In lieu of photos from the Division 1 and 2 tournaments on here, you'll be seeing a lot of Marcel Noebels (front) and Tobias Rieder (back) on this site this week. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It's no secret that Germany is probably too good for the Division 1 level of the IIHF WJCs. This is a team that played well enough last year in Buffalo to stick with the likes of the Czechs and Slovaks, but ultimately fell. With the changes in the format, Germany should spend less time hopping between the Division 1 and elite levels and ultimately stick for longer periods of time at the top level in 8th or 9th place. But before they do that, they'll have to once again prove their mettle against the lesser lights in Division 1. And on Monday, they did that in spectacular fashion.
Oilers prospect Tobias Rieder scored not once, not twice, but four times and added a helper in a blowout of a hapless Austrian team. The Germans are much bigger and more experienced than their southern neighbours, and in the end, way more talented as well. Flyers prospect Marcel Noebels had a more modest showing of a goal and two assists from the team's second line. Slovenia similarly showed no mercy towards the Brits, who are revealing themselves early to be a bit out of their league in this new grouping. Last year's British team relied heavily on goaltending from Ben Bowns, but now that Bowns is 20 the Brits simply look to be pushovers here. Ziga Pesut had a hat trick for Slovenia, while the best British player was likely Liam Chong, who managed five shots on goal in the losing cause. These games were as lopsided as the score would indicate: the winners outshot the losers by an average of 22 shots.
Tuesday's Game: Norway vs. Belarus.
Persistence eventually paid off for both the French and Kazakhs on Monday, as they both outshot their opponents significantly before finally scoring the winners in the final five minutes of the third period. For France, it was Nicolas Ritz with the late heroics, for Kazakhstan, it was the delightfully named Yesmukhanbet Tolepbergen with the winner. Meanwhile, Poland's top line completely dominated the upstart Croats, with a combined 7 goals and 10 assists. Of that, six of the goals and two of the assists belonged to Damian Kapica, a 19 year old who plays his junior hockey in the Czech Republic.
Tuesday's Games: Italy vs. Japan; Croatia vs. France; Kazakhstan vs. Poland.
This tournament was made a lot more interesting by two brilliant goaltending performances forcing the two favourites to have to win via the shootout. Hungary fired 66 shots on Lithuanian goalkeeper Mantas Armalis through 65 minutes, and only managed to beat him once. Six different players had 5 or more shots on goal for Hungary. Armalis plays junior hockey in Sweden, and I guess he's used to a higher level of competition as a result. His play will be key as Lithuania tries to avoid relegation. Similarly, South Korea's Kye Hoon Park made a mere 54 saves before being beaten in the shootout by the host Ukrainians. Ukrainian captain Victor Zakharov had one of the goals, won 2/3 of his faceoffs and fired 7 shots on goal, yet still managed to be a -1 for the night. Such was the frustration level for Ukraine as a whole. Spain, meanwhile, lit up the Dutch for five goals and won handily despite being outshot 33-23.
Tuesday's Games: none.
IIHF U20 Division 2B Tournament in Tallinn, Estonia
There were no games on Monday in Tallinn, but things will resume on Tuesday with a full slate of games. Romania (1st place) will take on Mexico (5th), Belgium (4th) will meet Serbia (2nd), and the host Estonians (3rd) will take on last placed Australia.