The 2016 IIHF World Championship began on Friday in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. The Colorado Avalanche has several prospects—and seven players overall—representing their respective countries at the tournament, which runs through May 22.
JT Compher, who recently signed an entry-level contract with the Avalanche, is making his first appearance at the World Championship with the United States. Compher is skating on the third line alongside his former Michigan linemate Tyler Motte and USA captain Matt Hendricks. The U.S. fell 5-1 to Canada on Friday but defeated Belarus 6-3 on Saturday. On Monday, the United States dropped a 3-2 decision to Finland. The United States faces France on Thursday, Hungary on Friday and Germany on Sunday.
Mikko Rantanen, who captained Team Finland to a gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, is with his county at the tournament. Rantanen has yet to play in a game, but he is practicing with the team. Finland routed Belarus 6-2 on Friday and took a 5-1 win over Germany on Sunday. The Finns defeated the U.S. 3-2 on Monday for their third win in as many games. Finland plays Hungary on Wednesday, France on Saturday and Slovakia on Sunday.
Anton Lindholm was selected to play for Team Sweden, which defeated Latvia 2-1 on Friday and was victorious, 5-2, over Denmark on Sunday. On Monday, the Swedes were doubled up by the Czechs, 4-2. Lindholm has been practicing with the team, but he hasn't made his tournament debut yet. Sweden is up against Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Norway on Saturday and Switzerland on Sunday.
Reto Berra is minding the net for Switzerland for the fifth-straight time at Worlds. The Swiss fell 3-2 to Kazakhstan in a shootout on Saturday and dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Norway on Sunday. Berra was in goal for Saturday’s skills competition loss and made 24 saves on 27 shots. Switzerland faces Denmark on Tuesday, Latvia on Wednesday, Russia on Saturday and Sweden on Sunday.
Fort Wayne Komets
The Fort Wayne Komets swept the Utah Grizzlies in four games in the Western Conference Semifinals to advance to the conference finals. Fort Wayne defeated Utah 3-1 on Wednesday and won 5-3 in Game 4 on Friday.
Troy Bourke had an assist on Wednesday, and Trevor Cheek had a two-point outing (one goal and one assist) on Friday. In 11 games, Bourke now has 11 points (five goals and six assists) and Cheek has collected eight points (three goals and five assists). Defensemen Gabriel Beaupre and Mason Geertsen also skated in both outings.
The Komets await the winner of the Allen Americans and Missouri Mavericks in the other Western Conference semifinal series. The potentially series-deciding sixth game is Tuesday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies: The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have a 3-0 series lead over the Shawinigan Cataractes and have a chance to claim the President Cup with a win on Tuesday. Rouyn-Noranda doubled up Shawinigan 4-2 on Wednesday in Game 1, with three of its goals coming in the third period. Friday’s game proved challenging for both teams, when a busted pipe in the arena led to the suspension of the contest due to ice problems. At the point of stoppage after the first period, the Huskies had a 2-1 lead. The match resumed on Saturday at 4 p.m., starting from the beginning of the second stanza, and saw Rouyn-Noranda win 4-1. The Huskies then hit the road and defeated the Cataractes 2-1 on Sunday. Game 4 is now slated for Tuesday with a fifth game set for Thursday, if necessary.
|AJ Greer |
AJ Greer scored Rouyn-Noranda’s first goal of the contest on Wednesday, and Julien Nantel assisted on the Huskies’ lone power-play marker. Greer continued his scoring streak in Friday's first period and again in Saturday's second period, lighting the lamp in back-to-back stanza but on two different days. He also added a marker on Sunday. Nantel skated in both weekend contests but did not find the scoresheet. JC Beaudin appeared in the lineup for only Wednesday’s match.
Greer now has 19 points (11 goals and eight assists) in 18 playoff outings and has at least a point in his last three appearances. Assistant captain Nantel has eight points (four goals and four assists) in 18 games. Beaudin has played in 16 postseason contests and has 19 points (seven goals and 12 assists).
Sergei Boikov (Drummondville Voltigeurs): Sergei Boikov totaled 26 points (six goals and 20 assists) in 52 regular-season outings in his third year with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The defenseman skated in four postseason games and did not record any points. Drummondville was the last team to qualify for the playoffs and fell in four games to the top-ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the opening round. In addition to playing for Drummondville, Boikov represented Russia at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland. He skated in seven contests and helped his native country earn a silver medal in the tournament. The blueliner also signed an amateur tryout contract with the Rampage on April 4 and skated in the AHL club’s final four games.
Nicolas Meloche (Gatineau Olympiques): Nicolas Meloche had 33 points in 53 contests with two different teams. He began the season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar where he skated in 25 games and recorded 16 points (eight goals and eight assists). Meloche completed his campaign with 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in 28 outings with the Gatineau Olympiques. The Olympiques swept the Quebec Remparts in four contests in the first round but fell to Moncton in the quarterfinals. Meloche had a marker and two helpers in nine postseason games.
Alexis Pepin (Val-d’Or Foreurs): Alexis Pepin collected 47 points (23 goals and 24 assists) in 62 regular-season outings and finished the postseason with two goals and one helper in six games. The Val-d’Or Foreurs fell in six contests to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the opening round of the playoffs.
