In search of gold
MONTREAL - Canadiens fans are privileged once again this holiday season as four of the team’s top prospects will represent their countries at the 2007 World Junior Hockey Championship. After watching Kyle Chipchura and Guillaume Latendresse help Canada claim the gold medal last year in Vancouver, Carey Price, Juarj Mikus, Sergei Kostitsyn and Pavel Valentenko will be looking to do the same this year in Sweden. Price and Mikus, in Group A, will cross paths on Dec. 31 when Canada faces off with Slovakia, while Kostitsyn and Valentenko will meet in a matchup between Belarus and Russia on Dec. 29 in the Group B preliminaries.
# 1 Carey Price (CANADA)
Price, the Canadiens’ first pick in the 2005 draft, will look to be a force in the tournament, as has been the tradition of Canadian junior goalies. Over the last 16 years, the tournament’s best goaltender has donned the maple leaf on his chest. In his fourth and currently final season with the Tri-City Americans, Price was 12-7 with a 2.75 goals-against average with a .904 save percentage before heading off to Sweden.
|Dec. 26||Sweden||W 2-0||Shutout, 31 saves|
|Dec. 27||United States||W 6-3||32 saves on 35 shots|
|Dec. 29||Germany||W 3-1||18 saves on 19 shots|
|Dec. 31||Slovakia||W 3-0||Shutout, 32 saves|
|Jan. 3 (Semi-final)||United States||W 2-1 SO||34 saves on 35 shots|
|Jan. 5 (Final)||Russia||W 4-2||25 saves on 27 shots|
|# 23 Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus)
The bar is high for the 200th overall selection in the 2005 NHL draft. Last year, Kostitsyn was named the MVP of Pool B, earning Belarus a spot in Pool A. In 31 games thus far with the London Knights, the 2005-06 OHL rookie of the year has recorded 17 goals and 50 points.
1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots on goal, +/- 0
3 shots on goal, -1
1 assist, 1 shot on goal, -1
9 shots on goal, -1
2 assists, 5 shots on goal, +1
2 shots on goal, -4
# 12 Juraj Mikus (Slovakia)
In his first season with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Mikus, a fourth round selection in 2005, has adapted well to the North American style of hockey. In 25 games, the 19-year-old Slovakian is averaging just over a point per game with 14 goals and 23 assists. Mikus is participating in his second World Junior Championship, having seen minimal action last year in Vancouver. He’s not the only Juraj Mikus on the Slovakian squad, as he shares his moniker with one of his defensemen.
1 goal, 3 shots on goal, -2
1 goal, 2 shots on goal, +/- 0
1 goal, 3 shots on goal, +/- 0
7 shots on goal, +/-0
2 goals, 1 assist, 2 shots on goal, +1
# 4 Pavel Valentenko (Russia)
The 19-year-old defenseman will look to bring stability and size to the Russian blue line. In his debut season in the Russian Superleague, playing for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, Valentenko has one assist in 33 games.
1 shot on goal, +2
1 assist, 3 shots on goal, +/- 0
1 goal, 3 shots on goal, +1
1 shot on goal, +/- 0
2 shots on goal, +/-0
1 goal, 3 shots on goal, +/-0