svechnikov, Miro Heiskanen, Moritz Seider, Trevor Zegras… More than 400 current, former, and soon-to-be NHL players first competed in this very tournament. Get your first look at the next wave of elite hockey talent right here.
13U Boys Elite in Chamonix, France
May 10 – 14, 2022
Running parallel to the ‘07s, the best ‘09s will be competing at the same time, just on the other end of the globe. With great coordination, the team at World Hockey Group is able to plan and execute multiple events in multiple countries, seamlessly. European teams have won three of the last four 13U world championships, and will once again feature a heavy contingent of nearby teams. Belarus, Czech, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden are expected to be represented, among others. A 13-year-old Connor Bedard once led this tournament in scoring with 32 points in seven games and didn’t win the championship.
2008 Boys AAA in Prague, Czech Republic
May 11 – 14, 2022
The last boys event in Europe for 2022, it will run concurrently to the 13U Elite event which will be happening less than 1,000 kilometers away from each other. The Letňany Ice Rink has been home to several WSI champions in years past, and 12 teams will have a shot at being the next to do so in 2022. “The City of A Hundred Spires” has breath-taking sight lines of old architecture and beautiful bridges that span across the Vltava River. The boys’ European finale should feature plenty of fireworks with teams from as many as 11 different countries.
16U Boys Elite in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
May 26 – 30, 2022
The United States Hockey League (USHL) Draft and Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection are slated to take place just days before this event. Many of the 2006-born participants in this tournament will be fresh off having their names called in one or both leagues, and should be one of the biggest events of the summer for the age group. Hosted in the heart of college hockey country, it’s an easy destination for nearby scouts to get to, with more than a dozen Division-I universities within an hour drive of the venue.
18U Girls Elite in Prague, Czech Republic
July 27 – 30, 2022
The finale of the World Selects tournament series, the oldest age group of girls has closed things out as the final event of the season for the last several years. Hosted in one of the most historic and colorful cities in Europe, Prague is filled with old architecture, beautiful scenery and excellent hockey at the nearby ice arena. Typically one of the smaller fields of teams, the 18U group only consists of eight-to-ten teams, providing for a very intimate and exclusive experience for participating players.
World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage of all the action, highlights, recaps, top performers and more from all 11 World Selects events. Be sure to follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest regarding WSI, and learn more to get involved in future events.
There’s thousands of youth hockey tournaments year-round. Small, mom-and-pop events with 16-20 teams. Corporate behemoths with more than 300 teams. Some new, some old. Some come, some go. How many can say they truly make an impact on the participants and their families, and the global landscape of youth hockey?
The 2022 Champions League hockey tournament set out to do just that, by organizing the first ever world championship. Designed to put the best 2008-born players in the world on the ice together at one time, the inaugural event drew teams from five different countries including the United States, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and Kazakhstan. With so many different nationalities from various backgrounds, what happened when this group of 13-year-olds collided on the ice in Coral Spring, Florida, was awe inspiring.
Extremely unique playing styles clashed on the ice, while cultural diversities meshed off of it. A bond — shared through the game of hockey — was formed instantly between American and Finn, Swede and Slovak. Language barriers couldn’t stop the friendships that were formed over the course of six days at the ice rink.
Finland-based Kiekko Espoo defeated Yale Jr. Bulldogs 3-2 in their opening game of the tournament. Less than 24 hours later, the Bulldogs stood along the glass and cheered their Finnish counterparts to victory, as Kiekko won in a shootout over Seacoast Performance Academy. Going from fiercely competitive to wildly supportive in a matter of moments.
“I was trying to do Google Translate on ‘em but they’re like ‘we can speak English,’” said Yale forward Aidan Gray. “So we traded Snapchats, Instagram, we’re pretty good friends now.”
Younger generations catch a bad wrap when it comes to socializing and their dependency on devices and technology. Yet it’s social media that will keep two teens from polar opposite ends of the world connected for years to come.
