2020 IIHF World Junior Championship
The Colorado Avalanche has four prospects competing in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship: Justus Annunen (Finland), Bowen Byram (Canada), Sampo Ranta (Finland) and Danila Zhuravlyov (Russia). The tournament runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Annunen, Colorado's third-round pick in 2018 (No. 64 overall), is the Avs' only goalie prospect in the tournament and will play in his first World Juniors with Finland. In his first full season in Liiga with Karpat, Annunen is 11-0-2 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.26 goals-against average.
Byram, the Avalanche's first-round pick in 2019 (No. 4 overall), will play for Team Canada. Now in his third full season in the WHL, he leads all defensemen on the Vancouver Giants with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists).
Ranta, drafted by the Avs in the third round in 2018 (No. 78 overall), is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota and will join Annunen on Team Finland. Ranta is tied for the school lead with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 18 games after a freshman year in which he tallied 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 36 contests.
Zhuravlyov, the Avalanche's fifth-round pick in 2018 (No. 146 overall), is in his first season in the Kontinental Hockey League and will compete on Team Russia. He has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 30 games so far for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL.
Held this year in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, the 2020 World Juniors include 10 countries split into two groups. After a round-robin format in the preliminary round, there's a three-round playoff.
The four highest-ranked teams from each group in the preliminary round advance to the quarterfinals. The last-place teams from each group plays a best-of-three series, with the loser relegated to Division IA for 2021 and replaced by the winner of the lower level. All other countries keep their top division status for the 2021 tournament.
The Colorado Eagles extended their winning streak to five games and point streak to seven straight after two victories against the Bakersfield Condors in a back-to-back set last weekend
The Eagles won Saturday's game by a 4-1 score, as Logan O'Connor and T.J. Tynan scored in the first 10 minutes to spot Colorado a 2-0 lead in the first period. A.J. Greer added the last goal of the outing.
Kevin Connauton, Shane Bowers, Jayson Megna, Jacob MacDonald, Greer and Tynan added assists in the game, and goaltender Adam Werner saved 37-of-38 shots to bring his record to 10-5-0 on the season. He has a .914 save percentage and 2.78 goals-against average in 2019-20 and has won in his last three starts.
Colorado won 7-5 on Saturday after scoring five times in the third period, including four in the final five minutes. Megna tallied twice in the contest while Dan Renouf, Calle Rosen, Martin Kaut, Greer and O'Connor also found the back of the cage. Erik Condra finished with three assists.
Sheldon Dries (12 goals, eight assists) has 20 points on the campaign and shares the team lead in scoring with Tynan (three goals, 17 assists) and Condra (eight goals, 12 assists). O'Connor has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 21 games in Loveland.
Connauton was named the AHL Player of the Week on Monday after registering three goals and seven assists in the Eagles' previous four games.
Colorado (14-10-2-1) travels to Tucson for a back-to-back against the Roadrunners on Saturday and Sunday before heading to Canada for two straight games against the Manitoba Moose.
Dec. 28 at Tucson Roadrunners
Dec. 29 at Tucson Roadrunners
Jan. 3 at Manitoba Moose
Jan. 4 at Manitoba Moose
Ty Lewis scored the opening goal in the Utah Grizzlies' 4-1 win over the Kansas City Mavericks on Friday and then notched two points (one goal, one assist) in their 3-1 win over the Wichita Thunder on Saturday.
Lewis has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 13 games this year. He also earned an assist on the Grizzlies' lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Tulsa Oilers last Thursday.
Brandon Saigeon recorded an assist in Saturday's win, giving him nine points (four goals, five assists) in 21 games on the year.
Travis Barron played in all three outings for Utah last week and has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 17 contests this season.
The Grizzlies (14-9-5) now return home to play three straight in West Valley City against the Tulsa Oilers on Friday, Saturday and Monday.
Boston College: Boston College returns from nearly a month-long break on Jan. 4 to play Vermont. The Eagles (11-4-0) surged into the hiatus on a nine-game win streak, with the last two coming against Notre Dame. Forward Alex Newhook, who was at Hockey Canada's World Juniors training camp, has 12 points (six goals, six assists) this season, 11 of which have been recorded in the last nine games. Defenseman Drew Helleson has five points (one goal, four assists) during his freshman campaign.
University of Notre Dame: The Irish returns to action on Jan. 3 for the first of two straight games against Western Michigan. Cam Morrison has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists), Nick Leivermann has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and Nate Clurman has five assists. After a six-game skid from Nov. 23 to Dec. 13, Notre Dame (9-7-2) won its last game, 3-0 over Penn State on Dec. 14.
Sampo Ranta (University of Minnesota): Ranta is currently with Team Finland at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. Ranta is tied for the team lead with 11 points (seven goals, four assists)--nine of which have come in the last 11 games--and also leads the squad with 55 shots on goal. The Gophers (5-9-4) won 2-1 in double overtime against Ohio State in their last outing on Dec. 7, breaking a three-game losing streak. Minnesota returns to the ice on Saturday against Bemidji State as the school hosts the Mariucci Classic. The Gophers will play either Minnesota State or St. Cloud State on Sunday.
