WJC's

U20 World Junior Championships: Day One

Preliminary Round
Finland 1 @ Canada 8
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM

Senators prospect Mark Stone had a hat trick and Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau had 1 goal and 5 points in Canada's 8-1 slaughter of Finland. Lightning prospect Brett Connolly also had a goal in the contest, and was named an assistant captain for the Canadians. Canada draws Czech Republic next on Wednesday.

Switzerland 0 @ Russia 3
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM

Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-0-0, +2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM

Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski weathered 40 shots for the shootout victory in Russia's 3-0 win over Switzerland. Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov assisted on the Russian's final goal, an insurance marker by Mikhail Grigorienko late in the second period. For his part, fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov (pictured) continued the theme of his season going +2. No one collects pluses quite like Nikita Nesterov. He also took a minor for interference early in the third period. Russia faces Slovakia next on Wednesday.

U20 WJC Game Night: 1/5/11

Canada 3 @ Russia 5
Carter Ashton, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 6 PIM

Brett Connolly, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM

Russia scored five unanswered third period goals to shock Canada and take U20 WJC gold 5-3. Lightning prospect Carter Ashton scored a goal with 14 seconds left in the first period for the Canadians in the loss. Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko had 1 goal and 1 assist in the win for the Russians.

Team USA won the bronze, defeating Sweden 4-2 in tonight's bronze medal match. Slovakia finished 8th in the 10 team tournament, with Lightning prospect Richard Panik being named one of Slovakia's best players by the tournament's coaches.

What did Lightning fans learn about their prospects? Carter Ashton played pretty well in a complimentary role on Canada's second line. It's questionable whether he'll ever be the featured sniper on any given line with the Lightning in the pros, but with so many good snipers in this organization he's got a great chance to fit in by being strong in the corners and in the high traffic areas. Fellow Team Canada member Brett Connolly entered the tournament coming off a concussion and therefore didn't have a regular line, so it's hard to draw any conclusions. The only common critique from BoltProspects' staff was that Connolly could be better along the wall than he is. Advantage Ashton, perhaps, if the Lightning are pushed to choose between which of these two players is more NHL ready for next season.

For Team Slovakia, Richard Panik lived up to the hype. With two years of experience already to his credit, Panik led his team by a wide margin in scoring, confirming his reputation that Panik plays his best on a big stage. The young Slovakian winger is so much stronger than many of the players he faced in this tournament, anything less would have been a disappointment, and he remains a darkhorse to make the NHL next season because he already has an NHL body. The more eye opening performance was put forward by teammate Adam Janosik, who gets lost in the shuffle in the QMJHL but rose to the occassion on Slovakia's top pair. Known mostly as a power play specialist, Janosik showed himself to be a competent two-way defender en route to also finishing second on the team in scoring.

Ashton already holds an NHL contract and nearly made the Lightning out of camp each of the past two years, and should have a very good shot at making the team next year. His game is very well suited for the NHL and his talents will compliment the Lightning's top players well. Brett Connolly has had a fantastic junior season and should receive an NHL contract before too long, but it'll be up to his camp performance next Fall to determine if he plays one more season of junior or jumps to the NHL. Panik has likely done what he needed to do to earn an NHL contract, and his camp performance in the Fall will determine whether he is Norfolk or Tampa bound. Janosik will likely play one more season of junior before the Lightning decide whether to offer him an entry-level contract, but things are looking good at this point in time.

U20 WJC Game Night: 1/4/11

Czech Republic 5 @ Slovakia 2
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 2-0-2, -1, 4 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 7-2-9, +1, 12 PIM

Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-5-5, +1, 2 PIM

Despite a pair of power play goals by Lightning prospect Richard Panik, Slovakia could not overcome an initial 4-0 defecit as they fell 5-2 to neighbor Czech Republic. Fellow Lightning prospect Adam Janosik assisted on one of Panik's goals. Panik also took minors for slashing and tripping. Panik and Janosik finished first and second on Team Slovakia in scoring, respectively, for the tournament. That's not half bad. They were also two of the four players on Slovakia to end the WJC's with a plus rating.

Tomorrow night, Canada faces Russia in the tournament final.

U20 WJC Game Night: 1/3/11

USA 1 @ Canada 4
Carter Ashton, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, E, 6 PIM

Brett Connolly, Canada, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 6 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM

Brett Connolly assisted on Quinton Howden's game winning goal in Canada's 4-1 semifinal victory over Team USA. Fellow Lightning prospect Carter Ashton had a minor for slashing in the match. The Canadians dominated the match, outshooting the Americans 41-23 in the contest.

Tomorrow, Slovakia will play the Czech Republic to polish off the relegation round, setting the stage for Wednesday's championship game between the Canadians and semifinal winner Russia, which beat Sweden 4-3 in a shootout today. Sweden will play Team USA for the bronze medal in the match preceeding the championship game.

U20 WJC Game Day: 1/2/11

Canada 4 @ Switzerland 1
Carter Ashton, Canada, 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM (slashing), 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, E, 4 PIM

Brett Connolly, Canada, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM

Carter Ashton assisted on a Casey Cizikas goal that was the first of three unanswered goals in Canada's 4-1 victory over Switzerland. Brayden Schenn once again led the Canadians with a pair of assists. Brett Connolly created multiple scoring chances and hit a crossbar. He played a strong game.

Slovakia 5 @ Norway 0
Richard Panik, Slovakia, 4-1-5, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 6-2-8, +2, 8 PIM

Adam Janosik, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 0-4-4, +2, 2 PIM

Slovakian captain Richard Panik had a hat trick, with two empty net goals, and a helper while fellow Lightning prospect Adam Janosik added a pair of power play helpers in Slovakia's 5-0 blitzing of Norway. Slovakian netminder Juraj Holly stopped all 37 shots he faced for the shutout. Slovakia was actually outshot 37-31 in the match.

Canada moves on to face Team USA tomorrow in their seemingly annual battle of the titans in the semifinals. Slovakia will face the Czech Republic in a backyard brawl on Tuesday to complete the relegation round slate. Slovakia will finish no worse than second in the relegation round group. Norway will be relegated and it will take a German win against Norway and a Czech loss to Slovakia for the Germans to avoid the same fate.

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