Three of the four Buffalo Sabres prospects participating at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship remain in medal contention following Monday’s completion of the four-game round robin schedule.
Mikhail Grigorenko (2012, first round) produced three assists but was blanked in key games versus the USA and Canada as Russia skated to a second-place finish in Group B. Centering Russia’s second offensive unit, Grigorenko showed soft passing hands by hooking up with former Quebec Remparts teammate Nikita Kucherov (TBL) on nearly identical scoring plays against Slovakia and Germany. The talented 18-year old, who has added 18 shots and a 53 percent success rate at the faceoff circle, will continue searching for his first goal of the tournament Wednesday when Russia battles Switzerland.
Team Russia goaltender Andrey Makarov sparkled with 41 saves Friday to guide the hosts to a 2-1 victory over the USA. The reigning MVP of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, Makarov made several point-blank stops, including one for the highlight reels in the game’s second minute en route to earning Russia’s player of the game honors. Makarov returned to the net Monday, making 44 saves in a 4-1 loss to Canada. Through two tourney starts, the athletic backstop has amassed a 1-1 record with a 2.02 GAA and .955 save%.
Jake McCabe (2012, second round) continued his exceptional play Monday, netting a goal and an assist as Team USA advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 9-3 win over Slovakia. The American captain cut to the net and a buried a pretty backhand off a backdoor feed from Jim Vesey (NSH) to give USA a 2-1 lead just over five minutes into the first period. A native of Eau Claire, Wis., McCabe has used his mobility and active stick in all-situations to emerge as a consistent shutdown performer while splitting time with Connor Murphy (PHX) and Seth Jones (2013 draft eligible) on the American blueline. USA continues their medal quest Wednesday versus the Czech Republic.
Joel Armia (2011, first round) tied the team lead with five points (2+3) in preliminary action, but Finland failed to advance to the quarterfinal round. The 6-foot-3 winger was at his best with the man advantage, using the time and space to set-up a pair of goals in Finland’s 5-1 opening day triumph over Latvia, and later striking twice on the power play in in Monday’s 7-4 loss to Sweden. Getting to overtime versus the Swedes would have earned the Finns third place in their group, but they instead head to relegation beginning with Wednesday’s matchup versus Germany.
Wed., January 2 - Quarterfinals
USA vs. Czech Republic (4 a.m. ET)
Russia vs. Switzerland (8 a.m. ET)
Thurs., January 3 - Semifinals
Canada vs. USA/Czech Republic (4 a.m. ET)
Sweden vs. Russia/Switzerland (8 a.m. ET)