Five teams from five different countries that dominated youth hockey in February
With the 2022-23 regular season beginning to wind down, teams across youth hockey are emptying the tanks before hopeful playoff runs. The ‘07 Toronto Marlboros and Tappara are on our teams of the month list for the second time. The Los Angeles Jr. Kings were one of the busier U.S. ‘08 clubs. Nacka HK and CSKA Moscow solidified their spots at the top of their respective ‘07 and ‘09 birth years as well. WHH takes a look at a few programs across all countries and birth years that established themselves among the best of the best in youth hockey.
UNITED STATES: 2008 Los Angeles Jr. Kings
It was a jam-packed month for the 2008-born No. 23 Los Angeles Jr. Kings. Suiting up in 14 contests across regular season, playoff and district play, they took care of business with wins in each matchup.
After opening the month with a 4-0-0 record, their next task was the Tier-1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) playoffs. In the 14U division, they rattled off five consecutive victories for the championship. Their run culminated in a hard-fought 5-3 victory over No. 25 Dallas Stars Elite. Tyus Sparks and Noah Davidson were the main point getters for the team, each collecting 12 points.
After a few days to recuperate, the Jr. Kings were back in action at the Pacific District playoffs with the hope of nabbing a spot at the upcoming USA Hockey Nationals. It was here they found the win column in another five straight games, outscoring opponents 31-4.
Next up will be a trip to Nationals, but as an added bonus they will have some company. The 15O Jr. Kings earned a trip as well, after securing their division. The Los Angeles program will be well-represented on the national stage later this month.
CANADA: 2007 Toronto Marlboros
For the second time this season, the ‘07 No. 2 Toronto Marlboros have skated to ‘Team of the Month’ honors for Canada. Having last earned the honor in December, the Marlies continued to run the table in their birth year, going 7-0-0. Three of those victories came against ranked teams, twice over the No. 10 Toronto Jr. Canadiens and a 5-3 win vs. against No. 22 Mississauga Rebels.
With the GTHL playoffs around the corner, the Marlboros will look to build upon their current seven-game win streak.
SWEDEN: 2007 Nacka HK
Impressing in February was ‘07 No. 13 Nacka HK with a 5-1-0 record. The team did not have a light schedule, lacing up the skates against four powerhouses in the Top 10 of Sweden. After winning their opening 8-5 showdown with No. 3 Swedish-ranked Djurgårdens IF in thrilling fashion, they followed it up with another win over Trångsunds IF.
Despite a slight setback in a 3-2 loss to No. 8 Viggbyholms IK, they rebounded with solid showings against world-ranked No. 19 Täby HC, Almtuna IS and No. 5 Södertälje SK.
Ruben Westerling may be the club’s overall leading scorer with 16 goals and 32 points, but Neo Hirsch and Olle Därth had a month to remember. Across all six contests, Hirsch compiled four goals and 11 points to go along with Därth’s six goals and 10 points.
FINLAND: 2007 Tappara
Like the Marlboros, ‘07 No. 15 Tappara is another program to be featured on our Teams of the Month list for a second time. Tappara was included in our list from November. Dropping the puck in seven games, Tappara skated to a 6-1-0 record, with a lone ‘blemish’ being a 5-4 loss to No. 5 Ilves.
Other than that, Tappara fared quite well against some top competition from Finland. They kicked off their schedule with the defeat to Ilves, but wasted no time in getting back on track with a 3-2 win against No. 10 KalPa. Following that, five more wins over No. 1 Kiekko-Espoo, Pelicans, No. 7 TPS, a second victory against KalPa and finishing off with Jokipojat.
It certainly didn’t hurt having the top two scorers of the group, either. Joonas Rajala and Eetu Orpana have each collected 30 points in 13 and 12 games, respectively. Orpana alone tallied in the team’s last five games of the month, garnering 3 goals and 10 points alone. Both players also spent time last month with the Finnish National Team at the 3 Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.
Russia: 2009 CSKA Moscow
No. 3 CSKA Moscow went a perfect 5-0-0 in February, highlighted by wins against No. 4 Spartak Moscow and No. 14 Atlant Mytishchi. The five victories combined with the four they ended January with give the club an impressive nine-game streak currently.
Nazar Privalov, the teams’ leading scorer, was on fire across all matches. Unable to be slowed by any opponent, he struck for six goals and nine points. Privalov has found the scoresheet in every game dating back to Jan. 22.