Red Army dominates challenging round robin to win 2006 national championship

The 2020-21 Russian youth hockey winter season came to a close this week, as the 2006 age group completed its national tournament on Sunday. It was the last age group in the country to conclude its postseason — 2005s concluded two weeks ago — as various age levels finished throughout the month of May.

CSKA Moscow was one of the top teams in the world all season long, ranking second in the world with a 27-4-0 record and the odds-on favorite at the beginning of the national tournament. Different from the ‘05 format, the 2006 event consisted of nine teams competing in a round-robin tournament over the course of 10 days in Sochi, Russia. There was no single-elimination playoff, so the team with the most points after the round robin would be crowned the national champion.

CSKA won its first three games handedly, defeating opponents by a combined score of 28-3, and living up to pre-tournament expectations. Meanwhile, Lokomotiv 2004 Yaroslavl, SKA Silver Lions and Metallurg Magnitogorsk spent the first few days of the event battling it out in tightly-contested overtime games. Egor Surin scored not one, but two game-winning goals to keep Lokomotiv in the hunt in the early days of the tournament.

Metallurg and SKA may have had the most exciting moment of the week in their meeting last Monday. With just 15 seconds left to go in regulation, Silver Lions forward Roman Golnik scored to tie the game at 1-1 and force overtime between two teams contending for the top spot. Then four minutes into overtime, Andrey Florovsky completed the late-game comeback for SKA, scoring the game winner to take the extra point in the standings.

The Red Army continued to roll through the round robin, scoring four-or-more goals in seven of the eight games they played. Even when the top two teams in the field met on Friday, No. 1 CSKA was too much for No. 2 Lokomotiv. A three-point performance from the tournament leader in points, Arseny Vorobiev, would give CSKA the 4-1 win and essentially clinch the championship with one game left to play.

In the finale, the Silver Lions did what no other opponent could do and shut down the CSKA offense. After giving up an early first-period goal, SKA would go on to hold CSKA scoreless for the next 51 minutes; the Red Army’s longest stretch of scoreless hockey throughout the entire event. During that time, Vladimir Bakhtov would score his tournament-leading 11th goal to tie the game at 1-1 and then Daniil Anatsky would score the eventual game-winning goal for the Silver Lions, just past the halfway point of the contest. 

The ‘06 Russian national championship closes the book on the 2020-21 winter season. Much of the world experienced pauses, delays or shut down completely over the past several months, so acknowledging national champions at this time of year feels even more important. Many in the youth hockey community were unable to have a season, much less a championship, and keeping that in perspective brings on a newfound appreciation for those hoisting a trophy. 

As the global climate slowly begins to shift towards a new normal, we at World Hockey Hub look forward to providing extensive coverage of youth hockey worldwide. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest news, updates, events and more as we turn the page to a new 2021-22 hockey season this summer.

Names to know and standouts from the ‘05 Russian nationals tournament.

The 2021 under-16 Russian national tournament concluded over the weekend. Eight of the top teams converged on Khanty-Mansiysk in the Ural District of the country for the 24-game event. 

The teams were split into two pools of four, where they played three round-robin games before being seeded in a single-elimination bracket. After pool play, Dynamo Moscow was the top team from Group A and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was the top team in Group B. The two teams cruised through the quarterfinals and semifinals, setting the stage for a championship game on Sunday between the top two teams in the tournament.

After a scoreless first period, defenseman Mark Ulyev scored his first goal of the tournament to put Lokomotiv on the board first. Just three minutes later, Alexander Rybakov doubled his team’s lead on Dynamo to make the score 2-0 heading into the third period.

The team’s leading scorer, Daniil But added an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the game to secure the 3-0 victory. The goal was his third point of the game and eleventh of the tournament, as But finished among the leaders in the event. 

Nikolay Nikulshin backstopped Lokomotiv in impressive fashion, giving up just one goal during the elimination rounds. He held opponents scoreless for 174 minutes and 42 seconds, posting back-to-back shutouts, including the championship game against Dynamo.

Other noteworthy performances include Severstal Cherepovets top pair of forwards, Mikhail Ilyin and Egor Smirnov who combined to score 24 points in the tournament. Second-place Dynamo Moscow had six different players average a point per game, including Egor Rimashevsky, Matvei Maximov, Igor Chernyshov, Emil Pianov, Alexander Lisov and Alexey Zaitsev

The 2005-born national tournament concluded on Sunday, but the 2006 tournament gets underway from Sochi, Russia, on Thursday. WHH will be all over the action so be sure to like and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for more updates from nationals.

