Youth Teams Off To Hot Starts, Stacking Up Wins

Now that the youth hockey season is firmly underway, we are taking a look at some of the teams that have been thriving to start their campaigns. Check out some of the hottest teams in the United States below. 

Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U team, at 13-1-1 on the season, hasn’t lost a game since they dropped the opener of the Minnesota Blades Fall Showcase on Sept. 16 to a fired up host team. After picking up a 4-3 overtime win over the Windy City Storm the next day, and a 3-3 tie over Little Caesars on Sept. 18, it’s been all wins since for SSM, as they have outscored their opponents 96-36 this season. Most notably among those victories? Two thrashings of the Blades, as Shattuck recorded 9-1 and 9-0 wins in impressive revenge fashion on the first two days of October. This impressive run has propelled Shattuck into the No. 1 spot in our World Rankings.

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 16U

One loss on Sept. 11, one loss on Oct. 10, but in between that…all wins for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, who are now 10-2-0. The Pens ripped off victories over the likes of the New Jersey Rockets, No. 12 Mount St. Charles and the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies leading up to the USHL Fall Classic on home ice. In that tournament, and then the following showcase they hosted, Pittsburgh has topped the Minnesota Blizzard, No. 23 Florida Alliance, No. 7 Little Caesars and No. 6 Chicago Mission before dropping a tight one 3-2 to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres.

Mount St. Charles 15U

You have to go all the way back to Sept. 12 to find the last time that Mount St. Charles lost a game. Since that time, they are 12-0, and in possession of the No. 1 rankings in both North America and the world on our World Rankings. They have posted wins over fellow top squads in No. 10 Little Caesars, Windy City Storm and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers during this win streak. Prior to that, they had also recorded an impressive 7-3 win over No. 2 ranked Bishop Kearney Selects. Watch out for this Mount St. Charles team; they’re out-scoring the competition 110-36 this season.

Bishop Kearney 15U

Surely itching for another shot at Mount St. Charles, Bishop Kearney has been on a roll since its September defeat at the hands of the Mounties as well. Since that aforementioned loss, they have won 15 games, and only dropped a pair — a 5-4 battle with the Minnesota Blue Ox and a 4-3 overtime loss to HoneyBaked. They’re on a tear, having only allowed two goals the entire month of October. In that same time frame, the Selects have scored 26, and recorded five wins in the process (with one 1-1 tie to the Cape Cod Whalers, too). 

Shattuck-St. Mary’s 15U

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s 15U boys are currently in the midst of beating up on in-state competition. After kicking off their winning streak with a 14-3 win over Florida Alliance, the Sabres have now played the Minnesota Walleye, the Minnesota Loons, the Minnesota Lakers, the Minnesota Blizzard, the Minnesota Green Giants and the Minnesota Blue Ox, and they’ve won every single one of the contests. The Blizzard played Shattuck to a 3-2 final, but other than that, it’s been dominating performances with at least six goals being put up on the scoreboard by SSM each time.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s ‘07s

Well, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U team hasn’t lost a game yet, so it’s been quite a streak. The SSM boys are 17-0 on the 2021-22 season, and they have outscored their opponents 135-22 in the process. Shattuck started the season with a 14-0 victory over the Minnesota Voyageurs, and they have never looked back, having posted double-digital goal totals four more times since. We most recently had them at No. 2 in the rankings, but at the way they’re going, could they claim the top spot soon?

Chicago Mission ‘07s

Keeping pace with the SSM boys mentioned above, the Chicago Mission ‘07s – currently ranked No. 1 in our World Rankings – have only dropped one game on the season. They have built a 14-1 record thus far, thanks to impressive wins over the Buffalo Jr. Sabres (8-0), the Windy City Storm (11-2) and HoneyBaked (9-0). 

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite ‘07s

It sure will be fun to see how the 14U age group plays out at the end, because the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite ‘07s are right there with Shattuck and Mission. The Pens hold a 16-1 record on the season; their lone loss came to Mission in the first week of September. The USHL Fall Classic champions haven’t lost a game since, and they have a 84-25 goal differential on their opponents this season. 

Long Island Gulls ‘08s

There is one undefeated team still standing in the ’08 age group, and it’s No. 21 Long Island Gulls. The Long Island squad is 15-0 this year, and they’re doing it with dominating defensive play to go along with some timely scoring. They have only given up three goals twice this season, and other than that, if you’re holding teams to zero, one or two goals in a youth contest every game, you’re going to have a lot of success. They have only allowed 17 goals in their 15 games, while the Gulls have found the back of the net 72 times at the other end of the ice. 

