Denmark 2 @ Canada 10
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-1-2, +3, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 3-1-4, +4, 4 PIM
Brett Connolly had a shorthanded goal and an even strength assist as the Canadians punished Denmark for showing up to the building 10-2. Connolly also took an undisciplined third period penalty for cross checking. Canada wraps up their Preliminary Round on Saturday against Team USA.
Latvia 0 @ Russia 14
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 0-3-3, +5, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-4-5, +7, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 1-2-3, +5, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 1-3-4, +8, 2 PIM
If the Canadians set the standard Thursday night for unrelenting butt whippings, the Russians quickly rewrote it in breaking former breakaway republic Latvia 14-0. Nikita Gusev, the longtime line mate of Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, had 2 goals and 7 points in the match and still wasn't the team's leading scorer. That distinction went to captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov's "Kuznetztrick" stat line of 3-6-9. For their parts, Lightning representatives Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Nesterov contributed a combined 1 goal and 6 points to the rout. Russia finishes their last prelim on Saturday versus Sweden.
Canada 5 @ Czech Republic 0
Brett Connolly, Canada, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 2-0-2, +1, 2 PIM
Brett Connolly scored the nail-in-coffin third goal for Canada late in the second period in their 5-0 win over Czech Republic. The goal showed some absolutely lethal stickhandling moves by Connolly, beating multiple defenders and the netminder on a joy ride through a crowded slot area. It was a man against boys moment. The forward also took a minor for interference in the match. Jets first rounder Mark Scheifele had a pair of goals in the win for the Canadians. Canada draws Denmark on Thursday. Lord have mercy on the Danes souls, because the Czechs made the Canadians work for it today, and they're bound to be grumpy.
Russia 3 @ Slovakia 1
Nikita Kucherov, Russia, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM
Nikita Nesterov, Russia, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-1-1, +3, 2 PIM
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
It took a Nikita Kucherov insurance marker late in the third period for the Russians to finally put away a spunky Slovakian squad 3-1. Fellow Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov had a secondary assist on the goal. Kucherov was second on Team Russia with 5 shots behind Yevgeni Kuznetsov's impressive 9 bids on net. Russia draws Latvia on Thursday. The same grumpiness likely will apply to Team Russia. Slovakia gets Sweden on Friday.
Slovakia 3 @ Latvia 1
Adam Janosik, Slovakia, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Red Wings draftee Marek Tvrdon scored a goal early in the third period to help Slovakia overcome a 43 save performance by Kristers Gudlevskis in their 3-1 win over Latvia. The Slovakians added a late empty net goal by Michal Toman to seal the win. Assistant captain Adam Janosik was scoreless in the match for Slovakia. They face Russia next on Wednesday.
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.
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.