Compuware rises in the ‘06 and ‘07 U.S. rankings

People should get used to seeing Compuware amongst the best the U.S. has to offer in youth hockey. With a solid showing since our last rankings release, the 2006 and 2007-born squads for the Plymouth, Michigan program have both entered the chat for the World Rankings

Ranked No. 16 in the world among ‘06 teams, Compuware (20-7-2) is on a five-game winning streak dating back to Nov. 20. Most notably included in this stretch were two key victories over No. 10 Chicago Mission and No. 19 Windy City Storm.

John Delverne led the way for Compuware, tallying a goal and two assists in regulation. His second assist would be on the game-tying goal by Cameron Springer halfway through the third period. After a scoreless overtime, the stage was set for Luke Osburn, who netted the only goal in the shootout to cement the win. 

On a seven-game win streak of their own, the No.10 U.S.-ranked ‘07 Compuware team (20-12-0) outscored the Cleveland Barons, Belle Tire and Fox Motors 13-2. With a focus on offense for both birth years, the ‘06 unit has a plus-65 goal differential compared to the plus-45 differential for the ‘07 squad. 

‘08 KalPa returns to Top 10

KalPa Keltainen bested KalPa Musta (16-4-2) 8-0 back on Oct. 27. For the top two teams of their group among 2008-born Finnish clubs, most were expecting a more even matchup. 

On Nov. 24, the two sides met for a rematch that would see Musta avenging that October defeat with a 6-3 win. They have also used that previous loss as a stepping stone for their current nine-game winning streak. That streak, coupled with the victory over Keltainen, slotted them back into the Top 10 in Finland. 

Even more impressive was the defensive effort by Musta to keep the top three scorers of the group — all from Keltainen — from doing major damage on the scoresheet. Holding the top offensive players from nine teams to just four points (1G, 3A) is a solid day’s work. 

It will be a dogfight to finish atop the group as the season rolls along, and we are more than curious to see how things shake out when the dust settles. 

‘09 Huron-Perth, As de Quebec enter ‘09 conversation

With a stellar record of 7-1-0 over their last eight games, the ‘09 Huron-Perth Lakers (25-6-1) have made enough noise to place them back into the Top 10 among Canadian teams at No. 9. Overcoming opponents such as the No. 10 Toronto Marlboros, Ottawa Myers Automotive and Oakville Rangers, their lone blemish was a 2-0 loss to No. 1 Don Mills Flyers

Heading into that eventual loss, the Lakers were unbeaten in their last eight contests. Rebounding quite nicely, they have gotten back in the win column with defeats of the Kitchener Jr. Rangers and Hamilton Huskies

Shifting focus to Quebec, No. 14 As de Quèbec (19-3-2) is a fresh face not only in the Canadian rankings, but the world rankings as well. With an incredible 15-game winning streak ended on Nov. 27, they will look to get back on track against Blizzard AAA on Dec. 10. 

Be sure to check out the complete world rankings, including Top 10s by country and World Top 25s for each of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 200, 2010 and 2011 birth years.

‘09 Swedish club goes undefeated in district playoffs

No. 18 Flemingsbergs IK (21-0-0) has been one of the top teams in Sweden this season. They have fared well against all types of competition, never looking too far ahead on the task at hand. With district playoffs taking place last weekend, it was no shock to see that their incredible winning streak to start the season kept rolling. 

The team went 4-0-0 en route to their first district championship in program history. Not an easy task, as included in their schedule were matchups against fellow Swedish-ranked No. 2 Täby HC and No. 4 SDE Hockey

After dispatching Vasby IK HK and Göta Traseberg IK in their first two games, the stage was set for the meeting with SDE. After Flemingsbergs opened the scoring just over three minutes into action, the rest of the period was a special teams battle. The next four goals of the period would all be tallied on the power play, with Flemingsbergs taking a 3-2 lead into intermission. 

It was a lead they would not relinquish, but the remainder of the contest would be a back-and-forth affair with both sides trading goals. SDE got the score as close as 5-4 with about a minute left in regulation before Victor Nordberg would add the sixth and final goal of the contest just 13 seconds later. Nordberg led all skaters with three points as well. 

Täby reached the championship after winning all three of their preliminary games as well. Given the strong defenses and goaltending each side possessed, it was a fairly uneventful title game with Flemingsbergs coming out on top, 1-0. The lone goal would come from the stick of Daniel Grypishyn, as it was unassisted and while on the penalty kill. 

