Hometown team mounts third-period comeback in championship game against Czechs

Teams from six countries came to Quebec for the prestigious tournament, but it was the hometown team that emerged victorious.

With a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime victory over the Czech Knights, the Montreal Canadiens won the AAA division at the 2022 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament Sunday afternoon.

It was the first of its kind — a springtime showcase for the famed international youth hockey tournament. Due to COVID-19 restrictions interrupting the previously scheduled February tournament, organizers made sure the Pee Wee Quebec still took place, this time running it from May 1 – 15. The AAA division started on May 9, with the championship wrapping things up Sunday.

The Canadiens battled back in the final — more on that later — but they also battled back for the duration of their Pee-Wee Quebec experience. The little Habs, coached by former NHL pro Jason Pominville, started tournament play with a 3-2 loss to Latvia’s Riga HS on Wednesday, which put them on the brink of elimination from the start.

It turns out that the loss was the wake-up call the Canadiens needed, as they exorcised some demons over the next three games. On Friday, they posted an 8-1 win over the Middlesex Islanders to let everybody know they weren’t bowing out of their hometown tournament easy.

From there, they posted a 7-1 win over the Adirondack Jr. Wings on Saturday morning. Later in the same day, they hit double digits in the scoring column, as the Habs beat Providence Hockey Club 11-1 to earn a date with the Czechs in the final.

Montreal outscored the competition 26-3 in their bounce-back run to the title game.

There, they needed to once again prove their mental toughness, as the Czechs raced out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, and a 3-1 lead after the second. The Canadiens scored four goals in the third period, however, and despite the Knights finding the back of the net one more time, the game went to overtime.

There, Alexis Joseph — who scored the last goal in regulation for the Habs — broke a 4-4 tie at the 0:45 mark of the extra period to give his team a championship victory at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 

Joseph, who accomplished something the majority of players could only dream of with his third period and OT goal in one of the biggest youth hockey tournaments in the world, also led the tournament in scoring with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in five games.

His teammate, Jayden Pominville, had four goals and seven assists for 11 points to tie for second in the tournament scoring race.

Jeremy Freeman of the Oakville Rangers and Braiden Scuderi of the Philadelphia Flyers also had 11 points in tournament play; Freeman hit that points total in four games and Scuderi in only three. 

Zack Arsenault of the Quebec Ramparts and Jaakko Wycisk of the Sun County Panthers were the two other players to crack double digits at the tournament, as both finished with 10 points in four games.

Vincent Dussiaume-Latour led the way for the Canadiens between the pipes, playing 112:18 worth of hockey over four games. He finished with a 4-1-0-0 record (that’s one overtime win) and a 1.98 goals-against average. Crease partner Zack Desmarais played in 72:42 over three contests, and finished with a 2.04 goals-against.

Marek Besta of the Czech Knights played in 111 mins of action over three games, and finished with a 1.67 goals-against average. 

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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 (right) celebrates with Callum Mainville (left) 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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The world’s best are represented with names like Roobroeck, Frondell, Jardine, Härenstam

If you stay on the World Selects Invitational landing page and watch the names rotate through, it reads like a who’s who of the biggest names in hockey.

Andrei Svechnikov, Adam Fox, Mitch Marner, Kaapo Kakko, Rasmus Dahlin, Trevor Zegras, Aaron Ekblad — no matter the type of player or the nationality, you can find whatever you’re looking for when scrolling through.

With top talent from across the globe coming to the tournament spring after spring, it has become a marquee event for the youth hockey community. It’s also great to have it back and fully operational this time around as the tournament is underway in Nashville, Tenn.

Eight different countries are taking part in this year’s 15U World Selects Trophy, as the 2007 birth-year really begins to make some noise in the hockey circles leading into their junior draft year.

One of those players certainly standing out to the scouts in attendance is Ryan Roobroeck, who has posted a remarkable 18 points in four games to jump out to the lead in the scoring race. Roobroeck, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward, won an Alliance Hockey league title with the London Jr. Knights in the winter season, and now he’s skating with the Pro Hockey ’07 team at World Selects.

He said it’s humbling to be included among the top players in his birth-year, but knows it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of his hockey career.

“Yeah, but we’re still young,” Roobroeck said. “There’s still a lot to be done, and everybody’s still learning to play and everything, so being at the top right now is nothing special, until later.”

To put his performance in perspective, Roobroeck’s taking quite the swing at the all-time points leaders totals — Jesse Puljujarvi recorded 21 in 2013, while seven players have posted 19 — most recently, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U18 Team captain Rutger McGroarty in 2019.