The tournament featured some of the best players in the 2008-birth year. Odds are likely this won’t be the last time participants from this tournament collide. Under-17 Five Nations Cup? USHL or CHL junior hockey? Under-20 IIHF World Juniors? the NHL even. It may seem wildly improbable on the surface, but it would hardly be a first for World Hockey Events. The tournament company — who recently announced a merger between Total Package Hockey (TPH) and World Hockey Group (WHG) — is the same team behind the World Selects Invitational series. The WSI has seen the likes of more than 350 NHL Draft picks and 1,000 NCAA players over the past 13 years; it’s likely that the Champions League will follow a similar trajectory.
New England-based Seacoast was at the heart of a lot of these international connections.
A unique moment was captured between them and HK Dukla Trencin when all participating teams had the opportunity to attend an NHL game between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. On the concourse, Spartan players came across an unusual scene, as the Slovakian players and coaches gathered.
“When we went up the stairs, the Slovakian team was chanting a song and we just joined them and it was a blast,” said Levi Kossatz.
“I couldn’t understand [what they were saying],” said Seacoast defenseman Cameron Clark. “It was wicked fun though. I mean they started going and we just jumped in, and it was a blast.”
Competing against players from completely different walks of life is a memorable moment in its own right. Befriending those same opponents and forming connections beyond the rink turns ‘just another hockey trip’ into an unforgettable, life-changing experience. Championships, overall records, individual statistics all seemed to take a back seat as every participant was able to leave with an invaluable memory that’ll last forever.
Another shining example was later on in the week, as anxious Americans watched Finland’s Jone Mölsä score a nail-biting goal in the final seconds of regulation to tie the game and force overtime. One can be heard saying, ‘I’m nervous watching this,’ while others shriek with excitement, ‘Yes!’ and ‘Oh! It didn’t get out!’
Over time, memories of a championship or game result or dazzling play will fade. The day-to-day moments in youth hockey will fall by the wayside, whether they go on to become NHL superstars or accountants and engineers. Life experiences like Champions League, though, can certainly serve as memories that will last a lifetime. The game of hockey teaches athletes lessons like discipline, commitment and being a part of a team. Similarly, life experiences like Champions League can provide once-in-a-lifetime memories that will resonate for years to come.
If you want to take part in this life-changing tournament experience, submit the application below, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for announcements regarding upcoming Champions League events.
For the first time ever, youth hockey has a world champion.
The 2022 Champions League hockey tournament hosted 10 teams from five different countries in Miami, Florida, over the holiday break. Five programs from the United States, two from Finland, and one representative from Sweden, Slovakia and Kazakhstan. After a six-day, 36-game event, this invite-only event concluded with Los Angeles Jr. Kings being crowned as world champions of the 2008 birth year.
They entered the international tournament ranked as the No. 2 team in the U.S., behind fellow Champions League participants, No. 1 Windy City Storm. Through five games of pool-play action, the Jr. Kings maintained a 4-1-0 record, with a 2-1 victory over the top-ranked Storm, as well as victories over Slovakia’s HK Dukla Trencin, Sweden’s Järved IF and Finland’s Kiekko Blues. The only loss to this point in the week was a 5-3 decision at the hands of No. 3-ranked Little Caesars.
With a 4-1-0 record of its own, Caesars would claim the top seed in the playoff rounds, as it held 13 points in the standings as well as the tie-breaker over Seacoast Performance Academy, who also had 13 points.
The Jr. Kings entered the playoff rounds as the No. 3-seed in the tournament; Tyus Sparks (seven) and Noah Davidson (six) led L.A. in scoring, four and five points behind front-runner Artur Yanchalouski of Jäved, with 11.
The duo continued their tear into the elimination rounds. Sparks posted multi-point games in both the quarterfinals against Dukla Trencin and semifinals against Seacoast, while Davidson added four more points to his total, including a goal and an assist in the semis.
Sasha Pitaev elevated his game between the pipes during the playoffs as well, allowing just six goals against in the three-game run. He was credited with wins over Dukla, Seacoast and then avenged his only loss of the tournament with a 5-2 win over Little Caesars in the championship.
