The 2015 IIHF World Championship preliminary rounds came to a close yesterday and all six Panthers have played well thus far. The six that are in the Worlds are: Aaron Ekblad (CAN), Jaromir Jagr (CZE), Tomas Kopecky (SVK), Dmitry Kulikov (RUS), Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen (FIN). Jokinen and Kopecky are captains for their respective countries, while Barkov and Ekblad are making their Worlds debut. Florida has sent one of the youngest and the oldest player in the tournament, but age does not seem to matter.
Putting Up the Points
Aaron Ekblad is the youngest player on Team Canada, but is tied for first in points among defensemen on the team. Even more impressive he leads all defensemen in goals scored and is doing all this with some of the lowest minutes per game for Canada. He has had quite the impressive debut for the dominate Canadian club. However, Ekblad is not the only Panther playing well and putting up points for his country. Barkov has 6 points in 7 games and the captain Jokinen has 9 points which leads Finland. Also, who could forget the oldest player in the tournament who is also having himself a Worlds. Old reliable Jaromir Jagr is tied for first for the Czechs in goals and power-play goals, as well as, being tied for second in points. Jagr is playing in his NINTH World Championships, winning two golds previously. He played in his first Worlds 6 years before Ekblad was born. Jagr continues to amaze us all as it seems nothing can slow the man down.
Five of the six Panthers are moving on to the Quarter Finals. Team Canada and Team USA won their respective groups. Here is the schedule for the Quarter Finals:
Thursday, May 14th USA vs SUI 9:15am EST
Thursday, May 14th CAN vs BLR 10:15am EST Aaron Ekblad (CAN)
Thursday, May 14th SWE vs RUS 1:15pm EST Dmitry Kulikov (RUS)
Thursday, May 14th FIN vs CZE 2:15pm EST Jokinen & Barkov (FIN) vs Jaromir Jagr (CZE)
With this schedule at least one of the Panthers players will make it to the Semi-Finals. The tournament has gone well and now entering the quarters it can only get better. It has been a great Worlds all around, but especially for these “Other Worldly” Cats.