Date: December 20, 2016

Ruzicka Slovakia’s big hope

By Juraj Hudak World Junior 2017

Adam Ruzicka is considered one of the biggest prospects of Slovak hockey. Although he is only 17 years old, he has star potential for the NHL.

But Ruzicka’s journey is only at the beginning. A first step to leave his mark could be making the roster for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The young Slovak hockey player grew up in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Ruzicka was a hyperactive child – leading his parents to make a big decision.

“It’s a funny story. I was a very wild kid and one day my parents brought me to the doctors because of that. They recommended them to let me play sports. So I started playing ice hockey. I was only four years old,” Ruzicka said.

During his youth age there was a big problem with hockey development in Slovakia. Talented young ice hockey players didn’t have a chance to improve their talent if they didn’t have money for equipment. “Yeah, I knew about this. But I am so thankful to my parents. They made it possible for me to play hockey,” he said.

Ruzicka started his career with Bratislava-based club HK Ruzinov and then continued in the youth teams of Slovan Bratislava. As a 17-year-old he got a chance to practise with the senior team that plays in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

“It was great experience for me. I met older players who gave me a lot of advice for my future career. I benefit from it every day,” said Ruzicka.

And it seems he is right as his first season overseas looks very promising. He plays for the Sarnia Sting in the junior league OHL and has great numbers. In 32 games he scored 12 goals and got 10 assists. “I am doing well, but it could always be better. It´s only my first season in Canada, but I think I am getting into the Canadian style of hockey. Hopefully, it will carry on during the whole season.”

His brilliant start of the season caught the eye of Slovak U20 national team head coach Ernest Bokros. “It would be great to be on the team. One thing I know is that I will do all my best to show him my ability to be part of the Slovak junior team. I know the World Juniors are known as one of the fastest tournaments, but I think I am ready for it. I am playing in OHL, which is considered the fastest junior league in the world.”

If Ruzicka made the team, he would be one of the youngest players in the tournament, but one with a lot of talent. Ruzicka feels very confident about this.

“If I go to the World Juniors I will help the team as much as I can. Despite of my age I will show my best for sure. Look at Connor McDavid. He is the youngest captain in the NHL and he’s a leader. I don’t think my age is a problem.”

Hartley signs on to coach Latvia

By  The Score

Latvia has landed another high-profile coach.

Former Stanley Cup champion and Jack Adams Award winner Bob Hartley has been hired to lead the Latvian national team.

“I’m excited for the newest challenge in my career as a coach. It will be my first experience working with a national team and I’m grateful to the Latvian Hockey Federation for giving me the opportunity and confidence,” Hartley told IIHF.com’s Martin Merk.

Latvia’s former coach resigned this summer just before the program failed to qualify for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The country’s best finish at an Olympic competition came three years prior in Sochi under the direction of longtime NHL coach Ted Nolan. That team played Canada to a 2-1 final, and eventually finished eighth.

Hartley was fired by the Calgary Flames at the end of last year after failing to return to the playoffs in his fourth season.

Poulin lifts Canada to overtime win over US

http://www.tsn.ca/polopoly_fs/1.635315.1482201930!/fileimage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/team-canada.jpg

By The Canadian Press

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and the rest of Canada’s women’s national hockey team sent a message to the United States.

Poulin scored just 42 seconds into overtime as Canada rallied to a 3-2 win over the United States on Monday in the second half of a two-game exhibition series between the women’s hockey powers. The Canadians won both games, important victories over their arch-rivals ahead of the world championships in Plymouth, Mich., from March 31 to April 7.

“It’s always a big rivalry every time we play them, we know it can go either way and it’s always very emotional, passionate out there,” said Poulin. “It was really great to get wins back to back.”

Poulin scored the winner on a partial breakaway, carrying the puck up the right side of the ice before cutting to the slot and firing the puck on the net.

Head coach Laura Schuler was pleased with the win and what she saw from her team, but thinks they can be even better. In particular, Schuler wants to see her players be more disciplined.

“It’s great to see some success here,” said Schuler. “But at the same time, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t happy with our second period (when Canada took three penalties). I still think this team can be a lot better.”

Jennifer Wakefield blasted a one-timer from the hashmarks in to tie the game with 24 seconds left in the third, forcing the extra period for Canada. Rebecca Johnston had scored early in the first.

“It was a drawn-up play and they executed what we had drawn up perfectly,” said Schuler. “Jenny has one of the hardest shots on our team. She just put everything she had into it and fired it past the goalie.

“Kudos to our kids for being able to execute that. That’s something they had never even practised before.”

Shannon Szabados made 23 saves for the win.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Hilary Knight gave the United States a 2-1 lead by the second intermission. Nicole Hensley stopped 17 shots.