Steven Ellis

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Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

Italy is famous for using many Canadians, including former Buffalo Sabres prospect Adam Dennis.

Ask anyone who follows international hockey: the IIHF’s eligibility rules can be rather confusing. For the average hockey fan, seeing your country using players from a different nation is very rare. It almost seems like a crazy idea.

But, as it will be, it happens a lot. In fact, you’ll see it happen a ton with some countries within the top 20, including Kazakhstan and Italy. Just recently, the Croatians added a bunch of former NHL prospects to help strengthen their World Championship roster. For some players, they never actually visited their new country of residence before getting signing with a team there. Whether you like it or not, it does help a ton of smaller hockey nations help develop, while others, including the suspended Armenian team, can’t seem to figure it out. If they wanted to come back to IIHF competition, they would need to have enough players that could officially play for the country, even if that means convincing some players to become dual citizens.

Hey, if they need any help, they can always read this!

Two-Year Case

The two year cycle is the most common option for some of the lower tier guys. For many players from one of the top countries in the world, competing for your homeland is likely not an option. As a result, you’ll see a lot of these players hop on over to a neighboring league in an attempt to gain citizenship elsewhere (you tend to see North Americans do this a lot).

According to the IIHF:

Acquiring a new national eligibility (The ‘two-year’ case)
When a player has changed his citizenship or has acquired another citizenship and wants to participate for the first time in an IIHF competition representing his new country he must:

  • Prove that he has participated for at least two consecutive hockey seasons and 16 consecutive months (480 days) in the national competitions of his new country after his 10th birthday during which period he has neither transferred to another country nor played ice hockey within any other country. Female players need to have participated on a consistent basis for at least one hockey season and have been member of the new national association for at least 12 consecutive months during that period.
  • Have an international transfer card (ITC) that shows the transfer to the national association of his new country and which was approved and dated at least two years before the start of the IIHF competition in which he wishes to participate.

Just last year, the IIHF declared that Canadians Kevin Lalande was eligible to represent the Belarusian national team in IIHF events. The former NHL prospects had been competing for Dynamo Minsk, a Belorussian team in the KHL, for multiple seasons. As Lalande had never actually competed for Canada within the 24-month period prior to his acceptance, the IIHF saw no issue as he met the requirements in order to participate.

Let’s take a look at a theoretical example. Let’s say you are an American looking to become eligible to play for Bosnia. In order to do so, you would have to:

  1. Have Bosnia citizenship.
  2. Move to Bosnia and have proof that you lived there for the full eligibility period. You cant just return to play in Texas for the summer.
  3. Have played in a league in Bosnia, and nowhere other than Bosnia.

The same rules apply to players that are under the age of 18. Recently, Great Britain was disqualified from the recent Division IB World Junior tournament after using Adam Jones, who wasn’t legally allowed to play for Team GB. Jones, who turned 18 back in January, currently plays with the Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in Canada. Having played in North America for the majority of his junior career, it doesn’t look like Jones will be able to compete again internationally until he finally completes the requirements.

For the two year status to be confirmed, the IIHF and the member association have to recognize the league that the player competes in. Usually, private leagues aren’t supported by countries as they go by their own rules and regulations. In the case of former Montreal Canadiens draft pick Sébastien Bordeleau, the Vancouver, Canada born forward had played two years of minor hockey in France while his father was also competing in the country. The IIHF thought it was sufficient enough time to allow Bordeleau to compete for the Frenchmen, playing for France in two separate World Championship events.

A big percentage of the 2014 Italian World Championship squad applies to this rule. With ten Canadian players competing for the Italians, the two year rule applied for those hoping to get a chance to compete at the top group of the World Championships. Many people don’t like the transfer rules because it damages the development of home grown talent, but that’s a story for a different day.

Four-Year Case

Change of national eligibility (The ‘four-year’ case)
A player, who has previously participated in IIHF competition, can switch national eligibility (but only once in a player’s life) if:

  • He is a citizen of the new country of his choice
  • He has participated for at least four consecutive years (1460 days) in the national competitions of his new country, during which period he has neither transferred to another country nor played ice hockey within any other country and has not played for his previous country in an IIHF competition during this four year period.
  • He has an international transfer card (ITC) that shows the transfer to the national association of his new country and which was approved and dated at least four years before the start of the IIHF competition in which he wishes to participate.

If a player has already competed for one country at an official IIHF tournament, they must require the four year period before being able to transfer to another team that they currently are a citizen for. Just like in the two year case, a player isn’t allowed to compete for their previous country and has to play a minimum of four years in the new country.

Probably the most famous four-year case has to be that of Evgeni Nabokov. While hockey fans have come to know him now as a Russian hockey goaltender, the Tampa Bay Lightning backup actually first represented Kazakhstan back in 1994. Back in 2002, eight years after he last represented Kazakhstan, Nabokov applied to play for Russia as his native country missed the tournament altogether. The IIHF did not agree, however, to allow the transfer to go through, as back then the IIHF wasn’t interested in allowing players to compete for two different countries. His argument was that he was born into the Soviet Union, but was unable to represent Russia due to being born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. Nabokov was in fact a Russian citizen, having played in Russia for five years back in the 90’s.

In 2003, the IIHF was decided to alter their rules on the subject, creating the four year rule. They said that any player who plays for four years in a given country where he is a citizen can change his nationality when representing a team at an international tournament. He was eventually given clearance to play for Russia at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and would play in four different tournaments after the fact while wearing a red, white and blue Russian sweater.

In Kazakhstan’s case, the team has yet to find a player with the same skill level as Nabokov. The team has struggled for many years, bouncing in and out of the top division of the World Championships. While Russia has no shortage of goaltending, a team like Kazakhstan doesn’t have the same chance to replenish their back end, and it only proves to show that abuse could happen if more cases similar to this appear over time. If a player is good enough to play for a second, much strong country, why go back and play for your home land?

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The Americans may have struggled at many points throughout the game, but they still managed to take down the Swedes thanks to a 6-4 victory on Sunday.

The Swedes put one in first. Four minutes in, after some tremendous back and forth action between the two teams, 2016 draft eligible forward Carl Grundstrom beat Luke Opilka with a rebound off of an original shot by Jacob Larsson for the 1-0 lead. A minute later, however, Clayton Keller, a favourite to go in the top ten at the 2016 NHL Draft, fired a quick shot towards the net and slid the puck underneath Felix Sandstrom, tying the game up at one.