In the championship, Caesars held onto a 2-1 lead at the halfway point and a slight 14-12 edge in shots. The second half, however, was all Jr. Kings as they out-shot their opponent 2-to-1. Karsten Hirasawa — who scored six of his eight points in the playoff rounds — scored a pair of goals in addition to tallies from Davidson and Sparks to complete the 5-2 comeback win and secure the world championship.
The inaugural Champions League hockey tournament is an invite-only event to ensure all participating teams meet competitive standards required to play on the international stage. Originally expecting more than 40 teams to be in attendance for the first-year event, the global climate around COVID-19 significantly impacted travel plans for prospective teams. Teams from Canada and Russia, as well as several others from Europe and Scandinavia faced challenges that would ultimately keep them from traveling to Florida.
Of the 36 tournament games, half would be decided by two goals or fewer. Kiekko Espoo defeated Seacoast. Seacoast defeated Windy City. Windy City defeated Dukla Trencin. Dukla Trencin defeated Järved. Järved defeated Little Caesars. Little Caesars defeated eventual champion Jr. Kings. The transitive property alone would suggest just how competitive games were, and how volatile results proved to be. Every team in the tournament experienced at least one loss, and the top six teams were separated by just four points in the standings.
Future plans for 2023 Champions League involves significant expansion, including more age groups (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 currently in the works) as well as different site locations for each age group. Those host sites include fellow NHL cities like returning to Miami, Nashville and Denver, and also European locations where North American teams would get the opportunity to travel abroad.
For more information regarding upcoming Champions League announcements, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube. Or submit an application for your team below, and our team of advisors will contact you with more details.
World Hockey Hub held its annual search for youth hockey’s next Cover Athlete, on a quest to find a young player capable of being the face of the sport for the next 12 months. After receiving hundreds of submissions from around the world, WHH is happy to announce Vladimir Provorov as the 2022 Cover Athlete of the Year.
Provorov is a 2008-born forward from Yaroslavl, Russia, who currently plays for RUSS Moscow. He has competed in several international competitions during his young career, while also being a standout in his home country.
In 2018, he traveled abroad to Toronto for the Hockey Hall of Fame Future Legends Invitational. Provorov was a captain on the Golden Ring Selects squad, and led his team to a championship victory over the Czech Knights.
More recently, his winter club RUSS Moscow competed at the Sweden Hockey Trophy in Moskroken, Sweden. Provorov dominated the tournament, leading all participants with 25 points in just seven games. Again, his team would win the championship with a 4-1 victory and again, Provorov was a major contributor with a goal and an assist.
RUSS maintains a 19-14-1 record against fellow Russian youth hockey teams this season. Complete stats were not available on the team site, but partial numbers indicate Provorov has scored five goals and 14 points in just a fraction of the schedule. The 5-foot-5 forward — a captain on the squad — also represented Team Moscow in Russia’s U14 Districts Cup, where he was also a captain.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Vladimir is the younger brother of 2015 first-round NHL Draft pick and current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman, Ivan Provorov. While Ivan has built an impressive hockey résumé at just 24 years old, his younger brother is certainly trailblazing a path of his own. Between Vladimir’s accomplishments in international youth hockey tournaments and being named World Hockey Hub’s Cover Athlete, the younger Provorov is well on his way to a decorated career of his own.
Vladimir will join the likes of previous Cover Athlete honoree, C.J. Kier, as well as other recent standout youth hockey players such as Shane Wright, Aron Kiviharju, Rutger McGroarty and fellow countryman Ivan Miroshnichenko. He will be featured on WorldHockeyHub.com and across all of its social channels, and the team at WHH will do check-ins with the young Provorov throughout the calendar year.
Friday marked the fourth day of tournament action at Champions League in Miami this week. Some of the best 2008-born teams from around the world competed in their fifth and final pool-play matchups. Spots in the standings were solidified and by the end of the day, the field of teams would be whittled down to eight, with two teams being eliminated from contention by the night’s end.