Denis Smirnov (Penn State University): Penn State returns from over two weeks off for a back-to-back set against Niagara University on Jan. 3-4. This season, Denis Smirnov has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists), tied for fifth-most on the team. The Nittany Lions (13-6-0) split a back-to-back with Notre Dame in their last time out on Dec. 13-14.
Matthew Steinburg (Cornell University): Cornell returns to action for the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas on Jan. 3 against Ohio State. The Big Red will then play Army or Providence the following day. Matthew Steinberg has one assist in nine games played and six shots on goal in his last two appearances. The Big Red (10-1) saw its undefeated season end in it last contest, a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth on Dec. 7.
Tyler Weiss (University of Nebraska Omaha): Nebraska Omaha played a back-to-back set against Arizona State on Saturday and Sunday, and the Mavericks split the two games. Omaha lost 5-4 in the first contest before picking up an 8-4 victory on Sunday. Tyler Weiss had one assist on Saturday before recording a goal and an assist in the rematch the following day. Weiss has 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) this year and has at least one shot on goal in all but two games. Nebraska Omaha (8-8-2) returns to action on Jan. 3-4 with a two-game series at Maine.
Alex Beaucage (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies): The Huskies return after two weeks off for a home-and-home set on Saturday and Sunday against the Val-d'Or Foreurs. Alex Beaucage has 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists) on the campaign, including nine points (seven goals, two assists) in December. Rouyn-Noranda (18-12-3) finishes the calendar year against Blainville-Boisbriand on Tuesday.
Vancouver Giants: The Giants are off until Friday when they return from a nine-day break to play the Victoria Royals. Vancouver (15-15-2) plays the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday before a rematch with the Royals on Wednesday. Bowen Byram, who is currently with Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championship, leads all defensemen on his team with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists). Goaltender Trent Miner is 6-7-1 with a .899 save percentage and a 2.97 goals-against average on the year. He saved 29-of-31 shots in his last appearance on Dec. 17 against Prince George, but his team lost 3-0 the Cougars.
Luka Burzan (Brandon Wheat Kings): The Wheat Kings, like the rest of the WHL, have been off for the holidays. Brandon (15-15-3) plays a home-and-home set against the Winnipeg ICE beginning at home on Friday. The Wheat Kings play the Regina Pats on Monday and close the year Tuesday with a New Year's Eve matchup against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Luka Burzan leads his team with 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists).
Sasha Mutala (Tri-City Americans): Tri-City returns from its break to play the Portland Winterhawks on Friday. The Americans (12-15-4) then play two straight against the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday and Tuesday. Sasha Mutala, who's on a five-game point streak (two goals, four assists), leads the team in scoring with 34 points overall (10 goals, 24 assists).
Shamil Shmakov (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders): The RoughRiders (10-13-1) will look to break a seven-game skid as they return to action this week for a back-to-back set against the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Friday and Saturday. They then face Fargo on New Year's Eve on Tuesday. Goaltender Shamil Shmakov hasn't played since Nov. 28. Shmakov has a 4-3-0 record with a .901 save percentage and a 3.03 goals-against average in seven games this season.
Justus Annunen (Karpat): Justus Annunen is with Finland's World Junior Championship team. He has not dressed in Liiga play since Nov. 26, and he hasn't started since Nov. 23 in a 21-save, 3-1 win over Assat. Annunen owns a 11-0-2 record, .947 save percentage, 1.26 goals-against average, five shutouts and two assists this season. Karpat played one game last week, winning 5-2 over Jukurit. Karpat (22-4-5) plays JYP on Thursday and the Pelicans on Saturday before finishing the 2019 calendar year against KalPa on Monday.
Sergei Boikov (Dynamo Moscow): Sergei Boikov is out with an injury and hasn't played since Nov. 16. He has two goals in nine games this season. Dynamo Moscow beat Severstal 8-1 on Thursday, picked up a 3-1 victory against HC Sochi on Sunday and earned a 3-0 win against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. Dynamo Moscow (24-12-5) plays Barys on Friday and Metallurg Magnitogorsk on Sunday.
Nikolai Kovalenko (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl): Nikolai Kovalenko did not skate in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's 3-2 win over Severstal on Saturday or in its 5-4 shootout win against Jokerit Helsinki last Thursday. He has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 35 games this year, including three assists in his previous two appearances. Lokomotiv (23-16-1) plays Jokerit Helsinki on Thursday, Ak Bars Kazan on Saturday and CSKA Moscow on Monday.
Danila Zhuravlyov (AK Bars Kazan): Zhuravlyov did not play in any games this past week as he's with Team Russia at the 2020 World Juniors. Ak Bars picked up one victory in four games, winning 2-1 against Salavat Yulaev Ufa last Thursday. The team lost 3-0 to Sibir Novosibirsk on Saturday, 4-3 in overtime to Salavat Yulaev on Monday and 2-1 in a shootout to Neftekhimik on Wednesday. Ak Bars Kazan (28-8-4) plays Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on Saturday. Zhuravlyov hasn't played since Dec. 8 and has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 30 games.