Pro Hockey teammates Gavin McKenna and Callum Mainville join Roobroeck at the top of the points chart with 14 and 12, respectively, while Sweden’s Jakob Ihs-Wozniak has the most points of any European player with 10. It’s quite an adjustment for the Euros to all of a sudden be playing world-class competition in Nashville, as summarized by Sweden Selects teammate Anton Frondell, another highly-regarded ’07 prospect.

“I think the biggest difference is the rink,” said Frondell, who won a Swedish U16 national title playing with the ’06 Djurgården IF club. “In Sweden we have a bit of a bigger rink, so here it’s more physical, there are more hits, and you’re always closer to the boards. When you have the puck, you’re closer to the net, and you always have a good scoring chance. I think that’s the biggest difference.”

The players know they are skating in a must-see showcase for junior, college and professional scouts. Cole Reschny, skating with Pro Hockey after an impressive winter campaign with the Northern Alberta Xtreme of the CCSHL, acknowledged that he’s at least aware of some of the extra attention this week. However, he isn’t letting that impact his performance, as he has eight points in four games. Reschny knows how to find the back of the net; he had 92 points in 25 games with his Xtreme team this year.

“That’s in the back of my mind, but I just try to play my game, improve myself, show my skill and what I can do here,” Reschny said.

With the combination of elite talent and brand-new rosters, life can be difficult for the goaltenders, but the brave souls entering the crease at World Selects are holding their own. Troy Wright of Laytonsville, Maryland and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers is standing on his head, as he holds a .50 goals-against average and .970 save percentage for Top Line Selects.

Owen Butler of Pro Hockey has the same goals-against, and with one shot on goal less than Wright, he’s got a .969 save percentage.

Bjorn Bronas, fresh off leading Chicago Mission to a USA Hockey national championship, has a 1.03 goals-against average and .960 save percentage. Meanwhile, Love Härenstam of Sweden is leading all the European goaltenders with a 2.00 goals-against and .958 save percentage.

The playoff bracket kicks off Friday evening. These players have spent the last several months competing for national recognition and now with the spotlight bright in the Music City, will clash for world supremacy.

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Youth hockey giant looks for playoff success in Nashville

Total Package Hockey (TPH) is among the biggest name brands in all of youth hockey. With its on-ice training, off-ice schooling with the Centers of Excellence, tournament teams and events, there are very few aspects of the sport left untouched by the organization.

Founded in 2001, TPH has impacted the landscape for more than two decades, and will make its fifth appearance at the 15U World Selects Trophy since 2016. A mainstay at the event in recent years, TPH teams have an overall record of 12-14-0 and qualified for the elimination rounds on two separate occasions. Both times, they were eliminated in the first round.

This year, the 2007-born squad will look to reach heights never reached before by TPH teams in the tournament.

The team has a heavy influence from Michigan, Illinois and the province of Ontario. A region of North America that puts a multitude of players into the field of teams across various rosters. The Compuware hockey contingent of Nino Suhy, Salvatore Viviano and Tyler Ross are three forwards who played all winter together. That trio could continue to carry that chemistry into Nashville as a go-to option offensively for TPH. 

Both goaltenders — Sam Kapotas and Gannon Hunter — should factor into the team’s success as well. Kapotas played last season with the Windy City Storm while Hunter backstopped the Sun County Panthers in Canada.

Puck drop is May 11th, and TPH Selects are one of two teams that the program enters into the field, alongside TPH Prospects. The challenge will be can either team advance past the first round of the playoffs and outperform the teams that have come before them.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Young organization has made immediate impact on youth hockey landscape

Founded in 2018, the Topline Selects program is composed of five full-time staff members with Division-I and professional hockey backgrounds. In just four short years, it has significantly impacted youth hockey prospects like Ryan Fine, Sal Guzzo, Aram Minnetian, Drew Fortescue and Quentin Musty. Those names have gone on to represent America in the U.S. national team development program (USNTDP), play North American junior hockey and in Musty’s case, be selected as the first overall pick in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Draft.

Topline Selects will look to continue that path of success with the 2007 age group at the 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville.

A pair of Cleveland BaronsNathan Bujdos and Tucker Mears — will look to lead the offense on May 11th. That duo played a significant role this winter for the Barons, combining for 43 goals and 85 points during the team’s 63-game schedule. Add in fellow forwards Jack MacFarlane and Ryan Schweitzer to round out the attack up front. If that’s not enough, defenseman Carter Amico goes north often to get involved in the offense; he led all Seacoast Performance Academy defensemen in scoring last season with 19 goals and 45 points. 