Yale Jr. Bulldogs had Seacoast Performance Academy on the ropes in the first game of the day. Even-strength goals from Aidan Gray, Cameron Kovary and Caden Harvey put the Dogs on top at the halfway point. It was the third time in five tournament games that Yale was tied or leading at the halfway point. However, a four-goal performance from Jameson Glance would fuel a second-half comeback for the Spartans. He and teammates Sully Martin, Benjamin Clary and Hunter Chadbourne mounted an offensive attack that resulted in a 7-4 finish for Seacoast. Glance leads the tournament in goals with seven after pool play. The decision pushed Seacoast into a tie for first place in the standings, while Yale settled into the No. 9-seed for the playoffs and a play-in matchup later that day.
Artur Yanchalouski continued his Champions League hot streak with his fourth consecutive multi-point game of the tournament. Yanchalouski — who leads the tournament in scoring with 11 points — and teammate Nikita Klepov manufactured four-point performances in Järved IF 8-3 win on Friday. The game was symbolic in a way, as the Sweden-based program defeated its neighbors from back home, Kiekko-Espoo out of Finland. It is one of the most intense rivalries in all of international hockey, with the two countries sharing a 381-mile border in Scandinavia. Fortunately for youth hockey fans, it wouldn’t be the only Sweden-Finland matchup of the day. The game result put Järved in seventh-place, where they would earn a chance to play Kiekko Blues — the other Finnish team in the tournament — in the 7-vs-10 matchup later in the evening.
Two of the top teams in the U.S. wrapped up pool play, as Little Caesars and Los Angeles Jr. Kings clashed. The hotly anticipated matchup is the first time these two teams have met this season, and a natural hat trick from Caesars’ Donovan Durbin would complete a come-from-behind victory that pushed his team into a tie for first place. Durbin has goals in four of his team’s five tournament games, leading Little Caesars in goals (seven) and points (eight).
Barys has scored 12 goals in its last two games — both wins — and Zhakhanger Tleukhan has contributed on seven of those tallies. The team’s leading scorer, Tleukhan added a goal and two assists in Barys’ 4-1 win over Kiekko Blues, pushing the Kazakhstan team into fourth place heading into the playoff rounds on Saturday.
Windy City Storm narrowly escaped an upset in their final game against Dukla Trencin. The Slovaks quickly jumped on America’s top-ranked 2008 team, as Juraj Jonas Ďurčo and Adam Goljer game Dukla Trencin a 2-0 lead at the halfway point.
Nathan Hauad and Jack Hextall would take turns one-upping each other, rattling off four straight goals for the Storm before going on to win the contest 5-3, locking up the No. 5-seed in the playoff rounds.
All 10 participating teams qualified for the playoff rounds, with the bottom four teams having to compete in play-in games Friday evening.
The 8-vs-9 matchup featured Kiekko-Espoo against Yale Jr. Bulldogs, with both teams in search of their first wins at the tournament. Again, Yale would lead at the half, with goals from Max Stracar and Caden Harvey. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that lead would again slip away as Jone Mölsä would score with just 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2. There, Riko Salutskij would ice the game for Kiekko, giving them a Saturday morning date with Little Caesars.
Järved’s matchup with Kiekko Blues would be their second clash with a Finnish team at the tournament, and both contests would see similar results. This time, Elton Hermansson pushed the Swedes into the Round of Eight with a three-point performance and a 4-2 win over Kiekko.
Two teams have been eliminated from contention for youth hockey’s first ever world championship. Only eight 2008-born teams remain, and the action will continue with seeded matchups on Saturday morning. Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continued coverage of the Champions League hockey tournament all weekend long.