With under seven minutes to go in the middle frame, the Americans would take their first lead of the game. This time, it was Boston Universtiy commit Charlie McAvoy who would beat Sandstrom, getting the goal while the Americans had the man advantage.

Three minutes later, the Swedes would answer back to spark a quick flurry of goals between the two teams. On Sweden’s own PP, Joel Eriksson’s shot proved to be too much for Opilka, who allowed the goal to tie the game up.

Just over a minute later, the Americans would once again score to take the lead. With the Americans hungrier than ever, Colin White skated in and ripped one home from the top of the right circle after taking a pass from Jeremy Bracco, who had two assists in the second period alone. The Swedes weren’t so fond of heading into the third period down a goal, so they added a late one of their own to tie the game up at three apiece.

America’s big guns came out to play in the third. Three minutes into the final period, Clayton Keller, a supreme young talent with an incredible Zach Parise-esque skill set, beat Sandstrom for the 4-3 goal, a lead that would last for about seven minutes. At that point, Swedish captain Rasmus Asplund, who is considered to be a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, tied the game up at four to tie the game up once again.

Unfortunately for the Swedes, their luck would end there. Just a minute later, 2016 draft star Auston Matthews did what he does best by scoring late in the game for get his third goal in as many games, winning the game in the process. Chad Krys would add an empty netter with a second left, helping his team take the 6-4 victory and improve to 2-1 after three games of action.

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Canada’s toughest challenge to date put up a good fight right away, but it would be the Canadians who would finish with a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic to stay undefeated at the U18’s in Switzerland.

Right off the opening faceoff, Pavel Zacha appeared to be the top player on the ice. Almost every time the Czech’s had a scoring chance in the first few minutes, Zacha was the one doing most of the work, He was rewarded for his effort with a good goal six minutes into the contest, when he picked up the puck at the blue line and, using his explosive speed, he blew past a Canadian defender before tucking it between the legs of Zachary Sawchenko with a nice deke.

The Czech’s really controlled the pace in the first, largely due to the play of Zacha. Ales Stezka was forced to make some tough stops in close for the Canadians, who have seen more success so far in the this tournament by having players standing in front of the net and leaving the defense to rip it home. That’s exactly what would lead to Canada’s first goal of the game late in the period, as Parker Wotherspoon’s shot blew past Stezka due to having four players between both teams clogging up his sight.

Both teams traded some solid opportunities in the second, but it would be the Canadians who would figure out how to score next. Six minutes in, Mathew Barzal made an incredible saucer pass on to the blade of Anthony Beauvillier’s stick, who made absolutely no mistake in beating Stezka with the quick wrister to make it 2-1 Canada.

Sawchenko did a stellar job of keeping his team in the game, but a blunder by Canada’s best forward with seven minutes to go in the second negated their lead. Barzal had a fairly flawless tournament up until this point, but after sending the puck from the corner right to Radek Koblizek in front, who scored an easy slap shot goal, the Canadians found themselves tied once again.

The third period saw a ton of great action right away. After some great saves by both Wotherspoon, a defenseman, and Sawchenko, and actual goaltender, the Canadians found themselves on an early power-play. Of course, Barzal had something to add to the NHL Draft conversation, blowing past multiple Czech’s before wrapping around the net and sending it off to Beauvillier, who one-timed the puck past Stezka for Canada’s second lead of the game. The assist gave Barzal his eighth point in just three games, tying him for first in tournament scoring with Finland’s Vili Saarijarvi. The goal also proved to be the final one in the battle, as Canada’s 3-2 victory would give them a 3-0 record

Canada and Finland will play in the final preliminary round game on Tuesday, a 9:45am EST start time.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

China will earn promotion to the Division IIA World Championships in 2016 after a stellar performance at the Division IIB event this past week.

The gold came just before their final game against the hosts from South Africa, who were in their own fight against Israel to stay alive. It was an impressive result for the Chinese, who after two straight fourth place finishes, can now move up to Group A for the first time since the IIHF started using split divisions.

30-year-old Xijun Cui was the top offensive player for the Chinese, scoring eight points in his first four games. Cui, who plays with Qiqihar in the Chinese league, was participating in his first ever World Championship event and first international tournaments since the Division II World Juniors, scoring five points in five games back in 2004.

Regardless of what happens in their final game against South Africa, China will most likely replace Australia in the Division IIA championships next year after a lackluster performance from the team down under.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

The Divsion IA World Championships began on Sunday, with six teams looking to battle their way to the top group for 2016. Japan and Hungary opened up the tournament in Poland with an exciting first match, with the Hungarians eventually escaping with the 4-2 victory.

By now, the Japanese must hate Hungary. Last year, Japan needed a win to secure a spot in the top division for the first time in years, but Hungary was able to come back and defeat the Asian country in the shootout to end their hopes. Today, the game didn’t get to overtime, but it didn’t fare much better than last year.

The game started off magnificently for the Japanese. 96 seconds in, Daisuke Obara deked past multiple Hungarian defenders before sending the puck past Miklos Rajna, giving the Japanese the 1-0 lead. Nine minutes into the first, Daniel Koger’s point shot beat a screened Yutaka Fukufuji, tying the game up at one apiece before the first period was half over.

The game would require 19 more minutes before the next goal scorer would be crowned, and this time it was Japan’s Yushiroh Hirano who would knock the puck in from the hash marks for Japan’s final lead of the game. The lead was very short lived, as Csanad Erdely’s marker a minute later tied the game right back up.

With 3:25 left in the game, Hungary’s victory would finally come to fruition as former NHL forward and Canadian resident Frank Banham, who recently became a Hungarian citizen, scored the game-winning goal on the power play to secure the victory. Janos Hari scored the 4-2 goal into the empty net with just over a minute remaining, giving his team the important 4-2 victory.

A win for Hungary today could help in the later stages of the tournament. It’s expected that both Japan and Hungary will compete for a chance at promotion by the conclusion of the event along with Italy and Kazakhstan, who were recently demoted.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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Today, I said goodbye to a friend.

We went through a lot. We grew up together. We shared success, we supported eachother when needed, and we couldn’t stay away for too long. We created many fantastic memories, but now, it’s all gone.

Goodbye Hamilton Bulldogs, I’ll miss you.

