The Detroit Red Wings have five prospects at the IIHF world junior championship in Calgary and Edmonton — and all of them have done nothing but impress.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek, a fifth-round pick in 2010, made the most headlines and further solidified his status as the organization’s top goaltending prospect by almost leading the underdog Czech Republic to the semifinals.
The 19-year-old Ottawa 67’s stopper turned in a 52-save round-robin gem in a 5-2 win over the U.S. that helped eliminate the Americans from medal contention. He then made 43 saves in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to Russia in the quarterfinals.
His athleticism and quickness were all on full display throughout the tournament, as were his competitiveness and enthusiasm. His emphatic celebrations in games against Canada and the U.S. drew the ire of his opponents
“Petr obviously stood on his head,” said Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Fischer — also the Red Wings’ director of player development — to Sportsnet.ca. “He’s (an) extremely passionate guy, I think a lot of people noticed over the last few games. It trickles down all the way through the team, so it’s nice to have that energy on the ice. He’s got a lot of passion so I don’t have a problem with him doing whatever he does when he’s stopping pucks.”
Heading into Wednesday’s fifth-place game against Slovakia, Mrazek has a 2-3-1 record with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen, a fourth-round pick in 2010, is one of the tournament’s top scorers with six goals and four assists in five games. He scored four consecutive third-period goals in a 10-1 round-robin rout of Denmark and his lethal shot made him a dangerous offensive threat on a line with Minnesota Wild first-rounder Mikael Granlund.
Despite Pulkkinen’s strong play, it was Sweden — with the steady play of Red Wings defense prospect Mattias Backman — that beat Finland 3-2 in a shootout in the semifinals to earn a spot in Thursday’s gold-medal game. The 6-foot-2 Backman, drafted 146th overall in last June’s draft, has put himself on the map with his silky-smooth play, recording three assists and a plus-5 in five games while being relied upon in last-minute situations.
Finally, although not in the spotlight, Tomas Jurco and Marek Tvrdon quietly had good tournaments for Slovakia. Jurco had a team-high eight points on a goal and seven assists in five games while Tvrdon led the team with three goals and an assist.
One player not at the WJC is defenseman Alexei Marchenko. He was expected to be Russia’s captain but has been out since October with a knee injury.
NOTES: Center Brent Raedeke (Grand Rapids, AHL) is heating up. He has three goals and three assists in his past six contests and nine points in his past 15 games. The defensive ace had just one point in his first 14 games … Defenseman Xavier Ouellet (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) is on fire lately, having piled up five goals and an assist in his past three games and 11 points in his past nine contests. His 12 goals n 35 games are second in the QMJHL to Buffalo Sabres free-agent signing Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, who has 20 goals in 36 games … Center Joakim Andersson has appeared in three NHL games since his first career recall from AHL Grand Rapids. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com Andersson is “probably going to be a third- or fourth-line center” but that he needs “more pace in his game.”
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||31||7||5||12||7||0||71|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||26||4||4||8||27||-1||30|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||30||9||21||30||10||-5||85|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||32||9||18||27||24||-3||104|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||29||8||9||17||16||+1||59|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||3||3||6||14||-6||44|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||23||3||2||5||60||-1||30|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||3||0||0||0||9||-1||5|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||23||3||3||6||17||-14||42|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||32||5||13||18||14||-3||71|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||23||1||3||4||6||+1||38|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||29||5||5||10||18||0||38|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||26||5||12||17||43||+2||59|
|Piche, Sebastien||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||17||0||2||2||13||-5||14|
|Pyett, Logan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||32||1||14||15||20||+2||89|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||11||2||1||3||2||-1||17|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||3||1||1||2||2||0||1|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||JR||WHL||39||4||15||19||52||-19||N/A|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||JR||OHL||37||10||16||26||39||+17||N/A|
|Jurco, Tomas||Saint John||JR||QMJHL||30||21||24||45||25||+28||125|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||COL||NCAA||22||4||13||17||2||+6||35|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||COL||NCAA||16||1||3||4||18||-2||26|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||COL||NCAA||19||5||13||18||14||-1||64|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||4||0||0||0||2||-3||2|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||12||1||6||1||1||3.42||.877|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||8||5||3||0||0||3.03||.901|