Two tournaments, two cities, two world champions of youth hockey

The 2009 and 2010-born World Selects Invitational tournaments take place simultaneously this week in separate European cities. Games will get underway on Tuesday with teams competing in host cities Bolzano, Italy and Chamonix, France. Eight 13U teams will clash for the ‘10 WSI while eight other 14U teams compete for the ‘09 championship. Last month, CCM All Out won the 15U championship in Nashville, while Team Minnesota won the 16U championship. Plus, Slovakia Selects won the 12U WSI this past weekend to become world champions as well. The pair of tournaments this week will close the book on WSI Elite tournaments for the 2023 season.

We take a closer look at each of the ‘09 and ‘10 WSIs before action gets underway on Tuesday.

Can Sweden Selects be the first organization to repeat as 14U WSI champions?

Sweden Selects won the 14U World Selects Invitational last spring thanks to the efforts of ‘08-born Marcus Nordmark and Alexander Command. If the ‘09s are going to repeat as WSI champions for Sweden, they’ll need big performances from the likes of Love Lorentzon, Tom Pråhl and Oliver Sundberg

If Sweden returns to prominence in Bolzano this week, it would be the first time an organization has ever gone back-to-back at the 14U WSI. 

A repeat will be no easy task, as seven other teams from around the world make a case for championship gold as well. North American-based Pro Hockey has four players from the No. 1-ranked team in Canada, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Similarly, Finland Selects brings players from various Top-10 teams as well, including Kiekko-Espoo, Tappara and Jokerit.

Czech Knights, ALPS Selects and Latvia Selects all draw players from various Central European regions. Plus, Barys (Kazakhstan) and Eastern U.S. Selects round out the field of participating teams. 

Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the ’09 WSI championship final going down on Saturday.

13U WSI returns for the first time in four years

CSKA Moscow was the last 13U team to win the World Selects Invitational in 2019. That was a tournament of top ‘06-born players in the city of Chamonix. Four years later, the ‘10s return to the same city in search of the first 13U WSI championship since CSKA hoisted the trophy.

Due to COVID-19 and significant travel restrictions, there has been a drought in 13U champions. Now in 2023, eight teams from around the world look to be the first to recapture gold in the age group.

In years past, prospects like Connor Bedard, Macklin Celebrini and Alexey Dontsov have made their mark in this very tournament. Dontsov is a top European prospect in the 2024 NHL Draft class; he currently plays for No. 1-ranked CSKA Moscow. Celebrini was just named the USHL Player of the Year after scoring 86 points in the Tier-I junior league. And Bedard, the all-time leading scorer of the 13U WSI, is slated to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft next month. 

The youth hockey community will get a good look at a ’10 WSI tournament that’s featured some of the best youth hockey players in the world. The eight participating teams hail from Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia, as well as the Alps region of Europe. Additionally, DraftDay and Eastern U.S. Selects bring top prospects from North America. Barys will represent Kazakhstan, as the club participates in its third World Selects event of the spring.

Each team will compete in five pool-play games from Tuesday to Thursday. Single-elimination playoffs will begin on Friday, with the championship final going down on Saturday. There’s also an All-Star Game consisting of top performers from the tournament slotted for Friday afternoon.

World Hockey Hub is the exclusive media provider of all 12 of the World Selects Invitational tournaments. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest WSI news and announcements!

Five rounds of playoff action, and WHH experts predict how it will all unfold

Pool play is over at the ‘08 World Selects Invitational from Nashville. A field that started with 34 teams has been cut down to 24 left in the hunt for youth hockey’s world championship. Eighty-five games featuring some of the best 2008-born youth hockey players has seen 44 of those contests decided by two goals or fewer. It’s been a tightly contested tournament thus far, and playoff hockey moving forward should only continue that trend.

Elimination rounds begin on Friday afternoon with eight play-in games. Winners of those matchups will advance to face the top eight seeds in the round of 16. 

Here’s how I see the playoffs unfolding in the Music City:

Play-in Game Upsets and Bracket Busters

Chaos in the early rounds could lead to chalk in the later rounds. I like Team Minnesota — the last team to qualify for the playoffs as the 24-seed — to pull off not one, but two upsets. Andrew Clark, Danny Peate and Ryder Siedow have shown to be offensive threats. Plus, I feel like Kazakhstan Selects may have benefitted from a weaker schedule in pool play. Obviously, not something they could control but all three of their wins came against teams that have already been eliminated from the tournament. I like Team MN to be victorious, but really whoever wins that 9-v-24 matchup should make it to the quarterfinals.

I like another Minnesota-based team to pull off a stunner in the opening round as well. Hard not to, I mean there’s six playoff teams that call the State of Hockey home. Similar to Kazakhstan, I think Swiss Selects benefitted from a 3-0-0 start against opponents that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Minnesota Generals, on the other hand, have played everyone tough, even in defeat. They win on Friday and set the stage for a Generals-vs-SKA Yunost rematch from Thursday — SKA defeated the Generals 4-1 and out-shot them 30-19 in the process. 

Top Seeds play out to the Final Four

CCM Selects and Finland Selects have set themselves apart from the group in a big way. I like the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to cruise to the semifinals, but only have one of them making it to the championship. 

Should ID Selects and CCM clash in one half of the bracket, it’ll be the greatest collection of ‘08-born North American talent you’ll find in one place all year. J.P. Hurlbert, Michael Berchild, Cam Nimmer, Lukas Zajic on one side for ID. Alex McLean, Kent Greer, Maximus Crete, Avry Antsis on the other for CCM. It has the makings for an offensive track meet; a 6-4 type final. If you win that game, you win the tournament.

Finland Selects’ top players are something special. We’ve talked about players like Oliver Torkki and Viljo Kahkonen for about six months now. The team’s offense is dynamic, but in the playoffs of these elite tournaments, I think Finland may struggle to score. Teams tighten up defensively when it’s best on best. I just don’t see those top players having enough time and space to continue producing against Minnesota Blades, ID Selects and CCM. I’ll take Finland to squeak by the Blades, but come up just short in the title game.

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10 Teams with the best chance of winning after two days of action

Nearly 70 games are in the books at the 15U World Selects Invitational in Nashville. The tournament nears the halfway point, as playoff matchups will begin Friday afternoon and a champion ultimately crowned on Sunday. WHH takes a look at 10 teams with the best odds of winning the ’08 Elite world championship.

Disclaimer: This is purely for entertainment purposes only. We do not encourage sports betting on youth hockey games in any form.

Western Selects2-1
CCM Selects3-1
Finland Selects3-1
ID Selects5-1
Minnesota Blades8-1
SKA Yunost8-1
Swiss Selects15-1
Minnesota Lakers16-1
DevCo Hockey20-1
National Hockey Prospects30-1

Led by a pair of Los Angeles Jr. Kings in Tyus Sparks, Logan Stuart and Noah Davidson, Western Selects comes in as the current front-runner through four games. Each Jr. King has scored at least three goals apiece, with Sparks leading the charge with seven points. They did fall 5-1 to another favorite on the list, Minnesota Blades.

CCM Selects has won, and won big in all four games so far. We talked about some of their standouts thus far, and they’ve continued to tear it up into Day 2. Through four games, their average margin of victory 7.75 goals. However, their opponent’s combined record in the tournament is 1-13-0.

Viljo Kahkonen and Oliver Torkki have shown out to be two of the most productive ’08s in the tournament. That duo has led Finland Selects to a 3-0-0 start, and has combined for 17 points; the team as a whole has scored 22 goals.

ID Selects is loaded with some of the top talent in the U.S. That includes forward Cam Nimmer whose fresh off of a national championship run. Michael Berchild leads the team with six points. That’s matched by defenseman A.J. Francisco who began the tournament with points in three straight games.

ID Selects will open up Friday morning action against SKA Yunost. That matchup could have significant playoff seeding implications as well.

