There are some bad omens for Canada’s junior program right now

World junior heartbreak  (Photo credit should read Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Canada was eliminated from medal contention at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in Slovakia. Russia and Sweden will move on from the pool, and hey; those are both great national programs. But Canada has won the under-18 event (which also has games in the Czech Republic) 18 of the past 20 years. Yes, only twice have they lost the gold medal game in that span.

Now, call it a one-off if you will, but ignore the trends at your own peril: Canada’s junior dominance continues to slide.

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Kristian Vesalainen is Finland’s power forward threat for the 2017 draft

Kristian Vesalainen  (Photo by Tommy Holl/Frolunda Gothenburg/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

It’s impossible to watch Kristian Vesalainen right now and not get excited about where he’ll be once the world juniors roll around almost five months from now. Already 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Vesalainen has a gold medal under his belt from Finland’s world under-18s victory in North Dakota this past season and has already played against men in the SHL.

Yes, one of Finland’s best prospects is playing in Sweden.

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The top 40 players at the National Junior Evaluation Camp

Joel Eriksson-Ek (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There was a lot of international talent in Plymouth, Michigan last week. Team USA hosted its summer National Junior Evaluation Camp (NJEC) in the town, with the dual purpose of seeing what the Americans have for the upcoming world juniors and facing great competition from Canada, Sweden and Finland.

In the end, Canada lost all three of its games, while the other nations went 2-1. Is that a concern for the Canucks, who host the world juniors in Toronto and Montreal this winter? Not so much. As coach Dominique Ducharme pointed out, it was August. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and his charges hadn’t seen meaningful competition in months.

On the other hand, what do you say about players who had great performances in Michigan? Surely that says something about those teens’ preparation.

Here’s a look at the top 40 players that I saw in Michigan – with a caveat. I saw each team play twice and in the case of Canada and the U.S., sometimes I saw a player once or not at all. So I’m not going to rank those kids, as it wouldn’t be fair. That means players such as Pierre-Luc Dubois, Travis Konecny and Anthony Beauvillier aren’t eligible.

Others, such as Carl Grundstrom and Lucas Carlsson, got injured either before I got there or within the first few shifts.

So if you don’t see your favorite prospect here, that could be the reason. Or, they just didn’t distinguish themselves to me. Doesn’t mean they’re a bust, doesn’t mean I hate them. With that out of the way, let’s get to the list:

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Canada packs scoring punch entering Ivan Hlinka tourney

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
Maxime Comtois  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Canada begins its quest for a ninth straight gold medal – and 13th in 14 years – at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament when play begins Monday with a game against co-host Slovakia.

For the Canadians to continue their dominance at the under-18 summertime event, they’re naturally going to need to score goals. Good thing they’re equipped in that department.

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IIHF will request names of Russian players who were part of Olympic doping scandal

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Sport)

The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released a report on the doping allegations made against Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics which stated more than a dozen hockey players’ doping tests were tampered with during the course of the tournament. Now the IIHF is seeking to identify and punish those players.

Russian outlet TASS reported Monday that IIHF president Rene Fasel is requesting the names of the 14 players whose samples were potentially altered and hopes to levy suspensions to those who would have tested positive.

“We will (ask for the names),” Fasel told TASS. “At least if we find out they tested positive we will of course suspend them.” Read more

Hired Guns: South Korea has loaded up on Canadian hockey talent ahead of hosting the 2018 Olympics

The Hockey News
Matt Dalton, Eric Reagan, Mike Testwuide, and Brock Radunske. (Jo Turner)


It’s Saturday evening in the Seoul suburb of Anyang, and life is proceeding apace. Couples are canoodling in the cafes, groups of older men are getting drunk at the barbecue restaurants and families are glued to that evening’s episode of I Have a Lover on Korean television.

Yet at Anyang Ice Arena, Goyang High1 have just upset Anyang Halla 4-2, finishing with a shorthanded empty-netter, six seconds before the end of the game. It’s High1’s first win in 10 games and Anyang’s first home loss in 18. It wasn’t supposed to happen his way, and the home fans are incandescent, screaming, booing and slagging off that cross-cultural punching bag, the referee.

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