Little Caesars ’08s

While the Gulls may be the only undefeated team in the country, No. 8 Little Caesars is undefeated in regulation play. The LC ‘08s have two ties to their name — a 2-2 battle with No. 14 Chicago Mission on Sept. 3 and another 2-2 finish with the Middlesex Islanders the next day — but other than that, they have eight wins on the season. 

Windy City Storm ‘08s

The Windy City Storm are climbing up the rankings; they currently sit No. 12 in our World Rankings. Why? Well they’ve already got 20 wins on the season. With a 20-3-2 record, they’re turning heads, especially with wins over the likes of No. 14 Chicago Mission, HoneyBaked and No. 2 LA Jr. Kings (they also tied them once).

New Jersey Hockey Academy ‘09s

The No. 4 New Jersey Hockey Academy has turned in a nearly flawless start to the 2021-22 campaign, as they currently display a 14-1-1 record. Outside of a loss to a talented No. 19 Anaheim Jr. Ducks squad on Sept. 11 and a tie to the Boston Jr. Eagles on Oct. 9, they have been perfect on the season, and have a 71-23 goal differential. 

Want more coverage of the top teams in youth hockey? Follow World Hockey Hub on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, rankings, highlights and more!

WHH Predictions for seven divisions at this weekend’s CCM Motown

The CCM World Invite Motown is coming to Metro Detroit this week, and it’s bringing hundreds of hockey teams from across the country to Michigan along with it.

The annual tournament — this year featuring a whopping 306 teams across 10 age groups — has been a staple in the youth hockey calendar for top teams in North America for more than a dozen years.

With COVID-19 still restricting international travel, it will be limited to teams from only the U.S., meaning we will still have to wait to see how some of the squads stack up with their Canadian counterparts.

Each age group is split into two or three divisions, all named after CCM’s equipment lineups. The Super Tacks divisions will feature top AAA teams from across the country, while the Ribcor and Jetspeed divisions will feature talented A/AA teams with a few AAA squads mixed in.

We’ve focused our attention on the Super Tacks pools, breaking down the teams participating and providing our picks for who we think will come out on top by Championship Sunday. Here we go.

18U Super Tacks

There are eight teams participating in the 18U Super Tacks division, which means plenty of opportunities for the players competing to catch the eye of scouts in attendance. From the looks of it, three Pennsylvania teams — the Mt. Lebanon Hornets, the Pittsburgh Vengeance and the Pittsburgh Predators — will be squaring off with a team of Michigan high school all-star teams in Michigan Hockey Advancement and the Michigan Development Hockey League. We like the in-state programs here, as Michigan’s high school hockey scene brings in top players at the oldest age groups, and they’re hungry to make impressions before the winter season kicks off with their respective high schools.

Predicted winner: Michigan Hockey Advancement 18U

16U Super Tacks

The 16U field seems to be a real toss-up, as there aren’t any teams who have made a lot of noise in earlier fall tournaments. Much like the 18U group, the two Michigan high school collections will have a say in who emerges victorious, but fellow Michigan squads from Belle Tire and Fox Motors will be forces as well. Two teams that are traveling the farthest for the tournament will be ones to watch, too; the Anaheim Jr. Ice Dogs and Team Alaska don’t want to make the trek for nothing. We think Fox Motors, fresh off celebrating a college commitment to Lake Superior State for forward Hunter Ramos, will claim bragging rights. 

Predicted winner: Fox Motors

15O Super Tacks

HoneyBaked leads the field in the 15O age group. One name to keep an eye on is defenseman Dakoda Rheaume-Mullin, the son of Manon Rheaume. Dakoda and the HB boys will be challenged by in-state foes in the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Belle Tire, as well as the Pittsburgh Vengeance. A unique twist for this age group is that the 12 participating squads will be getting an early taste of what their USA Hockey nationals could be like in the spring, as some of the games will be played at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, which is hosting that age group’s Tier 1 championship in April.

Predicted winner: HoneyBaked

14U Super Tacks

Things really heat up when you get to the 14U age bracket for the CCM Motown. At the 2007 birth-year level, Little Caesars leads the field as the No. 4-ranked team in the U.S., with a fistful of other top American teams Compuware, Victory Honda, Fox Motors, Carshield Hockey Club and Florida Alliance. The Caesars club has a 9-2-1 record on the season, and they’ll be looking to add to it. 

Predicted winner: Little Caesars

13U Super Tacks

A 16-team field fills the 2008 division, including No. 8-ranked Little Caesars, No. 20-ranked St. Louis Jr. Blues, Buffalo Jr. Sabres and HoneyBaked. Caesars checks in at 8-0-2 on the season, but we like the 14-5-1 record the Jr. Blues have thus far. They have logged a lot of games, and that early experience is going to pay off in their visit to Hockeytown this weekend.

