Czech Knights look to defend 2022 title
This week, eight teams from eight countries will lace up the skates at the 2011 Elite World Selects Invitational in Bolzano, Italy. The Czech Knights will have their sights set on repeating as 12U champions, as their 2010 squad won the championship last year. But they will not be the only ones with aspirations of adding to their trophy case. Pro Hockey, a collection of North American players, will be in search of its third championship. They won back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, and most recently 2019. Finland Selects, winners in 2013, will also be on the hunt to be the last team standing.
Making things interesting will be that all three teams will play one another during pool play. The Knights open their schedule against Finland before taking on Pro Hockey on Thursday. Finland will cash with Pro Hockey on Wednesday, which is the third game for each squad out of five pool play contests. Joining them will be Sweden Selects, Slovakia Selects, Südtirol, ALPS Selects and Latvia Selects. Following the opening round, all eight teams will be seeded 1-8 for the playoff rounds which begins on Friday. The semifinals and championship game will both take place on Saturday.
Chemistry will play vital role in team success
Pro Hockey will consist of some of the best 2011-born talent in Canada. Tyson Orr, defenseman for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Rouhi Assal of the Vaughan Kings bring their talents to the team. Both the Jr. Canadiens and Kings are among the premier teams in the World Rankings.
Finland Selects roster will consist of numerous teammates from various Finnish programs. Defenseman Justus Liikanen, forward Viljam Huuskonen and goaltender Alex Oliver Maslov all hail from KJT Hockey. Manu Vähäsöyrinki and Richard WEI, a pair of forwards from Kiekko-Espoo Blues, will bolster scoring depth. Joining them will be K-Espoo Blues teammate Eemeli Salminen, whose task it will be to help patrol the blue line.
The Czechs have two pairs of players from the same team. Goaltender Nikita Kuzin and defenseman Kirill Rudenko from Slavia Praha. Coming from BK Mlada Boleslav are defenseman David Skořepa and goaltender Milan Kobrle. Viggbyholms IK and Värmdö will have multiple representatives on Sweden. Latvia’s roster will largely be made up of players from HS Riga and Prizma. These are collectively the skaters on each team with experience playing with each other in competitive action. Chemistry that should lead to thrilling plays and exciting matchups throughout the duration of the showcase.
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