The final day of the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament is in the books and it presented a couple of close games and a couple of blowouts.
Opening the four games for today was the battle for top spot in Group B where Russia fell victim to a hot goalie and a skilled Finland team as they lost the game 3-0. The second game of the day was a 9-2 blowout by Canada over Switzerland. Canada finished on top of group A and Switzerland ended up in the basement of Group A. Following that was the Slovakia/USA showdown. The Americans topped off their horrendous tournament with a 7-3 win and a 3rd place finish in Group B. As a result Slovakia finished last.
Lastly in the last game of the tournament round robin Sweden and the Czech Republic faced off for 2nd place in Group A. The Swedes beat the Czechs 2-0 in what was a very close game. The defence and goaltending dominated on both sides.
The Final Round Robin Standings
Group A: Canada-Sweden-Czech Republic-Switzerland
Group B: Finland-Russia-USA-Slovakia
After some impressive showings throughout the first few days at the Hlinka here are a the players who stood out for me on Day 3:
Severi Isokangas (Finland): After another great showing from the Finnish goaltender to top off what was a great first 3 days. In a heated game with Russia for top spot in group B, Isokangas put up a 22 save shutout and was spectacular to say the least.
The 6’1 goalkeeper currently plays for Karpat U20 in the Finnish Jr.A league. He finished the tournament with a 0.50 GAA and a .973 SVG % which put him second amongst all goalies in the tournament.
After watching Isokangas throughout the tournament I have found that he does a great job making himself look big in his goal and he’s especially good at covering the bottom of the net. He’s mobile, calm and aggressive in the crease but isn’t afraid to challenge the shooter.
Isokangas was the top player for Finland IMO through the round robin part of the tournament and was a wall that all opponents had a hard time getting through.
German Rubtcov (Russia): Leading the Russian team in penalty minutes (16 PIM) and managing 1 assist through the 3 games the tenacious Russian doesn’t get much credit where credit is deserved.
The 6’1″ power forward possesses quick hands which go hand in hand with his big frame. Rubtcov showed that he can play a whole 200 foots game, he’s hard on the back check and supports very well deep in his own zone.
During the round robin he found himself deployed with the first PP unit where he set up shop in front of the net as a screen and on the first PK unit as someone to clog-up the passing lanes and block shots.
He is a player who isn’t afraid to do some of the dirty work out front and in the corners. Rubctov is one of Russia’s top 2016 draft eligible and it should be fun to see what he does through the year and how that will affect his draft stock.
Kailer Yamamoto (USA): As one of the top 2017 draft eligible in this tournament, Kailer hasn’t risen to all the hype in my eyes but today was definitely his best showing. In a 7-2 win over Slovakia, Yamamoto put up a 3 point (1 goal 2 assists) performance and was arguably the best player for the Americans in their final game.
The current Spokane Chief was one of the top rookies last year in the WHL and managed 57 points in just 68 regular season games. I compare Yamamoto right now to the way Marner was in his rookie season as he likes to show off skill and can skate like the wind, but sometimes can over handle the puck or force passes through congested lanes.
Nonetheless I like Yamamoto as he is another small forward who uses his small size to his advantage. He shows this by being very strong on his feet and getting under the checks of taller opponents to avoid losing the puck. It will be good to see how he does this coming seasons and if he can maintain his draft stock.
Sam Steel (Canada): The top 2016 eligible at this tournament had an exceptional game for Canada in a 9-2 win over Switzerland. He managed a goal and 2 assists in what was his best game of the tournament thus far IMO.
One thing that separates Sam Steel from everyone else is his elite skating. He is really good on his edges and is very shifty when entering with the puck in the offensive zone. He never gets hit by the opposition as he always has his head up and on a swivel.
A top playmaker in this coming draft, Steel put up 37 assists in his rookie campaign with the Regina Pats before injuring his knee late in the season. This upcoming season I expect his stock to stay where it is currently at as he is a projected top 10 pick.
