WHL talent shines at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament

This last week was the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Breclav, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia. This is the official start to the NHL draft scouting season and serves as the unofficial beginning of the 2017-18 hockey season. This year with the Kootenay ICE and Switzerland’s Gilian Kohler getting hurt in a pre-tournament game, six current WHL players and four CHL import drafted players took part. I was able to catch quite a bit of the tournament and took notes on how these 10 players performed.

Canada ultimately prevailed over the Czech Republic in a 4-1 gold-medal-game and Sweden edged Russia for Bronze in overtime.

Monday, 8/7/17:

Sweden 6 USA 1

Russia 4 Canada 3 (shootout)

Czech Republic 6 Switzerland 2

Finland 6 Slovakia 1

Tuesday, 8/8/17:

USA 2 Switzerland 1

Canada 5 Finland 1

Sweden 7 Czech Republic 3

Russia 9 Slovakia 3

Wednesday, 8/9/17:

Sweden 4 Switzerland 2

Russia 3 Finland 1

Czech Republic 7 USA 3

Canada 6 Slovakia 1

Standings after round robin play:

 

Team Wins Losses OTW OTL Points Goals For Goals Against
Sweden 3 0 0 0 9 17 6
Czech Republic 2 1 0 0 6 16 12
USA 1 2 0 0 3 6 14
Switzerland 0 3 0 0 0 5 12

 

Team Wins Losses OTW OTL Points Goals For Goals Against
Russia 2 0 1 0 8 16 7
Canada 2 0 0 1 7 14 6
Finland 1 2 0 0 3 8 9
Slovakia 0 3 0 0 0 5 21

Canada:

-(5)Calen Addison (Lethbridge two goals-four assists for six points-second in scoring form the blue line)- His creativity really surprised me. Obviously his coach in the tournament (and also coach in Lethbridge) Brent Kisio knew about it though. He put Addison down low on the power play and this was extremely successful. Not only does he have a strong wrist shot, he can convince the opponents he is shooting, before dealing off a nice pass. One great play that really stood out to me was a sequence where he entered the zone by passing off the boards to himself in full stride. This gave him the puck in a two-on-one situation and eh got a solid shot off. He also does not shy away from the tough areas and charged at the net for loose pucks on many occasions. His play up front on the man advantage was such, that it makes me wonder if Kisio will try him there this year.

-(8)Jett Woo (Moose Jaw-zero points-six penalty minutes): While he did not get in on the scoring, he definitely showcased a strong ability to turn the play the other way on a dime. He also was Canada’s best one-on-one defender. He reads the play well as was shown in a fantastic leg block he did on a pass headed to an open opponent at the back door.

-(3)Ty Smith (Spokane-three assists): Often in these tournaments, a player takes awhile to get used to the format and playing in another country. That appeared to be the case with Smith. He had a mediocre first game vs. Russia but just gradually played better and better with each game. His physicality surprised me as this was something he struggled with last year as a 16-year-old in the WHL. There was a couple plays he made in the Sweden game against some really good forwards, where he closed them out and forced them to the boards where they turned the puck over. Along with his physicality, his confidence improved drastically. He did not hesitate in rushing the puck up the ice and created lots of odd-man rushes. He was paired a lot with Ryan Merkley and the two of them complimented each other well.

-(29)Nolan Foote (Kelowna-one goal-one assist-two points): He was a physical presence in the top-six for Canada and was the net front presence on their top power play unit. The puck was on his stick a lot throughout the tourney. As a late birth date, he is not eligible until the 2019 NHL draft, where he is sure to go early if he continues to progress. His goal came on an absolute snipe job on the power play.

-(27)Luka Burzan (Moose Jaw-zero points-two penalty minutes): What stood out to me was how tenacious he was on the fore-check. His speed allows him to get in tight on defenders before they are expecting it. He also is not shy about throwing his body around. Overall he seems to be an energetic player who in one sequence missed a pass but still chased it down and gained possession in the corner, creating a scoring opportunity. He seems like the type of high-energy player a coach would love to have on his team.

-(28)Jackson Shepard (Kamloops-zero points): Was the extra forward and so did not get a whole lot of ice time. A majority of the time he did get seemed to come on the penalty kill where he was solid.

Czech Republic:

-(18)Libor Zabransky (Kelowna-one goal-three assists-four points): If Kelowna officially brings him over, he has the talent to be a top-four d-man right away. His offensive awareness really stood out to me. This was evidenced by an assist he had early in the tournament. He faked a shot on the point and waited until an opening came, then wired a shot that was tipped in by a teammate.

Slovakia:

-(7)Martin Fasko-Rudas (Everett-zero points-two penalty minutes): This kid has speed to burn and if he gets a little more creative on the rush, he could be a game-breaker for Everett. Slovakia had him on the point of their top power play and he did well there. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot and used this to set up teammates in scoring areas down low effectively. I like his first step and this often caught defenders by surprise. Everett had to be holding their breath a bit in the game against Canada, as Jett Woo hit him hard along the boards and he stayed down a bit until skating off favoring his right leg. He did not miss more than a shift or two though and played in their next game. If he does come over to the WHL, his d-zone awareness needs a lot of work as he got caught on no man’s land a few times, leading to quality scoring chances for their opponents.

Sweden:

-(16)Samuel Fagemo (Portland-five goals): This Swede is very dangerous and can score from every angle. He scored twice on the power play in the first game. First he put a very nice tip from a shot coming from the high slot, then he sneaked in and buried a shot from the back door. Fagemo has an eye for the puck as he read that a shot gets blocked down and pounces on, it putting it away in game two. Perhaps his most impressive goal came when a teammate got around a defender on the rush and he stomped on the brakes and slid back, receiving the puck in space in the slot and burying it. In Sweden’s third game he read that the puck was getting turned over on a hit and sped up to receive a pass on a breakaway where he buried it. Overall he is tenacious on the puck and reads where the play is going really well.  He drew constant attention in the game vs. Canada and his inability to get many open scoring looks was something that helped doom Sweden. With his natural scoring touch, the possibility of coming over and playing with a creative play-maker like Cody Glass has got to be intriguing.

Russia:

-(6)Roman Kalinichenko (Tri-City-two penalty minutes): He seems to have no problem playing on either side defensively and is really strong positionally. He is also fun to watch as he really looks to lay the big hit but does not get out of position too much to do so. Overall, Roman struck me as a defensive d-man who would probably fit right in playing with someone like Dylan Coghlan in Tri-City.

 

Schedule for Friday:

Semi-finals:

Czech Republic 2 Russia 1

Canada 4 Sweden 1

Fifth place game:

USA 4 Finland 3(OT)

Seventh place game:

Switzerland 2 Slovakia 1

Schedule for Saturday:

Bronze-medal-game:

Sweden 4 Russia 3(OT)

Gold-medal-game

Canada 4 Czech Republic 1

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Brandon Rivers

Longtime Portland Winterhawks' blogger on hodgesheroes.blogspot.com. I also write for SB Nation on the for the Seattle Sin Bin at http://www.sonicsrising.com/seattle-sin-bin. Further, I have a Seattle-sports podcast over at 206sportsjocks.com Originally from the Portland area, now living in Seattle. Proud husband and Father.