2016 U20 World Junior “A” Challenge

Seventh Heaven

Americans cruise to seventh WJAC title
Steve Kournianos  |  012/19/2016 |  New York  |  

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Photo courtesy of Hockey Canada

DATE/TIME HOME AWAY RESULT
11 DEC 16-Prelim Canada-East Czech Republic Can-East W, 4-1
11 DEC 16-Prelim Canada-West Switzerland Can-West W, 6-2
12 DEC 16-Prelim Czech Republic USA CZE W, 1-0
12 DEC 16-Prelim Russia Canada-West Russia W, 5-3
13 DEC 16-Prelim Switzerland Russia Russia W, 6-5 (OT)
13 DEC 16-Prelim USA Canada-East USA W, 3-1
14 DEC 16-QF USA Switzerland USA W, 9-0
14 DEC 16-QF Canada-West Czech Republic CZE W, 4-3 (SO)
15 DEC 16-SF Russia USA USA W, 4-2
15 DEC 16-SF Canada-East Czech Republic Can-East W, 2-1 (OT)
16 DEC 16-5th Canada-West Switzerland Can-West W, 5-3
16 DEC 16-3rd Russia Czech Republic Russia W , 7-4
17 DEC 16-F Canada-East USA USA W , 4-0

United States

RW Hank Crone (2017 Draft): Quick overage forward headed to Boston University who has soft hands and an offense-first mindset. Crone uses his speed and lateral maneuverability to create time and space in the face of a stacked zone defense. He can play on the power play and seems quite comfortable handling the puck for long periods of time. You can consider him a puck hound who likes to draw defenders towards him simply to feather a neat pass into open ice of an onrushing teammate to collect. Crone is a confident player who won’t back down in the face of bigger opponents and plays bigger than his listed 5’8 frame.

C Ethan Frank (2017 Draft): Western Michigan-bound battler with speed who is very shifty and possesses impressive puck skills. Frank is an overager with strong balance and a solid stick that allows him to fight through checks with the puck. He’s an excellent penalty killer who pressures the points and is extremely fearless as he closes on bigger players. Frank might be listed at 5’10, but he has strong lower-body strength and leg drive to take men out with a clean hit. Frank takes the puck directly to the net and can change gears to catch defenders flat footed. He’s a strong competitor who thrives in tight-checking affairs.

LHD Mikey Anderson (2017 Draft): Quick, confident first-year eligible defender who can initiate a successful breakout in a variety of ways. Anderson is a strong skater with excellent lateral mobility who uses his speed to escape opponents. He can feather accurate passes into open ice while drawing multiple opponents. Anderson is a solid body checker who can excel in either the finesse game or the slogging match, and is entrusted with critical roles on both the penalty kill and on the power play.

RW Zach Solow (2017 Draft):  An absolute beast with a commitment to Northeastern, Solow was one of Team USA’s top scorers. He plays a fast-paced game and loves to involve himself wherever the puck is or will end up. Solow is classically diminutive (5’9, 180), but he plays without fear and will take a beating as he traverses direct routes to the net. He is a two-way winger who does all the necessary things to ensure his man is both covered and limited in options. Solow can also play center and looks for his teammates rather than take low-percentage shots. His versatility and durability speak volumes about his effectiveness as an offensive force who does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game.

East

Canada-East

RW/C Bobby Dow (2017 Draft): Big-bodied power forward with a commitment to Mercyhurst who plays a tenacious game yet has the skills to make a significant contribution offensively. Dow is a very good skater with strong lateral mobility and enough breakaway speed to avoid the pursuit of defenders. He’s strong on the puck and doesn’t like to give it up, and at times can hang on to the disc for what seems like an entire shift. Dow is uber-confident once a lane opens and will take direct routes to the net with strength and determination. He protects the puck quite well, keeping his head up and looking for multiple options but confident enough to make high-percentage plays on his own. Dow is a physical player who likes to throw his body around and make sound, clean open-ice hits. He uses his upper-body strength to separate opponents from the puck, something that serves him well on the penalty kill. Dow uses his physicality to change momentum and make statements, and at worst he will top out as a skilled two-way energy player who can moonlight as a top-six power forward.

