Our coverage from the Ivan Hlinka Memorial continues with Brayden Sullivan guest posting for us! Follow him on Twitter @sullydraftgeek!
The beginning of the day started off with a consolation game for seventh place between Slovakia and Switzerland. The game went back and forth but Team Switzerland tied the game up with 27 seconds remaining! Overtime solved nothing and in the shootout is where Lee Roberts(SWI) scored to clinch seventh place for the Swiss.
The second consolation game featured the Czech Republic meeting the United States. The Americans won 4-3 including a five minute stretch in the third in which they managed to score three goals. Though they had a less than impressive performance, forwards Kailer Yamamoto and Casey Mittlestatd were more than impressive as both players combined racked up seven points.
Next up were two semi-final games which featured Sweden against Finland and Canada taking on Russia.
The first semi-final game was a Scandinavian grudge match where we saw Sweden take the win 2-1 and advance to the finals. A tightly contested match saw much of the game a 1-1 draw until the 7th minute of the 3rd period. That’s when Alexander Nylander’s shot was tipped by William Fallstrom. That goal stood and the Swedes moved on to the Finals.
The last game of the day was a classic as Canada matched up against Russia. Fans got more than they bargained for as the barn burner ended in a 2-1 decision courtesy of the shootout. Nolan Patrick scored the shootout winner against the hottest goalie in the tournament, Vladislav Sukhachev.
Tomorrow will be the last day of the Ivan Hlinka and will feature Russia vs. Finland for Bronze, and on the other side will have Canada vs Sweden for Gold. Canada has won seven straight U-18 championships, but Sweden has a loaded roster that will make Canada fight for that eight championship.
After some very impressive showings throughout day four of the Hlinka here are the players who stood out to me:
Nico Hischier (Switzerland): The 2017 draft eligible had a remarkable tournament. He has been a regular on the Swiss number one power play unit, and also finished 3rd in round robin scoring with six points in four games.
At 5`11, Nico is slightly undersized but possesses high end playmaking skills and good skating ability. He is very skilled with the puck and always has his head on a swivel. He was trusted in many key situations and saw more time than any of his teammates, which is impressive considering he is only 16 years of age. The downgrade to his game is his physical play, as well as his lack of support during puck battles in his own zone. He is a 2017 draft eligible which means he will have more than enough time to round out as a player. He was the sole spotlight on a sub-par Swiss squad.
Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic): Budik is a big, strong defender who has been impressive considering the caliber of his defensive partners. Players like Hrdinka, Hajek, and Novak were bound to be stand outs, but Budik held his own. The young Czech plays a powerful two way style and contains his opponents very well along the wall and in front of the net. He brings an awareness and reliability factor that scouts salivate over, and will likely trend upwards over the course of the coming year. Budik will fly over and ply his trade for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL this coming season. Everyone will expect him to have a strong start in his first year in North America. He will be a huge addition to a team that has struggled to make its mark on the WHL in quite a while. One aspect of his game that will need improvement is his offensive awareness as he is frequently caught going too deep into the zone and being the cause for odd man counter-rushes.
Ty Farmer (USA): Farmer demonstrated his smart two way game throughout the tourney but had an exceptional day four. He utilized his body well and wasn’t afraid to step up to make a big hit. In the game versus the Czechs he looked very confident with the puck and was very vocal at both ends of the ice. He currently plays for Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL and is committed to Michigan State. He looked to be having trouble distributing the puck today, but ended up scoring the second goal of the game. Farmer is a 2016 draft eligible who could climb up the ranks as he looks to have a successful season in the USHL.
Filip Gustavsson (Sweden): The top player in today’s semi-finals matchup between Finland and Sweden as he saved 38 of 39 shots in a 2-1 win. Gustavsson is a 6’2, 2016 draft eligible goalie, who currently plays for Lulea HF J20. Gustavsson is someone who looks big in his crease and isn’t afraid to step up on the shooter. He made a few smart poke checks when the opponent came close to his net but didn`t give up his position. Playing behind a strong defensive team like Sweden helps, but having a goaltender like Gustavsson instills a tremendous amount of confidence in his teammates. He finished as the only goalie to start in all 4 games and ended up 3rd amongst all goalies with a 1.50 GAA and a 0.956 SVG%.
Dante Fabbro (Canada): This 6’0″ 190lbs right-handed defender plays a good two way game. Fabbro currently plays for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. He is someone who is very aware of which man he needs to pick up and isn’t afraid to step up to make a big hit. Fabbro is very confident in his own abilities and loves to get a bomb off from the point. He had plenty of ice time, and proved to be one of Canada`s best in the 4 on 4 overtime. Fabbro was relied upon for special teams, playing both penalty kill and power play. Currently ranked eleventh by HockeyProspect and twentieth by Future Considerations, he is likely to be a top twenty pick if he continues to progress. Should be interesting to see how his year goes in the BCHL, and if he can maintain or raise his draft stock.
Nolan Patrick (Canada): Patrick, the top ranked prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft, has been relied heavily upon by the Brandon Wheat Kings dating back to mid-season last year, as the 30 goal scorer has proven to be dominant in all situations. Though he`s not yet the fleetest of foot, Nolan makes up for any skating deficiencies by being agile and evasive.
Nolan Patrick brings a unique style as he is as much a goal scorer as he is a distributor, and though his offensive talents are talked about quite often, it`s his defensive abilities that push him over the edge. He is the definition of all-around player. He possesses great vision, good size, great puck handling abilities, and a deadly shot from all angles. One aspect of his game that doesn’t get much attention is his “Smytty” side, where he sets up his 6’2 body frame and parks it right in front of the goalies face. As the Brandon Wheat Kings will make a push for the memorial cup in the 2015-16 season, it will be interesting to see if he is featured in a prominent role on their run.
Vladislav Sukhachev (Russia): Sukhachev is the sole reason as to why Russia stayed in it against a loaded Canadian squad. He was spectacular. Sukhachev is small in stature but very mobile in his crease. He`s a very stylistic net minder who doesn’t shy away from the flashy save. He sees the puck well and challenges the shooter hard on odd man rushes. He finished the tournament with a 0.949 SVG % through one game and should likely have started more, but was caught in a 3 goalie rotation. He has played two games this year with Belve Medvedi Chelybinsk in the MHL and was perfect in both performances.
Only two days remain heading into the final day of the tournament. Sweden has some solid young guns on the back end, such as Jacob Cederholm, as well as a high flying offence with the likes of Bratt and Nylander.
On the other side, Team Canada is a defensive powerhouse, with tremendous goal scoring ability up front. I predict Canada comes out ahead 3-2, and 4-2 Russia in the bronze medal game. All games tomorrow will be aired on YouTube live and I will be keeping everyone up to date on Twitter @sullydraftgeek.