The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is now underway, and TSN's Day 1 games in Red Deer featured a couple of routs.
In the afternoon contest, Team USA dispatched Germany by a score of 8-1, and outshot the Germans 49-15.
Offensively, forward Will Whitelaw and defenseman Andrew Strathmann led the way with three points each. Both are 2023 draft-eligible. The U.S. power play was clicking well, going 3-for-6 on the night.
In the late game, Canada trounced Switzerland by a score of 14-0. The Canadians were 4-for-4 on their power play and scored three shorthanded goals in the first period, as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead through just 20 minutes.
Forward Calum Ritchie and defenseman Cameron Allen, both 2023 draft-eligibles from the OHL, led the way with four points each. Ethan Gauthier, the son of former NHL defenseman Denis Gauthier, had a hat trick and big winger Colby Barlow from the Owen Sound Attack was named Canada's player of the game off a three-point performance which included two of the shorthanded goals.
Canada's ninth goal of the game was scored by Kalan Lind, the draft-eligible younger brother of one-time Canucks prospect Kole Lind. Kalan is playing this tournament in his home rink: he's a winger with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.
Sunday's earliest game between Czechia and Finland was not televised, but was the most tightly contested of the day. The Czechs eked out of a 4-3 win in the sixth round of the shootout, after Jakub Stancl forced overtime by scoring his second goal of the game with just 33 seconds left in regulation time.
Stancl's a big boy — already listed at 6'3" and 201 pounds at age 17. He's developing in Sweden, with Elias Pettersson's old Vaxjo Lakers program.
Day 2 in Red Deer sees Sweden and Slovakia make their tournament debuts in the early game. Then, Finland/USA will be televised on TSN5 at 2 p.m. PT, followed by Germany/Czechia at 6 p.m. PT.
On Tuesday, Switzerland and Sweden will kick things off, followed by the televised games between Finland and Germany at 2 p.m. PT, then Canada/Slovakia at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, the final rosters are starting to come together for World Juniors, where we'll see a couple of preliminary-round games later this week before the main event gets underway next Tuesday.
The big news for Canucks fans is defenseman Jacob Truscott — who did not make the cut for Team USA for the tournament last December, but is on the 27-man roster named by the Americans on Sunday.
According to USA Hockey guru Chris Peters
, the Canucks' fifth-round pick from 2020 elevated himself with a strong second half in his sophomore season with the Michigan Wolverines. And with his defensive partner Luke Hughes expected to be a cornerstone of the U.S. defense, coach Nate Leamon may choose to keep that familiar pairing intact for a tournament that goes by in the blink of an eye.
Two more players will need to be cut after this week's preliminary-round games, against Finland on Friday and Switzerland on Saturday. So Truscott's roster spot is not yet guaranteed. Now 20, this will be his last crack at a World Juniors roster.
In addition to Hughes, Michigan teammates Thomas Bordeleau, Frank Nazar and Mackie Samoskevich are also in the mix for Team USA. Like Hughes, Samoskevich played in Edmonton in December. Bordeleau was held out due to Covid protocols, and Nazar is a new addition.
Two other Wolverines from last December's group, Canadian Owen Power and American Matty Beniers, are not participating this time around. A number of high-level prospects who have now signed NHL contracts have been discouraged from spending their summer participating in this tournament, with their pro teams encouraging them to concentrate instead on preparing for the NHL season — and avoiding potential injury.
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, Da Beauty League has already been rolling since mid-July, with each of the six teams having played three games so far.
Brock Boeser is suiting up for Team Walser this year, and has one goal in his first two games — scored off the rush on a feed from Casey Mittelstadt.
Former Canuck Travis Boyd is skating on Team Bic, with three points in his first three games. Nic Dowd had a goal and an assist in his first game with Element, while Joseph LaBate has five points in three games on Nor-Son.
Playing just once a week in July, the schedule ramps up to a twice-weekly frequency for the first three weeks of August, with games on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Boeser's Walser team currently sits third in the six-team standings, with a 2-1 record and a league-best plus-6 goal differential. Goaltending duties have been split between Zach Driscoll, a 25-year-old who played at North Dakota last season, and former Canucks prospect Jake Kielly. Also 25, Kielly got into just six games in the ECHL last season, with Kalamazoo. In his first two Da Beauty League appearances, he has given up 21 goals for a 10.5 goals-against average. But keep in mind that 20-year-old Clakrson keeper Ethan Haider of Tradition is currently leading the league with a 6.00 GAA. It's a whole different world out there.
Jake Guentzel of Nor-Son currently leads the way offensively, with 10 goals and 12 points in three games.
And I'll wrap up today with the NHL Street Ball Hockey Festival, which went down this weekend out in Surrey.
Love seeing this picture of Robin Bawa, the first South Asian player to make it to the NHL, with Canucks prospect Arshdeep Bains.
Really looking forward to seeing what the WHL's 2021-22 leading scorer can do this fall in Abbotsford!