WJC evaluation camp ended last night with the Swedes and Russians playing their thrilling shootout game. Calgary had three of their prospects go to Sherbrooke to play exhibition games against other country and of course Miikka Kiprusoff went to Lake Placid for Finland!
Morgan Klimchuk and Sam Bennett (both first round picks), were invited for Canada and Rushan Rafikov for Russia who has shown he's not a no-name seventh round pick. Game-by-game breakdown for all the six games, last one I couldn't get a lot of info on as the Hockey Canada site didn't have audio or final stats like the others.
Monday, August 4th
Rushan Rafikov plays his first game of the tournament against the Czechs in what turned out to be completed lopsided as Russia got a shutout. Rafikov was able to pick up a helper on Barbashev's late goal in the second that put the Russians up 3-0.
Rafikov wasn't too flashy, but he played well given his ice-time. He was also able to get a little bit of ice time with the big guns from the Russian squad, like Barbashev, Zykov, and Buchnevich, but other than that it was a fairly quiet day.
3 Stars: Ivan Barbashev, Ilya Sorokin, Sergei Tolchinsky
Tuesday, August 5th
Big day for Canada as they too were able to blow out Czech Republic in a lopsided game. On the downside, not a big day for Sam Bennett as he was kept off the score sheet and did not stand out too much during the game.
The good news however, is that he was getting little time on the ice and was really effective when it came to faceoffs. Bennett looked a little lost out on the ice, but the good part is that he was just sticking to the basics and didn't necessarily play a bad game. All in all, great day for Canada, not so much for Sam Bennett.
3 Stars: Anthony Duclair, Haydn Fleury, Curtis Lazar
Wednesday, August 6th
Absolutely electric game by Team Canada. Four goals in the second period after the first was enough to get them their first win against the Russians, but even more impressive was the performance of Morgan Klimchuk.
He started the game on the third line with with Brendan Perlini and Jérémy Gregoire, but went on a rampage that got him into the top six. Klimchuk was awarded ice time with guys like Connor McDavid, Bo Horvat (who he set up for a goal), and Robby Fabbri, all of whom had a great game as well.
Really looking forward to see him play in Adirondak, should be thrilling to his offensive game blossom. Look for him to make some noise when he goes pro and maybe push for a roster spot on the Flames.
3 Stars: Connor McDavid, Nick Ritchie, Valentin Zykov
Thursday, August 7th
Another win for Canada, despite their quiet start to the game they were able to score three in the second, along with a couple by Lazar in the third to complete his natural hat trick and get them the win. Score is somewhat misleading for this game however, yes it was a three goal win but it was pretty tight for the most part.
Thankfully, this was the game that Russia woke up the dangler in Bennett. He was literally everywhere in the offensive zone and full of energy every shift he was on, only problem was his defensive awareness during the game.
He had a few bad turnovers in the neutral zone which resulted in him getting benched for about five minutes. Other than that, it was a great night for Bennett, getting a goal and an assist in the second. Skill's there for the youngster, just needs to polish up his defense and get stronger.
3 Stars: Curtis Lazar, Sam Bennett, Haydn Fleury
Friday, August 8th
Similar to the last game Canada played against the Russians, three goal win for Czechs, but the game was actually pretty close up until halfway through the third. Morgan Klimchuk left the game after the first period and did not come back. Couldn't catch the first period, so I didn't get to see why he left. The story of the game was when Fabbri took what might be an illegal hit and had to leave the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. After that it just became a complete shit-show.
It started the shift right after Fabbri went off the ice, when Sam Bennett (who had another solid game) and teammate Max Domi, went on a complete rampage on the ice. A total for 57 PIM for Canada just after the hit on Fabbri, with Sam Bennett, Max Domi, and Nick Ritchie all getting game misconducts. To summarize, everyone forgot the Czechs were up 5-2 and just tried to get revenge on the other guys.
Aside from that, McDavid scored a highlight real goal and Bennett was a real fierce competitor for Canada. Czech Republic goalie Miroslav Svoboda also had a pretty good outing along with forwards David Pastrnak and Marek Banacek.
3 Stars: David Pastrnak, Jakub Vrana, Connor McDavid
Saturday, August 9th
Sweden 4 Russia 5 (SO) 3-2 for Russia
Missed a pretty big chunk of this game, I saw up to where it was 2-0 for Sweden I believe and then started again when it was 4-2 Sweden. It didn't really help that the Hockey Canada site didn't show any stats or show the period-by-period scoring and shot totals. Along with the video quality and the fact that the audio wasn't working I was unable to figure out if Rafikov got any points or not. He was on the ice for one of Russia's goals, but I'm sure he didn't get an assist on that.
Once again Rafikov was quietly making a case to be on the final squad for Russia. I saw him play more and more on the top line and the number 7 on his jersey was in my sight a lot more compared to the first two games he played.
At this point I wouldn't care if he hasn't played in North America, even if he makes the team with a role on the third line he'll be really effective there. Rafikov was on the ice for quite some time in overtime, and played really nicely. He was able to break up odd-man rushes, make smart tape-to-tape passes, and wasn't afraid to get in the dirty areas.
3 Stars: ???
Well, that does it for the evaluation camp in 2014. Hopefully we'll get to Bennett, Klimchuk and Rafikov play again in December and January. I can't really see a reason as to why they shouldn't play though considering each of them were solid in the games they played in.
Unless something happens and Bennett can't play, he is really the only lock to make the team in my opinion. Rafikov is solid but he still needs to prove he can be more relied on and hopefully get a bigger role. As for Klimchuk, he'll probably be a bubble player going into the tournament like Hunter Shinkaruk and Anthony Mantha were last year.
That's it for now, thank you for taking the time to read this hefty article and make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments. Maybe even who you thought the three stars were for the last game in case you know how both sides played?