More than 500 teams expected to be in the Chicago for CCM World Invite

The party starts Thursday, while the games officially start on Friday. This weekend, Chicago will be the busiest city on the planet when it comes to youth hockey. Roughly 528 teams will be in the Windy City for the annual CCM World Invite.

A total of 10,032 players will be playing in a combined 1,210 games from Nov. 4-6, as the tournament continues to claim the honor of the largest youth hockey event in the world. 

Because of those grandiose attendance numbers, most age groups are split into as many as three sub-divisions — Supertacks, Jetspeed and Ribcor. This provides a competitive balance for all teams involved. Because of this, our focus is narrowed to the Supertacks Divisions that include elite and top-level AAA teams.

A Loaded 2009 Division of Top Teams

We’re starting with the 2009 birth-year because it reads like a USA Hockey Nationals lineup, not a November tournament.

Six of the top 10 teams in the country are slated to compete in the World Invite. The No. 1-ranked Chicago Reapers will look to defend home ice, while being challenged by No. 2 St. Louis AAA Blues, No. 4 Windy City Storm, No. 6 Little Caesars, No. 7 New Jersey Rockets and No. 10 Chicago Mission.

An added bonus? The Huron-Perth Lakers, ranked No. 9 in Canada, crossing the border to join the crowded field.

Big games appear on the calendar rather quickly, as Little Caesars and New Jersey Rockets square off at 2:55 p.m. on Friday. Elimination rounds should be where the most drama happens, as these top teams will likely clash in playoffs.

Too Many Teams For One Division

Continuing down in age groups, the 2010 birth year has so many participating clubs that they made Supertacks Crosby and Supertacks Ovechkin Divisions. The 2010 Supertacks Crosby has the highest-ranked teams competing, and there are three from the American Top 10. The No. 3 Chicago Mission, No. 4 Anaheim Jr. Ducks and No. 10 Chicago Fury will clash in the top 2010 division. 

American teams like Florida Alliance, South Shore Kings and Top Gun Elite will travel from across the country to challenge the top group. Additionally, the Sun County Panthers join the mix from Canada. The trio of top-rated teams will have plenty of hurdles to clear if they want to win a World Invite title.

International Opponents In Illinois

In the 2011 Supertacks Division, the hometown Windy City Storm is the only ranked competitor — they check in at No. 5. The K&B Slovakia Stars surely don’t want to waste a trip all the way across the globe though. There are plenty of storied programs showing up in Chicago, as well. The 16-team field contains the Los Angeles Jr Kings, Sun County Panthers, Chicago Mission, St. Louis AAA Blues, Belle Tire, Oakville Rangers, among others.

Going back up the age groups, the 16U Supertacks field is wide open. None of the teams are ranked, but that doesn’t mean it’s a group to sleep on. Minnesota and Michigan both show up with all-star teams of high school hockey players in Minnesota SDP and Michigan Hockey Advancement, while the Wenatchee Wild and Elgin-Middlesex Canucks represent the Canadian contingent. There’s also three California teams in the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, Golden State Elite and Anaheim Jr. Ice Dogs.

Home Cooking For Chicago Mission

The 15O age group — split into Crosby and Ovechkin divisions — has some ranked teams, on the other hand. In the Crosby Division, No. 1 ranked Chicago Mission looks to win a tournament without leaving home, while No. 3 Mount St. Charles arrives in the Windy City looking to make some noise. Those two will be challenged by No. 5 Little Caesars, and a bevy of other squads looking for some hardware. Watch out for Minnesota SDP, Minnesota Blue Ox and Team Wisconsin, among others.

And to round things out, the 2008 age group is led by No. 2 Chicago Mission. They are the only ranked team out of the 16 participants, but nonetheless, they will have challenges. The Burlington Eagles, Lambton Jr. Sting, and Markham Waxers all come in from Canada, while in-state rivals Chicago Fury and Team Illinois will try to make things rough, too.

For more coverage on the CCM World Invite in Chicago, follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube!

Tons of international hockey coming up this month, starting with the under-18 showcase in Canada

While the hockey world may be fired up for the rare summer edition of the Under-20 World Junior Championships coming up in August, there is also a pretty sizable international preseason tournament for bright, young stars that can’t be overlooked.

The 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup takes place July 31 through Aug. 6 in Red Deer, Alberta, as some of the world’s best Under-18 players converge on Canada.

It has had its share of different titles, debuting as the Phoenix Cup in 1991 in Yokohama and Sapporo, Japan. After three years there, it moved to Mexico City for one year, back to Japan in 1995 and then to Nelson and Castlegar, B.C., in 1996. In 1997, the tournament — by then called the Junior World Cup — moved to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where it first alternated between countries from 1997-2001 and then became a joint affair from 2002-17.

The tournament was renamed in honor of Ivan Hlinka, the Czech hockey legend who passed away after a car accident in 2004. When it moved back to Canada in 2018 (Edmonton and Alberta), it was renamed once again, this time the Hlinka Gretzky Cup to include none other than Wayne Gretzky.