I’ve been a Bulldogs fans for about twelve years now. The very first game I saw was between Hamilton and the St. John’s Maple Leafs, now known as the Toronto Marlies. At first, I didn’t really think much of it. The two teams may have had jerseys that resembled NHL teams, but it wasn’t the NHL. Back then, I didn’t realize there was anything but the big league. So to find out about this other place, known as the American Hockey League, actually existed (I’ve still yet to see a game in America) really didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

It didn’t take a lot of me to get hooked at the point. It was crazy to think that some of those players that I was watching there would get a chance to play with the Montreal Canadiens someday. It seemed like such a cool idea, getting a chance to see these players develop before anyone else did. I got to see Thomas Plekanec, PK Subban, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, both Kostitsyn brothers and many, many more hone their craft before making the jump to the big leagues.

I’ve had a ton of great memories at Bulldogs games. all starting with their Calder Cup championship back in 2007. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a chance to attend any of their final games, but listening to the broadcasts on the radio really got me interested in hockey media. The energy, the excitement, everything about it was just awesome. Seeing Carey Price, Corey Locke, Duncan Milroy, Andre Benoit, Yann Danis and Mikhail Grabovski strive every night was something I’ll never forget.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2012 AHL Outdoor Classic between the Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies. With game-time temperatures at minus-4 Celsius (it felt more like minus-12 on the side with the shade), the hometown Bulldogs got demolished 7-2 against their biggest rivals from down the road. It was cold, the vantage point was terrible and the game was never that interesting, but it was an event I still remember vividly to this day. Seeing players fight on and off the ice in the coldest temperatures they’ll ever play in is something worth checking out. Oh, and Louis Leblanc’s diving goal was something special, too.

On September 27th, 2013, I covered my very first professional as a media member between the two teams I’d seen play over 20 times, the Bulldogs and Marlies. It was that day that I realized being a journalist was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Was it the line brawl before the first period was even over? Maybe. Was it the start to Mike Condon’s AHL career that got me pumped? Well, probably not, but it was still cool. Was it the fact that I was actually getting paid to talk about the sport I dedicate a lot of my life too?

Yes, that’s the reason. I’ve been able to cover some cool events over the past few years, including the OJHL finals, the World Juniors, OHL games and even a Toronto Maple Leafs game. But it was that September evening that really stood out to me, covering a team I grew up watching every week. That was one of the coolest feelings in the world.

The AHL may be gone from Hamilton, leaving it’s many faithful fans behind. But taking it’s place are the new Hamilton Bulldogs, replacing the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. You’ll see a lot of OHL coverage from me next season, focusing on a team that, despite changing forms, helped really get me into hockey. If you look at it that way, it’s not so bad. Out with the old, in with the new. But it just wont be the same, and for the moment, it’s sad. But getting a junior hockey team during a time where the level is better than ever before may actually be great for the city.

I’ve always been a person to cheer for players that maybe aren’t the most well known. The Bulldogs are a big reason for that. How many people that you run into will say that Corey Locke, Duncan Milroy, Yann Danis, Cedrick Desjardins, Pierre Dagenais, Andre Benoit and Jason Ward? Nobody outside of Hamilton, most likely. But that’s the effect that minor hockey has on people. These guys don’t have big contracts. They likely wont become the next Wayne Gretzky. They do it because they have something to prove. They want to become the next Wayne Gretzky. They want to make seven figures a year. They want to do something in the sport they love. And there’s something special about that.

Thanks for the memories.

Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Hockey Canada has announced that Graham Knott and Tyler Soy will join Team Canada for the Under-18 World Championships in Switzerland.

Knott, the 57th ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, recently finished up his OHL season with the Niagara Icedogs on Friday night following a playoff series loss to the Oshawa Generals. A big forward who excels on the forecheck, Knott’s sophomore OHL campaign resulted in 43 points in 59 games, making him one of the more effective players on the roster that still hadn’t been drafted. This isn’t the first time the 18-year-old has been called upon by Team Canada, making appearances at both the World Under-17 Challenge and Ivan Hlinka tournaments last season. Knott has been effective at both tournaments, scoring seven points in five U17 games, topping it off with four points and a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka U18 event in the summer.

Also in his second full OHL season, Soy really came into his own as a scoring threat with the WHL’s Victoria Royals. Ranked 78th by NHL Central Scouting, Soy posted 63 points in 69 games to finish third in team scoring. Originally ranked 152nd overall at the midterm rankings, Soy saw his production increase with linemate Alex Forsberg, an experienced 20-year-old that has floated around the WHL over the past few years. Like Knott, Soy has also represented Canada at both the U17 and IHMT’s in the past, recording five and six points respectively.

After two wins against Latvia and Switzerland to start off the U18’s, Canada is set to play their third game against the Czech Republic on Sunday afternoon, with a start time set for 12:45pm EST. The additions of Knott and Soy gives Canada 13 forwards, finishing off the roster choices prior to the end of the preliminary round.

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Canada didn’t seem to care that the Swiss team was playing in front of a home crowd, grabbing the 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon.

Canada’s first period performance at this tournament hasn’t been the most stellar after two games. After allowing three goals to Latvia on Thursday, a good start needed to be on their agenda if they wanted to secure a victory against the stronger Swiss. They didn’t get a huge lead in the first, but Canadian star Matthew Barzal would pot a power-play goal four minutes into the first, with assists from fellow Canadian star Mitchell Stephens and Thomas Chabot.

Despite the Canadian star power, the Swiss wouldn’t back down. The team took eight shots in the opening frame, just one less than their rivals at the other end were able to grab. It did help that the Canadians took three penalties near the middle of the frame, but Evan Cormier came up strong on every PP chance by the Swiss, keeping the one goal lead heading into the intermission.

Two minutes into the second, Canada would make it 2-0 thanks to another goal by Barzal. The Seattle Thunderbirds star, who comes in as the top ranked 2015 NHL Draft prospect from Canada at 9th, fired the puck towards the net, only to have Jonas Siegenthaler tip it past his own goaltender and in.

The Canadians would make it 3-0 at the halfway point of the contest. The Canadians’ powerplay would strike again as some solid passing saw the puck land on the stick of Deven Sideroff, whose shot was stopped by Joren van Pottelberghe thanks to some solid lateral movement. van Pottelberghe wasn’t able to make a second good save, however, as Nicolas Roy recorded his third goal of the tournament after jamming home the rebound below the Swiss’ netminder’s glove.