The final matchup was really a stage for the goaltending to steal the spotlight, with Anton Blohmé turning aside all 14 shots he faced while in net for Flemingsbergs. Jurjis Rodicevs, in net for Täby, stopped 21.

In total, Flemingsbergs found the back of the net 14 times and only allowed six goals across their four games, a goal differential of plus-8, tied with that of Täby. The two teams had the only positive goal differential numbers in the playoffs. Accounting for a large part of that offensive output were Dante Bergfors and Ludvig Schnüzel, who compiled seven points and six points, respectively. 

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One youth hockey club from each of the five major countries that owned November

During the month, there have been some clubs that have stood above the rest. We look at a few programs across all countries and birth years to see who has established themselves as the “best of the best.”

FINLAND: 2007 Tappara

A 7-1-0 month further secured No. 11 Tappara’s spot in the world rankings and at the top of the ‘07 Finnish rankings. Overcoming Top 10 Finnish clubs like No. 6 Luukko, No. 7 JYP, No. 8 TPS and No. 9 Ilves proves that they are truly one of the premier teams of their birth year. 

The team’s two leading scorers, Vilho Vanhatalo and Eetu Orpana, also lead all group players when it comes to putting up the points. Vanhatalo’s 16 goals and 44 points sit slightly above Orpana’s 18 goals and 37 points. Two other skaters from Tappara also are included in the Top 10 in scoring, Juho Kuisma (15G, 19A) and Joonas Rajala (14G, 15A). 

Continued numbers  like this from these players will only further serve as a testament to the immense talent this team possesses. It could lead to bigger things for them not only individually, but for the program as well. 

UNITED STATES: 2007 Little Caesars 

The world-ranked No. 4 Little Caesars had one of the hottest stretches of the month, going 13-0-1. In both installments of the World Hockey Hub Rankings this month, they stood firm at the No. 1 spot in the country. 

In the midst of a 34-game unbeaten streak dating back to Aug. 28, they have been able to take care of matchups against both fellow U.S. teams and Canadian counterparts. Besting the likes of No. 14 Chicago Mission and No. 23 Los Angeles Jr. Kings, the boys from the Motor City proved that they are going to be a handful for months to come. 

CANADA: 2011 Toronto Jr. Canadiens

Currently ranked as the No. 1 team in the world among 2011-born teams, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens experienced a very successful November. A 15-2-1 record that culminated in a 6-0-0 run for the AAA division championship at the 2022 Playstation Platinum Cup

The Jr. Canadiens carved through a schedule consisting of two victories over the No. 12 Vaughan Kings and a tie against No. 25 Toronto Red Wings. Their lone blemish was a loss to No. 13 Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers. That 4-2 defeat snapped an 11-game unbeaten streak for the Jr. Canadiens.

SWEDEN: 2009 Flemingsbergs IK

World-ranked No. 18 Flemingsbergs IK picked up where they left off after securing a win in its final game before the postseason and secured their district championship. Playing to a 4-0-0 record, they cemented their trophy with large wins over Top-10 teams in the country, No. 2 Täby HC and No. 4-ranked in Sweden SDE Hockey

With an overall undefeated record of 21-0-0, they show no signs of slowing down. With more months like this one, FIK could be enjoying the view from the top of the rankings for quite some time.

RUSSIA: 2008 HC Balashikha

A 9-0-1 record for the month propelled HC Balashika to the top of the 2008 Russian and world rankings. However, it was not their amount of wins so much as it was the teams they defeated that have impressed the most. 

Their first major wins were against No. 6 Mikhailov Academy, 2-1 and No. 8 Spartak Moscow 4-3 in overtime, both on Nov. 10. Then, they followed that up with a 5-2 victory over No. 9 CSKA Moscow just two days later. Statement games that catapulted them up from their former ninth-ranked position.

Leading the way has been the productive duo of Nikita Kartashov (33G, 31A) and Petr Tortev (25G, 22A). Balashikha has also reaped the benefit of Daniil Rakitin, a transfer from Atlant Mytischi, who has added seven goals and 19 assists. 

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York Simcoe Express, London Jr. Knights crack ‘07 Top 25

After building up a strong resume to get into a Top 10 spot in the Canadian rankings, the No. 24 London Jr. Knights have taken another step into the Top 25 teams in the world. 

Rattling off six straight victories against teams such as the Huron-Perth Lakers and Waterloo Wolves, the Jr. Knights find themselves sitting at No. 5 with a 22-2-1 record. A boost in the Canadian rankings that also carried them into the top 25.

