The 2015 IIHF World Championship concluded last weekend in Prague as Team Canada defeated Team Russia in the Gold Medal Game. Several members of the Arizona Coyotes participated in this year’s tournament and they represented their home countries well. John Moore, Connor Murphy, and Mark Arcobello all brought home a bronze medal for Team USA, while Tobias Rieder got the opportunity to play for Team Germany. The two Coyotes that stood out the most were goaltender Mike Smith of Team Canada and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson of Team Sweden.
Canada dominated in the IIHF World Championship as they grabbed the gold medal with a perfect 10-0 record, outscoring their opposition 66-15. Smith played in eight of those contests and put together a .930 save percentage and a 1.50 GAA, while also notching shutouts in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. By comparison, Smith had a .904 save percentage, a 3.16 GAA, and zero shutouts in 62 games with the Coyotes in 2014-15. While the tournament provides a smaller sample size than an NHL season, it shows that Smith has continued to get his game back on track. After a horrific start to the season with the Coyotes, Smith rebounded in the second half and carried that momentum into this tournament. Arizona fans hope this will be a sign of better things to come for Smith in the 2015-16 NHL season.
The NHL’s leading goal scorer for defensemen filled up the scoresheet in Prague. Ekman-Larsson led all players in scoring after the preliminary round, notching 11 points (two goals and nine assists) in the first seven games of the tournament.Ekman-Larsson would finish tied for third overall in scoring with 12 points, but him and his Swedish teammates left Prague empty-handed as they were eliminated by the Russians in the quarterfinal round. Ekman-Larsson will have to wait until his next international appearance to add to his medal collection.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.