As mentioned, Minnesota Blades did beat Western Selects on Thursday. Forward Riley Zupfer posted three points in the win for Minnesota. He leads the team in scoring with seven points, and factored in on half the Blades’ offense.

Want more coverage of the 2023 World Selects Invitational series? WHH is the exclusive media provider of all 12 WSI events, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news!

World Selects Invitational headlined by prospects from 12 different countries

The 2023 World Selects Invitational spring series of events begins on Wednesday, with the ’08 WSI Elite tournament getting underway in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. More than 500 of the top prospects from the 2008 birth year will compete in the six-day event. Participants will represent 12 different countries, as they compete across 30 select teams assembled specifically for this tournament. 

This tournament series dates all the way back to 2009, when names like Alexander Barkov, Filip Forsberg and Radek Faksa debuted on the youth hockey scene. Them, along with 650 other WSI tournament alumni have gone on to be selected in the NHL Draft over the past 10 years. This year, North American prospects like Michael Berchild, Caleb Malhotra and Ethan Garden look to make their mark on international youth hockey. Additionally, top Euros like Oliver Torkki, Arvid Ermeskog and Vladimir Provorov will make the trek across the Atlantic to go toe-to-toe with North America’s best.

Last year, Ryan Roobroeck broke the tournament record for points with 28 in nine games. Twelve months later, he’s projected to be a Top-5 pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection. His teammate in the WSI last spring, Gavin McKenna, went on to be the first overall selection in the 2022 WHL Draft. Together, they led Pro Hockey to the 15U championship against an International Stars team that was loaded with top American-born prospects. So much so that seven players from the Stars’ roster were just named to the 2023-24 U.S. National Team Development Program roster. 

Bottom line, the WSI regularly serves as a launching point for top prospects in youth hockey.

Still dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 last spring, the 2022 tournament only featured five European teams. Travel restrictions and difficulties kept others from making the trip overseas. This spring, that number is expected to double, as teams from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech, Slovakia and Kazakhstan will be in attendance. The Ford Ice Centers in Nashville will be packed with wall-to-wall action all week and WHH will have exclusive coverage of all the action.

‘08 Prospects to watch from Canada, United States

The province of Ontario will be well represented in the Music City. In fact, 20 players from five of the Top-10 teams in the country are expected to be on hand for the ’08 WSI. The No. 1 ranked ‘08 team in the world, Vaughan Kings, will have five players competing for two different teams. Two of their top scorers, Caleb Malhotra and Zach Nyman will skate for CCM Selects. Their regular-season teammate and goaltender Joseph D’Angelo will suit up for opposing team Carolina Whalers; he is one of five Canadians playing for the U.S.-based select team. 

Some other top performers from Ontario includ Maximus Crete, Bryson Morgan and Nikolas Rossetto. They were among the top scorers at the U15 All-Ontario Championships earlier this month. Goaltenders Cameron Ingram and Colin Elsworth were also impressive in that tournament with 1.00 and 1.50 goals-against averages respectively. 

There is a plethora of American talent expected as well. Each of the top nine teams in the country will be represented by multiple players. Some of the more notable being No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s leading scorer Michael Berchild. He finished the ‘22-23 season with 106 points; the fourth-most among ‘08s in the country. J.P. Hurlbert III led all U.S. skaters with 195 points in 75 games. Him and Berchild will be teammates at the ’08 WSI for ID Selects

Lukas Zajic and Camden Nimmer will also skate for ID Selects. They were among some of the top performers at USA Hockey Nationals earlier this month. They also went head-to-head in the national title game, as Nimmer and his Bishop Kearney Selects took home gold.  

European prospects look to bring ’08 WSI back overseas for first time since 2015

The last time a European team won the North American WSI, Oliver Wahlstrom, Rasmus Sandin and Ryan Merkley were playing for Sweden Selects. Wahlstrom is in his third season for the New York Islanders. Sandin just finished his second season in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. Merkley made his NHL debut for the San Jose Sharks last season. 

None of those three will be able to help Sweden claim World Selects gold in Nashville this week. However, players like Arvid Ermeskog, Salim Ismailov and Fabian Merkle-Rohdin certainly could.

Ermeskog is a standout forward for the No. 1 ranked team in Sweden, Nacka HK. He led the Sweden Hockey Trophy in scoring last fall with 11 points in seven games. Ismailov finished closely behind with 10 points for Flemingsbergs IK. On top of that, Merkle-Rohdin was a top performer at the U15 DIF Elitcup in September as well. He scored 14 points in that tournament for HV71. He also spent 23 games playing up an age level with the club’s U16 team.

Speaking of under-agers, Oliver Torkki and Jiko Laitinen were among some of the top scorers in Finland’s U16 SM-Series this season. Playing amongst competition where 85 percent of the players were older than these two ‘08s, Torkki and Laitinen finished third and fourth in points. Torkki scored 33 goals and 77 points in 39 games for HIFK. Laitinen finished with 76 points in 40 games. They will certainly be a force for Finland Selects at the ’08 WSI. 

While he maintains dual citizenship being born in Tampa, Florida, Alex Theodore played the ‘22-23 season for the U15 Pilsen Wolves. He led the team in scoring with 53 points in 34 games. He also scored 16 points in 10 games with the club’s U17 team as well. Teammate Ben Reisnecker is another standout performer from Central Europe. From the blue line, Reisnecker scored 63 points in 47 games between the Wolves’ U15 and U17 teams as well. The pair will likely lead the Czech Knights’ offensive attack this week in Nashville.

World Selects season in full swing

In addition to the 2008 Elite event in Nashville, two other tournaments get underway this week as well. The U14 Girls event begins on Wednesday as well, hosted in Chamonix, France. Additionally, the 2011 AAA tournament kicks off from Bolzano, Italy, on Thursday. 

Twelve girls teams from nine different countries will compete for the U14 championship. Czech Selects won the tournament last year. That snapped a three-year run of North American teams winning gold. 

DraftDay, Minnesota Prospects, Premier Ice Prospects (PIP) Hockey and Pro Hockey will travel across the Atlantic to represent the U.S. and Canada. Select teams from Czech, Finland, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland will make the field of teams at the U14 tournament one of the most diverse among WSI events this spring.

The 2011 AAA tournament — open to all AAA-level players — consists of 13 teams from as many as nine different countries. It is the first of three WSI events to take place in the city of Bolzano. 

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Participating teams, locations and dates finalized for 2023 Spring season

The 15th season of the World Selects tournament series will begin on April 25th. Following that day, 12 different events will take place over the following weeks. They’ll be hosted in five exotic locations across six different age groups for both boys and girls international youth hockey players. 

The World Selects Invitational has a long and decorated history as one of, if not, the most iconic tournament series in youth hockey today. 

More than 650 participants have gone on to be chosen in the NHL Draft. That includes 2022 first overall selection Juraj Slafkovsky (Slovakia Selects), 2021 sixth overall selection Simon Edvinsson (Sweden Selects), 2020 second overall selection Quinton Byfield (Canada) and 2019 second overall selection Kaapo Kakko (Finland Selects). Every NHL roster features at least one name that’s been etched in the World Selects halls of history.

Dates and Locations for the 2023 WSI

The next wave of top-tier talent in youth hockey will take the stage this Spring. It begins with the 2008 Boys Elite tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, USA on April 25th. The U14 Girls Elite event will take place at the same time 4,600 miles across the globe in Chamonix, France. Also taking place that week is the 12U Boys AAA tournament in Bolzano, Italy. 

That trio of events will signify the beginning of a World Selects season of events that will decorate the calendar over the next three months. Here’s a complete list of dates, ages and locations:

Participating Teams and Competition Levels

World Selects tournaments fall into two categories. The first is the Elite events, where participating teams apply for entry, and go through a thorough vetting process. Those teams compete in the World Selects Invitational. Participants include franchises such as DraftDay Hockey, Eastern U.S. Selects, NorthStar Elite, Premier Ice Prospects, Pro Hockey, Sweden Selects, Finland Selects and other European Selects programs. 