Rounding out the Top 25 for ‘07 programs is the No. 25 York Simcoe Express (17-4-3). A current four-game unbeaten stretch not only boosted them in the latest world rankings, but have them holding down the middle of the Top 10 for Canadian-squads.

‘07 BK Selects make their move

The No. 5 Bishop Kearney Selects broke out the brooms in an impressive three-game sweep of No. 9 Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Bishop Kearney outscored Shattuck 9-3 over the series, affording them not only bragging rights but the opportunity to state their case as one of the premier U.S. teams of the 2007 birth year. 

BK will look to continue their current six-game unbeaten streak into the upcoming Silver Stick Tournament this weekend, where they will go head to head against some of the best of the U.S. and Canada. 

Yugra Yukior builds resume among ‘06 Russian peers

No. 7 Yugra Yukior edged out No. 12 Salavat Yulaev twice in overtime to jump ahead in the 2006-born Top 10 Russian rankings. 

Given that the victories were both by a goal, beating a ranked opponent twice in one weekend is a good case to prove you belong among the elite. Yulaev was also a perfect 10-0-0 on the season before the matchups with Yukior. Proving that the wins were no flukes and stand as a testament to the skill Yukior possesses. 

Watch out for Yukior to continue its climb up the Russian and world rankings, if leaders such as Egor Skutin, Egor Murashev and Kirill Sukharev keep producing. Next up is a two-game set against Traktor Chelyabinsk before going head to head against No. 10 Russian-ranked Avangard Omsk

New No. 1’s among ‘08 clubs

No. 5 Shattuck-St. Mary’s had a big boost from their former No. 25 spot in the 2008 world rankings thanks to three-game sweeps of No. 13 Chicago Mission and No. 14 Bishop Kearney Selects. 

The Sabres can attribute a large portion of their success to incredible goaltending from Xavier Wendt and Michael Iliff. Just look at the numbers alone. Wendt has collected a 1.31 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, compared to 1.00 goals-against and .940 save percentage for Iliff. 

There was a lot of movement among the Top 10 in Russia, leading to a shuffling of clubs both in the Russian and world rankings. No. 1 HC Balashikha came out on top against No. 8 Spartak Moscow and No. 9 CSKA Moscow. Victories that not only catapulted them to the top of the country, but also as the new leader worldwide, where they unseated CSKA. Also experiencing raised profiles in the latest rankings are No. 6 Mikhailov Academy and No. 7 Rus Moscow.

Overseas, the ‘08 Finnish rankings received two new additions in No. 7 Pelicans Turkossi and No. 10 Kiekko-Espoo I. The Pelicans nabbed big wins against former No. 8 HPK Oranssi and No. 5 JYP. They also skated to a 2-2 tie with No. 4 Tappara Sininen. K-Espoo shut out previous No. 7-ranked KJT Haukat Blue 4-0 to slide into the last spot among the Top 10. 

Be sure to check out the complete world rankings, including Top 10s by country and World Top 25s for each of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 200, 2010 and 2011 birth years.

London Jr. Knights debut amongst the best teams in the world

They’ve been one of the most talked about teams on WHH social media channels, yet the 2007-born London Jr. Knights remained unranked through the first two months of the season. That was largely due to the team’s strength of schedule — or lack thereof — through the early stages of the season. 

While the Jr. Knights came out of the gate with an eight-game win streak, they claimed just one win over a team currently ranked in the Top 10 in Canada. That was a 7-2 drubbing of No. 10 RINK Hockey Kelowna on Oct. 7th. 

London has several shared opponents with teams ranked ahead of them in Canada. For instance, the Jr. Knights lost 4-3 in overtime to unranked Burlington Eagles. That’s the same team that No. 1-ranked Toronto Marlboros defeated 10-0 a week earlier. Additionally, London had tied unranked Chatham-Kent Cyclones 4-4 two weeks after No. 7 Southern Tier Admirals defeated the shared opponent 8-0.

The transitive property is far from the only measuring stick used by the rankings committee. However, it is utilized in the absence of head-to-head matchups. That, coupled with the team’s weaker schedule compared to its Canadian counterparts, had kept London out of the Top 10… until today.

A record that has swelled to 16-2-1, and performances that suggest the Jr. Knights are clearly the best team in ALLIANCE Hockey and have propelled the squad into the Canadian Top 10.