The Swiss would pot one before the end of the second. With two minutes left, Dominik Diem made the hometown crowd happy with his own power-play goal, ending Cormier’s shutout big just before the intermission. Diem, a little-known prospect for North American fans, is currently listed as the 76th top European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.

Canada wasted no time scoring early in the third, scoring just 30 seconds into the period. This time, Anthony Beauviller picked up a Barzal pass from just outside the left hash marks and scored Canada’s third power-play goal of the game to make it 4-1.

Cormier’s first international appearance was definitely an impressive one. After Zachary Sawchenko allowed six goals to the weak Latvians, Cormier was called upon to help rebound his team defensively, a task that proved to be easy enough for the Saginaw Spirit puck stopper. His best save of the game came about halfway through the third when he made a nice pad stop on Marco Miranda’s breakaway, holding on to the three goal lead.

The reffing throughout the game appeared to be quite solid, but a late third period call against the Swiss may have been one of the more stranger calls you’ll ever see. With three minutes remaining, Livio Stadler received a two minute penalty for tripping Jansen Harkins. However, video evidence showed that Harkins tripped over the puck all by himself and wasn’t even touched. The penalty to the Swiss didn’t really mean anything in the end, as Canada was able to keep the 4-1 victory to stay undefeated after two games.

With just two preliminary round games left for the Canadians, Canada will look to go 3-0 with a win over the Czech Republic tomorrow afternoon at 12:45pm EST. The Czech’s, considered to be one of the stronger teams in the tournament, lost 6-1 to Finland on Wednesday before taking down Latvia 4-1 yesterday.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

A year after falling out of the third highest World Championships event, Romania will find themselves back in Division IB for the 2016 tournament thanks to a perfect 4-0 record this past week.

In almost every division of the World Championships, the team that was most recently relegated from the year before tends to be one of the stronger teams in their new, lower division. Last year, the team missed many of it’s biggest stars, and while North Americans are accustomed to that with the main group, Romania doesn’t have as big of a pool to select from.

In a five game tournament, you don’t have time for any wiggle room. Romania was able to secure the gold medal just four games into the tournament, beating Serbia 8-4, Australia 5-1, Belgium 4-3 and finally Spain 7-1, taking home the medal after a one-sided contest.

There is a little cause for concern for next year, however.

“We have an aging team on paper and without mentioning any names there are players who have made their last appearances for the national team,” said Romania’s head coach Kjell Lindqvist to IIHF.com.

Whenever a team with a lot of experience starts to disband due to retirements, teams are forced to back track with some of their more inexperienced, younger players. That does, however, turn out to be better for the long term, but the team could be forced to face relegation again next year. Regardless, the team looks to be in good standing for the future, with hopes of sticking in Division IB for an extended stay on the horizon next year.

Romania’s final game is set for Sunday afternoon against Iceland, the tournament’s hosts. Australia is currently the favourites to earn demotion to Division IIB, as their two points will likely not help their cause.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

After struggling to find any luck against Ilya Samsonov and the Russians on Thursday, the Americans had no issue dominating their Slovak opponents, taking the 10-0 victory on day two of the Under-18 World Championships.

The Americans only needed 1:09 to take the 1-0 lead right away. The Americans forced goaltender Vladimir Cibulka to face a couple of tough shots right away, but it would be Troy Terry’s bait that would get deflected right off of Cibulka and right back on to Terry’s blade, who backhanded it over the Slovak netminder for the 1-0 goal. The decision to start Cibulka was questionable due to the fact that Adam Huska made 36 saves yesterday in a surprising 3-1 victory over Sweden, but Cibulka made a couple of solid stops to start a very one-sided period.

The trio of Jack Roslovic, Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk appeared to be the best line after two games, but it took them a bit to finally break the ice offensively. At 10:47 into the first,  Roslovic sent the puck in front of the net to Tkachuk in front of the net, and potential top ten selection in the 2016 NHL Draft jammed the puck between the legs of Cibulka to give the Americans the 2-0 lead with half the period still to play.

The American power-play was dominant every time it was deployed, and four minutes after Tkachuk put the Americans up by two while playing with the extra man, one of his linemates would do the same thing to make it 3-0. This time, it would be Roslovic who would get the marker, converting a good passing play between Tkachukand Matthews into an easy empty cage marker. Roslovic would add another similar goal with under two minutes to play in the period, redirecting a pass from Matthews in front to secure the 4-0 lead heading into the intermission.

The Americans would make it 5-0 just 28 seconds into the second period, and, surprise surprise, it would come from the top American line. After Roslovic kept the puck from leaving the zone, Tkachuk found an uncontested Matthews in front of the net, who slammed it past the Slovakian netminder for the five goal advantage. Four minutes later, Tkachuk passed the puck to Matthews once again in front of the net, scoring his second goal and fifth point of the game after his one-timer served to be way too powerful for Cibulka to stop.

Goal differential does play a factor in tie-breaking scenarios, so the Americans weren’t ready to back down. Before the period was half over, 2015 NHL Draft prospects Jeremy Bracco and Casey Fitzgerald made Slovakia’s game much, much more painful, eventually chasing Cibulka in favour of Huska in an 8-0 game. Another new scorer, Luke Kunin, would add to the lead just over ten seconds before the halfway mark, potting a nice goal to give his team the 9-0 lead.

In a game like this, you would expect the Americans to be absolutely crushing Slovakia on the shot clock. While that was true, Mike Floodstrand gave the Americans their 10th goal on just their 27th shot, giving them a 37% shooting percentage by the 30-minute mark in the contest. Floodstrand’s goal was the final one for the Americans as they finally decided that ten goals was enough, securing the easy 10-0 victory to grab their first win of the championship.

USA will look for their second victory on Sunday when they take on Sweden at 11am EST before battling Germany in the final pre-tournament game on Monday.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

It didn’t matter what the Americans sent towards the Russian net as Ilya Samsonov’s 49 saves helped lead the Russians to a surprise 3-1 victory at the Under-18’s.

The opening period saw some incredible back and forth action. Easily the biggest game of the Under-18’s so far, the Americans and Russians traded chances right off the bat, with the edge going to the more experienced Americans right out of the gate. USA came in with the most experienced roster in the tournament, with all 23 players having played internationally at some point in the past. In fact, the roster contains many players that will hear their names called fairly early over the next two NHL Drafts, including Auston Matthews, the expected first overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Thanks to their early effort, USA found themselves ahead early on. 2015 NHL Draft prospect Troy Terry, a forward with the USA U18 NTDP, took a fantastic quick wrist shot over the glove of Ilya Samsonov, giving the Americans the 1-0 lead on an individual effort seven minutes in. It was the only goal of the exciting first period, which saw Samsonov forced to make some huge stops against the likes of Matthews and Clayton Keller, two players who rarely get stopped.