Offense may not be a problem at World Selects, but can the very diverse team of players from across North America play sound enough defensively? The roster includes players from nine different U.S. states and Canadian provinces. May 11th will be the first time this group comes together in game action, and they’ll have little time to waste when going up against the best players in youth hockey.

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Competed in The Brick and Triple Crown; Will be at WSI for the first time

In the past five years, HD Engine has competed in iconic youth hockey tournaments like The Brick Series and the Triple Crown. However, the historic 15U World Selects Trophy in Nashville had eluded the program… until now.

On May 11th, HD Engine will make its tournament debut, competing against the best 2007-born youth hockey teams in the world. It’s an age group that HD has actually had prior success, with a Super Series AAA Triple Crown championship in 2020 to its resume. 

If the team is to achieve similar results in the Music City, names like Cole Tuminaro, Sam Kapell and Kadden Soukup will certainly have to play a factor. Tuminaro was a top defenseman for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, while Kapell and Soukup were standout forwards for high school programs Notre Dame Academy (WI) and Anoka (MN).

Goaltender Charlie Abel is slated to play for the Florida Alliance after spending the 2021-22 season spread between Plant High School (FL), Minnesota Elite League and the Tampa Jr. Bulls. He will need to play some of his best hockey between the pipes to keep HD Engine in contention in Nashville.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Program name is more than a brand, it’s a lifestyle

Ten years ago, Freddy Meyer launched the Dream Big HockeyStars program based out of the New England area. Being an undersized, undrafted defenseman, Meyer himself proved doubters wrong by playing Division-I college hockey and then nearly a decade of professional hockey in the NHL and Europe. Achieving those goals set the tenor for his Dream Big program to inspire other young players to do just that: Dream big. So much so that he signs all memorabilia with his autograph alongside that two-word phrase.

After a decade, Dream Big will add its hat into the ring amongst other top spring hockey programs in the world at the 2022 World Selects Trophy in Nashville. 

Tournament teams are a relatively new endeavor for Dream Big, with much of its programming geared towards individual skill training. The team that will arrive in the Music City will have a strong contingent from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with reps from Vermont, Maine and Alberta, Canada to round things out.

“I would consider us to be ‘team strong’ versus just four or five studs,” said Meyer. “We have a great group of players that have a bright future.”

Can Dream Big fulfill lofty goals at Nashville? It will be a star-studded lineup of the best 2007-born youth hockey players in the world, so they’ll take their best shot at other top programs.

World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage leading up to, and throughout, the 2022 15U World Selects Trophy. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for previews, updates, top prospects, highlights, interviews and more!

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Matthew Frost headlines the group of top 2006-born players chosen in Phase-I selection process

The Waterloo Black Hawks liked what they saw in Matthew Frost.

So much so that they made a trade to move up to get him.

The Black Hawks struck a deal with the Des Moines Buccaneers to claim the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 USHL Phase-I Draft, which they used on the 5-foot-10, 150-pound forward out of Selects Academy.

Frost, who hails from Arlington, Va., was the first player off the board in the first of a two-day selection process for the USHL. The Phase-I Draft was exclusively of the 2006 birth-year class, while the Phase-II Draft that followed was for all players eligible for junior hockey next season not yet claimed by a USHL franchise.

The USHL allows for teams to sign players to league tenders leading up to the draft, which makes the Phase-I Draft a unique process. If a USHL franchise signs a player to a tender, that functions as their first-round draft pick in the Phase-I Draft. It allows teams to bypass the draft order (which is why a few of the most sought-after players in the ’06 class appear farther down the draft board than one would expect). It comes with a catch — if a team tenders a player, he must participate in 55 percent of the team’s games in his rookie season. First-round draft picks, however, do not have to play for the team that season; they can stay with their youth/high school team, or only play in as many games as their USHL franchise would like or need.

Frost recorded 62 points in 58 games with the Selects 16U team this past season; he was one of nine first-round picks/tenders who played against competition older than his own birth year. Only six players played in the 15-Only classification for the majority of their 2021-22 season, which is notable as USA Hockey encourages more participation in the single birth-year division for the players’ crucial junior-draft season.

At No. 2, the Sioux Falls Stampede crossed the border for forward Reid Varkonyi, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta and product of the Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep team. Varkonyi, fresh off a 56 points in 34 games season against older competition, recently announced a verbal commitment to national champion Denver University, which surely motivated the Stampede to claim him despite him also being a WHL Draft selection of the Portland Winterhawks.