London will likely get a shot to prove itself against other ranked teams at the end-of-season OHL Cup. The top four teams from ALLIANCE earn an automatic bid to the U16 tournament in Toronto. The Jr. Knights should certainly expect to be in attendance, and will have plenty of opportunity to see how they stack up against Ontario’s best.

Södertälje Shoots Up The Sweden Rankings

Unranked through the first two months of the season, Södertälje climbed to No. 2 in Sweden, and No. 22 in the world after winning the Folke Filbyter Cup.

It is a monumental jump, but for good reason. 

They tied No. 1 Nacka HK 3-3 and tied No. 4 Linköping HC by the same score, all within a 24-hour span. Then, followed it up with a 2-1 over Linköping and a 4-3 win over No. 3 Täby HC. Four games with Sweden’s best, and Södertälje not only proved it belonged, but showed they were the best of the bunch with a Folke Filbyter championship.

They will be in action again at the Folke Lindström Cup during Holiday Break next month. That tournament is expected to have No. 6 Boo HC, No. 7 Malmö Redhawks, No. 8 Mälarö Hockey, and No. 10 Djurgårdens IF in attendance as well. 

Seven New Teams Crack the ‘08 World Rankings

Södertälje wasn’t the only 2008-born team to make a statement.

In fact, seven ‘08 clubs in total joined the mix among the Top 25 in the world. Canadian teams Elgin-Middlesex Canucks, Oakville Rangers and York Simcoe Express return to the Top 25 after a one-month hiatus. 

EMC is 20-1-1 overall, with 11 of those wins coming since the team fell out of the Top 25 in October. They also collected two wins over American Top-10 team Little Caesars 3-2 and 5-3 last weekend.

Oakville is another team that’s faced some international competition during its four-week absence from the Top 25. They tied the No. 1 team in the U.S., Chicago Mission 5-5 in Detroit at the Little Caesars Showcase. That weekend, the Rangers defeat American No. 6 and host team Little Caesars 4-3 as well as a 4-3 win over No. 10 Pittsburgh Vengeance.

Be sure to check out the complete world rankings, including Top 10s by country and World Top 25s for each of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 200, 2010 and 2011 birth years.

Love Härenstam helps team win TV-Pucken as top District in Sweden

We warned readers last week of one player that had the potential to steal the 2022 TV-Pucken tournament. That warning became a reality when Love Härenstam posted back-to-back shutouts in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and stopped 28-of-29 shots in the championship. Norrbotten won the U16 Sweden national tournament, as the top district in the country. It is the first time since 1985 that the Norrbotten District has won the championship. It’s also just the third time in the tournament’s 64-year history that the northernmost county of the country has taken the title of tops in Sweden.

In the first round of action on Friday, Norrbotten drew Småland. The ice was significantly tilted, considering that Småland outshot Norrbotten 28-15. Additionally, minor penalties by Liam Andersson, Linus Funck and Elias Brännmark put Norrbotten shorthanded for stretches of the contest as well.

Thankfully, Härenstam was there to hold down the net. He made 13 saves in the first half, and followed that up with 15 in the second half. While Härenstam shut out opposing shooters, 6-foot-2 forward Jakob Ihs-Wozniak went to work. First, he assisted on the opening goal of the game by Elias Selström. That gave Norrbotten a 1-0 lead at intermission. Then, in the second half, Ihs-Wozniak scored two goals of his own to secure the shutout victory. That was the first — and really, the only — upset of the first round of TV-Pucken action.

Photo from swehockey.se

Norrbotten Upsets The Heavy Favorite

Their reward for pulling off the first-round upset? A date with the odds-on tournament favorite, Stockholm North.

Stockholm North had won the previous three TV-Pucken championships, and had won five of the last 10 tournaments. The 2022 squad was loaded with top 2007-born talent from Sweden’s most densely populated region.

Top forwards Melvin Novotny, Eric Nilson, Torkel Jennersjö and Mattias Nyberg combined to score 21 goals in round-robin play. As a team, Stockholm North scored 30 goals in five games. When they met Norrbotten in the semifinals, though, all that faded away.

Again, opponents threw everything at Härenstam. And again, he was there to answer the challenge.

Selström opened the scoring again, off of a pass from William Morin almost 10 minutes into the first half. Once Norrbotten got the lead, Härenstam made sure the team held onto it. He made 12 saves in the first half. In the second half, he faced a barrage from opposing Stockholm North shooters, turning away all 16 shots.

Norrbotten was outshot for the second consecutive game, this time by a margin of 28-11. It didn’t matter though, as Härenstam’s heroics propelled the team into the championship game. It was the first time since 2002 that Norrbotten had even reached the tournament’s finale — a tournament that it hadn’t won since 1985.