Kale Clague (Canada): The current Brandon Wheat King defenseman has had a great tournament for Canada, and is a projected first round pick going into next summer’s NHL draft.
Standing at 6’1 and 176lbs he is very agile and loves to jump into the rush. Clague is very deadly with the puck and while he only managed one point today in the 9-2 win over Switzerland, it doesn’t take away from the great performance he truly had.
One thing that caught my eye was how calm he was with the puck but was quick to move it. He also showed the ability to create more room for himself when under pressure. Clague is a player who I expect to crack the top 15 and maybe even top 10 with a good campaign on a heavily stacked Brandon Wheat Kings team.
Jacob Cederholm (Sweden): Another returnee on this list, Cederholm had another great game as Sweden beat the Czech’s 2-0.
He is a big and strong defender who anchors a strong and deep Swedish D core. Cederholm possesses a powerful long stride that allows him to win puck races in the corner which he then uses his body to dominate those puck battles. Standing at 6’3 and 180lbs, his frame makes his very noticeable as he looks like a man amongst boys.
Cederholm was crucial late in the game as Sweden tried to hold on to the 2-0 lead. During that late game stretch he showed lots of leadership and was a defensive titan that the Czechs couldn’t beat. Currently ranked 25th by HockeyProspects, I expect his stock to rise most out of this tournament and most likely be in the top 20 shortly.
Tomas Psenicka (Czech Republic): A 2017 draft eligible, Tomas Psenicka is coming off of a great year with HC Sparta Praha in the Czech U18 league, where he managed 51 points in 41 games and almost half his points were goals.
Standing at 6’3 and almost 180lbs, even with a big frame Psenicka brings good playmaking abilities while also being a deadly scoring option that the opponent’s D must keep an eye on. I love how he demonstrates good vision that allows him to always find that open team mate.
The lean Czech had a great game against Sweden but not good enough as his Czech team lost 2-0. Psenicka had one of the best opportunities of the game to get his team on the board as he was awarded a penalty shot that he unfortunately missed. He was the go-to guy in the last 5 minutes as the Czech’s were searching for a goal but Jacob Cederholm and the Swedish defence had their number.
Tomas will be staying with HC Sparta Praha in the coming season and hopefully will make the switch over to North American hockey in the 2016-2017 season.
Oliver Horrsell (Sweden): This tiny Swedish defender (5’6″) caught my eye because of how he separated himself from the rest of the Swedish D core with his size and offensive abilities.
He’s a small, smooth skating defender who played a very offensive role with Sweden throughout this tournament. Horrsell showed a little nastiness in his game by being involved in scrums and making big hits when nobody was expecting it. He is very good on his edges and shows he has good awareness of everything going on around him.
Oliver Horrsell is currently playing for the Linkoping U20 team, a 2016 draft eligible who is unlikely to be drafted due to size, but may just be another free agent gem like fellow Canadian Joe Hicketts.
The round robin for the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament has come to an end and we’re left with Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Russia all fighting for gold.
The biggest let down for me through over these past 3 days were the Americans, they came out flat footed against the Finns and looked weak in both of the other games they played in. I believe that if the young skilled Swiss team was stationed in group B, they could have finished top 3.
On a high note, Canada and Finland had very good round robin showings. Both teams finished the tournament with a 3-0 record and both had top players and goalies in the tournament.
Everybody gets a day off tomorrow and then the semifinals will begin on the 14th. Slovakia will meet Switzerland to start the day off then the USA will square off with the Czech Republic. Later in the day will feature a pair of all-time rivalries going head to head. Sweden will face Finland in what should be a very intense game and then Canada will go up against Russia.
I predict Canada will finish with the gold for an 8th straight year, then Finland for silver and lastly Sweden taking home the bronze
After watching 12 games and seeing everyone player, my top 3 lines of the tournament are:
1st Line all stars:
2nd line all stars:
3rd line all stars:
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