*(Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the New England Hockey Journal)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Live from Buffalo-- 2011 World Junior Championships: Day 1

The 2011 World Junior Championships opened today in Buffalo, N.Y. at the HSBC Arena, and we had three games in a full docket.

The Swiss and Germans faced off first, with the game starting at 12:30.

The game featured four draft eligibles on the radar: Tobias Rieder and Marcel Noebels ('92) for Germany and Sven Bartschi and Gregory Hofmann on Team Switerzland.

Hofmann had the edge in play throughout the game-- the 6-0, 170-pounder is a late '92 who plays for Ambri of the Swiss top pro league. He's a good skater who accelerates to speed quickly and kept his feet moving throughout the game. Hoffman played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm throughout and had a nice primary assist on the game's 1st goal when he was deep in the Germany zone after blowing a tire. He sucked the German D toward him and then found a wide-open Inti Pestoni, who skated in, cut left and deposited a backhander behind Philipp Grubauer (who would be chased from the nets for Germany after allowing 4 goals on 9 shots).

Bartschi showed off his nice wheels and hands at times, but didn't get a whole lot going in this game. He spent a lot of time on the perimeter, and although noticeable with his skills, he didn't accomplish much.

Same was true for Rieder, whose ice time was reduced significantly in the first because of Germany's penalty troubles (they allowed three power play goals against). Like Bartschi, he didn't do a whole lot, but there were a few plays where you could see the ability. On one play down behind the goal line near the Swiss net, he put on a nice display of puckhandling and skating in a tight space to throw the defender off, but it didn't amount to anything.

Noebels, who went undrafted last summer and has the reputation as being a soft perimeter player, was voted Germany's player of the game after a goal and assist in the loss. His goal was scored after he drove hard to the net and put in a rebound. He's an interesting guy to watch going forward perhaps as a late-round look from someone. He played with some passion and drive today after the Germans looked cooked in the 1st period. Nice comeback, even if it fell short.

In the Canada-Russia game, only Sean Couturier was the 2011 prospect playing. He was fine-- didn't do a lot to stand out, but you can see he has the potential to be a real player down the road. His feet are a little heavy, but he's a fine skater once he gets going in a straight line. As he matures and adds more power to his lower body, I don't think the skating will be an issue at the next level. With most younger players, ice time tends to be tough to come by in this tournament, so it will be interesting to see how Canada employs him going forward.

In USA-Finland, the Finns had Joel Armia and Miikka Salomaki from the 1993-birth year group in the game. As you know from reading the blog, Team USA's 2011-eligible contingent: (Dean Wormer voice) Zero point zero.

Armia has nice size and a nice, long skating stride. His initial burst and acceleration is a little rough, but he can cover a lot of ground with that 6-4 frame. He possesses quick hands and a pretty good stick. He had a tough time getting much going in terms of the quality scoring chances tonight (I sense a recurring theme for the day), but you can see why he's generating some buzz this season.

All in all, the games today were pretty sloppy, "ragged" (as one scout told me) affairs-- to be expected for the first contests of the tournament with many of these teams still trying to develop the chemistry that could help take them all the way.

From a purely 2011 draft watching perspective, we'll hope that some of these guys eligible will get a little more time and space to show what they're capable of. For the most part, today was a pretty underwhelming affair as far as the draft prospects go.

I had an uneventful trip here, and let's face it-- anytime you can get off the plane, go straight to the rink and be watching high-level hockey within an hour or so, it's a pretty good day. Tomorrow's schedule promises to be lighter, so looking forward to getting caught up on everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment