The 2013 IIHF World Junior Hockey Tournament is underway in Ufa, Russia. This tournament offers a much needed respite for hockey fans suffering from the daily disappointments of the never-ending saga that is the NHL Lockout. These next few days hockey fans can forget the lockout and focus their attention on the sport they know and love. The heart-wrenching ups and downs of the NHL and NHLPA’s negotiations will be replaced with the heart-wrenching ups and downs of tournament play. In this competition skill in the negotiating room is inconsequential, the question that matters is, what can you do on the ice? A welcome change for hockey fans and more than likely this question will be answered in thrilling fashion.
As in the past few years, the Florida Panthers will be well represented in the tournament. This year’s class of Panthers prospects participating in the tournament is five players deep. 2011 second and third round picks Rocco Grimaldi and Vincent Trochek, respectively, are both on the USA squad while Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers first round pick in the 2011 draft (third overall) will be playing for Canada. In addition to these three, two lesser known prospects will also be involved in the tournament. Yaroslov Kosov, 5th round 124th overall 2011 draft, is a part of the Russian team while Rasmus Bengtsson, 2nd round 59th overall 2011 draft, is playing for Sweeden.
The tournament is broken down into a round robin style preliminary round consisting of two groups with each team playing every team in their respective group. Group A consists of Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Finland and Latvia. Group B consists of Canada, Russia, USA, Slovakia and Germany. The top team in each group advances directly to the semifinals while the next two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals. (Source Wiki)
Jonathan Huberdeau has performed the best so far out of the Panthers prospects tallying a goal and two assists in Canada’s 9-3 drubbing of Germany and also adding one assist in Canada’s win over Slovakia. Rocco Grimaldi who had one assist in USA’s 8-0 win over Germany is the only other Panther prospect to record any points so far. (Source TSN)
As it stands right now, Sweden leads Group A while Canada leads Group B. Team USA is sitting in third in Group B with one win and one loss. The loss came early today against Russia whose goalkeeper Andrei Makarov stopped 41 out of the 42 shots he faced leading Russia to a 2-1 victory. (Source TSN)
With many more games to be played in the upcoming days, we will be sure to provide updates on the tournament and all the Panthers prospects involved.