In total, 20 different North American programs and 20 European programs will be represented this season. Additionally, teams from more than 18 different countries will take the ice including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czechia, Slovakia, France, Norway, Latvia and Kazakhstan, among others.

Teams consist of players that are carefully recruited and selected to compete in the Elite events. These are high-level AAA players capable of competing against the absolute best in the world. These teams typically represent the best youth hockey players their respective countries have to offer. Hundreds of futures NHL players, thousands of NCAA college hockey athletes and countless national team representatives from around the world.

The AAA events provide the same, exotic experience offered in Elite events, but are open to any AAA caliber youth hockey player. Hosted in many of the same locations as the Elite events, the AAA World Selects Trophy tournaments provide players — and teams  — with an opportunity to compete, perform and potentially be promoted to compete at Elite events in the future.

What’s Next for the WSI and Youth Hockey

World Hockey Hub is the exclusive media provider for all 12 World Selects tournaments and will produce one-of-a-kind content you won’t find anywhere else in youth hockey. Games can be live-streamed on SolidSport, and WHH will have complete breakdowns, commentary, analysis, highlights, photo galleries, interviews and more from some of the top players and teams in the WSI. 

Join more than 28,000 people in following WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube. The WHH community will be the first to receive updates as the WSI unfolds this spring. Additionally, you’ll receive announcements regarding upcoming events, future tournaments and other news about the World Selects tournament series.

Florida Alliance wins ’09 tournament with big performances from Trevor Daley and Justin Fernandez

Florida Alliance captured the 2023 Champions League title this past weekend in their home state. It was a pair of prolific scorers leading the way at various points of the tournament. 

Justin Fernandez and Trevor Daley were unstoppable at different times, creating a one-two punch that carried the 2009-born club to a 6-1-0 record. That was enough to earn a tournament championship against international competition at the Florida Panthers IceDen.

Fernandez Fuels Florida Through Pool Play

Fernandez led the Alliance in scoring through the round-robin play to kick things off in a big way. He registered five goals and five assists in four games; a more than two-point-per game average. Only a collection of Finnish skaters — Toomas Reijonen, Aleksi Leinonen and Jusso Fredrikson — topped or matched Fernandez in preliminary-round scoring.

With that impressive display of offensive production, teams knew they had to keep tabs on Fernandez heading into playoffs. There, he was contained to five total points in three games. Still an impressive stat line but certainly slowed from his round-robin pace.

So that’s when Trevor Daley took over.

Elite Play from Daley in Elimination Rounds

In the quarterfinals against the NA Stars, Daley recorded two goals and an assist to power the Alliance to a 7-1 win. The son of former Stanley Cup champion Trevor Daley, he set up Florida’s first goal, which evened the score 1-1 in the middle of the first period. Then, the younger Daley went on to score the go-ahead goal eight minutes later. 

Daley added another strike in the second period to make the score 5-1. That effectively putting the game out of reach and secured the win for his Alliance squad.

In the semifinals, Daley again helped the Alliance to victory with a 6-3 win over Finland-based Tappara. Florida was the only team to beat Tappara in the tournament, after they prevailed 5-1 in the preliminary round on Dec. 29th. In the New Year’s Eve semifinal rematch, Daley posted a goal and two assists. First, he set up Reese Tracy’s goal that made it 2-0 early in the first period. Later on, Daley scored to make it a 5-3 game before getting the second assist on Fernandez’s power-play goal. That performance solidified Alliance’s spot in the final.

Saving The Best For Last

The scoring spree from Daley continued into the final. He factored into all but one of Alliance’s goals in a 5-1 victory over SPA Futures. After Logan Anderson scored a goal for Florida early in the first period, Daley set up Fernandez for another tally. Daley wasn’t done there, as he scored a short-handed goal after that. Florida went up 3-0 quickly.

