Teams Finish Pool Play At Champions League On Final Day of 2021

Kiekko Espoo team celebrates after Jone Mölsä ties the game against Yale with 10 seconds left in regulation.

Friday marked the fourth day of tournament action at Champions League in Miami this week. Some of the best 2008-born teams from around the world competed in their fifth and final pool-play matchups. Spots in the standings were solidified and by the end of the day, the field of teams would be whittled down to eight, with two teams being eliminated from contention by the night’s end.

POOL PLAY

Yale Jr. Bulldogs had Seacoast Performance Academy on the ropes in the first game of the day. Even-strength goals from Aidan Gray, Cameron Kovary and Caden Harvey put the Dogs on top at the halfway point. It was the third time in five tournament games that Yale was tied or leading at the halfway point. However, a four-goal performance from Jameson Glance would fuel a second-half comeback for the Spartans. He and teammates Sully Martin, Benjamin Clary and Hunter Chadbourne mounted an offensive attack that resulted in a 7-4 finish for Seacoast. Glance leads the tournament in goals with seven after pool play. The decision pushed Seacoast into a tie for first place in the standings, while Yale settled into the No. 9-seed for the playoffs and a play-in matchup later that day.

Artur Yanchalouski continued his Champions League hot streak with his fourth consecutive multi-point game of the tournament. Yanchalouski — who leads the tournament in scoring with 11 points — and teammate Nikita Klepov manufactured four-point performances in Järved IF 8-3 win on Friday. The game was symbolic in a way, as the Sweden-based program defeated its neighbors from back home, Kiekko-Espoo out of Finland. It is one of the most intense rivalries in all of international hockey, with the two countries sharing a 381-mile border in Scandinavia. Fortunately for youth hockey fans, it wouldn’t be the only Sweden-Finland matchup of the day. The game result put Järved in seventh-place, where they would earn a chance to play Kiekko Blues — the other Finnish team in the tournament — in the 7-vs-10 matchup later in the evening. 

Two of the top teams in the U.S. wrapped up pool play, as Little Caesars and Los Angeles Jr. Kings clashed. The hotly anticipated matchup is the first time these two teams have met this season, and a natural hat trick from Caesars’ Donovan Durbin would complete a come-from-behind victory that pushed his team into a tie for first place. Durbin has goals in four of his team’s five tournament games, leading Little Caesars in goals (seven) and points (eight).

Barys has scored 12 goals in its last two games — both wins — and Zhakhanger Tleukhan has contributed on seven of those tallies. The team’s leading scorer, Tleukhan added a goal and two assists in Barys’ 4-1 win over Kiekko Blues, pushing the Kazakhstan team into fourth place heading into the playoff rounds on Saturday.

Windy City Storm narrowly escaped an upset in their final game against Dukla Trencin. The Slovaks quickly jumped on America’s top-ranked 2008 team, as Juraj Jonas Ďurčo and Adam Goljer game Dukla Trencin a 2-0 lead at the halfway point.

Nathan Hauad and Jack Hextall would take turns one-upping each other, rattling off four straight goals for the Storm before going on to win the contest 5-3, locking up the No. 5-seed in the playoff rounds.

PLAYOFFS

All 10 participating teams qualified for the playoff rounds, with the bottom four teams having to compete in play-in games Friday evening.

The 8-vs-9 matchup featured Kiekko-Espoo against Yale Jr. Bulldogs, with both teams in search of their first wins at the tournament. Again, Yale would lead at the half, with goals from Max Stracar and Caden Harvey. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that lead would again slip away as Jone Mölsä would score with just 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2. There, Riko Salutskij would ice the game for Kiekko, giving them a Saturday morning date with Little Caesars.

Järved’s matchup with Kiekko Blues would be their second clash with a Finnish team at the tournament, and both contests would see similar results. This time, Elton Hermansson pushed the Swedes into the Round of Eight with a three-point performance and a 4-2 win over Kiekko.

Two teams have been eliminated from contention for youth hockey’s first ever world championship. Only eight 2008-born teams remain, and the action will continue with seeded matchups on Saturday morning. Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continued coverage of the Champions League hockey tournament all weekend long.

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