The third day of Champions League play had a little bit of everything, as 2008-born teams competed for youth hockey’s first ever world championship. All 10 clubs were in action Thursday morning, and even with only five matchups on the schedule, the day was filled with stunning upsets and impressive individual performances. Once action at the Panthers Ice Den concluded, there was a scheduled break in the tournament to allow all participants the opportunity to take in an NHL game between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sweden-based Järved IF sent a shock to the system equivalent to submerging in an ice bath on a hot day. Held without a win to this point in the tournament, they took on undefeated — and for the moment, first-place team at Champions League — Little Caesars in the first game of the day. A pair of goals from Stephen King put L.C. out in front early in the game. However, a strong performance from Artur Yanchalouski helped pull Järved back into the contest. First, he assisted on Aleksandr Sementsov’s goal and then Yanchalouski knotted the game at two with a goal of his own.
A 2-2 score forced the game into a three-person shootout to break the tie. Two-of-three shooters would find the back of the net for Järved and earn the team its first victory of the tournament, while handing the No. 3-ranked team in the U.S., Little Caesars, its first loss of the week.
The Windy City Storm had hoped that was the only upset of the day, as the No. 1-ranked team in the U.S. took to the ice against Seacoast Performance Academy. Unfortunately for the Storm, every action they had prompted an equal and opposite response from the Spartans.
Luke Dubsky put Windy City ahead 1-0 less than 90 seconds into the game. Tyler Callander was quick to respond for Seacoast, tying it less than a minute later. And when Jack Hextall regained the lead for Windy City, Evan Ferraro quickly tied it up again at 2-2.
Goals from Patrick McCormick and Garrit Turcotte kept Seacoast ahead of the Storm down the stretch. Kamden Jackson — who stopped 38-of-41 shots total — turned away all 22 of the shot attempts that he faced in the second half. It was the Spartans’ third win of the tournament, and the 29th ranked team in the U.S. has now snuck into a tie for second place at Champions League.
Tyus Sparks became the third player in the tournament to record a hat trick, joining Timothy Kazda (Dukla Trencin) and Onni Kovalainen (Kiekko-Espoo) as the only ones to achieve the feat. Two of Sparks’ three goals came while his team was short-handed, giving the Los Angeles Jr. Kings a 6-3 victory over Kiekko Blues.
While one trifecta was being completed on Rink 1 at Panthers Ice Den, Zhakhanger Tleukhan was making a push of his own on Rink 3 for Barys. Tleukhan would become the fourth player to score three goals in a single game, just moments after Sparks completed his feat on the opposite end of the building.
Bookended by upsets, Thursday’s slate of games concluded by 3:30 p.m. local time, as planned by tournament directors. This break gave teams the evening off, and afforded participants the opportunity to take in a pro game featuring the host team Florida Panthers. They took on in-state rival and two-time, reigning, defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. For many of the international participants in attendance at Champions League — and even some American players — it would be their first opportunity to go to an NHL game and an unforgettable experience for all who made the trip.
Pool play at Champions League concludes on Friday, with elimination rounds to follow later in the day. Mixed in with New Years Eve celebrations, the action and excitement is growing closer and closer to the apex of the week’s festivities. For more coverage of the tournament, follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.
After the pleasantries and celebrations of day one at Champions League, teams really got down to business Wednesday, with 10 games in total on the schedule. Each team played two games, getting us past the halfway point of pool play with three of the five contests in the books.
Competition picked up, as the first five games of the day — and seven in total — were decided by two goals or less. Finland-based Kiekko Blues found itself in a tight matchup with Little Caesars to start the day. Waylon Rivet, Donovan Durbin, Camden Langfeld and Stephen King put Caesars out in front early, 4-1 after the first half of play. A pair of goals from Kalle Kuntanen and Emil Holopainen narrowed the deficit to just one goal in the final moments of regulation. Skating 6-on-5, L.C. was able to weather the storm brought on by the extra attacker and an empty-net goal from Durbin would secure a 5-3 win for the Americans.
Caesars would win again later in the afternoon; they are the only team undefeated in regulation and currently rank first in the standings.