Photo by Johan Löf | swehockey.se

Love Making History For Norrbotten

Through the first two rounds, competition at TV-Pucken had proven to be razor sharp. In 11 games, the average margin of victory was just 2.18 goals. Five games were decided by just one goal, including Gästrikland’s 5-4 overtime win over Göteborg in the consolation rounds.

Härenstam’s two shutouts had lifted Norrbotten into the championship where they faced Stockholm South. 

Another high-powered offense, South scored more goals in round-robin action than any other district. Seventeen different skaters combined to score 39 goals in five games. Anton Frondell, Ruben Westerling, Viktor Hedlund and Arvid Drott are among some of the top forward prospects in the country. 

Teodor Friberg, Hedlund and Olle Därth got South past its first-round opponent in Gästrikland. Five different scorers elevated South past Ångermanland 6-3 in the semifinals as well.

None of that mattered when South ran into Norrbotten in the finale though. 

Joseph Harmouche and Casper Karlsson-Juustovaara scored back-to-back goals less than seven minutes apart. That gave Norrbotten a 2-0 lead late in the first half. Frondell finally got Härenstam to crack, scoring on South’s 25th shot of the game with 1:53 left in regulation. It was far too little, too late though, as Norrbotten hung on to win.

Top Performers from the TV-Pucken

Härenstam’s shutout streak spanned 158:25 of game action. The tournament format consisted of two 20-minute halves, 40-minute regulation-time contests in total. He posted three consecutive shutouts in the tournament, nearly collecting a fourth in the championship. He played all but 58 seconds of action through eight games for Norrbotten. His 1.00 goals-against average and 94.9 save percentage were tops in the tournament.

Teammate Ihs-Wozniak was among the leading scorers in the TV-Pucken. Through eight games, he scored 10 goals and 18 points. Ihs-Wozniak was matched by Stockholm South’s Frondell, who also produced 18 points in eight games. Frondell had 13 in pool play and five in playoff rounds, both were top marks.

South’s Westerling led all defensemen in both goals (six) and points (nine). Småland’s Liam Pettersson led all defenders in assists with eight. 

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Players to watch and what District could come out on top in Sweden

The conclusion of the 2022 TV-Pucken takes place this weekend. Sweden’s annual U16 tournament features individual players representing 24 districts across the country. The field of teams were whittled down to eight after the first installment of the tournament in September. Remaining teams will compete for the TV-Pucken title in the second phase of the tournament this weekend. The final portion of the event will consist of a single-elimination playoff that starts on Friday. 

This particular event is similar to that of Federal District Championships in Russia or Canada’s Youth Olympic Games. Individual players from various winter clubs are selected to represent their respective regions of the country. From there, they compete against top players from other districts in a quest to win a national championship.

The eight remaining districts competing for a national title include: Ångermanland, Gästrikland, Göteborg, Norrbotten, Småland, Stockholm North, Stockholm South and Västerbotten. 

The Favorite: Stockholm North

The TV-Pucken dates all the way back to 1959, and the championship games are broadcasted on national TV. The Stockholm District has won 17 titles between its North and South teams. North has won the last three tournaments and should certainly be considered the favorite to win a fourth in a row.

Forward Melvin Novotny plays in the regular season for the No. 10 ranked ‘07 team in the world, Täby HC. He is one of four players from Täby representing Stockholm North. Through the first phase of the TV-Pucken, Novotny led all scorers with six goals and 13 points. His Stockholm North teammate Eric Nilson scored seven goals and 12 points. Nilson is the lone representative from his winter club Järfälla HC, which is currently unranked.

That duo alone should make for matchup nightmares with other Districts this weekend. One opponent that could keep pace with North’s offense is Stockholm South. However, North and South are on opposite sides of the bracket and wouldn’t meet until the championship.

Additionally, Djurgårdens goaltender Hugo Severgårdh backstopped North to its two biggest victories in pool play. He made 13 saves in the 4-3 win over Stockholm South and 14 saves in a 3-2 win over Uppland District. Severgårdh has also played six games with the J18 squad this season, posting a .902 save percentage and 1.83 goals-against average. North has a couple options to put between the pipes, but Severgårdh provides a huge boost of confidence.

The Underdog: Norrbotten

There’s one player that gives Norrbotten a chance against any opponent at TV-Pucken.

Love Härenstam.

