Each week, World Hockey Hub highlights a few of the most exciting upcoming games in youth hockey.
Two of the top 2009-born teams in Sweden kick off our slate of games to watch this week. Djurgårdens IF battles Södertälje SK on Thursday in a Top-10 tilt. Mississauga Rebels and Toronto Jr. Canadiens tangle in a Top-10 matchup between 2007s in Canada. The week concludes with a weekend series between Chicago Mission and Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Then, a clash in Finland between Kärpät Musta and Kärpät Valkoinen.
Södertälje hopes to slow down Zahn, Travergård
After suffering a 6-0 defeat to No. 3 Djurgårdens IF (26-12-7) on Dec. 1, No. 5 Södertälje SK (13-5-6) now has plans for avenging that loss when the two 2008-born opponents meet this week.
|Thursday, January 26|
In order to do so, however, the dynamic duo of Lexus Zahn (9G, 7A) and Nick Travergård (8G, 8A) will need to be stopped. Both players not only lead Djurgårdens in points, but sit atop their group table in scoring as well. They have been key catalysts to the team’s current eight-game unbeaten stretch.
In the 6-0 outing, Zahn and Travergård each collected three points, showing that they are the true play drivers for the club when it comes to offensive zone time. Patric Hellström and Lucas Brauer will have to step up for Södertälje if there is any chance of emerging victorious. Their dependable, two-way approach to the game has paid dividends, allowing them to record 10 and nine points, respectively.
Pete’s Pick: I don’t expect another blowout for Djurgårdens, but I do believe they will nab the win here for the second time against their group foe. I chalk that loss up to Södertälje still finding its footing as a team. Since then, they have put up numbers against the top Sweden teams.
Craig’s Pick: I’m a Zahn and Travergård fan here too. Södertälje comes out of the gate strong, and maybe even holds onto a lead early. However, Djurgårdens top tandem is too much to overcome. I’ll take DIF 4-2 in a close one.
‘06 Chicago, SSM set to close out season series
No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s (39-2-2) will wrap up their season series with No. 11 Chicago Mission (25-12-5) this weekend. It will be the second time the two squads will have battled in close to a week. On Jan. 20, Shattuck defeated Chicago 4-1.
|Saturday, January 28 @ 4:10 PM CST|
Fifth Third Arena
All games thus far have been tightly contested. With both programs occupying Top 10 spots in the U.S. for the majority of the season, no one was really expecting anything less. What will ultimately settle these final games will be the big blueliners of Chicago taking away space from Shattuck’s frightening attack. All six of Mission’s defensemen are either close to or over six feet, with three also weighing in at 170 lbs.
Granted, Shattuck will have a gameplan to work around this fact given the familiarity between both rosters. However, it does not make the feat of actually dealing with players of that size on the ice any easier.
Ryker Lee and Jack Galanek have been revelations for Shattuck, as they have collected 155 points between themselves. John Delaney was a standout for Chicago in the last two-game series, totaling three points (1G, 2A).
Pete’s Pick: These will be two more close games, with Mission wanting to prove they have what it takes to skate with the truly premier talent of their birth year. Despite being on home ice, which should give them some extra jump, I still think Shattuck skates away with two wins.
Craig’s Pick: I like Shattuck as well. They’re unbeaten in their last 27 outings, and winners of 19 of their last 20. Mission managed a 4-4 tie back in December, jumping out to a 4-0 lead before Shattuck rallied from behind. I don’t see Shattuck playing from a deficit again — at least not by four goals — so I’ll take the Sabres as winners in both games.
Rebels aim to finish in the win column vs. Jr. Canadiens
The No. 20 Mississauga Rebels (28-8-9) will try to finally get in the win column against the No. 9 Toronto Jr. Canadiens (34-8-3) in their third game of the season on Sunday.
|Sunday, January 29 @ 2:15 PM EST|
Scotiabank Pond 4
After skating to a 2-2 tie in their first tilt back in October, the Jr. Canadiens bested the Rebels 5-3 on Dec. 17. Unbeaten in their last four outings, Mississauga will aim to end Toronto’s impressive 12 game unbeaten streak. While on paper this may be looking like a David versus Goliath meeting between two ‘07 programs, Mississauga has held their own against some Top 10 teams in Canada. A highlight of their season was edging out No. 1 Toronto Marlboros, 2-1 in the early weeks of the schedule.
Pete’s Pick: Mississauga has given some top teams headaches this season, and this game shouldn’t be any different. But talent-wise, the Jr. Canadiens hold a significant advantage, and they take this one 4-1.
Craig’s Pick: Jr. Canadiens are the better overall team, but Mississauga to me appears to be a more consistent bunch. You know what you’re going to get from this group on a nightly basis. Toronto can run a bit hot and cold, and may very well come out firing. However, I’m gonna take the Rebels’ consistent approach, as they catch the Jr. Canadiens on an off night. Rebs run 3-2 in this one.
Valkoinen, Musta drop puck in ‘09 Finnish encounter
With the continuation series well underway in the next stage of group play in Finland, two 2009 programs prepare to continue their season series. Currently up 2-1 after three games, No. 7 Kärpät Valkoinen (19-4-1) will hope to squash No. 9 Kärpät Musta’s (19-3-2) attempt to even the season series on Sunday.
|Sunday, January 28|
It is a crucial time to be playing the best hockey of the season, and that is the case for these programs. Each is off to a 4-0-0 start in the continuation series of group play. All signs are pointing to fireworks when they clash.
Offense will be on full display in this meeting. At the end of the initial group stage, the two leading scorers hailed from these clubs. Musta’s Joona Väkeväinen totaled 27 goals and 49 points, with Valkoinen’s Niklas Helppi 31 goals and 44 points close behind. Both players have picked up where they left off just a few games into the next batch of group games. In two games, each player has recorded nine points. Kantola Leevi of Musta leads all skaters with 12 points.
Pete’s Pick: I’m inclined to go with Valkoinen here, but I think Leevi’s performance to begin the next stage of group play will get them over the hill and even the season series up. Musta takes a 3-2 final.
Craig’s Pick: I gotta imagine games like these are so exciting for Kärpät — and other clubs that divvy up players into multiple rosters — when you field two teams, and they’re uber competitive and evenly matched head-to-head. In the spirit of good competition, I like Musta to even the season series as well.