Russia won this important U18 tournament for the first time since 1995. With goalkeeper Yaroslav Askarov, the Russians also had the best goalie of the tournament.
For the NHL Draft 2020, the same players were described as the big top prospots before this tournament. The Canadians even talked about one of the best vintages in a long time. The „maple leaves“ also showed that impressively in the preliminary round. With victories such as 6-0 against Finland, an 8-0 against Switzerland and the 7-1 against the Czech Republic, the Canadians scored 21 goals.
In this phase of the tournament, the top scorer of the Canadians, Cole Perfetti, but already showed their qualities. The tournament Top scorer scored five times in three games. On the side of the Russians, the tournament was a little different. In Piestany, there was a clear 6-2 victory against the USA and co-favorite Sweden was defeated in the best game of the pre-round 3-0. As the Russians were already established as group winners, there was only a narrow 2-1 win in overtime to the end against Slovakia.
The Finns increased in the course of the tournament, especially Aatu Räty and Brat Lambert noticed, and only in the semi-final against Sweden k.o. went. The 16-year-old Räty showed again with two goals and two assists, that he will probably be in the NHL Draft 2021 very far to be found. With Brat Lambert, the Finns also had the second youngest player in this tournament. But he was not only allowed to get a taste of the tournament. The 15-year-old with a Finnish mother and a Canadian dad made it to three goals, making him the 10th top scorer in the tournament.
The Swedes also had two top players of the year, Emil Andrae and Zion Nybeck. The show was stolen from them by Daniel Ljungman. The 17-year-old center ended up with four goals and an assist to be the absolute top scorer of the „TreKronor“ team.
In the two semi-finals, but especially presented two players. For the Canadians it was Cole Perfetti and for the Russians Alexander Pashin. In the duel against Sweden Perfetti equaled twice for his team and in the penalty shootout he exploited a total of three of his four attempts, and thus ensured the final. The Russians took over this part Alexander Pashin. The 17-year-old shot quite well into the final with a hat-trick of his team against Finland.
Alexander Pashin continued in the Fianle against Canada where he had stopped the previous evening against Finland. He scored against Canada for the results to 1-0 and 3-1 for the Russians. Pashin, who will probably rise a bit higher in the draft ranking on the tournament victory: „It was a very close game, It was a long way to our title, which we set ourselves as a goal, we knew they have a good team, But we focused on our game and achieved our goal.“ Perfetti went out of hand in this game and so Pashin moved with the Canadians at the end even in the scorer’s list.
Only the decisive attempt in the shootout against Sweden made sure that Cole Perfetti became the sole top scorer of this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Nevertheless, Cole Perfetti was not satisfied after the final defeat: „It’s a terrible feeling to lose so. I never want that feeling again. Losing is a good tool to work harder on yourself. I never want to experience such a defeat.“
An actor must not be forgotten here, Russia goalkeeper Yaroslav Askarov. He was in Edmonton last year when they lost to Canadians in the semifinals. This year he was one of the fathers of the victory this year. With much rest and an unspectacular game, he gave his team, throughout the tournament, the necessary support. In the final, he fended off 35 of 37 shots of the Canadians at his goal. In the end, he allowed only 1.25 goals per game and finished the tournament with a catch rate of 95.97%. This meant that he was the best goalie of the tournament, ahead of Tristan Lennox, who missed the final as a back up for injury.
Yaroslav Askarov on the Hlinka Gretzky Cup victory: „I do not know what happened, I’m full of emotions! They threw everything in the end. They tried everything possible and impossible but the guys gave me great support. That’s why we got the title at the end.“ With this achievement, the Russian further confirms that he is repeatedly counted as a possible 1st Round Draft in the coming NHL Draft 2020. He would be the first successor of his compatriot Ilya Samsonov, who was called as # 22 Pick 2015 in the first round. The last NHL Round 1 goalie this year was the American Spencer Knight, who this year as # 13 of the Florida Panthers was called.