LHD Samuel Hould (2017 Draft): Smart two-way defender who can play on the top pairing as the go-to guy to keep the puck out of harm’s way. A double-overager who played previously in the QMJHL, Hould uses his body to protect the puck extremely well, and his ability to make proper reads and see the ice as a whole compliment his quick first step and confidence. He has no problem taking the puck from goal line to red line with speed, yet inconsistent accuracy with passes to the flanks provides opponents with the opportunity for a swift odd-man counterattack. Hould can quarterback a power play due to a very hard shot and a knack to fake his way into open shooting lanes, and his slap-passing into the slot can catch a goalie leaning the wrong way.

RHD Cameron Crotty (2017 Draft): Boston University-bound mobile defender who plays a smart positional game and is blessed with good size (6’2, 188) but provides next to nothing offensively outside of sharp, crisp breakout passes and creating turnovers. Crotty is quite mature and has top-pairing potential in the NCAA regardless of his age. He can play physical and seal off puck carriers into an untenable situation, using his long reach and active stick to strip pucks away and reverse them to safety or head-man up the ice. Crotty owns a hard, accurate shot and doesn’t wait for the perfect shooting lane to open in order to fire one on net. His limitations in the offensive zone, however, begin with a general lack of interest towards jumping into gaps or setting himself up below the top of the circles. Crotty isn’t creative and will acquiesce to the dump in at the first site of any pressure.

Russia

RW Andrei Svechnikov (2018 Draft): Elite player who combines power and finesse with an exceptional understanding of his role as a top line talent. Svechnikov has an uncanny ability to not only stickhandle in and around traffic, but also position himself away from the puck while defenders are fixated on his equally skilled linemates. You have to keep tabs on Svechnikov at all times, and it seems as if opponents play tentative every time he’s on the ice. Svechnikov is a very good skater with a powerful stride and exceptional balance, and he uses his speed to create separation even although he shouldn’t be defined as a road runner. He possesses a blistering shot with one of the quicker releases you’ll find — Svechnikov can score on set plays off a faceoff or rifle one from the circles. The accuracy and rapidity of his release were on display in Bonneyville

LW Ivan Chekhovich (2017 Draft): A sniper blessed with incredibly soft hands and exceptional speed who simply knows what to do with the puck. Chekhovich is an opportunist with a strong grasp of play development who at times will toe the line between cherrypicking and taking acceptable risks. Still, he’s a finisher who can beat a goaltender in a variety of ways, specifically in and around the low slot, and there are times when he’ll chip in down low and provide defensive coverage, albeit with less frequency than you’d like. It’s his ability to jump into gaps up ice and create numerical superiority that stands out — he doesn’t leach onto his puck carrier but doesn’t wander into an impossible passing option. Chekhovich, who can kill penalties and play the wall on the power play, can furnish a hard, accurate shot, especially off the pass with the man advantage.

C Alexei Lipanov (2017 Draft): Lipanov is an excellent skater who uses his speed to create a significant amount of separation between the defender and him. He consistently drives defenders backwards and forces them to play a sizeable gap, thus allowing his to use his deadly shot with impunity. Lipanov is difficult to waragme because he is as good a passer as he is a shooter, and his ability to create or finish plays while speeding up ice makes him a legitimate top-line threat with star potential. Lipanov is strong on the puck and uses solid lateral movement to maintain possession while maneuvering in any direction. He’s a finisher who takes direct routes to the net and is just as smart away from the puck as he is with it on his stick. Lipanov can be classified as a two-way forward because he plays on the penalty kill and can be entrusted with defensive-zone responsibilities, and although he should not be counted on to shadow or check a specific line or player, he has shown to be opportunistic and turn turnovers into scoring chances.

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Czech Republic

LHD David Kvasnicka (2017 Draft): Mobile two-way defender who plays on the Czech top pairing and runs the power play but can be counted on for shutdown operations and penalty killing. Kvasnicka is a controlled puck mover who mskes the right play at the right time. He clearly was one if the top defenders in the tournament, not only for finishing among the scoring leaders but also for his consistency in successfulky transitioning from defense to offense. Kvasnicka can play physical and win one-on-one battles, but his ability to steal the puck and head up ice in a controlled yet aggressive manner is what makes him the top draft-eligible rearguard from the Czech Republic.

C Kristian Reichel (2017 Draft): Overage two-way pivot who was the Czech Republic’s most consistent forward. Reichel can be used and succeed in a variety of situations — special teams, checking assigments, shootouts, etc. The isn’t any recognizable pizzazz to his game, but he has a very good shot and can make plays off the ensuing cycle. Reichel is a solid 200-foot player with good speed and proper positioning, using his stick and footwork to cause havoc on the forecheck without the risk of losing his man up ice. He consistently shows good insticnts, and his offensive and defensive contributions while performing in the Czech senior league makes us think he will get a longer look on Draft Day than a year ago.

