WORLD JUNIOR NOTES: Costly penalty for Team USA on show


“Hard lesson to learn, but I’d rather it happened now”

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US team forward Red Savage must have been feeling good after receiving a game penalty at the end of the third period of Thursday’s World Junior Exhibition game against Finland in Edmonton after a elbow to the face of Finnish striker Joakim Kemell.


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As Kemell, who leads the SM-Liiga in goals at the age of 17 and could make the first round of the NHL Draft in 2022, removed his gear in the locker room, the Finns made an unlikely comeback. ‘a 3-1 hole, scoring three times on the five-minute penalty for a 4-3 overtime win.

Finnish captain Roni Hirvonen beat American substitute Daniel Silverstein for the winner after Joel Maatta and Ville Ottevainen sent the edgy game into overtime with two more power play goals.

“It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I’d rather it happened now,” said US coach Nate Leaman. “If it’s later, it could cost you the tournament. If that helps us become the most disciplined team, we can look back and say that was a healthy thing for us. Red got a little too aggressive at this point, but that’s what makes him tick.

The Finns have scored three goals in the last seven shots of the game against Silverstein, who replaced starter Drew Commesso after 40 minutes. Commesso gave Los Angeles Kings prospect Kasper Simontaival a goal early in the first, after the Finns had the game’s first seven before the United States hit back.

As Savage – the son of former NHL winger Brian Savage – suffered misconduct in the game, Finnish defenseman Ruben Rafkin, who played for the Windsor Spitfires two years ago, was sent off first. period for kicking Brett Berard.

Berard, a member of last year’s world junior gold squad, needed help getting off the ice, favoring his right leg, but showed no ill effects coming back to score a goal for Americans.


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“It’s just a game of hockey. Got better as the game progressed. You just have to take care of it, ”said Bérard.

Tanner Dickinson (St. Louis Blues rookie Soo Greyhounds) and Dominic James scored the other goals for the United States – one on starter Leevi Merilainen, who plays for the Kingston Frontenacs, the latter two on the second round of Pittsurgh Joel Blomqvist.

Since Savage’s penalty was a game and the International Ice Hockey Federation disapproves of blows to the head, he could be suspended. Rafkin was a major and less edgy.


The Czech Republic-Switzerland pre-game in Red Deer on Thursday was called off due to COVID protocol issues.

The positive test concerned an unidentified Czech player.

Canada are scheduled to face the Czechs at Rogers Place in the opening round robin game on Boxing Day. Now we are waiting to see if any further positive results emerge.

Last Christmas, the German team, led by Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stuetzle, had significant COVID issues before the tournament began and were without nine players for the first two games of the round robin. But Edmonton’s 10 teams were in a bubble and they made it through the tournament without a widespread breakout. This time it’s more precarious.

Meanwhile, it’s no fun being a fan of the World Junior Championship in Red Deer if you’ve purchased the tournament package. Two Canadian exhibition games against the Swiss and the Swedes have already been called off due to the COVID crackdown.


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Anaheim second-round defenseman Olen Zellweger who grew up in Fort Saskatchewan outside Edmonton weighs just 175 pounds, but he’s a fantastic skater.

Everett defenseman Silvertips, paired with the six-foot-five Owen Power defending Canada, pays close attention to his skates.

“Yeah, I’m really picky,” said Zellweger, who doesn’t have a lot of skates in his junior locker, maybe two or three pairs at a time.

“I try to keep the laces on for as long as I can. They feel different if I have to put on new laces. Breaking the skates takes time, with the blades. I like them perfect.

Is it because the junior hockey teams can no longer afford it?

“Yeah, probably,” Zellweger said.


It’s strange that Oilers sixth-round pick Matvey Petrov, who joined Matt Duchene as the only North Bay Battalion rookie to score two hat tricks in his first junior season, was left out of the roster Russian.

Not only is he the only Ontario Hockey League player in the top five in goals (20), assists (29) and points (49) in 29 games, playing on a line with the draft. San Jose Brandon Coe, but he shoots straight.

The Russians all have left-handed attackers. Perhaps it is a political call. They would rather have players from the Kontinental Hockey League or the best Russian junior league.

This ‘N’ this: The Americans lost third row left winger Ty Smilanic (Florida prospect) to an undisclosed injury in Thursday’s exhibition game. He won’t start the tournament, according to Leaman… Igor Larionov, who coached the Russian juniors last year, works here for Russian television. He was named coach of the Olympic team… Canadian winger Kent Johnson, fifth overall pick from Columbus last summer, was delighted to get a team jersey, but more: “I have it. Rick Nash’s (phone) number. It is such a legend. Nash is the manager of player development for the Blue Jackets… How did Topi Niemela, 19, who leads the Finnish full-back, hold until the third round (Maple Leafs) in 2020? He has 24 points in 31 SM-Liiga games for Karpat… 2021 Oilers third-round pick Luca Munzenberger (University of Vermont) is the only defenseman drafted for the German junior team.

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On Twitter: @jimmathesonnhl



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