Onni Kovalainen completed a hat trick in Kiekko Espoo’s morning game against Seacoast Performance Academy. His third goal of the game came with just 1:43 left to go in regulation and it tied the contest at 6-6. Riko Salutskij was the only one to successfully find the net in the tie-breaking shootout, winning Kiekko’s first game of the tournament.
There was a fantastic moment between combatants in the early-morning games. Less than 24 hours after Yale and Kiekko Espoo battled to a 3-2 final on Tuesday, players from the Jr. Bulldogs sat idle and watched their Finnish foes compete against Seacoast. After that thrilling ending, who would be standing there to congratulate the Finns but the boys from New Haven, Connecticut?
After falling to the Los Angeles Jr. Kings on Tuesday, Slovakia’s Dukla Trencin won a pair of games to climb into third place in the standings. Timothy Kazda, Juraj Jonas Ďurčo and Samuel Pisarčík scored three consecutive goals less than four minutes apart in a game against Järved IF that gave the Slovaks a 5-3 win in the morning. A six-point performance from Kazda in the evening would add another win, 6-1 over Kiekko Espoo. With five goals and eight points, the 5-foot-5 Kazda leads all scorers after three games.
In another game decided by shootout, Kazakhstan’s Barys was able to pull off a comeback victory over Yale Jr. Bulldogs. Alan Kenzhegali and Bexultan Makysh scored a pair of goals in the second half to tie the game, ultimately leading to a 5-4 victory in favor of Barys.
The top two 2008-born American teams faced off for the third time this season, and it proved to be the lowest-scoring contest of the tournament thus far. Windy City Storm carried a slight 1-0-1 edge in the series with Los Angeles Jr. Kings, and the most recent meeting felt more like a chess match than a hockey game. The two teams snuffed out each other’s offenses, and Windy City got a 41-save performance from Peter Chlebowski.
Seacoast split decisions in its pair of games on Wednesday. Right-handed forward Benjamin Clary had a monster day for the Spartans with a goal and an assist in the morning’s contest and a three-point game in the evening’s win against Kiekko Blues. Clary is one of eight players in the field to have recorded at least one point in all three games of the tournament thus far.
Järved IF looked to get into the win column for the first time Wednesday night. After losses to Seacoast and Dukla Trencin, the Swedes were determined in their second matchup of the day against the Jr. Kings. One of the top 2008-born prospects in Sweden, Artur Yanchalouski put together a three-point performance with two goals in the first half and an assist in the second half to give Järved a chance against L.A., 4-3 late in the contest. Starving for a victory, the Swedes swarmed in the offensive zone, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the net but Jr. Kings net minder Morgan Stickney was up to the task. Stickney turned away 18 shots in her first start of the tournament to give L.A. an undefeated record on the week.
Action has only just begun at Champions League, with teams slated to play one game each of the next two days and playoffs set to begin Friday evening. Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continued coverage of the tournament, exclusive interviews, highlights, photos and more!
‘Don’t wake a sleeping dog’ or so the old adage goes. On the surface, some may look at Yale’s 11-17-3 record, and think the Jr. Bulldogs are just a friendly neighborhood stray with a good story to its name. The truth, however, is that this group of 2008s has had one of the toughest schedules in the U.S., having played 10 games against teams ranked in the World Hockey Hub Top 10.
Led by head coach Oktay Armagan, the Jr. Bulldogs open up Champions League action with matchups against Kiekko-Espoo and Barys. After that, tilts with Little Caesars, HK Dukla Trencin and Seacoast Performance Academy to round out pool play at the tournament. Can they keep up with top competition from around the world? Yale has a 4-5-1 in those 10 games against top-end teams, with all four of those victories coming in the last two months. So if ever there was a time for the Jr. Bulldogs to match up with top teams, it’s right now.
The field is small, but highly competitive. Just 10 teams will be at Champions League this week, but they’re the top three teams from the U.S., two top teams from Finland, a top Sweden organization, Kazakhstan’s premier team and one of the best programs in central Europe, among others. Who will come away as youth hockey’s first ever world champion? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continued coverage of the tournament, upcoming features, highlights and recaps, and so much more!