The 6-foot-1 goaltender has proved to be one of the best 2007-born net minders in the country. He played as an under-ager last season on the U16 Djurgårdens squad that won a national championship. He’s compiled a 1.50 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in eight J18 games this season. Härenstam also played all five games of TV-Pucken pool play last month, making 64 saves and allowing just seven goals against for Norrbotten.

Great goaltending is the ultimate equalizer. Sprinkle in an elite-level forward like Jakob Ihs-Wozniak and Norrbotten has the makings of an underdog story. 

Härenstam in net and Ihs-Wozniak on the wing are as good as anyone in the country. William Morin, Elias Selström and Oliwer Sjöström provide great secondary support as well. Expect Norrbotten to cruise past Småland in the quarterfinals and take Stockholm North right down to the wire in a semifinal matchup. The winner of that game should win the entire tournament.

The Long Shot: Vasterbotten

It’s a long shot because they draw the odds–on favorite in the first round. However, if Vasterbotten can steal a game away from Stockholm North, the road to a championship could open up wide. It’ll be a tall task, given the talent previously mentioned that North possesses.

Vasterbotten may lack star power, but it does have good depth.

In pool play, as many as 10 skaters tallied four points or more through five games. The trio of Liam Hedman, Viktor Klingsell and Tim Dahlgren led the pack with eight points apiece. And while they finished third in Group B, Vasterbotten kept it close with both teams they trailed in the standings. Top-seeded Ångermanland defeated them 4-2 in a close game. Then, two goals in the final minutes of the game with second-seeded Norrbotten inflated the score to a 7-3 final.

A lot would have to go right for Vasterbotten to make a run. Commitment in the defensive zone, blocked shots and a big performance from a goaltender could be just enough to achieve a first-round upset. That happens, and all Hell could break loose.

Bracketology: Predictions For How TV-Pucken Goes Down

The 2021 TV-Pucken tournament saw Stockholm North defeat Stockholm South 3-1 in the championship game. It was just the second time in tournament history that the finale featured an all-Stockholm matchup. All signs point to history repeating itself with the two teams representing the nation’s capital clashing in the championship again this weekend.

North should cruise through its first two games to reach the finale. South faces a bit tougher of a road, but still expect them to come out of its half of the bracket.

They skated to a 4-3 finish in the final game of pool play last month. Eric Nilson and Mattias Nyberg produced multi-point performances that day for Stockholm North. Nilson’s seventh goal of pool play put North on top with under 10 minutes to go in regulation.

Melvin Novotny will be a major player for a Stockholm North playoff run as well. The 5-foot-11 forward is widely regarded as a top forward in the country. The team’s offense should overwhelm most opponents over the weekend.

The only District with potential to match North’s firepower is its neighbors to the south. Power forward Anton Frondell should lead Stockholm South into a rematch for the championship on Sunday. Frondell along with Viktor Hedlund, Arvid Drott and Ruben Westerling will trade blows with heavily-favored Stockholm North. 

Stockholm North tops Stockholm South in a nailbiter to win the national championship.

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One youth hockey club from each of the five major countries that owned October

With the 2022-23 season well underway, there have been some clubs that have stood above the rest. We look at a few programs across all countries and birth years to see who has established themselves as the “best of the best.”

UNITED STATES: 2009 St. Louis AAA Blues

The ’09 St. Louis AAA Blues experienced a fantastic month of October, going 12-2-0. They’ve held firm in the top two spots among U.S. teams since the rankings began for this season. The Blues have fared extremely well against most competition. A statement highlighted by their two-game sweep of No. 22 Dallas Stars Elite just two weeks ago. 

Other highlights include two victories against No. 25 Windy City Storm. St. Louis also split two contests with a Top-10 U.S. team, the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, a 6-4 loss and 5-3 win. 

CANADA: 2008 Vaughan Kings

Finding themselves ranked the No. 1 team among Canadian ‘08 clubs, the Vaughan Kings almost went unbeaten in October. The lone ‘blemish’ of their 12-1-0 record for the month was a 3-2 overtime loss to the North York Rangers on Oct. 2. 

While the Kings began the month with a stretch of games against Canadian teams, the latter half of the month saw a change. Vaughan has faced off against some of the best the U.S. has to offer as well. Cross-border matchups are always exciting, and Vaughan showed they can handle even the top teams from another country. 

Taking part in the Little Caesars Invitational, they went 5-0-0 en route to the championship. They beat the likes of American ranked No. 6 Little Caesars, No. 10 Pittsburgh Vengeance, and No. 2 Chicago Mission.