After SPA scored to pull within two, Daley found the back of the net for his  second goal of the night. And moments later, he’d put a bow on his performance — and the team’s tournament run —  by setting up Fernandez once again to round out a four-point night.

Daley finished with 13 points in the tournament, while Fernandez had 15. Additionally, Reese Tracy registered 14 points in the seven contests. While Daley, Fernandez and Tracy led the charge up front, it was Nello Torriero taking care of business at the other end. He logged every minute of goaltending duties for Florida, finishing with a 6-1-0 record, a .854 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average with one shutout. In five of his seven games, he held the opposition to a one goal or fewer.

Pisarcik, Ozogany Lead Euros in Offensive Production

SPA came up short in the championship game, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort from two talented forwards. Samuel Pisarcik led the playoffs in scoring with 10 points in three games, while Oliver Ozogany had seven.

Pisarcik, a forward from HK Dukla Trenčín in Slovakia, finished the tournament with 14 points over his seven games. Ozogany, a forward who plays for HOBA Bratislava in Slovakia in the regular season, had 13 during his trip to Florida.

With the tournament all wrapped up, Fernandez ended up leading the whole field in scoring with 15 points. Tracy was right behind him with 14, as was the aforementioned Pisarcik of SPA and Reijonen of the Kiekko-Espoo Blues out of Finland. Reijonen was the only skater to produce that many points in just six games, compared to seven for the rest of the group.

Kasper Aihinen of Kiekko-Espoo finished with a .901 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average in five games – he was the only goaltender to crack the .900 save percentage mark. Torriero, as previously mentioned, posted a 1.86 goals-against over his seven contests for tops in that category.

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Fast paced action and high scoring at Champions League

SPA nabs top spot in Group A

The second day of Champions League play among 2009-born programs saw all eight participants complete their preliminary round schedules. Teams will be re-seeded based on their positions of group play with the playoff rounds beginning Friday, Dec. 30. 

One of the most impressive runs at this year’s tournament has been that of Seacoast Performance Academy Futures, who has gone 3-0-0. SPA opened their slate of games with a thrilling 6-5 comeback victory over Finland-based Kiekko-Espoo Blues. Down 4-2 at one point early in the second period, they tallied four unanswered goals en route to the win. Bolstering the offense for SPA were Pavol Strnadel (2G, 2A) and Oliver Ozogány (1G, 2A). Both players are tied with Max Malicerík (4G, 1A) for second in overall team scoring. 

Led up front by Juuso Frederiskon (1G, 7A), Toomas Reijonen (5G, 3A) and Luca Santala (4G, 2A), K-Espoo would get back in the win column in their next two games. Outscoring Mountfield HK and NA Stars by a combined score of 15-3 placed them second in the group. As an added note, all three players led Group A in scoring.

Kiekko Blues would finish second in group A with a 2-1-0 record, followed by Mountfield (1-2-0) and NA Stars (0-3-0). 

Tappara, Florida Alliance Battle for Group B Supremacy

While Seacoast ran away with Group A, the race for the top spot in Group B was much more of a dogfight. Tappara and Florida Alliance stood equal with 2-0-0 records heading into their final game of the round robin format, which just so happened to be against one another. 

Sent to an early power play, Tappara would open the scoring off a goal from Oliver Raimovaara. But just 23 seconds later, Kyle Hofelich would even the score at 1 thanks to a great individual effort. 

Then the Justin Fernandez show began.

Fernandez capped off a pretty passing play between Trevor Daley and Reese Tracy to put Florida up 2-1. Shortly after, he sniped home his second goal of the contest increasing the lead to 3-1. Daley would tally a goal of his own towards the end of the first period for a 4-1 advantage. At 12:49 of the second period, Fernandez beat Tappara netminder Kai Tummonen for the third time of the afternoon to cap off his hat trick. 

A strong performance that garnered Fernandez 10 points (5G, 5A), securing second in total scoring among all skaters at the tournament. The flashy forward currently sits behind Tappara’s Aleski Leinonen’s three goals and 11 points.

