With the holidays behind us, the 2012 IIHF World Junior (Under-20) Championship is in full swing.
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Boston’s first two choices in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft wasted little time in making their presence felt for their respective countries during the preliminary round, which began the day after Christmas in Calgary and Edmonton.
Blueliner Dougie Hamilton
opened the tournament with a goal and an assist in Canada’s 8-1 win over Finland. In Canada’s four victories, Hamilton demonstrated some offensive flair, finishing with three points (good for third on team scoring by defensemen). His squad heads into the medal round as the Group B top seed.Alexander Khokhlachev
netted three goals in four contests as Russia went 3-0-1 in the preliminary round of Group A, finishing second behind Sweden. Boston’s second-round pick scored his team’s first goal of the tourney against Switzerland on a nice individual effort after he picked off an errant pass. Khokhlachev skated on an “all-OHL” line with Sarnia’s Nail Yakupov (a top 2012 draft hopeful) and Winnipeg prospect Ivan Telegin, who plays for the Barrie Colts.
The holiday break is over in the Canadian Hockey League, and Bruins prospects have returned to their OHL clubs. Right wing Jared Knight
scored his 17th goal of the season (in 29 games) for London, while winger Anthony Camara
was traded to Barrie from Saginaw on January 2. The scrappy 2011 third-rounder has seven goals, 19 points and 76 penalty minutes (in 35 contests) on the year.
Center Ryan Spooner
is still convalescing from a several week layoff dealing with a bout of mononucleosis, but is optimistic he will make a return to action with the Kingston Frontenacs soon.Bear Cub snapshot: Rob O’Gara
The B’s didn’t go far at the end of the fifth round last June when they tabbed Milton Academy Mustangs captain Rob O’Gara with the 151st overall selection.
Talent analysis: The 6-foot-3, 185-pound rangy defenseman has a long, smooth stride and advanced footwork for someone who only turned 18 on the day he reported to Boston’s development camp last July 6. A smart, instinctive player, O’Gara describes himself as a “steady, puck-moving defenseman who likes to jump up into the play, gets the puck up the ice and can run the power play.”
He also places a premium on defense, not going as far to say he’s a “stay at home” type, but O’Gara does place a priority on playing responsibly in his own end. O’Gara is raw, in only his second year of prep hockey in the Independent School League (ISL) and still has a lot of filling out to do.
Outlook: The Yale University recruit (O’Gara arrives in New Haven next fall) is a long-term project player in the Bruins’ system. He can look forward to several more development camps to continue to refine his skills and maximize his hockey experiences without the kind of pressure and scrutiny that come with early-round draft picks. The Long Island native has intriguing potential as a solid two-way defender. O’Gara can make the effective breakout pass, and may have the mobility, size and strength to be an effective minute-munching regular who is steady in his own end.
In the next edition, we’ll wrap up the World Junior competition and cross the Atlantic to take a look at how Boston’s European prospects are faring.Kirk Luedeke covers the Boston Bruins and NHL prospects for the New England Hockey Journal.