The Americans once again started the second period with a resilient attack right off the get go, but it would be the Russians who found success first. Despite being down a man, Denis Guryanov, the 27th top ranked player heading into the NHL Draft, blew past an American defender and sneaked the puck between the legs of Luke Opilka for the tying goal.

The Russians would grab their first lead of the game seven minutes into the period. This time, it would be Denis Zhukenov who would capitalize on a great tick-tac-toe play in front of the net, giving his team the 2-1 advantage in a surprising start to the second period. The Americans still looked like the stronger team in all three zones of the ice, but with Samsonov standing tall, the Russians were able to finish the second period on top.

The third period was much of the same. Samsonov made some big stops, most notably on good chances from Clayton Keller and Jack Roslovic on partial breakaways. Samsonov, the top rated European goaltender heading into the NHL Draft, was stellar at the World Junior A Challenge earlier this season, leading the Russians to a bronze medal title in December. His incredible play would hold up until the final buzzer, as the Russians would get an empty netter late before taking the surprise 3-1 victory on the opening day of the Under-18’s.

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Canada may have been behind the Latvians after a period of action on Thursday, but the 2014 bronze medalists would come back to take the 11-6 victory in a crazy contest.

Despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament, the Latvians would strike first. When Canada begins the transition from the smaller, Canadian Hockey League rinks to the larger, more spacious Olympic sized venues, the team struggles to find their footing right away. The Latvians took advantage of Canada’s slow start, and with Peterbourgh Petes goaltender Matt Spencer sitting in the penalty box, Latvian captain Kristaps Zile took a powerful slap shot from the point and beat Zachary Sawchenko under the arm to give the Latvians the 1-0 lead.

The early advantage was short lived, however. At 11:57 into the first, over a minute after Latvia made it 1-0, Glen Gawdin stole the puck away from a slow moving Latvian defender before sending it off to Nicholas Roy, who one-timed the puck past Denijs Romanovskis to tie the game up at one apiece.

The mayhem wouldn’t slow down in the first, a period that saw Canada unable to take a lead at any point. They were, however, close to getting the one goal cushion just three minutes later. Deven Sideroff was awarded a penalty shot after getting taken down on a breakaway, but was unable to capitalize on the one-on-one opportunity. The penalty shot did create a very strange moment for Latvia, as the team elected to go with backup goaltender Mareks Mitens, a shootout specialist, to stop the Sideroff scoring chance.

The big save by Mitens, who returned to the bench after just one shot, put some excitement into the Latvian bench. Just a minute after taking a too many men on the ice penalty, Bruno Priede gave Latvia the 2-1 lead after scoring on a two man shorthanded breakaway, beating Sawchenko easily for the goal.

The back and forth first period was not finished just yet. Early on, it was Nicholas Roy who scored for Canada, so it was time for Jeremy Roy to get one of his own. Canadian star Mitchell Stephens showed great patience skating around the Latvian net, finding a streaking Roy who slapped the puck past Romanovskis for the game-tying goal. The tie wouldn’t last for long, as a Nathan Noel giveaway in front of the Canadian zone allowed Ricards Bernhards to get Latvia’s first equal strength goal of the contest just ten seconds later.

The second period was absolutely dominated by the much-favoured Canadians. With the Canadians pressing for the tying goal, Thomas Chabot’s powerful blast from the point was tipped by Brett Howden, redirecting the puck past Romanovskis’s glove for the game tying goal just three minutes into the period.

A minute later, Romanovskis’ night would be cut short. Latvia’s zone coverage isn’t known for being that great, so allowing Tyler Benson to just stand around and send the puck off to an uncontested Jansen Harkins proved to be lethal as Canada was able to take the 4-3 lead.

Mitens would find his way back into the Latvian net, but almost instantly, Canada made it 5-3. With ___ off the clock, Canadian star Matthew Barzal skated around the whole Latvian zone with the puck before sending it off to Jeremy Roy, who got his second goal of the contest.

Canada’s performance in the first ten minutes of the second period was purely dominant. Before the period was half done, Canadian captain and Saginaw Spirit forward Mitchell Stephens made it 6-3 with a wrist shot, only to have Subury Wolves defenseman Kyle Capobianco score a minute later on a very lucky deflection to add another goal into the back of the net.

With just over ten minutes to go in the period, the Latvians put Romanovskis back in the net for their third goalie switch of the game. The change did little to spark any momentum, as Guillaume Brisebois scored on the very first shot the Latvian netminder would face to make it 8-3 Canada.

Both teams swapped goals in the first four minutes of the game. First, Latvia’s Filips Buncis got his team back on the scoresheet with their second power-play goal of the tournament, beating Sawchenko with an incredible slap shot over the glove a minute in. Three minutes after that, Jeremy Roy secured the rare defenseman hat-trick after finding the puck just outside the Latvian crease for his third goal of the game, making it 9-4 for Canada.

The game pace really came to a halt near the midway mark in the third. Six minutes in, Stephens got his second goal and third point of the game when his wrist shot somehow found a small gap in the top of the net to put Canada in the double digits. Three minutes later, Nicholas Roy, the 45th ranked skater heading into the NHL Draft, got his second of the contest to give Canada the seven goal lead with just over ten minutes to go. Latvia would add two goals late in the game to make it 11-6, but it would be Canada who would manage to take the 11-6 victory in one of the strangest games you’ll see at the tournament.

Canada will have the day off on Friday before taking on the hosts from Switzerland on Saturday. Latvia’s chances to grab a win will likely have to wait, as their next opponent, the Czech Republic on Friday, will likely battle for the gold medal at the end of the tournament.

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The Under-18 World Championships are set to begin this week with some of the top prospects from around the world. In some cases, the players are guys you’ll hear called early in the first round of the NHL Draft this coming June. But in a rare case that you don’t see often in tournaments, the kids that are still another year from having their names called may be the ones to actually steal the spotlight. With some of the worlds top youngsters finished in league action this year, the U18’s present a great opportunity to see some young talent before they get the chance to steal the spotlight at future World Junior tournaments. Let’s take a look at five of the next, next young stars, shall we?