The Green Bay Gamblers used the No. 3 overall pick on Aidan Park, another elite forward, who comes from Playa Vista, Calif. He is currently a member of Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Park, who posted 118 points in 54 games with SSM 16U this past season, had posted on his social media accounts that he was going to stay at the prestigious academy for another season. The Gamblers now have his rights — both Park and the Gamblers’ leadership can now decide when the right time is for him to make the jump to juniors.

The same case can be said for Park’s teammate Drake Murray, who was selected at No. 13 overall by the Sioux City Musketeers after posting he would be back for more at SSM.

Another SSM product worth mentioning is Macklin Celebrini, who is the poster boy for the tender dynamic skewing the draft order. Celebrini, a native of Vancouver, accomplished the rare feat of making the Shattuck 18U team during his 15-Only season, and he dominated there, racking up 117 points in 52 games.

Celebrini signed a tender with the Chicago Steel prior to the draft, following in the footsteps of ’04 birth-year uber prospect Adam Fantilli, who signed a tender with the Steel a few years ago, as well. Had there not be a tender process and those players had both announced their intentions of playing USHL and college hockey, they would have had the best odds of going No. 1 overall in their respective drafts.

Another unique USHL Draft angle to consider is that while they compete in the USHL, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) does not participate in the draft. The NTDP has its evaluation camp after scouting the birth year all season, and then finalizes its Under-17 Team roster before the USHL Draft takes place.

Of the 10 American-born first-round picks/tenders, eight of them were invited to the NTDP Evaluation Camp – Frost and Will Felicio were the two who did not receive invitations. Frost, of course, holds the distinction of being the No. 1 overall pick in the USHL Draft, while Felicio was the lone American to be signed to a first-round tender.

Here is a full breakdown of the first round from the 2022 USHL Phase 1 Draft:

No. 1 – Waterloo – Matthew Frost (Forward, South Kent Selects Academy 16U)

No. 2 – Sioux Falls – Reid Varkonyi (Forward, Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep)

No. 3 – Green Bay – Aidan Park (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U)

No. 4 – Waterloo – Tender – Keith McInnis (Defense, Yale Hockey Academy U18 Prep)

No. 5 – Fargo – Mac Swanson (Forward, Team Alaska 15O)

No. 6 – Cedar Rapids – Lukas Fischer (Defense, Compuware 15O)

No. 7 – Madison – Tender – Will Felicio (Defense, Mount St. Charles 15O)

No. 8 – Des Moines – Geno Carcone (Forward, Bishop Kearney Selects 15O)

No. 9 – Youngstown – Tory Pitner (Defense, South Kent Selects Academy 15O)

No. 10 – Muskegon – Tender – Sacha Boisvert (Forward, Mount St. Charles 15O)

No. 11 – Lincoln – Adam Kleber (Defense, Chaska High School)

No. 12 – Dubuque – Gavin Cornforth (Forward, Thayer Academy Tigers)

No. 13 – Sioux City – Drake Murray (Defense, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U)

No. 14 – Chicago – Tender – Macklin Celebrini (Forward, Shattuck-St. Mary’s 18U)

No. 15 – Tri-City – Tender – Matthew Virgilio (Defense, St. Andrew’s College)

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Czech Selects go ‘from worst to first’ in impressive playoff turnaround

In one of the more stunning outcomes in World Selects Invitationals history, the Czech Selects shocked the girls youth hockey world last week, winning the 14U championship. 

After the conclusion of pool play, the Czechs were fifth out of six teams in the standings, and it’s only regulation win was over the sixth-seeded Alps Selects. When the elimination rounds began, the Czechs needed a 2-0 win over Germany Selects in the quarterfinals. That win gave them a rematch with top-seeded Sweden Selects; a team that had beaten them 4-1 just three days earlier. The Swedes had dominated their way to the top spot, out-scoring opponents 26-3 in round-robin action. 

It was a tough semifinal, but a pair of goals from Alena Luxemburgová would change the tides in the rematch. That early offensive surge helped the Czechs knock off the No. 1 team 3-1 and advance to the gold medal game.

The stage was set for the Czechs to take on the No. 2-seeded Finland Selects; another team they lost to earlier in the tournament. Again, this rematch would be all about the Czechs as Merkéta Kafková scored four goals to lead the team to a 6-1 victory and WSI championship.