Tummonen finished with 24 saves on 29 shots, while Nello Torrio’s 22 saves on 23 shots helped backstop Alliance to the win. 

Tappara would finish group play at 2-1-0, followed by Geneva Futur Hockey’s 1-2-0 record and HC Slovan ending at 0-3-0.

SPA, Alliance ready to face off

After all is said and done with regards to re-seeding, SPA will be tasked with taking on Alliance in their next matchup. With these two squads ending up in first place of their respective groups, expect the goals and emotions to run high. It will be imperative for SPA to start the game on time, as most of Florida’s offense in the Champions League has come in the first period. Seacoast, on the other hand, has found the back of the net evenly across both periods up to this point. 

Also top of the list for SPA is to not be deterred by Torrio. Alliance’s saving grace between the pipes has statistically been the best goalie, racking up a 0.67 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. SPA will likely counter with Nicko Zack Havel in net.

Set your alarms and prepare the coffee because you won’t want to miss when these two teams drop the puck at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Other matchups throughout the day are as follows:

NA Stars vs. HC Slovan – 10:00 AM EST

Mountfield HK vs. Geneva Futur Hockey – 2:15 PM EST

K-Espoo Blues vs. Tappara – 2:30 PM EST

For more coverage of the Champions League and other top youth hockey tournaments around the world, follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

Second annual tournament to take place at Panthers IceDen

While the month of December is known for chilly temperatures and festive greetings, the action inside the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, Florida, will be heating up. The venue will host the second annual Champions League tournament from Dec. 28 – 31st. Eight 2009-born teams from Europe and North America will tangle in a rare international event.

Participating Teams:

Florida Alliance (United States)Mountfield HK (Czech Republic)
Seacoast Performance Academy (United States)Geneve Futur Hockey (Switzerland)
NA North Stars (North America)Kiekko-Espoo (Finland)
HC Slovan (Slovakia)Tappara (Finland)
*bold indicates second year at tournament

Any teams from similar countries will be split into different groups so that pool play provides unique international competition. After completing three preliminary-round games, teams will qualify for either the championship rounds or consolation rounds, based on in-pool standings. After a day of rest, the championship rounds will be held, where competition will follow an elimination-style playoff. 

In some instances, there are also rosters that have been compiled to be all-star squads of sorts. Tappara and Kiekko-Espoo usually have numerous split quads for a majority of their regular season. Then, come tournament time, they compile the ‘best of the best’ players into one unit to strut their stuff on the big stage. 

Three of the split squads from Kiekko-Espoo have been mainstays in the Top 10 of Finland in the WHH World Rankings. In the latest installment, K-Espoo Blues I, K-Espoo Blues II and K-Espoo EPS I hold positions as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 8, respectively.

In similar fashion, the NA North Stars are a melting pot of players from varying teams across North America. 

Don’t count out teams like the Florida Alliance or Seacoast Performance Academy from making some noise at this year’s tournament. The Alliance have played some close games against the best in America. It certainly helps when your coach is two-time Stanley Cup champion Trevor Daley

To take a deeper look into some of the more prominent matchups, click HERE

Complete stats, standings and upcoming games are available HERE. For continued coverage of the Champions League, be sure to follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

Players from six countries gear up for regular season with final event of the summer

A tournament that typically features 40-50 summer hockey teams, hosted just 14 teams over the course of two weeks in Sweden and France. While it was significantly downsized, the European Hockeyfest had a very intimate feel in 2022. A smaller field of teams provided participants with an exclusive experience both on and off the ice.

While this year’s lineup was a fraction of what we’ve typically come to expect from Hockeyfest, it still featured players from as many as six different countries. Sweden, Finland, Norway, Czech, Latvia, U.S. and Canada were all represented in the two host cities of Stockholm and Paris. The 2010 age group got the event started on July 22, while the ’09s and ’12s closed it down on July 30.