For the top 2015 NHL Draft prospects to watch, check out this list here.

http://terrierhockey.blogspot.ca/
http://terrierhockey.blogspot.ca/

5. Clayton Keller, F (USA): Keller is a product of one of the most incredible hockey development programs in the world, the US National Development Team Program. A potential top ten pick in 2016, Keller is consistently the best forward on the ice against skaters three years older, a sign of greatness that is hard to find in most players. While small (5-8/150), Keller is an incredible skater with a great stride and a high top speed. Every time he touches the puck, you can expect to almost always see him make a great play, whether it be a great long range pass or a powerful slap shot. The Boston University commit has played in one previous international tournament, scoring 13 points in six games to finish first in scoring at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. If that isn’t good enough, Keller finished first in USDTP U17 scoring with 59 points in 45 games this year. Keller is a special kid, and this is just the beginning of a wonderful career.

Karel Švec, cslh.cz
Karel Švec, cslh.cz

4. Lukáš Doudera, D (Czech Republic): After years in the HC Kladno system in the Czech Republic, Lukas and his older brother Milan transferred to Oceláři Třinec this summer to kickstart their careers by jumping to the the professional ranks. While Doudera has had some solid seasons at the Czech junior level, which tends to be weaker than in Finland or Sweden, Doudera does have some defensive brainfarts that has taken away from his game at times. Considered to be a late first to early second rounder, Doudera recorded just a single point in ten professional games with Třinec, but the 17-year-old blue liner is much more effective as a stay-at-home defenseman than a two-way rushing guy. Being one of the younger guys on the strong Czech team, Doudera may not see much action in key moments down the stretch, but he sure is good enough to earn a good chunk of minutes if he plays as good as he’s known to be.

Dennis Pajot/Getty Images
Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

3. Dmitri Sokolov, F (RUS): If there is something the Russians do well, it’s developing incredibly talented young superstars. Sokolov is one of the next great players from the nation. An incredible skater with a fantastic shot, Sokolov plays in the Molodezhnaya Hokkeinaya League, also known as the Russian Junior League, with Omskie Yastreby, a junior affiliate of the Avangard Omsk KHL club. In 29 games this season, his first in the league, Sokolov recorded 16 points while playing against mainly older competition. Internationally, Sokolov has won two gold medals this season alone, winning the top prize at both the U17 and European Youth Olympic Festival tournaments. Playing against kids that were two years older, Sokolov led the U18 Five Nations Tournament in points earlier this year, scoring five goals and adding an assist to really impress scouts from around the world. There have been some slight rumors that Sokolov could come over to the OHL through the import draft this year, but regardless of where he plays next season, it’s clear that the talented Russian has a solid future ahead of him.

TT Nyhetsbyrån
TT Nyhetsbyrån

2. Jesse Puljujärvi, F (FIN):  Puljujärvi is a big forward with all the skills and traits of an 18 year old ready to take his game to the next level. One problem: he’s only 16 and isn’t even eligible for the NHL draft until 2016. There is a ton of hype for the youngster, and rightfully so: he’s been well over a point-per-game player in every single Junior league he’s competed in. While playing with the Kärpät U20 squad at the Jr. A SM-liiga last season, Puljujärvi finished with 23 points in 18 contests to go along with 14 points in 8 Jr. B games earlier in the year. This season, Puljujärvi put up a respectable 11 points in 21 games with Karpat in the top Finnish division, adding an extra 13 points in 15 games in the Mestis minor league. While he was unable to put up any points at the World Juniors this year, which, considering he was 16, was impressive enough, he has put up 13 points in 10 other junior events, split between the U18 and U20 levels. Think he’s the next Finnish scoring star? That’s a bet you shouldn’t go against.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

1. Auston Matthews, F (USA): Matthews and Puljujärvi have a few similarities. Both young scoring studs participated at the U20 World Juniors a season before their draft year. The only difference is that Matthews, born just a few days shy of the 2015 draft cutoff, is a year older. Regardless, Matthews has been a scoring star every where he’s gone, and if it wasn’t for him being born in September, he’d be a top five pick in the draft this year. He’ll have to settle with being first overall in 2016, and after ammasing 94 points in 51 games with the U.S. National U18 Team this year, are people really questioning his star power? Matthews is the next best thing to come out of the US NDTP, and with stellar performances at every international tournament he’s been apart of, he’s proving why. Last year, he was able to win the U17 and U18 World Championship tournaments, is it time to grab gold number three of his young career?

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The busiest time of the hockey season is here. The NHL playoffs are here, the CHL playoffs are well underway, the low divisions of the World Championships have begun and, of course, the top tournament of the World Under-18 Hockey Championships is ready to roll. The first of two major tournaments for players born in 1997 or later, many of the world’s top prospects are looking to help improve their rankings prior to this June’s NHL Draft. Let’s take a look at five of the top prospects that will participate at the tournament this year, which is set to begin on Thursday, April 16th.

Juniorský hokej SK/CZ
Juniorský hokej SK/CZ

5. Daniel Vladar, G (Czech Republic): One of the top goaltenders heading into the 2015 NHL Draft, Vladar will definitely be a big name puckstopper to watch at the U18’s. he kid is 6’5″, and while it’s natural to think that all he needs to do is just sit and cover the net, he has the rare ability to be flashy, yet safe with his play. For a guy of his size, he has above average quickness and is almost unbeatable across the goal line. His positional play could use a bit of work, but Vladar has cat like reflexes, similar to Hasek, but in a more contained fashion. His rebound control may be the very best in the draft class, absorbing pucks with ease from pretty much every angle. A silver medalist at both the U18 and Ivan Hlinka tournaments last year, the Czech’s have one of their best chances ever to compete for a medal, and if it’s going to happen, Vladar will likely be a big reason why.

Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images
Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

4. Jordan Greenway. F (USA): He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s a goal scoring machine, he’s Jordan Greenway! A product of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota, Greenway made the jump to the U.S. National Development Team this year, becoming an offensive threat on every shift. A first round pick by the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers back in 2013, Greenway had 20 points in 22 games with the USDP in the USHL this year, with 15 of those being assists. At 6-foot-5 and 222 pounds, the Boston University commit will make the jump to the NCAA next season following the NHL draft in June. Despite falling down in the NHL Central Scouting rankings in April, Greenway projects as a valuable power-forward that will likely spend as much time as possible at the college hockey level. If his five points in six games at the U17’s last year is any indication, Greenway will be a name you hear called every day at the U18’s, a good chance to prove that he’s a solid option for the first round this year.