A pair of Finns Yenna Kolmonen and Julia Kuhta led round-robin action in scoring with 12 points and 10 points respectively. Eventual champion Aneta Florýková also had 10 points. Goaltender Wilma Hallbeck played 139 minutes of scoreless hockey and didn’t allow a single goal against until playoffs. France Selects Lysa Nogaretto had a .914 save percentage, stopping 53-of-58 shots.

It’s just the second time that the Czech Selects have won a girls WSI event and the first time since 2015. This tournament in particular is a unique accomplishment after the WSI had been on pause for the past two years. Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and international travel had made such events virtually impossible to operate. However, in 2022, the situation was such that several European countries were able to travel in some capacity and the six-team event was able to go off without a hitch. 

The early success of this event — and the 12U Boys Elite event — is an encouraging step back towards normalcy regarding WSI. The World Selects Trophy in Nashville will feature 30 teams from eight different countries next week as well. Coupling all that together with the remaining slate of WSI events this month, and it adds up to a lot of progress for a series that was on hold for the better part of 24 months. After a full slate of tournaments this spring, the goal for 2023 will certainly be to have a full slate of teams in the competition, and the return of North American programs in European events.

Want more coverage of the World Selects Invitationals this spring? There’s seven events over the next two weeks, and WHH will have exclusive coverage of the top teams, players and champions. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the last news!

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WSI returns to Europe after two-year hiatus; Six countries clash in Prague

Some of the top 2010-born European hockey players in the world gathered in Czechia last week for the 10U World Selects Invitational, and they put on quite a show.

The hometown Czech Knights ended up prevailing in the European showcase that featured teams from Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia, Sweden, Finland and the Alps. 

In the final, the Knights topped the Slovakia Kings 4-1 to capture the title inside the Letnany Ice Arena in Prague.

The win capped off a perfect week for the Czech club, as they posted a 5-0 record in the preliminary round before rolling through the playoffs, as well.

To start, they beat the Latvia Selects 5-0 Tuesday morning, before beating the Alps Selects 7-1 later in the day. On Wednesday, they took down the Slovakia Kings 4-1 and the Sweden Selects 2-1, before wrapping up the prelims with a 7-1 win over the Finland Selects on Thursday.

That earned the Knights a bye to the semifinals, where they took on the winner of the Sweden Selects vs. Alps Selects quarters. Sweden beat the Alps club 14-1, but their scoring streak ran out when they took on the Czechs, as the Knights picked up a 4-0 shutout victory. 

The Czechs wrapped things up Friday evening with the aforementioned 4-1 win over Slovakia in the final. The Knights scored four goals in the first period to take control of the contest and coast to victory in their rematch with the Slovakian club. The Slovakia Kings were undefeated in all of the other contests they played in, finishing with a 5-2 record on the week.

Czechia’s representatives thrived on their home ice, as they out-scored the competition 33-5 in their seven games. Nobody managed to score more than a single goal on them during the duration of the tournament.

Czechia’s Matyas Vik led the tournament and the Knights in scoring during the five-game preliminary round, as he racked up nine points over the five contests. Vik found the scoresheet in every game but the final, showing a consistent presence for his club each and every contest. His nine-point mark was matched by Slovakia’s Simon Sisik, who had four goals and five assists for the runners-up.

Oliver Hammerman of the Sweden Selects finished with eight points, one point off the tournament lead. Even more impressive than his eight points in five games was his eight points in two games in the playoffs, as Hammerman did everything he could to help his Swedes in the elimination rounds.

Two of the Knights — Niko Fatyka and Marek Sedlacek — both had eight points in the prelims, while Tomas Albrecht had six, and Adam Novotny had five.

In the playoffs, David Jahn and Niko Fatyka both had three points apiece, while a total of nine different Knights found their way to the scoresheet over the two games.

Tobias Orechvsky and Tomas Zmitko split time between the pipes for the Czechs; in the preliminary round, Orechovsky posted a .966 save percentage with only one goal against, while Zmitko finished with a .903 save percentage and only three goals against. 

In the playoffs, Orechovsky saw 60 minutes of action between the pipes, stopping all 11 shots sent his way for a perfect 1.00 save percentage and 0.00 goals-against average. Zmitko only needed to make five saves on the six shots sent his way during his 20 minutes of postseason action; he finishes with a .833 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average. 

Slovakia’s David Brucek deserves some high praise as well – the Kings’ goaltender played every minute of the preliminary round and stood on his head while doing so. Brucek finished with a 1.40 goals-against average and .933 save percentage while allowing only seven goals in the five games. He faced 105 shots on goal in the timeframe.

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