Hilsner og glade feriedage blå jakke blæsere (“Greetings and Happy Holidays Blue Jackets fans” in Danish…I hope) I’m back again with a week in review that is heavy on the international flavor.
Starting off in Springfield as we usually do, the Falcons finished up their six game road trip and finished off the first half of the season. The Falcons went 2-0 last week which gives them a seven game point streak. Starting off on Friday in Providence, the Falcons picked up a shootout win over the Baby Bruins. All the offense for this game would happen in the second. After the Bruins took a 2-0 lead, Andrew Joudrey scored his 4th of the season to make it 2-1. Frederic St. Denis then tied the game with his sixth of the season with just over a minute remaining in the period. The resulting shootout took seven rounds – Sean Collins scored in the third round and Joudrey notched the final goal to clinch the win. Jeremy Smith made 20 saves for his 12th win of the season.
Friday night it was off to Hartford for a game against the reborn Wolfpack. Jonathan Marchessault continued his hot streak of late when he scored his eighth of the season and his fourth in his last six games. Akim Aliu scored midway through the second to tie it up. Like Friday, the game went to a shootout with Andrew Joudrey and Jonathan Marchessault scoring in rounds one and three to clinch it. Jeremy Smith had 27 saves along with four more in the shootout.
Entering the Christmas break the Falcons own the best record in the AHL going 20-4-1-2. The Falcons are using a scoring by committee approach with 13 players already having over 10 points including five defenseman including Tim Erixon.
Gianluca Curcuruto-Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Season Stats 26GP 3-9-12 -14 6PIM
Gianluca and the Whalers went 1-1 last week with Gianluca held scoreless in a 4-1 loss to Belleville. He did pick up an assist in a shootout win over Oshawa. Midway through the third period off a draw, Gianluca passed the puck to Matt Mistele who fired a shot from the wall that was tipped in front to tie it. The Whalers then went on to score in the first round of the shootout to win it. The Whalers are now off until their game in Comerica Park against London.
Nick Moutrey-Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Season Stats 35GP 9-12-21 +1 40PIM
The Spirit went 0-1 last week with the one game being a defense optional affair that resulted in a 11-6 loss to Windsor. Nick picked up his fourth multi-point game of the season. Nick scored his ninth of the season to make it 8-4 and later picked up an assist on Brandon Prophet’s first of the season late in the third to make it 10-5. Nick and the boys are now off until a back to back with Windsor with the second game in Comerica Park. In off-ice antics, Nick and three of his teammates got into the Christmas spirit by getting their picture taken with Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Dillon Heatherington-Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Season Stats 38GP 3-24-27 +13 37PIM
Dillon and the Broncos have the longest break of all the CHL prospects having played their last game on the 17h and being off until the 27th. In their only game last week, Dillon picked up a goal and an assist in a 6-3 win. Dillon has already matched his career high in points from last season while setting a new high in assists. In the second period with the game tied at two, Heatherington faked a slap shot, passed the puck to Bobby Zinkan who sent a cross-rink pass to Glenn Gawdin for his fifth of the season. With a little over two and a half minutes remaining, Dillon scored his first goal since November second when the puck bounced off a Blazers stick and Dillon pinched and was able to fire a blast to make it 6-3 Broncos.
Quickly an injury/transaction update. Jackets goalie prospect Joonas Korpisalo will miss the World Juniors due to being injured as the team was being scouted to develop the final roster. It was announced that Joonas will be loaned to Ilves – another team in Finland. Joonas’ red and yellow goalie gear will make for an interesting look with the green and gold wearing Lynxes, but it sounds like it may be just for the month of January if I read the article translations right. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep better track of his stats but with how the stats out of Finland has been this year I’m not getting my hopes up.