Most Represented Youth Teams at Under-18 World Junior Championships

The 2021 IIHF U18 World Junior Championships are set to begin Monday in Frisco and Plano, Texas, with a field of teams from 10 different countries. Teams Czech and Germany will begin the festivities with puck drop at 4 p.m. CT, and will be the first of 28 games over the span of 11 days. 

Team USA won the U20 World Juniors in Edmonton four months ago, and the U18 squad will be a strong favorite to win as well. Team Canada may have one of its strongest teams in recent memory because of the pandemic and Team Sweden brings a strong group across the Atlantic as well. 

With the top countries from around the world all in one location, we take a deep dive into the players’ origins and the youth organizations they represent. 

Team Canada

A pretty diverse group with 25 skaters stemming from 19 different youth programs across five different provinces. Team Canada is unique in another way as well, as three players also hail from different countries with Mason McTavish (Switzerland), Cole Sillinger (USA) and Danny Zhilkin (Russia) all claiming dual citizenship. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see that two teams from the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) account for the largest portion of the locker room, with the Don Mills Flyers and Toronto Marlboros producing three members each.

Team Czech Republic

Stanislav Svozil was a member of the Czech’s U20 team earlier this year, where he picked up an assist in the tournament and the team finished with a 2-2-0 record. The U18 squad is slightly different than previous tournament teams. Of the 25 rostered players, only four are not currently playing in the Czech Republic, making this year’s group a homegrown bunch with little influence from the CHL or other international junior leagues. Those Czech roots run deep through the youth ranks, with three players from HC Plzen and three more from HC Prerov, including the 6-foot-1 Svozil who last played for the club’s U16 team. 

Team Finland

The Finns have had great success in this tournament, winning a medal in four of the last five events including two gold and two silver. Defenseman Kalle Ervasti has ties to the States, having spent his 16U season with South Florida Hockey Academy (SFHA), scoring 61 points in 59 games for the club. In addition to him, the Blues, Jokerit and Pelicans are among some of the most represented programs on the team, but Karpat leads the way with four former players, including standout forward Samu Tuomaala.

Team Germany

A country on the rise in the sport of hockey, from NHL MVP Leon Draisaitl, to last year’s third overall pick in Tim Stützle. Germany is back in the top level of the World Juniors tournament for the first time in six years, and the players are part of an international development plan to build up the country’s competitiveness in the event. Part of that comes from an investment at the youth level, where a program like Starbulls Rosenheim and its 2017-18 under-16 team that produced three members of this year’s national team. 

Team Latvia

It’s one of the smallest countries by land area in the tournament and the national team is limited in terms of resources it can tap into for players. Just eight youth hockey programs account for Team Latvia’s entire roster makeup, and SK Riga alone produced five forwards, two D and a goalie who last played youth hockey for the club’s U16 and U15 teams. While their origins are similar, the players’ current situations vary greatly with skaters actively playing in Finland’s U20 SM-Sarja, Switzerland’s U20-Elit, Norway U21 and Russia’s MHL.

Team Russia

The Russians will bring plenty of offensive firepower to the tournament with Ivan Miroshnichenko and Matvei Michkov headlining the list of forwards. Fyodor Svechkov, Nikita Chibrikov and Ilya Ivantsov are also dangerous, in addition to several others. Eleven members of the team originated from the Central Federal District of Russia; the region surrounding the city of Moscow. One of the most storied and historic youth programs in the country, Dynamo Moscow, accounts for six of the players.

Team Sweden

Without a tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Swedes should still be considered as defending champs after defeating Russia in the 2019 event. This year, it may not have the big names on the roster that it normally boasts, but the country should certainly be considered in contention this week anyway, given its history in international play. Frolunda is one of the most recognizable youth programs in Sweden, most likely because it produces international and professional players at an impressive clip. Five Indians alumni, including some of Sweden’s top prospects, will suit up for the Swedes. Keep an eye out for forwards Liam Dower-Nilsson, Noah Hasa, Fabian Lysell and Ludwig Persson as well as defenseman Simon Edvinsson.

Team Switzerland

Just one player (Attilio Biasca) is currently playing junior hockey outside of Switzerland. The rest of the current roster resides in the surprisingly competitive U20-Elit Swiss League. Biasca suited up for the U20 team in January and has spent the 2020-21 season in the QMJHL. The Swiss will rely heavily on his experience because the country hasn’t fared very well in the U18 tournament. In 21 tournament appearances, Team Swiss has won a medal just once, and it was 20 years ago. Switzerland’s roster is comprised of 25 players from 17 youth organizations, with Kevin Pasche, Nathan Cantin, Benjamin Bourgo and Louis Robin hailing from Lausanne’s U15 team.