Predicted winner: St. Louis Jr. Blues

12U Super Tacks

A deep 2009 group will take over three rinks for the 12U Super Tacks division, and there’s a lot of budding starpower. We’ve got No. 19 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, and they’re joined by No. 20 Chicago Reapers, as well as Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and Little Caesars. All in all, the 12U tournament is going to be fun to watch play out. 

Predicted winner: Anaheim Jr. Ducks

11U Super Tacks

The 2010 class is headlined by No. 5-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and No. 11-ranked Chicago Fury, with plenty of pressure coming from the NEW Jr. Gamblers, the Chicago Reapers and Little Caesars. The little Pens hold a 10-2-1 record and could add to those totals substantially this weekend. 

Predicted winner: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the CCM Motown, including recaps and analysis of this weekend’s games. Like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TwitterTikTok and YouTube for the latest news from the world of youth hockey.

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Insights and perspective on player advancement in youth hockey, and how to stand out from the rest.

Ryan Kosecki spends his days helping players advance to the highest levels of amateur hockey.

If you see him at a rink, he will be wearing one or more of his many hats. Kosecki is a co-general manager and vice president of hockey operations for the United States Hockey League (USHL) Youngstown Phantoms. He is the assistant general manager and scout for the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Maryland Black Bears. He is the head coach of the Fox Motors 15U team in Grand Rapids, Mich. Oh yeah, and when he’s not busy with any of those hockey-related responsibilities, he’s also coaching his son’s 10U team.

It is quite the hockey job list, and it makes Kosecki — previously an assistant coach with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks — a unique source for sharing knowledge on what it takes for athletes to make it to the next level.

So if he shows up to your game, how do you catch Kosecki’s eye? What does he look for in a player when he’s scouting for the Phantoms or the Black Bears? Kosecki said it’s four things, in this order:

  1. How the player thinks the game
  2. His compete factor
  3. His skill
  4. His skating

If those don’t pass the eyeball test, he’s moving on to the next player on the bench. 

“I want to see how they make plays, how their stick is, whether they have a good stick or not, do they make their teammates better, are they able to beat a guy one-on-one, stuff like that, because you have to be able to make players around you better,” Kosecki said. “Most of the game is played without the puck, so are you able to make that five-foot slip pass? Are you able to puck protect and fend off that defender to be able to get that shot on net? Are you hard on as F1 on the forecheck? How do you play in your own zone? Will you block shots? Will you go to the dirty areas in the offensive zone? Stuff like that. 

“One thing I really, really, really look for is are you a good teammate. Once I’ve zoned in on a kid that I like, I look for things like how is he on the penalty kill, how is he on the power play, but then I’ll watch him on the bench, see how he acts, or reacts, I should say, after a loss, after a bad goal, after he misses a shot or doesn’t get a pass from a teammate. I’m watching body language, all that stuff, to see what kind of kid he is and what kind of teammate he is.”

It takes a lot more than just a strong performance on the ice for Kosecki to welcome players into either of his organizations, however. He will do his homework on a player, and that starts with having a conversation with the person who knows the player best — his coach.

“The first thing I’ll do is after the game I’ll talk to the coach, and literally the first question I ask the coach is ‘what kind of kid is he?'” said Kosecki. “Obviously, if you’re not a great kid and a great teammate, I want nothing to do with you and I don’t care how good you are. The next thing, we’ll talk about grades, and the third one is how hard does he work? Does he work hard in the weight room, is he a kid that cares about hockey or is he just a kid who shows up? Is he one of the kids that wants to do video, wants to study analytics, wants to work hard in the weight room and will do whatever it takes to get to the next level?”

And grades are more important than just maintaining eligibility. To Kosecki, a player’s performance in the classroom shows a great deal about his character and his determination for having success in hockey.

“Yeah absolutely, it shows what type of kid he is and whether he’s serious about his hockey career,” Kosecki said. “If he doesn’t have good grades, he’s not going to be able to get into college and play college hockey, and that’s why we’re recruiting these kids, it’s so they can play college hockey.”

When asked what he would tell a kid who approached him in a rink lobby asking for advice, Kosecki highlighted his most important points, because there would be many.

“Oh wow, I could go on for hours about that,” Kosecki said. “There are so many different factors. The number-one thing I tell every kid is stop feeling like you have to score to impress scouts or be the leading scorer to impress scouts. Even as a coach, I’ve never had a scout ask me how many points a kid has. Scouts already decided if they like the kid. I’m the same way, I’ve never asked a coach how many points a kid has, I already decided whether I like that kid or not. Be one of those kids who can play all three positions as a forward, be the kid who’s willing to play both defensive spots.”