Now to international competition. We’ll start off in Sanok, Poland where the World Junior Championship Division 1 Group A is taking place. This tournament is for the opportunity to move up to the World Junior Championships next year in Canada. The Jackets had one prospect playing in the tournament – 2013 third round pick Oliver Bjorkstrand dressed for his native Denmark. Oliver served as an alternate captain in all five games scoring at least a point in each matchup. Monday, the Danes faced the host nation Poland and Oliver picked up an assist on Kristoffer Lauridsen’s first of the tournament. Oliver was stopped on a penalty shot in the second period after a Polish defender threw his stick. Denmark went on to win the game 4-2.
Up next was Belarus in what was one of only two 1 goal games in the entire tournament. The Danes were able to pick up a 5-4 victory. Oliver opened the scoring 4:42 into the game and it became a feisty affair overall with 53 penalty minutes being handed out. As for Oliver, he got into a scuffle and earned a coincidental minor for roughing.
The Danes next game was against Latvia who had shutout their previous opponents by a combined score of 18-0. Oliver earned an assist on the 192:22 shutout streak snapping goal in the first period when he scored an empty net goal as time expired. With that win, Denmark clinched a spot in next year’s World Junior Championships no matter what happened in their game against Slovenia.
Nonetheless, the Danes were looking to seal the deal and the Slovenia match ended in a 4-2 victory. Oliver notched his fourth of the tournament late in the third period. Oliver led the Danes in goal scoring with four tying with Mathias Asperup, and tying for fifth in tournament overall scoring with three other players. Oliver was named the tournament’s Top Forward by the Directorate. The IIHF spoke to Oliver and some of his teammates after the tournament, Oliver is eligible to return next year.
Now to players I have very minimal reports about. Markus Soberg and the Polar Bears played an exhibition against Swedish club Farjestads earning a 4-3 overtime loss with Markus scoring a goal. Marko Dano played in two exhibition games where Marko picked up multiple points in both. First against his old junior club Dukla Trencin, in the 8-3 win Dano would have two goals and an assist. Up next against Piestany Marko would have two assists in a 6-2 victory.
As for the World Juniors that begin on Boxing Day, the Jackets had four prospects taking part in pre-tournament action. Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson suited up in a game against Finland with neither picking up a point (not a shock really with both playing on the fourth line). Kerby got in some trouble when he checked a Finn from behind and earned 12 minutes in penalties, here’s Bob McKenzie talking about it/Canada’s discipline. Here’s a postgame interview with Kerby from after the game with Finland. He was pretty hard on himself in his self-evaluation even though I think the issue was more related to Dumba not looking before he clears the puck. Kerby and Josh were held scoreless in a 3-0 loss to Sweden. After the loss, Canada made their final cuts with Kerby and Josh appearing to make the final roster but nothing is set yet as rosters don’t need to be submitted until December 25th.
As for the host Swedes, Oscar Dansk and Alexander Wennberg were the stars of a 4-2 victory over Team USA. In the 4-2 victory Alexander played on Sweden’s top line with two of his Frolunda teammates – Sebastian Collberg and Andreas Johnson. In the win, Alexander had a goal and three assists – scoring with only 21 seconds remaining in the first period. Oscar made 36 saves in the victory.
On Sunday the boys suited up for a game against Canada. Oscar was given a night off so the Swedes could look at Marcus Hogberg. In the win, Alexander picked up an assist on Andreas Johnson’s goal when he would work from Gretzky’s office and find Johnson in front to make it 2-0. Alexander served as the Swede’s captain for the two games but I’m not sure if this will continue with two high level NHL prospects joining the team. Carolina has loaned Elias Lindholm and Nashville has sent Filip Forsberg, but according to source Uffe Bodin, Alexander has taken a leadership role with the team so we will see if the letter stays.
There you have it folks as for next week, I’ll have World Junior game updates with the tournament getting started along with the CHL getting back underway. If you’d like to watch the World Juniors, NHL Network is picking up all of the games in Group A (Canada and USA’s group) meaning you’ll get to see Kerby, Josh and Marko Dano play. I’ll say this – if you want to know why the CBJ selected Marko Dano 27th overall watch a Slovakia World Junior game this is hopefully how he’ll play in the NHL/AHL rather than the less than 10 minutes night he gets in the KHL.
Happy Holidays, everyone!