Jakub Homoľa/SlovakProspects.com
Jakub Homoľa/SlovakProspects.com

3. Jakub Zboril, D (Czech Republic): There is almost no way you haven’t heard of Zboril if you follow junior hockey. The Saint John Sea Dogs star, Zboril has played at two Ivan Hlinka’s, the U18’s and the World Junior A Challenge over the past two seasons. A late cut from the World Junior team, Zboril is one of the better European-born two-way defensemen in the NHL Draft this year, and after posting 33 points in 44 games during his first year in North America, it’s clear he’s made a successful transition. At the past two U18 tournament’s hes participated in, the 2013 and 2014 Ivan Hlinka events, he’s combined for eight points in nine games, impressive stats for a blueliner. At 18, the big, quick-moving defenseman will look to shine in his final U18 World Championships and continue on with proving to scouts that he deserves deserve to be a top 20 pick this coming June.

Dominika Handzušová/Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament
Dominika Handzušová/Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament

2. Mathew Barzal, F (Canada): Barzal has been on the radar of many Canadian scouts for some time now. During his bantam season in 2011-2012, Barzal put up a whopping 153 points in 51 games, leading the Seattle Thunderbirds to select him first overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. Ranked 11th on the final NHL Central Scouting list, Barzal is a very good bet to make Team Canada at the 2016 World Juniors, so the team will likely rely on him to play some big minutes in Switzerland this year. If his 45 assists are any indication, the top draft prospect is a solid playmaker that makes his linemates better, and with many big name players having to miss the tournament due to the CHL playoffs, Barzal will be doing a lot of the lifting. Barzal did miss a good portion of the season to a fractured kneecap, so despite getting 57 points in 44 games this year, Barzal should still have a lot of good hockey left in him. His injury didn’t slow him down when he came back, so expect some high offensive numbers for the guy making his second U18 appearance.

Dennis Pajot/Getty Images
Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

1. Pavel Zacha, F (Czech Republic): Despite battling injuries this season, Zacha has maintained a solid ranking all season long and will surely be one of the top prospects to watch at the U18’s. Standing at 6’3, 205lbs Zacha already has pro-level size and he certainly uses it. His game is based around his big body presence as he’s a physical player and uses that size advantage to keep opponents from taking the puck away from him. He is already a solid two-way player and by going to the CHL, he has really started to round out his game. Offensively, he has a good shot and shows good creativity with the puck. A first overall pick by the Sarnia Sting at the 2014 import draft, Zacha finished his OHL rookie season with 34 points 37 games after missing time throughout the season. He’s no stranger to success at this tournament, recording eight points split over the past two U18 tournaments. Zacha only has a silver medal to his name, but with the powerful team the Czech’s are bringing this year, is the third time going to be the charm?

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After years of struggling to finish better than second at the Division III World Championships, North Korea has finally experienced success with a 4-3 victory over Turkey on Sunday, earning promotion for the 2016 Division IIB World’s next year.

Turkey came into the tournament as the favourites. Having been relegated from Division IIB last April, Turkey had an extra bit of experience that they were hoping to carry on into this tournament. They did win all five games prior to the gold medal game on Sunday, pleasing the home crowd every single time they hit the ice.

Unfortunately for the hosts, however, North Korea was just as good. A younger team than the country has seen in the past, Korea finished the opening period with the 2-1 lead. Turkish forward Serkan Gumus gave Turkey the 1-0 lead just four minutes in, but goals by Chol Min Ri and In Hyok Kang, who scored with just one second left in the period, gave the team the advantage.

North Korea held onto the lead until the first minute of the third. This time, it was Serdar Semiz, who potted his ninth goal of the tournament to tie the game up at two. In all three periods of regulation, Turkey managed to take the most shots, so it was just a matter of time until they would pot the game tying goal. The scariest moment for the team came with just five minutes to go when Chun Rim Hong got his ninth goal in six games, giving his team the lead with just minutes to go.

They weren’t able to hold on to the lead before time ran out, however. The same guy who got the ball rolling for Turkey, Gumus, scored just two minutes later to help force overtime, meaning that the next team to score would earn the illustrious gold medal. Turkey may have been the more offensive team all game long, but it was Rim Hong who would end the game with a goal with just 11 seconds remaining, grabbing his tournament leading tenth goal of the tournament and taking the gold medal for North Korea.

Korea had struggled for the past few years. After three straight silver medals, considered to be disappointing for a nation that always seemed to be competitive at the Division III tournaments, North Korea finally was able to advance themselves to Division IIB for the first time since 2011. That year, however, the team was forced to withdraw due to a lack of funds, leaving them in Division III ever since.

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With time winding down in the 2015 Division III World Championships, the United Arab Emirates ended Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tournament with their first victory of the event, snagging the 5-2 decision.

UAE’s power-play gave the favoured team the early contest lead. Seven minutes in, Omar Al Shamisi grabbed his second marker of the tournament to give his team the 1-0 lead right off the bat. Al Shamisi almost made it 2-0 just five minutes later when he was awarded a penalty shot, but was unsuccessful after being unable to beat Bosnian puck stopper Dino Pasovic. UAE did end the period with a 2-0 lead, however, as Faisal Al Blooshi capitalized on a double-minor for high sticking to Bosnia to start off strong heading into the middle frame.

The second period was far from successful for the Emirates, however. For the only time in the game, Bosnia managed to out-shoot their rivals 13-11, evidence of their improvement throughout the tournament. UAE found Haris Mrkva to be a big nuisance, scoring two goals for the first and only two goal period by the Bosnia in the entire tournament.

Mrkva’s two goal period proved to be the final bit of success for Bosnia. Despite not scoring another goal, they managed to keep the game tied at one apiece for the majority of the third period. That all changed with three minutes left when Al Shamisi managed to pot his second of the night, giving his team the game-winning goal. UAE would get two more goals shortly after before the clock winded down, giving the team their first win of the tournament with a game still remaining.

With the victory, UAE will battle Georgia for fifth place on Sunday afternoon. Bosnia, however, will finish the tournament with three goals and zero wins, not unexpected for a team participating in their first Division III World Championship event.

