The 2022 World Juniors is still happening, but is nearing its end. On Wednesday, the four games of the quarterfinals took place and it featured a grand total of six Minnesota Wild prospects. Some had decent performances, and some just lost control completely and skidded their way to an early tournament exit.
Let’s just see how they did.
Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden vs. Latvia
The Wild’s top goaltending prospect had a fairly quiet game against the lowly Latvians. It was a Cinderella story for the other side, making it out of the group stage in this tournament for the first time ever. What an achievement, and for that you get to face Sweden and the brick wall of Jesper.
They managed to get just 13 shots on goal, Wallstedt saved 12 of them to earn the 2-1 win for his team and walked away from the game like he just had a quick light jog. Although he did manage to save the game from complete failure due to Sweden’s lack of offense, by making a last-minute sequence of saves to steady the lead while Latvia had the extra skater.
Now the real test of the tournament begins as Sweden will face their archrival Finland on Friday.
Liam Ohgren, Sweden vs. Latvia
There isn’t much to talk about a goaltender’s performance, so you can get by with looking for some highlights and reading some other recaps. For a skater, like Wild 2022 first-rounder and Swedish third-liner Liam Ohgren, there’s more minute details you want to concern yourself with. Because I was busy with my “day job” — whatever that is — I was unable to watch this afternoon quarterfinals match. So, I kindly asked Maddie Campbell of Broad Street Hockey to jot down a couple notes because I knew that she would be keeping a close eye on Philadelphia Flyers prospect Emil Andrae during the game.
Well, I guess I might as well just share her entire notes of the game.
- Penciled in for a somewhat limited role right from the hop (third line with Lekkerimaki and Stakkestad)
- pp2, netfront
- Some nice work on retrievals in the corners
- speed working well enough to be the first to the puck, showing good strength/body positioning to keep opponent from stealing the puck away
- a little inconsistent there though, had a couple of instances of losing a 1v1 battle along the boards or just flat out bobbling the puck. So a mixed bag, in the end.
- I don’t know if it is more or I’m just noticing it more BUT I do feel like I’m seeing him get pushed off more pucks/commit more turnovers as that game goes on.
- Passing really clean (edit: uh… in flashes)
- particularly liked a mid-second period look from his line, quick transition (Ohgren led the entry) and then fed Lekkerimaki, trailing, from just above the goal line for a very good chance in the low slot
- some of his teammates had trouble receiving them at times, but overall I liked his first pass, when he jumped in to kick start a rush
- Didn’t see him much in the second period???
- Back on his regular line in the third and immediately took an elbow to the face
- that did draw a penalty though, reviewed and assessed as a major
- Vibe check: a pretty unremarkable game for Sweden, even if they did get the win, the team as a whole looked a bit flat in stretches and really struggled to generate a ton offensively, and Ohgren didn’t super stand out in the midst of all of that. I think he had a fine game, just fine. Wondering what exactly had him spending a lot of the second period on the bench, whether the coach saw something he didn’t like or if he’s dinged up, but that was something.
- Stat report: 0 G, 0 A, 1 SOG, 14:47 TOI (17 shifts)
Yeah, that was far beyond anything I expected so all I wanted to do was share the entire thing, since I was unfortunately not able to catch the little grindy left-winger in action. So, yeah, there you go.
Ryan O’Rourke, Canada vs. Switzerland
This tournament has provided a significant disappointment to those wanting to see more of Carson Lambos and Ryan O’Rourke in important roles for Team Canada. They have both been thrown down the lineup into depth roles — Lambos being scratched for every game but the first one, and O’Rourke playing as the seventh defenseman. There is simply not too much to say about this game.
Luckily, O’Rourke did manage get a secondary assist on a Nathan Gaucher goal in the second period, so his point total looks a little bit better. But he did manage to only play 11 shifts through 8:27 TOI for the entire game. Not a whole lot to really think about here. They’ll be facing a gutsy Czech team, but will still probably score piles and piles of goals.
Brock Faber, United States vs. Czechia
Welp. This was just a bit of a letdown for the Americans. They’re not in the tournament anymore, due to a 4-2 victory for Czechia in the quarterfinals and that means the end of watching Brock Faber and Jack Peart representing their country in Edmonton. Let’s just get on with talking about their individual performances.
The moment it was evident that Luke Hughes was working through an injury, it was on Faber to create most of the offense and that is just not really his game. As the sole offensive contributor on the blue line, Faber had to change his strategy slightly and make those final passes to the forwards. He played clean enough, and did an adequate job — earning a plus-1 rating during the 4-2 loss — but just wasn’t really that dynamic level that other players can be. Sometimes being a simple and solid player doesn’t particularly work for you. The kid from Maple Grove, Minn. finished the tournament with two points in five games.
Jack Peart, United States vs. Czechia
Peart played significantly less compared to his Wild blueliner counterpart, and got a little bit caught by some Czech offense. He was a minus-2 on the game and was on the ice for just 12 minutes and five seconds — just not a whole lot going on there.
He finished the tournament with two points in four games, so certainly not the worst considering he was on the bottom pairing, but maybe he’ll just take this first opportunity to play on the international stage and blossom during this season for St. Cloud State. Considering his growth in the last couple of years, this was a massive step for Peart and he didn’t look awful playing alongside the absolute top of the top American players.
David Spacek, United States vs. Czechia
Now we get to talk about a winner.
David Spacek didn’t earn a point against the United States, but he did play a whole heck of a lot. During the 23:23 TOI he was out there against some strong competition, Spacek played calm and collected, didn’t worry too much during the normal play, and was available to make a last-second reaction stop against a very good shooter in Matthew Coronato while hemmed in his own zone.
Unbelievable defensive play by David Spacek to save a goal as Matt Coronato had a wide open net pic.twitter.com/SX2uc7LSaH— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) August 18, 2022
It was a big game for Spacek just with the little things he is able to do. His skating was on display as not a concern for the projectability of the player and he clearly can be in all situations and the coach doesn’t have to worry about him. His time-on-ice ranked higher than any other player on his team and only Luke Hughes was out there more during this game. He is clearly relied upon in certain scenarios and that should play perfectly into the hand of his future with the Wild.
Not too sure about the long-term, but there are certainly positives to take from Spacek’s tournament so far.
The semifinals will take place on Friday, with Team Canada (and the couple of minutes Ryan O’Rourke will play for them) facing Spacek and Czechia at 3:00 p.m., and then the all-important Team Sweden playing their rivals in Finland at 7:00 p.m.