SWEDEN: 2010 Viggbyholms IK

Viggbyholms IK has been lights out since the start of the youth hockey season, playing to a 16-0-1 record. While they did not have a busy month of October, their performance has been undeniable. 

Kicking off their games with a modest showing at the Farsta Games, they collected back to back gold medals at the Nicklas Backstrom Cup and Nordic Youth Trophy, going undefeated at both. 

FINLAND: 2007 Kiekko-Espoo

With group play in full swing in Finland, Kiekko Espoo’s ‘07 team has gotten off to a stellar start. A 10-0-0 month has added to their overall 14-1-1 record. 

Some may say that they have yet to face the top teams in their group, but you can only play the games that are scheduled. In October, they handled matchups against KalPa, Jokipojat, K-Vantaa, HYRI and HIFK. Aided by their explosive offense, which tallied 27 goals across six games, while only allowing seven.

An offense that is ignited by the two-way play of forwards Aapo Vanninen (6G, 15A) and Aleksi Kilpeläinen (11G, 9A). 

Ranked No. 1 in Finland and No. 10 in the world, they are still the team to beat. 

RUSSIA: 2010 CSKA Moscow

Much has been said of the 2010-born CSKA Moscow squad, and rightfully so. What they have been able to accomplish so far this season is nothing short of spectacular, currently sitting with a 21-0-0 record. 

CSKA continued their winning ways against their fellow Russian programs this month. Victories over top Russian teams No. 4 Vityaz Podolsk, No. 2 Spartak Moscow. Wins over Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Krylia Sovetov rounded out October as well.

Look no further than the dynamic duo of Nikita Sinikin (27G, 30A) and Roman Andreev (27G, 22A). Their ability to score seemingly at will has propelled CSKA to their position at the top. 

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Jonathan Sandberg leads team to victory at top Swedish tournament

The Folke Filbyter Cup is one of the top youth hockey tournaments in Sweden. It regularly showcases some of the top players in the U15 age group from across the country. Because of that, it has also become one of the premier events in all of youth hockey.

This year, clubs from the 2008 age group competed in two pools of six teams. After a five-game round robin, the top four teams from each pool advanced to an eight-team playoff. There, Södertälje managed to win back-to-back one-goal games to win the 2022 Folke Filbyter championship. 

Södertälje — currently unranked in the latest World Rankings — outlasted a field that consisted of Top Swedish teams No. 1 Nacka HK, No. 3 Täby HC, No. 5 Malmö Redhawks, No. 7 Linköping HC and No. 10 SDE Hockey.

In pool play, SSK tied top-ranked Nacka 3-3 on Friday. Jonathan Sandberg tallied a goal and an assist in that game to earn a crucial point in the standings. The next day, Lucas Brauer delivered a three-point game for SSK to earn another 3-3 tie with Linköping. Holding onto a tie in both of those contests proved to be the difference in the standings. It allowed Södertälje to squeak into the playoff rounds as the 6-seed.

Survive and Advance at Folke Filbyter

The top four teams from each pool advanced to the playoff rounds. The top team from each pool faced the lowest seed from the opposing pool, and the second seed faced the third seed in cross-pool matchups as well. 

Södertälje proved to be the only lower seed to survive the quarterfinals with a 5-1 win over Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg. Sandberg again made his presence felt with two goals and an assist. Joel Falck, Marcus Sӧderman and Christian Furuvik added goals as well. 

Continuing in its underdog role, SSK was one of four teams remaining alongside Nacka, Täby and Linköping.

Sӧderman — who hadn’t scored a goal in pool play — scored his second goal of the playoff rounds 13 minutes into the semifinal game. It tied the game at 1-1 and gave Södertälje life heading into the second half. Then, just over seven minutes into the second period, Brauer scored his fourth goal of the weekend to give SSK an eventual 2-1 win. That put the team firmly in the championship game, where they’d face Täby.

The championship game featured four lead changes. Södertälje traded blows back and forth with the higher-ranked opponent right down to the wire. They led 1-0 out of the gate. Came from behind to tie the game up at 2-2 before intermission. Let a 3-2 lead slip away with under 10 minutes to play. But with just six seconds left in regulation, Christian Furuvik tucked one home past Taby’s Caspar Lampe to give Södertälje a dramatic 4-3 upset victory.

