‘08 Top 10 tilt between Chicago Mission, Penguins Elite
Kicking off our games to look forward to is a meeting between the No. 13 Chicago Mission (23-4-3) and No. 9-ranked among 2008 U.S. teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (20-4-0).
|Saturday, November 19 @ 6:50 P.M. CST|
Both teams are currently enjoying extensive win streaks, with Chicago victorious in their last three and Penguins in their last seven. While Pittsburgh does not boast as dynamic an offense as Chicago, they have recorded a plus-50 goal differential. Compare that to the Mission’s plus-80 goal differential, and it can be seen the two teams aren’t that far off from one another when it comes to attacking.
The danger here for either side is getting into a game where goals are traded left and right. The team that controls play in all three zones will end up in the win column, as a balanced approach will be key.
Pete’s Pick: Chicago have proven to this point they are the team to beat among U.S. teams of their birth year, and this game should only further solidify that point. While Pittsburgh is certainly capable of keeping things close, the Mission will eventually pull away in a 6-3 win.
Craig’s Pick: I expect this game to be much closer than our WHH Rankings may suggest, with Mission at No. 1 and PPE at No. 9 in the country. Mission has a 3-2-2 record in seven games against fellow Top-10 ranked teams this season. They’re just a bit more battle tested in my book, so I’ll give Chicago the edge over Pens Elite… but it’s really close, 3-2.
‘06 Lokomotiv eyes move up the rankings
No. 15 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s (7-3-0) plans to make some noise among 2006-born Russian clubs depending on how they come out against No. 5 Dynamo Moscow (8-3-0) on Sunday, Nov. 20.
|Sunday, November 20|
Dynamo bested Lokomotiv 4-1 back in September. Their leading scorer on the season with five goals and 13 assists, Ivan Ryabkin, notched two helpers. Bogdan Kiselev, who sits just behind Ryabkin with eight goals and 15 points, kicked off the scoring in that matchup.
One of the biggest issues for Lokomotiv last time these two met was most of its point leaders were held off the scoresheet. Players such as Vadim Dudorov, Sergey Kudinov, and Alexey Elblaus were unable to crack through the opposition. Getting all three players going in the upcoming game will be crucial for Lokomotiv to even the season series.
The biggest obstacle they will have to overcome will be between the pipes. Sergey Vyskrebentsev manned the crease in their last game. However, Ilya Podsukha, who has donned the pads for a majority of Dynamo’s games, serves up a pristine 1.30 goals-against average.
Expect both teams to empty the tanks in this one, as they do not meet again until the new year at the end of January.
Pete’s Pick: Lokomotiv got a late goal to pad some stats last time these two teams met. I expect Dynamo to pick up where they left off, as Lokomotiv’s offense will not be able to crack whomever Dynamo puts in goal. Dynamo takes this one 5-1.
Craig’s Pick: Lokomotiv is playing much better hockey than the last time these two teams met, but I still don’t think it will be enough. Dynamo is a more complete team with higher end scorers in Kiselev, Roman Gorodilov and Ryabkin. I think they open it up even more in the rematch; Dynamo wins 6-2.
‘07 Pelicans look to crack Finnish Top 10
Sitting at 11-5-0 on the season, the Pelicans have a prime opportunity to strengthen their resume among Finnish ‘07 clubs with two upcoming games against No. 8 Kiekko-Espoo (14-1-0) this week.
|Wednesday, November 16|
The first game will take place Wednesday, Nov. 16, serving as the first time this season the two will be facing off against one another. The Pelicans have been a bubble team for much of 2022-23 action, just on the cusp of sliding into the top 10.
The opportunity to make some noise has presented itself, now all they have to do is capitalize on it.
Luka Arkko and Juho Piiparinen both lead the Pelicans with 18 points apiece. Both were instrumental in the team’s most recent victories against KalPa and Jokipojat.
Kiekko-Espoo has handled most of the competition among group play, with a lone blemish being a 7-3 loss to Jokipojat earlier this month. A run of play that has them comfortably atop the table of 2008-born Finnish teams as well as within the world rankings.
Since that loss on Nov. 5, they have rattled off three wins, overcoming teams such as KalPa, KJT Haukat, and Jukurit.
Aapo Vanninen, Kiekko-Espoo’s most prolific playmaker, has assisted on 23 goals and has tallied 10 of his own. Just behind his 33 points is Aleksi Kilpeläinen‘s 11 goals and 29 points.
Pete’s Pick: The Pelicans have slowly been gaining steam as the season has progressed, taking part in some close matchups against the best teams of their group. While I expect them to put up a fight, the overall team talent Kiekko-Espoo possesses will be too much to overcome if this becomes an offensive display. Kiekko-Espoo wins 4-2.
Craig’s Pick: Kiekko is the top team in Finland for good reason. However, they were caught asleep at the wheel yesterday with a surprising 7-3 loss to unranked Jokipojat. There’s no way Vanninen and Kilpeläinen allow that to happen a second time. I think an angry KE squad makes a statement with an 8-1 victory.
‘07 SSM hits the road for series vs. BK Selects
No. 9 Shattuck-St. Mary’s (17-5-3) will get some bonding time away from their home rink when they head to Rochester, New York, for a three-game series against the No. 13 Bishop Kearney Selects (19-8-6) this weekend.
|Saturday, November 19 @ 1:00 p.m. EST|
In the early stages of the season, these two programs played to a 3-3 tie, proving that their close proximity in the standings is no fluke. Shattuck had an eight-game unbeaten streak end at the hands of No. 5 Chicago Mission last weekend, while Bishop Kearney come in as winners of their last two over the Mississauga Senators and Compuware.
The Selects like to fill up the net, so all eyes will be on the goaltending of Grayson Hanggi and Garrett Glaser for SSM in this one. Their play has led to modest goals-against averages, with Glaser getting the slight advantage of a 1.57 goals-against to Hanggi’s 1.83 goals-against.
Pete’s Pick: These are probably the games I am most looking forward to this week, as both teams are so similar in their approach to offense, defense and overall roster construction. That being said, someone has to come out victorious, so I see Shattuck taking a very hard fought series 2-1.
Craig’s Pick: Bishop Kearney has played 16 — yes, sixteen — games against teams ranked in the Top 10 of their respective countries this season. Shattuck, on the other hand, has yet to play a game outside the State of Hockey. I think the travel could play a factor here, and BK being battle tested and at home, gives them a huge leg up. Shattuck is likely traveling 1,000 miles by bus to the Empire State. I’ll take BK to win the first two games and Shattuck to steal the final matchup before heading home.