World Juniors Schedule: Five Red Wings Will Participate.
The 2015 World Juniors get underway at 1 P.M. (EST) this afternoon with the first game between Russia and Denmark. This year Canada is hosting the Championship Tournament which means the games will be played during waking hours for most of us here in the United States. The Red Wings have five players who made their country's final rosters so Wings fans will have rooting interests on four teams in the tournament. Dylan Larkin will be representing the best team of all, team USA. Joe Hicketts, a great story of dedication, perseverance, hard work, and the little guy overcoming big odds, will be playing for team Canada. Julius Vahatalo will be playing for team Finland, and team Sweden will have two Wings representatives with both Axel Holmstrom and Christoffer Ehn making the team.
The Red Wings Delegates
Team U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!
The Wings highest draft pick since 1991 has had a great season so far at the University of Michigan. He's centering the 2nd line and has played in every game so far this season. For a freshman that shows a lot of ability and a lot of trust from his coach. As if there weren't good enough, he's also 2nd on the team in points and has a very impressive faceoff percentage. Coach Berensen has praised Larkin's worth ethic, skill, two-way game, and says Larkin is frequently on the ice during "open" ice time where players can choose to go and get in extra skills practice. Larkin has been fantastic in his freshman year for Michigan and is well deserving to represent team USA.
Joe Hicketts has been a great story this year. He was a camp invitee to the Red Wings Development Camp back in July after going undrafted. He was a standout among the defensemen, so the Wings invited him back to the Prospect Tournament in September where he was, again, one of the best defensemen. The Wings signed him to a contract and Hicketts has continued to improve and impress and has earned a lot of attention and praise from even some national Canadian media. Hicketts is the 2nd leading point scorer on his team, is tied for team lead +/-, leads all WHL defensemen in points, and is 17th overall in WHL scoring. Those stats would be good for any player but are even more impressive for a defenseman. TSN had a great interview with Joe and his reaction to being chosen for team Canada and how he's continuing to prove the doubters wrong. The continuing saga of Joe Hicketts is one of my favorite story lines this season and he continues to make headlines for all the right reasons. It would be hard for me not to root for this kid. Congrats kid, you've earned this.
Vahatalo started out the season on TPS Liiga but after 20 games without a point, he was demoted to the TPS Junior 20 team where he has 9 points in 8 games. On the J20 team he's 11th in points, despite playing fewer than half as many games as the point scorers ahead of him. I get the impression that he was just in over his head on TPS, and given that he's only 19 it's not a knock for him to play on the under 20 team. Being selected to Finland's WJ roster as they try to defend their 2014 Championship title is a testament to the fact that his lack of scoring while on TPS isn't an indication of his abilities.
Axel started the season on the Skelleftea Junior 20 team in the SuperElit league, but after 3 games with 4 assists, he was promoted to the big boy (my words, not theirs) Skelleftea team in the SHL. Holmstrom is centering the 4th line and is 8th on his team in points and 6th in goals.
Ehn is the Captain of the Frolunda Junior 20 team in the SuperElit league and has been top line center most of the season. He was loaned to the big boy Frolunda team in the SHL for 4 games and didn't register a point. He's 5th on his team in scoring. It's interesting that both of the Wings Sweden representatives started out on J20 teams and were promoted to SHL teams.
Here's the full tournament schedule. The Countries represented by the Wings are in red, for your scheduling pleasure. TSN will be broadcasting all games, and the NHL Netrork will air all USA games.
|Preliminary||B||Fri Dec 26||Russia||Denmark||1:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Fri Dec 26||United States||Finland||3:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Fri Dec 26||Czech Republic||Sweden||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Fri Dec 26||Slovakia||Canada||8:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Sat Dec 27||Sweden||Denmark||1:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Sat Dec 27||Finland||Slovakia||4:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Sat Dec 27||Switzerland||Czech Republic||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Sat Dec 27||Canada||Germany||8:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Sun Dec 28||Russia||Switzerland||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Sun Dec 28||Germany||United States||8:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Mon Dec 29||Denmark||Czech Republic||1:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Mon Dec 29||Slovakia||United States||4:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Mon Dec 29||Russia||Sweden||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Mon Dec 29||Canada||Finland||8:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Tue Dec 30||Denmark||Switzerland||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Tue Dec 30||Germany||Slovakia||8:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Wed Dec 31||Sweden||Switzerland||1:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Wed Dec 31||United States||Canada||4:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||B||Wed Dec 31||Czech Republic||Russia||5:00 PM EST|
|Preliminary||A||Wed Dec 31||Finland||Germany||8:00 PM EST|
|Relegation||-||Fri Jan 2||5B||5A||11:00 AM EST|
|Quarter-Final||-||Fri Jan 2||TBD||TBD||1:00 PM EST|
|Quarter-Final||-||Fri Jan 2||TBD||TBD||3:00 PM EST|
|Quarter-Final||-||Fri Jan 2||TBD||TBD||5:00 PM EST|
|Quarter-Final||-||Fri Jan 2||TBD||TBD||8:00 PM EST|
|Relegation||-||Sat Jan 3||5A||5B||7:00 PM EST|
|Semifinal||-||Sun Jan 4||TBD||TBD||4:00 PM EST|
|Semifinal||-||Sun Jan 4||TBD||TBD||8:00 PM EST|
|Relegation (if necessary)||-||Mon Jan 5||5B||5A||11:00 AM EST|
|Bronze Medal||-||Mon Jan 5||TBD||TBD||4:00 PM EST|
|Gold Medal||-||Mon Jan 5||TBD||TBD||8:00 PM EST|
While I hope every other country eats USA dust, I'll be rooting for the Wings prospects to kick butt (except ours, of course).
Who are you rooting for?
GO TEAM U-S-A!!!