He also said to not sweat it if you’re not getting power-play time.

“You don’t have to be one of the kids on the power play. For some reason…we’ve become a generation who, if you ask 100 parents, 99 of them would say they would rather have their kid on power play than the PK, and it’s the stupidest thing ever. If you want to make it to the next level, you have to be a kid who…unless you’re the best of the best, you’re a kid who’s going to need to be able to play in all three zones, all three positions, be on the power play or the PK, be able to know different systems.

“The kid who can step in and say, ‘yeah, I can play right wing in a 1-2-2 or I can go out there and penalty kill,’ – those are the kids who are going to make it. That’s why a lot of times the most skilled player doesn’t make it. it’s the kid who’s going to work the hardest and the kid who is the smartest hockey player.”

And finally, Kosecki illustrates the value in watching a lot of hockey — your own, as well as higher levels of play.

“The other thing I would say is study the game. With social media and everything, [young athletes] don’t watch a lot of hockey. So if you’re not going to watch a lot of hockey, you better do a ton of video then, so that you’re learning the game. There is no better way to learn the game than watching your own video and having a coach break down your video and teach you the things you’re doing good and the things you’re doing bad.”

Want more from next-level scouts and how young athletes can elevate their games to junior hockey and beyond? Follow World Hockey Hub on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

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Striving for growth and change in hockey’s birthplace

The impacts of COVID-19 have brought changes and new ideas to almost all aspects of life.

Why would hockey be any different?

In hockey-crazed Canada, leaders of the youth hockey community have identified the need for change. At the “birthplace of hockey” as Canada is affectionately known, it is time to make the sport more welcoming and accessible to the changing demographics and lifestyles within the country.

The Future of Hockey Lab — first opening in Nova Scotia — will be actively pursuing the aforementioned needs, as its founders strive to find new ways to grow the game outside of its traditional audience.

Spanning across the top of the program’s new website upon each visit: ‘The Future of Hockey Lab enables the creation, experimentation and testing of game-changing ideas and innovations to make the sport of hockey more accessible for all who wish to participate.’

A five-point list outlines its mission just below the mission statement. Those are:

The Future of Hockey Lab was co-founded by Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Amy Walsh and Carolyn Townsend, previously with Sport Nova Scotia. 

“We know the sport of hockey is truly loved by many, but it’s really only accessible to a select few and that select few is getting smaller and smaller,” Walsh said in an interview with CBC. “So this is really about testing ideas and new innovations that might make the game more accessible to all people.”

Hockey Canada is assisting with the creation of the lab, and there is financial support from Bauer Hockey, Scotiabank and Canadian Tire through their Jumpstart Charities initiative.

It’s a project that has been in the works for a few years now, as Hockey Nova Scotia commissioned a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in December of 2019 to speak with the general public about how to better make hockey a welcoming sport for all.

That task force spoke with 840 members of their community — many who had bad experiences and left the game or never started at all — and produced a report to make the hockey community take a look in the mirror.

From there, Hockey Nova Scotia created “The Player’s Journey” in which they mapped out the experience of a player from start to finish, creating hundreds of data points on how to improve the customer experience for players of all ages. The Women’s Worlds Legacy Development Plan, meanwhile, was created by female hockey players to help better support the girls’ game and help grow and enhance it.

The Future of Hockey Lab’s ‘theory of change’ shared below is something that can be embraced by all hockey nations, not just Canada.

“WHAT IF… Folks from communities across the province could get all the supports they need to develop and TRY game-changing ideas and innovations? Running experiments to address barriers to access in hockey, and learning what works and what doesn’t—then growing, expanding and supporting everything that works. This is our theory of change, and how we can one day realize a more inclusive game.”

There’s always room for the sport to grow, and to do that, everyone needs to do their best to make hockey a fun, rewarding and welcoming experience for all its participants and their families. 

Want more news from the world of youth hockey? Follow World Hockey Hub on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

A pair of undefeated teams lead the ‘08 and ‘09 World Rankings

The latest world rankings were released on Wednesday. Many teams have begun building their respective resumes for the ‘21-22 season, with only Canada and Sweden — and Finland at some age groups — yet to begin. A pair of No. 1s, though, have wasted little time stacking impressive performances in their respective age groups, in the early stages of September.

