Three things stuck out about this game, and they clearly fit into...
Team USA Exits Early from World Juniors
(Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The United States Junior Hockey Team faced a disappointing exit from the IIHF World Junior Championship this year, ending their hopes of a repeat gold medal performance. The US initially had a 3-2 lead at the end of the first; however the Russian team managed to score twice in the second and once in the third, giving them the 5-3 win.
While the early exit is unexpected and discouraging, their overall performance in the tournament was not bad. The team as a whole got to experience working together as a unit – something that is not always seen in international hockey tournaments where star scoring power often overlooks the importance of a well-developed core. The improvement in style comes as a result of roster changes f last year’s team, which had a number of high scoring players, such as Seth Jones and Alex Galchenyuk.
Good news for the Caps: prospects Riley Barber, Connor Carrick, and Thomas DiPauli played well in the tournament. Most notably, Barber captained this year’s team with 4 goals, the most of anyone on the team. He also tallied 2 assists, making him the second-highest in overall points, just behind Nicolas Kerdiles who had 7 points.
Barber was a 6th round 2012 draft pick for Washington, currently in his sophomore season for the Miami RedHawks, where he leads his team with 11 goals and 28 points in just 18 games.
On the other side of the prospect pool, Sweden beat Slovakia 6-0, with Andre Burakowsky and Christian Djoos both gracing the score sheet for their team. The game’s highest scorer was former Capitals prospect, Filip Forsberg, who is second in scoring in the tournament so far. Forsberg was drafted by Washington in the first round of the 2012 draft and was thought to be their most promising prospect. However, he was later traded in one of GM George McPhee’s famously surprising deals – Forsberg was sent to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.
While it’s unfortunate that the US team didn’t get the opportunity to medal in this year’s tournament, the American Capitals prospects stood out as a bright spot in Washington’s future. With their international and local experience, we can expect great things to come in DC hockey.
Lia Brannan contributed to this report.