A Rocky Performance At The World Juniors

Banff prospects get mixed reviews for their WJC performances.
by Ed Whalen | January 9, 2021, 4:07 AM ET

13 Rockies prospects were named to their respective countries WJC teams, 12 participated. The 1 player who didn’t was Kirby Dach after he suffered a broken wrist in Canada’s 1 pre tournament game. Let’s take a look at how each of the other prospects performed. I have ordered the players by their performances from top to bottom.


Anton Lundell, C, FIN - Lundell was easily Banff’s top performer at the WJC. The Finland captain led his team in scoring and finished 3rd in tournament scoring. But that was only half the story. He did this while playing an unselfish game, making sure he wasn’t leaving the zone early, shadowing the opponents top player and stealing countless pucks. He was strong on the wall, strong in front of his own net and strong in front of the opposing net. He won a staggering nearly 80% of his faceoffs. The team cannot wait to get him into their lineup.


Jakob Pelletier, LW, CAN - Canada’s tenacious winger worked his way up through the tournament to end up playing on the team’s top line. He finished the tournament with 7 points, tied for 4th on a team of all stars. While his offence was very good, that’s not what people will remember from Pelletier at this tournament. Jakob was an absolute pest on the ice and except for a needless hooking penalty in the gold medal game did it without putting his team short. However, that is a play he would like to forget. He would never give up on a puck and created many turnovers in all three zones. The Rockies are hoping they have the next Brad Marchand in the making (without the licking of course).


Spencer Knight, G, US - Spencer had a tough first game of the tournament giving up 4 goals to Russia in just 32 minutes. Dustin Wolf took over admirably and after playing a game and a half of shutout hockey, The US went back to Knight and he didn’t look back only allowing 2 goals in the next 5 games including a shutout of the powerhouse Canadians in the gold medal game which he was named player of the game in. Knight’s calm demeanor shined through while under attack early against Canada. 


Ryan Johnson, D, US - Ryan is a player the Rockies have been very high on for a long time, but has not been a darling of the masses. Why? He hasn’t produced many points from the backend and is not a conventional stats darling (yet). THe stats that he does shine through are the underlying numbers. Johnson is extremely good at exiting his zone with control of the puck. He is a quick, elusive skater that can also move the puck extremely efficiently though short quick passes or long stretch passes. That’s exactly what he did and did it against the opponents top lines. Johnson transitioned the play back into the opponent's end repeatedly throughout the tournament and even added 4 points, good for 3rd on the WJC champions backend.


Vasily Podkolzin, RW, RUS - This tournament was supposed to prove that Podkolzin is a beast. It did not. The Russian captain did not have the showing he or his country wanted. Why? This was the worst group of Russian defenders that I have seen at this tournament. They had immense difficulty completing passes, they repeatedly gave the puck up in their own end and did not box out or play their man. Thus the puck was rarely moving past their blueline and up to the forwards. Yes it’s up to the forwards to help out and Vasili gave every effort to do that, which resulted in him being either behind the play when he was able to take the puck back and move it up to his linemates, or him trying to do it all himself going end to end which the opposing teams were set for. The frustration was evident in him by the end of the tournament and it affected his play at the end of his last two games. This has not soured the Rockies on him at all. In fact the leadership that he showed to still make all the small plays and continuously be defensively responsible to the end has the Rockies excited to bring him to North America.


Bobby Brink, RW, US - Brink was asked to change his game for a role that is foreign to him at this tournament and he did it remarkably well. Normally cast in the role of playmaker, Brink was asked to play a forechecking, penalty killing role with the US squad. He did what was asked and showed another side to his game. He was not being run over like at last year's tournament. In fact he was the one laying out some of the hits this time. All the while Brink still showed his playmaking ability scoring 6 points, good for 6th on the gold medal team.


Yaroslav Askarov, G, RUS - This was obviously not Askarov’s best showing and once again at the WJC. However Banff doesn’t think it was as bad as some make it out to be. Yes he lost his stick a couple of times and that led to 2 goals against. He was beaten glove side a few times. He also made a number of saves in the tournament he had no business making and had a D core in front of him that couldn’t move the puck out of their own end against the stronger teams and could not contain players around the net. The crazy part? Askarov was the youngest starting goalie in the tournament again this year and will be back again next year to prove all the naysayers wrong.


Henri Nikkanen, C, FIN - Nikannen was Finland’s 3rd center and as a big man performed well in his role of driving the net and causing havoc in front of opposing goalies. He didn’t light it up, but did tie for 3 on Finland with 2 goals.


Patrick Moynihan, C US - Moynihan was a buzzsaw for the US and played a 4th line checking role for the US. He took his role to heart and made life miserable for the competition. 


Jan Mysak, C/LW, CZE - The Czech captain had a number of chances in the tournament, but only finished with 3 points in the 5 games. Most of his shots ended up in the crest of the opposing goalies sweater. At only 18 years old, he will have a chance to come back for a 3rd WJC next year.


Michal Teply, RW, CZE - A teammate of Mysak, Teply finished with only 2 points and no goals. He was to be counted on by the team to produce and was not able to. A disappointing tournament for him.


Yegor Spiridonov, C/LW, RUS - Yegor was the only Rockies player to not show up on the scoresheet in the tournament. Like a lot of the Russian players this year, he was mostly unnoticeable this tournament. 


This will probably be Banff’s largest contingent they will send to a WJC with only 5 draft picks last year and 5 at the moment for the upcoming draft. The Rockies will have to hope for quality over quantity for the foreseeable future at the tournament. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.


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