Even though there are still some hurdles to clear off of the ice, on the ice the teams of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship are going on as if it is business as usual. Well, sort of. Team Canada, one of the tournament’s favorites, played their final intrasquad game and made their final cuts. Also, Sweden had to make a last-minute coaching change. Finally, we check in on a prospect who can turn out to be a real steal for the Edmonton Oilers.
Team Canada Makes Final Cuts
After a two-week layoff due to a mini-outbreak of COVID-19 within the ranks, Team Canada has been back on the ice the last couple of days. Thursday was the last intrasquad game at Canada’s National Junior Selection Camp. Team Red took home a 4-0 win in the final chance to impress before the final cuts came down.
Justin Barron (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals), Peyton Krebs (Vegas Golden Knights) and Dylan Holloway (Oilers) did the scoring for Team Red. Goaltender Devon Levi (Florida Panthers) stopped all 36 shots he faced from Team White, with half of his saves coming in the third period. He could be the first NCAA goaltender to start for Canada at the World Junior Championship even though he has yet to play a game for Northeastern University.
Head coach Andrew Tourigny said after the scrimmage that he needed to sleep on his final roster cuts. This afternoon, Team Canada released the final roster of 25 players it will take to Edmonton.
Kirby Dach, Connor Zary, Holloway, Cole Perfetti, Jakob Pelletier, Alex Newhook, Ryan Suzuki, McMichael, Krebs, Quinton Byfield, Dawson Mercer, Dylan Cozens, Philip Tomasino, Jack Quinn
Braden Schneider, Kaeden Korczak, Bowen Byram, Thomas Harley, Jamie Drysdale, Jordan Spence, Kaiden Guhle, Barron
Levi, Taylor Gauthier, Dylan Garland
Gauthier is the only player who has yet to be drafted by an NHL club. He is eligible for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Sweden Makes Changes to Coaching Staff
Having to change your head coach just two weeks prior to the start of the biggest international tournament of the year is far from ideal, but that is exactly what Sweden is having to deal with. If there is anything that we have learned in 2020 is that things can and will change in the blink of an eye during a global pandemic.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Association announced this morning that Joel Ronnmark is the new head coach for the U20 national team. Tomas Monten will not be able to travel to Edmonton because of his recent COVID-19 infection.
Monten wasn’t the only member of Sweden’s coaching staff to test positive for COVID-19. So did assistant coach Anders Lundberg, goaltending coach Nizze Landen and video coach Almqvist Andersson. None of them will travel to Canada, but they will all still work remotely with the team throughout the tournament.
Ronnmark has plenty of experience on the international stage at this level as he has spent the previous two World Junior Championships as an assistant. He will be joined by Sweden’s U18 head coach Anders Eriksen. Jason Pietrzykowski, who works for the Oilers, will serve as the team’s new video coach in Edmonton.
Savoie Stays Red Hot
Holloway wasn’t the only Oilers prospect to find the back of the net on Thursday. The University of Denver got off to a slow start inside the NCHC bubble by losing its first three games. However, the ninth-ranked Pioneers are starting to gel as they beat Miami University 5-1 to pick up their second straight victory.
While the team results weren’t ideal, freshman Carter Savoie has gotten his college career off to a tremendous start. He had the game-winning goal, late in the first period, and added an assist in Denver’s victory last night.
Savoie now has six goals and eight points in his first five NCAA games. The Oilers selected the 18-year-old left wing in the fourth round (100th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Based on the early returns from playing for one of the top college programs in the United States, Edmonton may have themselves some real value with this pick.