The 2008-born LA Jr. Kings have pulled ahead of the pack, with a 7-0-1 record. Four of those wins came over the weekend, including a dominant 6-2 victory over HoneyBaked; the 10th ranked team in the States. The Jr. Kings’ only hiccup was a 4-4 tie they skated to with the Windy City Storm on Saturday. The Chicago-based program is fourth in the country, and 11th in the world, with three wins of its own over ranked opponents.

The upcoming schedule will certainly present bigger challenges, with trips to Pittsburgh in October and Detroit in November. With a trio of forwards Sammie Ochoa, Tyus Sparks and Logan Stuart up front, the Jr. Kings should present difficult matchups for future opponents.

CSKA Moscow validated its preseason No. 1 in the 2009 age group with a 17-game win streak to open the season. Four victories have come against fellow Russian Top-10 teams, including not one, not two, but three dominant performances against No. 4-ranked Dynamo Moscow. In those games, CSKA out-scored Dynamo 29-5. They are averaging nearly 10 goals a game with 169 goals already this season.

Daniel Ermolov, Artem Karsuro and Nazar Privalov lead the way for CSKA. Expect the schedule to be a bit more challenging as the season wears on, but there’s no mistake in who the clear-cut No. 1 is at the end of September.

Check out the complete world rankings to see who the top teams are at the ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10 age group HERE. Our world rankings are updated every two weeks, and you can submit your rankings to the committee! Or, follow us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news from the world of youth hockey.

Canada’s top youth league set to return for ’21-22 season

Since its inception in 1911, the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) has seen its share of historic moments.

The 2020-21 season made history, in a way that nobody ever wanted to see.

After missing an entire season of hockey because of COVID-19, the GTHL — arguably the best youth hockey league in the entire world — is set to return for 2021-22, a welcomed sight for the Canadian hockey community.

In late August, the storied organization announced its “Game Plan 2.0” framework for returning to play this season, setting out how it plans to handle the unique environment North America still finds itself in during the battle with COVID-19. A substantial part of that plan is requiring vaccines for GTHL directors and staff, GTHL member executives and staff, team officials, timekeepers, on-ice officials, instructors, in-arena employees of the GTHL and players who were born in or before 2009 (barring medical or approved exemptions under the Ontario Human Rights Code).

The competitive divisions of the GTHL are slated to begin on November 1, while some of the house leagues and learn-to-play programs have an earlier start.

“The Game Plan 2.0 and the Vaccine Policy puts the safety and well being of players as the top priority as we begin the much-anticipated return to programming.” said Scott Oakman, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the GTHL. “Players, their families, and minor hockey associations are excited to be able to return to play and we are working hard at creating the safest environment for them.” 

A very robust return-to-play plan can be viewed here.

One of the highlights is that while face masks must be worn at all times inside facilities, players, team officials and on-ice officials will not be required to wear masks on the ice. Coaches must wear a face mask on the bench.

The 2019-2020 GTHL season was cancelled on March 12, 2020, and while plans were in place for a 2020-21 season, it did not come to fruition.

A return to play means that some of the best young players in the world get a chance to return to action during a crucial time for their career aspirations. The largest minor hockey league in the world, the GTHL annually showcases more than 40,000 hockey players in Markham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan. 

The league has gone through a variety of changes as it has expanded over the years. Today, age groups start at Under-7 (the 2015 birth-year for this season) up through Under-18 (2004 and 2005 birth years) at the AAA, AA and A levels. The Under-14 through Under-17 AAA age groups are some of the most heavily scouted divisions of hockey in the entire world, with a recent alumni list featuring the likes of John Tavares, Jack and Quinn Hughes, Connor McDavid, Tyler Seguin and many, many more.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the league itself, you will surely have come across some of the member clubs. Storied programs like the Don Mills Flyers, Markham Majors, Mississauga Rebels, North York Rangers, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Toronto Marlboros and Vaughan Kings are just some of the powerhouses routinely competing for GTHL titles. 

In every generation of GTHL alumni lists, the names jump off the page. In some of the early days, the likes of Red Kelly, Frank Mahovlich and Ken Dryden stand out, and it only gets better from there.

In the 1970s, spectators of the GTHL got to see Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy and Adam Oates. A few years later, it would be Adam Graves, Brendan Shanahan and Sean Burke. Blockbuster names continued, with Eric Lindros, Anson Carter, Mike Peca, Kevin Weekes and Jason Allison all spanning three birth years between 1973 and 1975. 

