Much like the Memorial Cup, the World Junior Club Cup doesn't offer many chances for a team to make an impression. After two games in two days, we already know one of the Finalists for the championship, as Energie Karlovy Vary of the Czech Republic have already clinched Group B with a pair of shutout wins over Mälmo Redhawks (Sweden) and Dinamo-Shinnik (Belarus). They'll close out their group sessions against Canada's Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who were eliminated after a tight 3-2 loss to Mälmo in which they outshot the Swedish club 47-21.
Meanwhile, Group A is still up in the air, and the EJHL All-Stars have surprised the competition with two impressive victories to date over MHL teams. HK Riga was first to face the American team, losing 4-2 despite a late third period surge. The junior club of the KHL's newest entry, Lev Poprad of Slovakia, had a much worse day on the 31st, losing 7-2 to the EJHL team. However, with HK Riga beating CSKA, and CSKA beating the Slovaks, we have some uncertainty heading into the final day. CSKA can still make the finals with a regulation win over the EJHL team on Friday, combined with Riga not winning in regulation. Riga would need a huge goal differential to stand a chance of making the final, while the EJHL team just needs to push their game to OT for a final berth on Saturday.
The MHL website has a lot of the game stats, but since they're all in Russian and using the Cryllic alphabet, it's taking a bit of time for me to compile them. I'll try and get more on the individual performances, but for now here are some team stats:
One wonders if they'll allow a league All-Star team again in this pre-season tournament, especially since a lot of the clubs have players participating in senior men's camps right now, especially CSKA and Mälmo. Fort McMurray really dominated the territorial play against Mälmo but found themselves unable to tie the game up, and that's why the shots stats are so lopsided there. In all, the tournament looks to be pretty competitive, with Energie Karlovy Vary trapping their way to the Final while the EJHL team strikes early and don't give up their lead.
The action resumes on Friday in the early morning for the North American audience (5 AM EST), but the Final on Saturday is somewhat reasonable at 8 AM EST.