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During a tournament filled with absolute blowouts, a close match is always very appreciated. But, somehow, the Division III World Championships saw two three goal deficits, only to be spoiled by Turkey’s 10-1 victory over Hong Kong.

Shortly after Georgia made history by securing their first ever WC victory over Bosnia, Turkey and Hong Kong both looked to end each others perfect records. Of course, Turkey made sure to appease the home crowd, with Yauvz Karakoc, Yusuf Halil and Alec Kocoglu scoring two goals each to lead the way for Turkey. For Hong Kong, Chi Lok Lau’s third of the tournament was all the team managed to put up on the board, scoring the 6-1 goal with eight minutes remaining in the second.  The team decided to keep Emerson Keung in net for the entire contest, stopping 41 of the 51 shots directed his way in the eventual 10-1 victory for the tournament favourites.

In the third and final game of the day, North Korea and Luxembourg had quite the match going on until the Koreans completely stole the show near the end. The first two minutes saw a great flurry of action, with both teams exchanging goals right off the bat to make it 1-1. In the second, Song Jin Pak’s power-play goal in the final minute of the period gave his team the 2-1 lead, a goal that would help lure momentum into the hand of the tournament favourites.

The third period was when the game went downhill for Luxembourg, despite getting real close to changing that with 12 minutes left. First, however, Chun Min Ri gave his team the 3-1 lead with just six minutes off the clock, later proving to be the game winning goal. Luxembourg’s Marcus Eriksson would score his fourth of the tournament just two minutes later to reel his team back within one, but two goals by the Koreans in the next five minutes resulted in the stronger North Korean team taking the 5-2 victory.

Turkey will hope to continue their hot streak on Friday afternoon when they take to the ice against Luxembourg, while North Korea will look to do the same against Hong Kong. If all goes well for both teams, the gold medal game will be decided on April 12th, with the victor earning promotion to the 2016 Division IIB World Championships.

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After a year of getting blown out at the 2014 Division III World Championships, Georgia finally has a victory to their credit after defeating Bosnia 4-1 on Thursday morning.

While a victory for either team would end up meaning nothing in the grand scheme of things, both Georgia and Bosnia were battling for a chance to win their first ever World Championship contest. Neither team was expected to do well in their infancy at this tournament, but a victory for either would prove to be huge for the developing hockey nations.

Nine minutes into the game, Georgia took a hold of the lead. Dimitri Smetanin, easily the best player for Georgia all tournament long, beating the Bosnian puck stopper after Vitali Dumbadze made a nice play in front.

The lead wouldn’t even last a full minute, however. 48 seconds after Georgia made it 1-0, Damir Nikulin’s first of the tournament tied the game up for Bosnia, which, unfortunately, proved to be their only goal of the contest.

The action in the second wouldn’t result in a goal, but an early marker in the third put the game away for the Georgians. 1:57 into the third, Dumbadze got his fifth of the championships to give his team the important 2-1 lead. Bosnia fought back, trying to get some sort of momentum going again, but with three straight penalties near the middle of the period, any chance of a comeback was getting slimmer and slimmer. The game would end up with Georgia taking the 4-1 victory after two point shots from Revaz Tsomaia near the end resulted in goals, helping his country take their first ever World Championship victory.

While the victory was their first as Georgia, and specifically the World Championships, it isn’t the first time the country has seen success. During the Winter Spartakiad in 1962, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic went on to defeat Kirghiz SSR and Armenian SSR, the only two wins until today. Last year, Georgia saw their first action at the World Championships, losing 22-1 to North Korea in the opening game before finishing last with no wins.

For Bosnia, it wasn’t a totally failure. Nikulin’s goal was a huge one for Bosnia, as the marker early in the game proved to be the first in the history of the national team at the World Championships. They did finish the game with a 42-36 shot advantage, so scoring against the United Arab Emirates tomorrow in their final game will be very important if they hope to leave the event with at least one victory.

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The powerful Turkish team, expected to be strong from the get go, put a 13-1 pounding on Georgia on Monday, keeping the team undefeated after two games.

The game wasn’t really close at any point, but the biggest disappointment of the game for Georgia came early on in the contest. With the team already down 2-0, Georgia’s top player, Vitali Dumbadze, was given a game misconduct after a kneeing incident 13 minutes in. Turkey would take advantage of the extra-long power-play, with Andy Kocoglu picking up a goal just two minutes into the power-play.

The rest of the game was completely one-sided in Turkey’s favour. The team managed to score an additional seven more goals, with Serdar Semiz leading the way with four. Turkish captain Emrah Ozmen also did his part offensively, scoring a hat-trick and adding an extra four assists for seven points on the night.

It’s interesting to note that on the final score sheet, Turkey finished with a 90-5 shot advantage. It’s typical in low-level events like this for the shot clock to be very, very off. While it’s possible that the shots may actually turned out to be exactly that, due to Turkey being the best team in the event, there are instances where the show advantage is never as drastic as it sounds. Regardless, the final score was good enough to satisfy their hometown fans, who will look to cheer on their nation when Turkey battles the United Arab Emirates tomorrow.

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After every team sat out Sunday thanks to the holidays, the 2015 Division III World Championships returned in typical fashion, with pre-tournament favourites North Korea and Hong Kong dominating their competition on Monday.

In the first game of the day, Hong Kong battled against Bosnia for their first ever meeting. In Hong Kong’s first contest of the tournament, the team battled for an easy 8-3 victory over their Asian rivals, United Arab Emirates. Luckily for HK, their early tournament schedule has proven to be quite easy, taking down Bosnia with an 8-0 victory to improve to 2-0. Chun Pan Justin Cheng and Alvin Cheuk Him Sham led the way for Hong Kong, scoring two goals each before the game had hit the halfway mark. On the plus side for Bosnia, the game proved to be their most active in the offensive zone, sending 15 shots towards Emerson Keung, the most they have taken all tournament.

In the following game, the Koreans had a very similar result ahead of them thanks to their 7-0 destruction of UAE. Most of the scoring in that game was done before the first period came to a close, with Hyok Ju Kim potting three of his team’s five goals in the opening frame. Kim has had quite the tournament so far, scoring six goals and nine points to be one of the tournament’s top offensive threats.

With the victories, both North Korea and Hong Kong will hold on to perfect records. North Korea will have Tuesday and Wednesday off to rest and prepare for their game against the powerful Luxembourg squad on Thursday, while Hong Kong will look to go 3-0 with an expected victory over Georgia tomorrow.

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