As the league continued to establish itself more and more as an international powerhouse, talent continued to appear and develop within its member programs. We won’t list them all, but just from a quick skim…check out these NHLers (with their birth year in parentheses):

Mike Cammalleri (1982)
Ray Emery (1982)
Jason Spezza (1983)
Rick Nash (1984)
Brent Burns (1985)
Andrew Cogliano (1987)
Wayne Simmonds (1988)
P.K. Subban (1989)
Sam Gagner (1989)
John Tavares (1990)
Alex Pietrangelo (1990)
Ryan O’Rielly (1991)
Tyler Seguin (1992)
Jeff Skinner (1992)
Dougie Hamilton (1993)
Max Domi (1995)
Darnell Nurse (1995)
Connor McDavid (1997)
Mitch Marner (1997)
Jakob Chychrun (1998)
Quinn Hughes (1999)
Jack Hughes (2001)

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the GTHL, and other top youth leagues around the world all season long. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news from the world of youth hockey.

Return to action plan announced for iconic PeeWee Quebec tournament in 2022.

Tournament directors took to the stage on Tuesday afternoon to announce the return to action and safety procedures for the 62nd annual PeeWee Quebec. Part of the announcement was to confirm the tournament will take place from February 9 – 20, 2022, in an international format.

This is big news in the youth hockey world, since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the event — and many other international events — last season. 

’’We have worked hard, very hard to make it happen quickly and to finally tell you that the Tournament will officially take place in February,” said tournament president Michel Plante. “There were several key issues to be resolved, several heart-breaking decisions had to be made and it has not been easy. The important thing is that we can finally go ahead and get everything going for the next edition. If you only knew how happy we are.”

A tournament of this magnitude amidst a global pandemic will of course require many adjustments and conditions to be respected, not just for the players but the spectators and volunteers as well.

”The most important thing for us is to keep everyone safe and that will be our priority,” said administrator Patrick Dom. “We prefer to be more than careful. The teams will come from all over the world, all the more reason not to take any risk.”

While the event is set to return, directors were the first to admit it will be far from normal circumstances. Only players born in 2009, or 2008s born in October, November, December, will be allowed to participate. All team members will be required to be vaccinated, including coaching staff and managers regardless of country of origin. Anyone 12 years of age or older will have to present a vaccination passport before entering the Videotron Center. The complete list of adjustments can be found HERE

Most importantly, is the tournament organizers’ commitment to making the 2022 event happen, and receiving support from federal and local governments. Canada has been without youth hockey for more than a year, but announcements like this appear as if the powers that be are committed to delivering a full hockey season, and events, back the youth hockey community. 

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of the PeeWee Quebec leading up to the event in February, as well as in-depth breakdowns of big matchups, top teams and performers from the tournament on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Sweden Hockey Trophy marks the return of youth hockey in Scandinavia

The Sweden Hockey Trophy (SHT) returns to Scandinavia this month, after the region spent much of the 2020-21 season without youth hockey. Concerns around COVID-19 put the Sweden youth hockey season on pause last December, and strict government guidelines prohibited game action in the local ice rinks.

Only recently have restrictions begun to lift, permitting youth hockey players to return to the ice. The Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s 2021-22 season typically starts in September, and the Sweden Hockey Trophy tournament symbolizes a new chapter for many. 

The month-long event features five different age groups competing over four separate weekends. The 2007s took to the ice first at Ishuset Arena, home of IFK Tumba. This Thursday, the 2008s will follow up the action with 16 teams at JM-Hallen in Bromma. Fourteen teams at the ‘09-age group will square off next weekend, and the ‘10s and ‘11s will close out the tournament September 23 – 26th.

Last weekend, Täby HC was crowned champions of the ‘07 AAA division, while Wings HC took the AA division. A 4-1 record in pool play put Täby into the top seed of the six-team playoffs, earning a first-round bye and a spot in the Final Four. There, they faced off against HC Hvezda Prague, as Isac Nilsson, Melvin Novotny and Romeo Edvarsen Sӧrensen combined to score six goals in Täby’s 9-2 semifinal victory.

Täby HC captain Filip Puhakka accepts the Sweden Hockey Trophy from tournament director Alexander Holtz.

The championship pitted the No. 1 team in Pool A against the No. 1 team in Pool B, as Nacka stepped up to challenge Täby for the title. The matchup featured the top three scorers in the tournament with Novotny (23), Ruben Westerling (15) and Matiss Zilitis (14). Midway through the second half of the game, Zilitis scored to tie it up for Nacka at 2-2. In the final moments of the contest though, Marcus Nordmark would score the game-winning goal with 1:50 left in regulation to give Täby the 3-2 win and the SHT championship.