In short, it’s the kick-off event for the players’ NHL Draft season, and it’s always worth a watch when you consider some of the players that have skated in the tournament.

It’s a who’s-who of Canadian hockey royalty on the alumni list – Paul Kariya played in the inaugural event, while Jerome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, Carey Price, Steven Stamkos, Nathan MacKinnon, Aaron Ekblad and Alexis Lafreniere have represented their country at the event.

The international list is star-studded, as well, as the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Gabriel Landeskog, Tomas Plekanec, Teuvo Teravainen, Kirill Kaprizov and Mikko Rantanen are just some off the top. 

The Americans, however, handle the tournament a little differently. The Hlinka Gretzky Cup for USA Hockey is the opportunity to get international experience and exposure for the players not playing for the National Team Development Program. Talented players are on every roster – Johnny Gaudreau, Mikey Anderson, Casey Mittelstadt, Kailer Yamamoto, Alex Nedeljkovic and Kyle Connor are some of the more recent – but it’s not exactly the ‘best-on-best’ you will see at the World Juniors. 

Ironically, the other countries are being forced to adopt a little bit of the Americans’ strategy this go-round, since players who are going to be competing in the World Juniors later in the month won’t be expected to play in two tournaments. The biggest name to not be skating in the tournament is Connor Bedard, the projected No. 1 overall pick in next summer’s NHL Draft. He was on Team Canada’s roster for the canceled World Junior tournament last winter, and he’s not on the Hlinka Gretzky roster, so we’re expecting to see him in action in the U20 event later in the month. Adam Fantilli is not on Canada’s Hlinka Gretzky roster, either, but he is a late ’04 birth-year. 

Slovakia’s Maxim Strabak and Dalibor Dvorsky are 2023 NHL Draft eligible players who were on their country’s World Junior rosters in the first go-round, as well; Dvorsky especially is appearing high on way-to-early mock drafts.

And while COVID-19 may not be impacting the tournament like it has the last few seasons (Canada didn’t play last year out of safety concerns), the continuing war in Ukraine has led to tournament organizers deciding to not invite Russia to the Hlinka Gretzky.

Star-power abounds, nonetheless, as we are excited to see Brayden Yager of Moose Jaw (WHL), Calum Richie of Oshawa (OHL) and Zach Benson of Winnipeg (WHL) lead a high-powered Team Canada offense. Theo Lindstein is one to watch out of Sweden, as is Eduard Sale of Czechia and Kasper Halttunen of Finland. 

Want more from the world of youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest worldwide news, events, prospect talk and more!

How names like Shane Wright, Logan Cooley and Matthew Savoie ascended youth hockey ranks

While it’s still not completely back to normal, the 2022 NHL Draft will feature teams selecting players following the closest to a traditional hockey season we’ve seen since 2019.

The World Juniors will be played later this summer, but for the most part, the leagues that produce the majority of NHL draftees played full seasons, and the scouts had opportunities to get a good look at who they will be trying to select this week when the draft takes place in Montreal on Thursday.

So who will be the top players selected? There seems to be a pretty clear No. 1, and he’s been at the top of the draft board for quite a while. 

All signs point to Shane Wright being the first on stage when the NHL Draft officially begins on July 7. The captain of the Kingston Frontenacs has been making headlines for the better part of a decade at this point, as he has dominated at every stage of youth and junior hockey.

Wright, a Burlington, Ont., native whose family was not familiar with the sport, got his start with his hometown hockey program. At the age of 12, it was clear that he needed more challenges and opportunities, so Shane and his father, Simon, moved to Vaughan. There, Shane could suit up for the Don Mills Flyers. He played against older competition every year he was with Don Mills, and yet he thrived, helping the Flyers to a GTHL U15 and Ontario Hockey Federation Bantam AAA championship in 2017-18 before an even bigger season in 2018-19.

That’s when Wright posted 150 points in 72 games to lead Don Mills to the OHL Cup — he led the field in scoring with 18 points and was named MVP of the iconic season-ending tournament. Along the way, he was named GTHL Player of the Year, and earned a silver medal at the Canada World Games. All of it was enough for him to earn the rare ‘exceptional status’ from the OHL, where the Kingston Frontenacs were able to select him No. 1 overall a year before his 2004 birth-year class was eligible for the junior league selection process.

Wright served as an assistant captain his first year in the ‘O’ despite his under-ager status, and he was named CHL Rookie of the Year after posting 66 points in 58 games. He and John Tavares are the only 15-year-olds to receive that award.

While the 2020-21 OHL season was cancelled, he still led Canada to gold in the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and this season, he was awarded the CHL Top Draft Prospect Award after registering 94 points in 63 games.

There’s no clear No. 2 overall pick after Wright, but the next player to take a look at is Logan Cooley of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP). Cooley is a product of Pittsburgh, Pa., and he owes Sidney Crosby a ‘thank you’ card whenever he reaches the NHL. In the first year of the Little Penguins program — started by Crosby and the Penguins in 2008 — Cooley was one of the initial participants. 

