Maple Leafs prospects made an impact on the very first day of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Tournament.
Rinat Valiev – Russia
One of few Russians to be known to the North American audience, Valiev made his presence felt in Russia's 3-2 shootout win over Denmark. The Kootenay Ice defenceman registered an assist while logging a lot of minutes and spending time on Russia’s top power-play unit. Valiev displayed a physical aspect on the back end, while showing his touch offensively. Valiev finished with one assist, two penalty minutes and three shots on goal. Expect Valiev to have a greater impact as the tournament progresses.
William Nylander – Sweden
The Maple Leafs top pick in the 2014 NHL Draft felt right at home at Air Canada Centre. His lone goal in the second period was met with chants of “Go Leafs Go.” The goal was the game winner as Sweden disposed of the Czech Republic 5-2. “That was amazing” Nylander told reporters of hearing the announcement of his goal. “It’s a great feeling when you are sitting there on the bench.” Nylander took a head shot from Czech defenceman David Nemecek. Nylander didn’t miss any action and appeared to be ok, taking his very next scheduled shift. Nemecek was given a 10 minute misconduct for the action.
Frederik Gauthier - Canada
The lone Leafs player on Team Canada this year was held off the board in the 8-0 thumping of Slovakia. Gauthier won 66% of his draws and recorded one shot in the win.
Sweden look to go 2-0 for the tournament as they take on Denmark on Saturday. Puck drop at 1pm on TSN1, TSN3 and TSN4. Canada is back in action Saturday against Germany with game time at 8pm on TSN1, TSN3 and TSN4.