LW Tomas Vildumetz (2017 Draft): Lightning-quick waterbug who is always looking to create plays no matter where the puck is. Vildumetz is fast enough to quicken the pace of a game, sometimes all by himself. He’s pesky and can get under your skin, thus creating a problem for slower defenders who opt for the chance to take him out with a big hit, only to see him slither away and quickly return to full flight. He has trouble finishing plays and his shot is average at best, but his quickness and intensity make him a good depth option and possible penalty killer.

West

Canada West

RHD Cale Makar (2017 Draft): Explosive and dynamic offensive defenseman who can beat you with a variety of elite skills. Makar’s understanding of the game and his ability to read plays keeps him two and three steps ahead of opponents, who treat his puck handling as the most dangerous course of action. He is extremely fast — probably the fastest among his draft-eligible peers — and whips the puck from tape to tape with authority. Slight of frame, Makar is far from a defensive liability in one-on-one situations, as he uses a quick stick and phenominal footwork to maintain a tight gap. He is prone to underestimate the speed of an onrushing forward, but he’s fast enough to make a quick recovery if beaten to the outside. Makar own’;s an absolute howitzer for a shot and does not hesitate to use it. His wrist shot can beat golaies from as far out as the blue line and requires little backswing to get enough velocity to zip through collapsing shooting lanes. He has a feather-soft touch while running the point on the power play and will slip passes under sticks and through skates, albeit dangerously close to the opposing blue line. Makar has goal line-to-goal line range and there isn’t a spot on the ice he won’t assault with confidence. Naturally, it will require a heady partner and backchecking forwards to cover up the gaps his hyper-aggressiveness creates. But he’s capable of being a focal point on any offense, which is hard to find in a teenage defenseman.

C Jordan Kawaguchi (2017 Draft): This double-overage pivot with a commitment to North Dakota was Canada-West’s top scorer, accumulating nine points in four games (although seven in two matches against a porous Swiss defense). He’s a shifty playmaker and a very good skater who can change direction without leaking speed or puck control as he dances around traffic. He’s a finisher who can complete a play in a variety of ways, and his smallish stature (5’9, 181) doesn’t stop him from gaining a foothold in front of the net to bang away at rebounds or tip shots from the point. Kawaguchi has a very good wrist shot and his puck handling abilities allow him to maneuver into open shooting lanes between the circles. While we would classify him as a pass-first playmaker as a top-six center, his hands, shot and smarts help even out his goal to assist ratio. His faceoff skills are about average and he can kill penalties, but his specialty is manning the wall on the power play to either set up or fire away a cross-ice one-timer.

RHD Ian Mitchell (2017 Draft): Mature two-way blueliner who bolstered his reputation as one of Canada’s top U18 defenseman. Mitchell owns a hard shot and has very speed both front and back. He sees the ice like a veteran and keeps his mistakes limited to minor board battles and plays deep within the opposing zone. Mitchell is strong enough to pin and hold the bigger power forwards, a testament to his lower-body strength and leg drive. It wasn’t easy for a player like him to pair with a equally-adept defender like Cale Makar, but he played the role of safety net with aplomb and formed chemistry quickly with his dynamic partner. That doesn’t mean Mitchell is timid or risk averse — he’s more than capable of handling top-pair responsibilities, darting into open ice and running a power play just like he did for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

Switzerland Flag

Switzerland

C Justin Sigrist (2017 Draft): Heady pivot with an excellent shot and release who makes a habit of getting open and finishing but can also set-up plays with quick, accurate passes. Sigrist isn’t big (5’9/146), but he has a firm grasp of play development and is an absolute shark on the forecheck. He has soft hands and quick feet, enabling him to not only pick off passes, but keep the puck on his stick almost immediately. Sigrist is effective at creating high-quality scoring opportunities for both himself and his linemates, and his aggressive pursuit of the puck draws opposing puck support away their posts. Sigrist is a top-end skater with above-average balance who plays with intensity and works hard from whistle to whistle. He likes to hold on to the puck, and his first-step quickness allows him to stop and start into open space inside the confines of a cramped offensive zone.