By Risto Pakarinen – IIHF.com
What makes the feat even more impressive is the fact that Russia had age-eligible players in the Karjala tournament with the men’s team, including the 16-year-old phenom Matvei Michkov.
The Russian team still had enough firepower, scoring 16 goals in the three games.
Head coach Vladimir Filatov, who will be an assistant on the World Juniors team, was happy with his team’s play, and even opened the door to Edmonton for some.
“Yes, we have a lot of players in Helsinki at the same time, but these guys are candidates to make the World Juniors team as well as players in Canadian junior leagues,” he said.
“Coaches don’t usually like to name names publicly, but Alexander Pashin has scored in every game and deserves to be named,” Filatov said of the diminutive forward who led the tournament in scoring with four goals and six points in three games.
Finland finished second, having lost their opening game to Russia.
For the hosts, more important than their third-place finish was the fact that they’re finding their groove at the right time.
“We’ve taken a major step since the July-August games when we didn’t play very well and were rather pedestrian. Over here we showed that we can put up a fight [against these teams],” said Sweden’s head coach Tomas Monten.
The offence is still lacking that one high-quality scorer, and unfortunately for Monten and Sweden, the players that would bring scoring to the team, such as Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz, are playing in North America, and especially in the case of Raymond, so well in the NHL that he probably won’t be available in December. On the other hand, Monten does have William Eklund in reserve as the 19-year-old forward just returned to Sweden from the San Jose Sharks.
“We have good goalies, defence is solid, but unfortunately, we don’t have many forwards who stand out in the SHL, or that would, for example, get to play a lot of minutes on power play,” he said.
However, Monten did have the tournament’s best defenceman, Simon Edvinsson, who was a majestic presence on the Swedish blueline. He recorded two assists in the two games he played. The 18-year-old was recovering from an illness and hadn’t practised the week before so he was given some rest after the first two games.
The Czechs had a weak outing, finishing fourth, and having scored just five goals. Their leading scorer was defenceman Jakub Sedivy who collected two assists, tied for 18th in the tournament scoring.
Germany wins in Lillehammer
For World Juniors teams were involved in the Four Nations tournament in Lillehammer where Germany got the most out of it. After starting with a 5-4 shootout loss to Slovakia, the Germany rebounded and beat both host Norway (4-2) and Switzerland (5-2) to claim first place. The 5-2 win in the neighbouring clash against Switzerland was a winner-takes-it-all game as the Swiss had previously beaten Norway (6-3) and Slovakia (5-3). Norway finished in third place after a 5-3 victory against Slovakia.
Goaltender Niklas Lunemann shone with a tournament-leading 92.7% save percentage while Maksymilian Szuber, Joshua, Samanski and Florian Elias were among the scoring leaders only behind Switzerland’s Simon Knak, who impressed with five goals and seven points in three games.
Belarus finished another tournament in neighbouring Latvia in first place ahead of Austria, the only top-division team in the tournament, while France succeeded in a four-team tournament in Italy.