Team USA

Hockey in the States starts with the three M’s: Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. The U18 team, however, starts with just one M… Michigan. Ten players on the roster either reside in, or played their most recent youth hockey in the Mitten State. Dylan Duke, Ty Gallagher, Sasha Pastujov and Red Savage played for Compuware’s 16U team in 2018-19 before all four of them went on to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in Plymouth, Michigan. Five others also played for Michigan-based youth programs including HoneyBaked (2), Fox Motors, Little Caesars and Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.

Want more from the world of youth hockey? Get the latest news, rankings, updates and events from World Hockey Hub HERE.

‘20-21 season nears its end as tournaments are set to begin

The Moscow Open Championships will crown the top teams in the region at the ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07 and ‘08 age groups later this month. First, teams will compete in a three-week, round-robin schedule throughout March before crowning a champion.

Number of teams varies depending on the birth year, but each age group is split into Groups A and B, consisting of anywhere from 10 to 14 teams in a group. Teams play against in-pool opponents over the next three weeks before crossover games begin in April.

World Hockey Hub will have coverage and recaps of champions at each age group when the tournament concludes. For more information regarding this year’s Moscow Open Championships and following along in real-time, click HERE.

’06 St. Petersburg Selects sweep through round-robin play in Russia

Russia’s tournament of Federal District Championships concluded on Saturday. This annual event takes place between players from nine different regions of the country: Central, Far Eastern, Moscow, Northwestern, Siberian, Southern, St. Petersburg, Ural and Volga. These selects teams feature the best players in the age group from the respective areas of the country, competing in an 11-day tournament. 

The 2006 event was made final when the St. Petersburg District defeated the Northwestern District 4-0 over the weekend. The victory capped off a 7-1-0 performance at the tournament from St. Petersburg. The lone defeat coming at the hands of the Central District, 3-2 in overtime.

Forward Egor Graf, Matvey Gridin and Kirill Knyazev led a very balanced offensive attack for SPB. Count finished second in the tournament in scoring with 14 points, while Gridin and Knyazev followed close behind with 13 and 11 respectively. Mikhail Korotkov backstopped the team in seven-of-eight games and posted a 1.10 goals-against average in net as well. 

The Federal District Championships regularly serves as the primary platform for scouting and preparation for the following season’s under-16 Russian National team.

North Americans can get an up close look at many of the top players from Russia’s 2006 championship team this summer. The SKA Silver Lions are slated to travel to the United States in June for the World Selects Trophy in Nashville, and will feature more than a dozen players from this St. Petersburg district championship team.

“We’re looking forward to and hope that the pandemic situation will allow this team to join the World Selects Trophy tournament this summer,” said Silver Lions head coach Oleg Zak.

For more information on the World Selects Trophy and what other countries will be represented at this international youth tournament, click HERE.

Covid Restrictions easing up in select areas of Russia

News began to break on social media regarding the Moscow Hockey Federation’s approval of 50 percent spectator attendance in arenas for games contests. Previously, hockey games both professional and amateur had been played in front of empty stadiums. 

Parents and family members throughout the Moscow Region will certainly celebrate being able to return to the bleachers, watching their kids take the ice with a front row seat. Conversely, players will welcome an uptick in the atmosphere with cheering fans, noise makers and chants of support. 

All people in attendance will continue to observe COVID-19 restrictions in terms of face masks and social distancing during these events.

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Get your first look at top ’06s out of Eastern Europe

The top two teams in St. Petersburg, Russia, squared off on Saturday, competing in the 2006-birth year city championship. Top-seeded SKA Silver Lions hosted SKA Strelna in a game with two high-powered offenses.

Silvers Lions came in on a seven-game winning streak, led by Roman Komarov and Kirill Knyazev, with nine goals apiece. The team had posted dominant performances by scoring double-digit goals — yes, 10 goals or more — in six games prior to Saturday’s matchup. SKA Strelna would present an interesting challenge, though, coming in on a seven-game winning streak of its own. The trio of Egor Count, Makar Opolinsky and Semyon Malkov are first, second and fourth in the division in points, combining for 48 points during that stretch of games.

Vyacheslav Vasiliev would put Strelna out in front first with an early first-period goal, but the Silver Lions would respond with the next three tallies. Vladimir Bakhtov tied the game at 1-1, and goals from Gleb Saxonin and Egor Grakhov would give the Silver Lions their first lead of the contest.

Knyazev fueled the offense from there, with three primary assists, setting up two goals for Roman Komarov and another for Saxonin. With a wealth of offense, the Silver Lions overwhelmed Strelna, rolling to an 8-2 victory and an 8-0-0 record.

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