San Antonio Rampage
The San Antonio Rampage finished its 2015-16 season in seventh place in the Pacific Division with a 33-35-8-0 (74 points) record and a .487 win percentage. The Rampage, which began the season winning five of its first six games, collected points in 10 straight contests and was the last AHL team to lose in regulation. The club also finished the season on a high note, winning nine of its last 11 outings and tying a franchise record with seven straight home wins from March 20 to April 9.
Rantanen led San Antonio in goals (24), assists (36), points (60) and plus/minus rating (plus-20). In his first year playing in North America, he recorded at least one point in all but 10 of his 52 AHL games. Rantanen finished the season ranked ninth overall in league scoring and was voted the AHL’s Outstanding Rookie for the 2015-16 season, sharing the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award with Providence’s Austin Czarnik. In addition, he was named to the AHL All-Star Classic, AHL All-Rookie Team and became the first player in Rampage history to be named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team.
Maxim Noreau finished second on the team in points with 45 (12 goals and 33 assists) and tied for fourth in league scoring among defensemen. He also led the team with eight power-play markers in 64 contests.
Nick Magyar (Kitchener Rangers): Nick Magyar collected 20 points (11 goals and nine assists) in 49 games with the Kitchener Rangers this season. The Rangers finished their campaign in fourth place in the Western Conference and fell to the London Knights in the second round of the playoffs. Magyar found the back of the net once in nine postseason outings.
Gustav Olhaver (Swift Current Broncos): Gustav Olhaver finished his first season in North America with eight points (three goals and five assists) in 51 outings. The forward started the year with the Seattle Thunderbirds, recording five points (two goals and three assists) in 31 games before being claimed on waivers by the Swift Current Broncos in late December. He skated in 20 games with the Broncos, registering one goal and two helpers. Swift Current finished the regular season in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Will Butcher (University of Denver): Will Butcher recorded 32 points (nine goals and 23 assists) in 39 outings this year, ranking the junior third in the nation in defensemen scoring. He was named a 2016 Second Team All-American (West) by the American Hockey Coaches Association and earned First Team All-NCHC honors in March. The University of Denver Pioneers lost to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the Frozen Four to end their season. The trip to the National Semifinals was DU’s first since 2005 and the school’s 14th overall, giving it the sixth most in NCAA history.
JT Compher (University of Michigan): JT Compher had a career year, collecting 63 points (16 goals and 47 assists) in 38 games, more than doubling his previous high of 31 points in 2013-14. The forward finished second in scoring in the Big Ten and first in assists (47), assists per game (1.24), power-play assists (19), points (24) and plus/minus rating (+35). The University of Michigan ended its season with a loss to the University of North Dakota in the NCAA Regional Final. On April 25, Compher signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Avalanche and will forego his senior season eligibility. He is competing for Team USA at the World Championship.
Ben Storm (St. Cloud State): NCHC champion St. Cloud State’s season ended with a loss in overtime to Ferris State on March 26 in the semifinals of the NCAA West Regional. Ben Storm registered seven points (two goals and five assists) in 29 outings this season.
Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea AIK, SHL): Anton Lindholm played in 30 regular-season games for Skelleftea AIK and totaled four assists. The club advanced to the SHL Final but fell in five contests to Frolunda HC. The defenseman skated in 16 playoff outings, including all five games of the Final, and picked up one helper. Lindholm is with Sweden at the World Championship.
Wilhelm Westlund (Djurgarden, SHL): Wilhelm Westlund skated in 42 contests with HC Vita Hasten in the Allsvenskan league before playing in 11 SHL games with Djurgarden. He had 14 regular-season points (three goals and 11 assists), all of which came with Vita Hasten. Djurgarden lost to Frolunda HC in the SHL Quarterfinals to end its season. Westlund played in three of the team’s postseason matches but did not get on the scoresheet.
Sami Aittokallio (Karpat Oulu): Sami Aittokallio minded the net for 33 games with Karpat Oulu, finishing the regular season with a record of 18-4-9, a 1.97 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He appeared in three playoff contests and posted a 1.61 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage before Karpat fell to Tappara in seven games in the semifinals. Aittokallio also played in 13 Champions Hockey League games, where he posted a 1.09 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage.
Maximilian Pajpach (Tappara U20): Goaltender Maximilian Pajpach played in 22 games this year, finishing with a .874 save percentage and 3.77 goals-against average. Tappara lost to KalPa in the Liiga Junior-A wild-card playoff series to conclude its season.
Andrei Mironov (Dynamo Moscow): In his fourth campaign with Dynamo Moscow, defenseman Andrei Mironov registered 13 points (three goals and 10 assists) in 40 games, finishing the year with 21 penalty minutes. Dynamo swept HC Sochi in the Western Conference Quarterfinals but fell in six contests to SKA Saint Petersburg in the semifinals. Mironov had a goal and an assist in nine postseason outings.
Denis Parshin (Avangard Omsk): Denis Parshin registered 31 points (10 goals and 21 assists) in 57 regular-season games. The forward also recorded four points (two goals and two assists) in eight playoff outings. Avangard Omsk finished its schedule in first place in the East with 106 points. The club swept Neftekhimik in four contests in the quarterfinals but lost in Game 7 of the semifinals to Salavat Yulaev.
Luke Walker (Klagenfurt AC): Luke Walker skated in 36 games, totaling 11 points (three goals and eight assists). He found the back of the net once in three playoff contests. Klagenfurt AC ended the year in eighth place with 68 points. The club faced EC Red Bull Salzburg in the quarterfinals, pushing the series to seven games before falling 5-2 in that final outing.