Sweden Hockey Trophy features some of the best youth hockey teams in the country. In total, 83 of the top Swedish youth hockey teams will compete for the SHT championship this month. Also worth noting are the nine international teams expected to be in attendance. Previously mentioned HC Hvezda Prague is a top program from the Czech Republic, and was the only non-Sweden based team in the ‘07 Division. Ukraine’s Sokol Kiev will compete in the ‘09 Division next weekend. The ‘08 Division — set to begin on Thursday — is the most diverse field of the tournament with 16 teams from seven different countries. In addition to the nine Sweden programs, Bartulus Hockey Club (Latvia), Barys (Kazakhstan), HC Hvezda Prague (Czech Republic), RUSS Moscow (Russia), two teams from Tappara (Finland) and Seacoast Spartans (United States). 

Participating in international tournaments like SHT is becoming a bit more commonplace than before in youth hockey. Programs like the Czech Knights and Slovakia Stars had traveled abroad for historic events like Pee-Wee Quebec, and CSKA Moscow has made similar trips to the U.S. for iconic tournaments like the Motown Classic. North American winter teams have rarely returned the favor to travel across the Atlantic. However, with programs like Seacoast paving the way to compete at SHT, it could become a more common practice amongst top teams in the States. 

Programs can spend thousands of dollars per person to partake in some of the cross-country road trips to elite showcases and popular tournaments. The cost for an East Coast team to shoot across the Atlantic can at the very least be comparable, if not cheaper than domestic travel to destinations like Nashville, Florida, Denver or the West Coast. Flights and hotels and food for a 17-man team, coaches and family members can add up quickly, only to spend the weekend in another run-of-the-mill hockey town. That same typical trip could be turned into an international experience filled with culture and competition against top European programs in exotic European cities. 

The SHT continues on Thursday and throughout the rest of the month. World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage of the tournament on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to like and follow for more updates.

Interested in challenging your team against international competition? The team at World Hockey Group can help set you up with a destination, comparable opponents and an experience of a lifetime. Connect with a team member HERE.

World Hockey Group and Total Package Hockey Announce New International Youth Tournament, the 2022 Champions League

Top 2008-born winter club teams from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia will compete for the first ever world championship.

EXETER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — World Hockey Group (WHG) and Total Package Hockey (TPH), in partnership with the Panthers IceDen, are proud to announce a ‘first-of-its-kind’ youth hockey tournament, the 2022 Champions League. This invitation-only event is the first and only youth hockey event to have international teams face off to decide one World Champion. Featuring 2008-born winter club teams from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the Champions League will be hosted at the Panthers IceDen, from Dec. 28, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022.

“The idea of the Champions League is something that’s been on my mind for a long time,” said WHG’s Chief Executive Officer, Travis Bezio. “With the resources that we have in various countries around the globe, as well as working alongside TPH and its team, we were able to bring this vision to life.”

Similar to the Little League World Series in youth baseball, the Champions League will feature the absolute best youth hockey teams, from various countries, in a six-day spectacle set to take place in Coral Springs, Florida. Participating teams will be divided into groups for pool play. Groups will be composed of teams from various countries so that pool play provides unique, unparalleled international competition. After completing five preliminary-round games, teams will qualify for either the championship rounds or consolation rounds, based on in-pool standings. In the championship rounds, teams will compete in an elimination-style playoff, where the World Hockey Group and Total Package Hockey will award youth hockey’s first ever world champion.

“We couldn’t be happier to be a part of this world-class event,” said TPH’s Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Bowen. “At TPH, we strive to be the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes, and hosting the Champions League with World Hockey Group creates an opportunity to make a real impression on hockey families across the global hockey landscape.”

The state-of-the-art Panthers IceDen, the practice facility for the NHL’s Florida Panthers in Coral Springs, Florida, will be home to the Champions League this holiday season.

“We’re thrilled to host the first-ever 2022 Champions League Youth Tournament at Panthers IceDen,” said Panthers IceDen General Manager Keith Fine. “Our Coral Springs-based athletes and the South Florida community will have the opportunity to watch elite youth hockey talent compete from all over the world for this special weekend tournament.” 

The Champions League runs parallel to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) under-20 world championships. With both events running simultaneously, the hockey world will now get to experience top-notch international competition at the amateur and youth levels at the same time.

“There’s nothing like this anywhere in youth hockey,” said Bezio. “There are many opportunities in the spring and summer to compete in international tournaments, but when it comes to in-season, winter club competition featuring Swedish versus American teams, Canadian versus Russian teams, Czech against Finnish teams, those matchups are extremely rare. The Champions League is designed to bring the top teams from around the world together for a week of the most competitive hockey you’ll find at the youth level.” 

Currently, 16 teams have formally accepted invitations to the inaugural event, and any interested teams are welcome to apply at worldhockeyhub.com/champions-league.