Here’s a look at the results from all three birth years:

2009 Division

Sweden SHD Light Blue prevailed 6-2 over Sweden SHD Blue in the final. It was a revenge game for the Light Blue squad, after Sweden SHD Blue handed them their lone loss on July 29 — a 3-1 final. Aside from that, the Light Blue squad took care of business over the week, winning a bunch of tight contests before running away with things in both the semifinals and finals.

They topped Finland SHD Blue 6-3 to start, before recording a 3-2 win over Norway Selects, a 1-0 win over Sweden SHD Blue, a 5-3 win over Finland SHD Blue and a 4-3 win over Norway Selects in preliminary-round play. 

To earn another match with Sweden SHD Blue in the final, they topped Norway 6-2 in the semifinals.

The Light Blue squad did it with balanced scoring, as Ludvig Westman was the only player to have more than a point per game; he finished with seven points in six games in the prelims. Filip Leijonhielm had six points, while Samuel Barthelson and William Olofsson had five apiece.

Yury Rodichev and Andrii Pyl split time between the pipes en route to the championship.

A pair of Sweden Blue skaters led the tournament in scoring, as Oscar Wennberg had 12 points in six games, and Filip Wahlen had 10. Norway’s Isak Bjorland also cracked the top five in scoring, registering seven points in six games.

Carl Johnsson and Vilmer Salen-Forsberg were outstanding between the pipes for Sweden Blue, as well — Johnsson finished with a .938 save percentage, and Forsberg had a .914.

2010 Division

The Czech Knights Gold squad got a wake-up call when they lost in the first round of the playoffs. After posting a perfect 5-0 mark in the preliminary round, they dropped a 5-4 battle to Finland SHD, but luckily for the Knights, they got a chance for redemption in Round 2.

There, they blanked the same Finland squad 7-0, and in the finals, they continued to roll, beating the Sweden SHD team 10-0.

The dominating performances in their final two games certainly represented the Knights’ trip to Paris; aside from the aforementioned loss to Finland, they were unstoppable all week. 

In the preliminary round, they out-scored the competition 40-3 in their five games, beating Draftday Canada 6-1, ALPS SHD 16-0, the Czech Knights Black squad 8-0, Sweden SHD 5-1 and Finland 5-1.

Six of the top seven scorers in preliminary-round play were members of the Czech Gold squad. Denis Dobias led the field in scoring with 14 points in five games, while Jakub Milanic had 13, Nicholas Novak had 12 and Sven Stalder had 11. The lone player outside of the Czech Knights Gold team to crack the top seven was still a Czech skater; Czech Knights Black’s Erik Zahradnik had 11 points, as well.

Novak led the postseason in scoring with seven points in two games, while Dobias had six, which means that those two tied for the tournament overall scoring lead with 20 apiece in just seven games.

Sweden’s River Kallander posted some impressive numbers between the pipes, registering a 2.40 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in the five preliminary contests. August Uutela of Finland was right there with him, racking up a 2.67 goals-against and .909 save percentage.

As we’re sure you guessed from the numbers discussed above, Tobias Orechovsky of the Czech Gold team put up some remarkable stats, as well. He finished the prelims with a 0.60 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage.

2012 Division

Finland SHD Blue emerged victorious in a four-team field for the 2012 birth-year, topping Sweden SHD Blue in the last contest by a score of 6-2. 

The 2012 birth-year featured a Finland SHD Blue squad, Sweden SHD Blue and Sweden SHD Yellow, and a Latvia SHD squad. 

The Finland squad posted a 5-1 record in the preliminary rounds before recording a 13-0 win over Latvia in the semifinals, and the aforementioned final against Sweden in the championship. 

Ashton Salts of Sweden Yellow and Robin Torkki of Finland Blue finished atop the scoring list with 16 points in six games apiece. Signar Klingzell of Sweden Blue had 15, while Neo Huang of Sweden Blue had 14, Liam Jarvinen of Finland had 13 and Mikael Saila of Finland had 12.

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.

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