The second day of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament has come to an end, and the final group standings are pretty much set. Day two was another disappointment for the Americans, as they fell 5-2 to an average Russian team. Canada followed it up with a nail biter against Sweden, and came away with a 2-0 victory. The third match of the day displayed a dominant effort by Finland as they beat a weak Slovakian team 4-2. The final game of the day featured the Czechs taking on a skilled Swiss team which ended in a 5-3 decision favouring the Czech Republic in what was one of the more entertaining games of the tournament thus far.
After impressive showings throughout the first couple days at the Hlinka, here are a few players who have stood out:
Michael McLeod (Canada): McLeod had another great day for Canada, netting the game winning goal on a great individual effort. McLeod, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 OHL draft, was arguably the best player to touch the ice today for the Canadian squad. Yesterday he showed off his physical side and defensive abilities in a 3-1 win over the Czech.
Today, however, he showed off a much more skilled and creative game and demonstrated his dazzling speed, which led Sweden to the penalty box as the attempted to slow him down. He has been a cornerstone player for Canada in this tournament and it will be interesting to see if he can crack this list again with three days left in the tournament.
Marcus Niemelainen (Finland): It was not hard to find Niemelainen on the ice today as the 6’5 defender was dominant for Finland in their victory. Niemelainen, a 2016 draft eligible who is set to make his North American debut with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He is a tall, lengthy defender who skates very well for his size. He was a huge barrier for a struggling Slovakian team as he as he showcased his raw defensive abilities and played a key shutdown role. He manned the top PK pairing and managed to play on both the left and right side. He is a smart and reliable player for Finland who takes good angles to pucks. While he doesn’t manage much offence, he did earn two assists in today’s winning effort. If there is a knock on this guy’s game, it would be his lack of physical play. It will be exciting to watch his progression over the next year.
Livio Stadler (Switzerland): Stadler was the player of the game for a losing Swiss squad. He was very strong offensively and was more than deserving of that accolade. He is an average size defender with great offensive upside, and he brought those traits to life when he quarterbacked the Swiss power play today and displayed his deceptive shot with a beautiful goal from the point. He shows good patience with the puck as well as strong playmaking abilities. Stadler is currently the top scoring defenseman in the tournament at 3 points in 2 games. Expect him to play a few games this year with EV Zug in the Swiss National League after he tears up the U20 division.
Georgi Ivanov (Russia): Ivanov is a 2017 draft eligible who was strong in his performance against a struggling American team. The thick Russian stands 6’0 209lbs and is fresh off of a U17 gold medal with Russia. In a 5-2 victory, Ivanov scored a goal and tallied an assist. Following that victory, Russia is now tied with Finland for first place in Group B. Ivanov showed off his puck skills today, dangling through three American players,then finishing it off with a beautiful backhand. He currently sits tied for second in tournament scoring with 2 points in 2 games and is someone to watch over the remainder of the tournament as well as the course of the next two years as his stock will surely rise before the 2017 NHL Draft.
Dylan Wells (Canada): Wells was nothing short of spectacular in his first start of the tournament. He made 21 of 21 saves for Canada and became the first goalie in this tournament to manage a shutout. Wells tracked the puck very well and stayed square to the shooter, but what caught my eye most was his ability to find pucks through traffic. He made a number of huge saves from point shots that pin balled its way through to the net.
Wells currently plays for the Peterborough Pete’s in the OHL and will most likely be in the conversation as one of the top three goalies in the draft. Wells is a 6’2 butterfly style goaltender who could add a few pounds, but is already strong in the athleticism department.
Frantisek Hrdinka (Czech Republic): Playing on a team filled with big defenders who can skate, Hrdinka did a great job today, setting himself apart from the rest. He earned an assist on the second Czech goal, as well, he impressed by displaying an above average offensive tool set making smart passes and controlling the puck well. What put Hrdinka on the list was his sound defensive play, as well as his impressive corsi numbers.
Hrdinka stands at 6’0 187lbs, and his his CHL rights are currently owned by the Saint John Sea Dogs, it would be nice to see him come over and play for their already stellar defensive core, he also managed +29 Corsi for, and only -11 against while facing a skilled Swedish team. A very impactful player on today’s game and someone who I look forward to seeing tomorrow against Sweden. (Thanks to @The_HockeyNinja on Twitter for the CZE corsi chart, follow him for all the CZE game corsi charts)
— The Hockey Ninja (@The_HockeyNinja) August 10, 2015
David Kofron (Czech Republic): Another 2017 draft eligible on this list, he manage to be the lone 2 goal scorer in any of today’s match ups. Kofron is a late 1998 who possesses a good shot, which he demonstrated with his game winning goal on the breakaway against the Swiss. He displayed strong defensive insticts and had a good stick in defensive situations. Kofron managed over a point per game in the U18 Czech league last season, and is currently tied for first place in goals through the tournament with two. He stands at 5’10 and 146lbs, and is seemingly going to need to gain weight and continue to compete for the next couple season in order to be one of the top round picks.
With day two of the Ivan Hlinka wrapped up, theres a few things I am looking forward to seeing in the match-ups tomorrow. Most importantly I would love to see a break out performance from the highly touted Kailer Yamamoto, Garrett Wait, and the rest of the American team as they take on Slovakia for 3rd place in the group. I expect another great effort out of the Canadians as they play Switzerland, and am anticipating a stand out effort from Jake Bean. Russia and Finland will battle it out for first place in Group B, and I am expecting to see a Finland victory after being carried by Makinen and Niemelainen. Lastly, Sweden and the Czech Republic face off for second place in Group A, in what should be a real good game considering how well both teams competed against Canada.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re enjoying our coverage of the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. Please let us know in the comments below and if you’re so inclined we’d love it if you shared and retweeted our posts. It lets us know we’re doing a good job and it’s good karma on your part.
Lastly, TeePublic is having a sale from August 12th-14th. EVERYTHING is on SALE! So head on over to the Beer League Heroes T-Shirt shop here and pick up your favorite NHL superstar in 16-bit or even the Official BLH t-shirt! They’ll only set you back $14 for the next three days!