The list of currently accepted teams are:

Ak Bars (Russia)Los Angeles Jr. Kings (United States)
CSKA Moscow (Russia)Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers (United States)
Czech Knights (Czech Republic)SDE Hockey (Sweden)
Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)Seacoast Performance Academy (United States)
Dynamo Moscow (Russia)SKA Yunost (Russia)
HoneyBaked (United States)Tappara (Finland)
Kiekko-Espoo (Finland)Toronto Jr. Canadiens (Canada)
Little Caesars (United States)Windy City (United States)

For more information and the latest news regarding the Champions League, click HERE or follow WHH on  InstagramTikTokYouTubeTwitter and Facebook

About World Hockey Group: The worldwide leader in youth hockey tournaments and events. World Hockey Group (WHG) provides more than two dozen unique events in exotic locations around the globe. The team at WHG is deeply involved in the youth hockey community, with an international presence in various countries including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and central Europe. WHG prides itself on providing world-class competition along with a first-class travel experience. Events like the Champions League and World Selects tournament series offer amazing opportunities abroad both on and off the ice for the entire family to enjoy.

About World Hockey Hub: The Pulse of Youth Hockey. World Hockey Hub (WHH) is your number one resource for the latest news, team rankings, highlights, analysis and more from the world of youth hockey. WHH is the worldwide leader in providing global coverage of the game year-round. With an international rankings system, a comprehensive list of more than 100 tournaments, event ratings and reviews as well as the latest team and prospect news, WHH is your one-stop-shop for everything youth hockey related. 

About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is Total Package Hockey’s (TPH) vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through sport. TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, teachers, advisors and all other entities within both athletic and academic circles. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, TPH services over 10,000 student-athletes on an annual basis, throughout 15 U.S. based divisions.

About Panthers IceDen: The Florida Panthers IceDen is a community facility that hosts over 1 million annual guests in the tri-county area. Located in Coral Springs, Fla. the 125,000-square-foot facility is the official practice facility of the Florida Panthers. The Panthers IceDen is home to the Coral Springs Makos, Youth Hockey Leagues, Learn To Skate, Learn To Play as well as figure skating lessons, making it the perfect location to serve families in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. For more information on Panthers IceDen and its offerings, please visit PanthersIceDen.com or follow @PanthersIceDen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Bryce Wiitala and Charlie Puglisi Headline Big Names To Know

The Mini-Chowder Cup concluded on Sunday, crowning champions at the 2007- and 2008-birth years. This New England-based event is one of the highlights of summer hockey on the East Coast, with a series of tournaments for several age groups including the Mini (‘07 and ‘08), the Junior (‘05 and ‘06) and the classic, Senior Chowder Cup (‘01, ‘02, ‘03 and ‘04). 

Sixty-six teams took the ice in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Friday. Boston Hockey Club won the 2008 Division and NorthStar Elite took the 2007 Division. Following its conclusion, tournament directors acknowledged some of the standouts from the weekend with its All-Tournament Teams.

2007 Standouts

Most Valuable Player: Bryce Wiitala, NorthStar Elite

After scoring six goals in the first four games of the tournament, Wiitala tacked on three more tallies in the playoffs for a total of 12 points in seven games. He saved his biggest performance for the biggest game of the weekend, scoring two goals and two assists, including the game-winner in NorthStar’s 5-4 overtime victory against Coaches’ Choice.

Goalie: Aidan Kaiser, NorthStar Elite

Defense: Donato Bracco, Coaches’ Choice

Defense: Kyle Heger, NorthStar Elite

Forward: Mason Minsky, NorthStar Elite

Forward: Cooper Dennis, Coaches’ Choice

Forward: Marko Lisica, Coaches’ Choice

2008 Standouts

Most Valuable Player: Charlie Puglisi, Boston Hockey Club

One of the more steady players throughout the tournament for Boston Hockey Club, Puglisi compiled one goal and six points through the first four games. He added three more points in the playoffs, as BHC rolled to a championship on Sunday courtesy of one of the largest goal differentials in the entire tournament at plus-41. 

Goalie: Carson Mertz, Boston Hockey Club

Defense: Nolan Nassar, Boston Hockey Club

Defense: Will Bent, Boston Jr. Blues

Forward: Luca Cannata, Boston Hockey Club

Forward: Caleb Romph, Boston Jr. Blues

Forward: Joe Iginla, Boston Jr. Blues

The Chowder Cup series continues on July 22nd, with the College and Junior-A Divisions taking center stage. Top prospects and teams are expected to be on-hand and World Hockey Hub will be on top of the action at the Senior-Chowder Cup. Be sure to connect with us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest content!