Sandberg — who had two points in the championship — led all scorers on the weekend with 17 points. Vilmer Salén-Forsberg allowed six goals against on 41 shots in his two starts in pool play. However, when the focus shifted to elimination rounds, Salén-Forsberg elevated his play with a 1.67 goals-against average and 91.2 save percentage. He started all three playoff games for Södertälje en route to the championship.

From Unranked to Champions

Through the first two months of the season, Södertälje had been relatively quiet in game action. The 2008 squad was absent from the Sweden Hockey Trophy and DIF Elitcup in September. Those two events are significant ones for the age group. Through October, the only body of work on record was a 4-0-0 performance in Stockholm group play. None of those opponents were among the Swedish Top 10 teams either.

So, for Södertälje to tie the top-ranked team in the country. And then tie and defeat the No. 7 team in the country. And then defeat the No. 3 team in the country with a championship on the line? SSK made its statement loud and clear that it belongs amongst the top programs in Scandinavia and beyond.

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The latest World Hockey Rankings are out, with plenty of news, notes and more to monitor

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, it’s easy to tell that youth hockey season around the world is in full action. From the biggest upsets to major movement in top-10 rankings, there’s plenty to catch up on from the last few weeks.

Here’s everything you need to know before exploring the updated youth hockey rankings:

Big wins among ‘06s and ‘08s 

The 2006-born New Jersey Rockets were propelled into the No. 4 spot thanks largely in part to three key victories against fellow U.S. teams. 

Sitting on the outside looking in heading into their next stretch of games, the Rockets saw an opportunity to make some noise and prove that their 25-6-2 record is no fluke. 

After edging then No. 3 Mount St. Charles in overtime, 3-2, they then bested the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite with another overtime victory, 5-4. Next up was a tilt with No. 10 Bishop-Kearney Selects. The Rockets would once again find themselves in another high-scoring affair, emerging as the victors 5-4. 

With the three wins, New Jersey found themselves rocketing up the top-10 into their current position. Now that they are there, time will tell if they can hold onto it and prove they belong with the best. 

No. 9 Sollentuna HC took advantage of a matchup with No. 10 SDE Hockey to maneuver their way into the top-10 among ‘08 clubs in Sweden.

Sitting second in their group with a 3-0-1 record, Sollentuna leaned on the heroics of leading scorer Victor Kumpulainen.

In what was a back and forth offensive display for the first 30 minutes, SDE went up 3-2 with about seven minutes remaining in the game.

It was then that Kumpulainen put his team on his shoulders. After tying the game just over a minute after SDE netted the lead, he scored his second goal of the game with just under three minutes left in the game for a 4-3 lead.

Kumpulainen not only leads Sollentuna in scoring, but is also tied for the group lead in points with seven (6G, 1A) with No. 8 AIK Hockey’s Filip Nyberg (4G, 3A). Even more exciting is that both of these squads will face each other on Nov. 13 in a game that could have major implications for things moving forward.

2007-born programs solidify spots

No. 2 Tappara cruised by No. 3 Kärpät 7-1, moving up two spots to leapfrog them at the top of the ‘07 Finnish rankings. It was a game that Tappara had circled on their calendars, as they were defeated by Kärpät 4-3 back in September, and were almost certainly itching for some payback. 

In what was a close 2-1 contest going into the third period, Tappara buried five unanswered goals in the third period for the victory. Looking ahead, they have five upcoming games against teams that are all in the top-10. 

While the road may not be easy, will we see Tappara strengthen their position at the top?

SKA Strelna also enjoyed a nice little boost in the Russian top-10 among 2007 birth-year teams resulting from wins over Dynamo St. Petersburg and SKA St. Petersburg

Once handling Dynamo 4-3 in overtime, SKA Strelna’s defense and goaltending stole the show in a 3-0 win against SKA St. Petersburg. These two victories against teams ahead of them in the rankings strengthened their resume for the time being.

CSKA proving their worth across multiple birth years

Russia has been known to produce its fair share of hockey talent over the years, and one of the premier programs at doing so has been CSKA Moscow. With the 2022-23 season in full gear, it’s safe to say this year is no different. 

CSKA currently sits alone at the top of the rankings both in Russia and the world for the following birth years: 2008, 2009 and 2010. They are also ranked No. 1 among ‘06 teams in Russia. 

While this is an impressive feat by itself, perhaps more astounding is the current winning streak of one of their programs. The 2010-born program is in the midst of a 20-game winning streak, dispatching all they have faced thus far.

It will be very interesting to see how long they can keep this streak alive, as they will surely be getting the very best of their opponents each night from here on out.