Unlike Wright, he did grow up in a hockey family, however — Cooley’s two uncles played Division-I college hockey and coach high school hockey programs in the area — while Cooley’s older brother plays for Ohio State University. That was enough to keep Cooley at home during his formative youth hockey days, as he rose through the ranks with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite AAA program.

Cooley played for the Jr. Penguins at the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament in 2016-17, and he played for the Upstate Kings in the World Selects Invitational in 2018-19. In the summer of 2019, he skated in the USA Hockey Select 15 Camp before playing up with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 16U team for the 2019-2020 season. There, he secured a spot with the NTDP Under-17 Team the following year. Quickly, he earned call-ups to the Under-18 Team, finishing his first season in the Plymouth, Mich., based program with 32 points in 28 games with the 17s and 14 points in 19 games with the 18s.

This past season, he registered 75 points in 51 games, finishing second on the NTDP in scoring behind only Isaac Howard, who had 82. Cooley also made the U.S. World Junior team that traveled to but didn’t end up completing the tournament due to its postponement.

A pair of Slovaks could make history on Thursday. Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nimec are both projected Top-5 picks according to several major news outlets, some of which even have Slafkovsky upending Wright for the No. 1 pick.

Slovakia has not produced a top-five selection since 2005, and have only produced four top-10 picks ever. If both Slafkovsky and Nimec are selected early as expected, it’d be the first time the European country — with a total population of just 5.5 million — produced multiple top-five picks.

Slafkovsky began playing youth hockey for HC Kosice in Slovakia. In 2018-19 though, he crossed the border into the Czech Republic to play for national powerhouse Mountfield HK for his U16 season. The next three seasons would be spent in Finland’s top junior league, SM-Sarja, with TPS.

An hour-and-a-half west, Nimec started his youth hockey career with HK32 Liptovsky Mikulas. Unlike Slafkovsky, Nimec stayed local, remaining in Slovakia and eventually playing in the country’s top professional league for the past two seasons with HK Nitra.

Both Slafkovsky and Nimec were important members of Team Slovakia in international competition at the 2021 under-20 World Junior Championships, 2022 Olympic Games and 2022 World Championships.

Turning attention back towards America for the next prospect, and this time, it’s a native of Scottsdale, Arizona, who was born in Sweden but played his formative years in Michigan. Cutter Gauthier, who was born in Skelleftea while his father, Sean, was wrapping up his career as a professional goaltender with Skellefteå AIK. The Gauthier family moved to Arizona when Cutter was 2, and by the time he was 10, they decided he needed to play for HoneyBaked in Metro Detroit to hone his craft as a talented young hockey player.

Gauthier played one year with the Compuware 16U team — it was the last year that Michigan players were allowed to skip the 15-only AAA age group and play up at 16U — and then made the NTDP to skate alongside Cooley and a talented ’04 American class. Along the way, he played for Team California at The Brick, then DraftDay Hockey for World Selects 12U, and Pro Hockey for WSI 14U and 15U. He also played for Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games, a team that made up the bulk of the NTDP group a few years later.

While it appears his draft stock is falling to some, talented forward Matthew Savoie is still one notable prospect worth mentioning as well. Born on Jan. 1, 2004, he has long been regarded as an top prospect in his birth year, despite his relatively small frame (Elite Prospects lists him at 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds).

Savoie got his start skating for his hometown St. Albert program in St. Albert, Alberta. After playing for the St. Albert Sabres U15 AAA in 2016-17, Savoie made the jump to the famed Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) in 2017-18, playing for the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep team. It was there where he started to make his mark on the hockey world, as he posted 97 points in 30 games. The next season, skating for Northern Alberta Xtreme Prep in the CSSHL U18 division, Savoie posted 71 in 31.

He was the captain of the Team Brick Alberta squad for The Brick in 2013-14, and he played in three different WSIs with DraftDay Selects in 2015-16 and Western Canada Selects for 13U and 15U.

Savoie posted an impressive 18 points in six games at the John Reid Bantam tournament in 2017-18, and in 2019-2020 he also served as captain for Team Canada at the Youth Olympic Games.

The Winnipeg Ice used their first pick in franchise history to take Savoie No. 1 overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. He had previously applied for exceptional status but was denied by the WHL. It was a bit of a surprise when the Ice still selected him because Savoie had previously given a verbal pledge to the University of Denver, where his brother Carter plays.

Savoie ended up playing in 22 games with the ICE in 2019-2020, registering seven points. He played for RINK Hockey Academy Prep in the CSSHL for 22 games, as well, and posted 52 points. In 2020-21, he played in 34 games with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, earning USHL All-Rookie Team honors after registering 38 points in 34 games.

Back with the Ice for 2021-22, Savoie posted 90 points in 65 WHL games to lead all rookies in scoring. He was named to the WHL First All-Star Team, as well.

World Hockey Hub will have extensive coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft through a youth hockey lens. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest youth hockey news at all levels of the game.

More From The World Hockey Hub

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 (left) celebrates with Callum Mainville (right) 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

Top 2009 AAA Teams Go Front And Center At Iconic Tournament

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. 

Get more from the world of youth hockey by following WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube! Breaking news, global coverage, rankings, prospects and more.

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

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