LAUSANNE – The 2020 Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland took the stage in Minor Hockey this week, as the hockey world got a glimpse of the future of hockey, with many of these players being considered as top prospects for the 2022 and 2023 NHL Drafts, but more importantly, the top prospects for the CHL Draft were on display.
With six nations competing for the gold medal, here’s how the event shaped up:
Right from the get-go, Russia was dominant in the Youth Olympics, outscoring their opponents by a margin of 29-3, including a 6-2 victory in the opener against Canada, a 10-1 win against Finland in the semis, and a more than convincing 4-0 defeat of the Americans in the gold medal game to win the tournament.
Without a doubt, it was Matvei Michkov who was the consensus “Player of the Tournament”.
Matvei Michkov gives Russia the early lead in the Youth Olympics Gold Medal Game. The talent this kid has is shocking.
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) January 22, 2020
For most of the time he was on the ice, it looked as if he was a man playing amongst boys, finishing the tournament with an incredible nine goals and five assists in just four games. Following this impressive sample of games, Michkov is now considered as a projected top-5 pick for the 2023 NHL Draft.
Also sharing the spotlight with Michkov were the performances of Ivan Miroshnichenko and goaltender Sergei Ivanov.
While only facing 50 shots in the entire tournament, Ivanov displayed impressive poise between the pipes, and would always find a way to bail out his team whenever Russia would have trouble in their own zone.
On the other hand, Miroshnichenko played excellent alongside Michkov, constantly finding his teammate to deliver quality scoring chances, and would also finish the tournament with six goals and six assists in his four games in Lausanne.
A Bronze Medal Coming Back Home
Following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to their next-door neighbours in Team USA, Canada was able to bounce-back with a 4-2 victory against Finland to secure the bronze medal in Lausanne.
Although the attention may have been entered towards the projected No. 1 overall pick in this upcoming OHL Priority Selection in Adam Fantilli, and Winnipeg Ice forward phenom Matthew Savoie, Canada was able to get contributions from some of their other players across the lineup.
Rockland National star Cedrick Guindon and Antonin Verreault led the way for the Red and White, with Guindon tallying two goals in the bronze medal game.
Meet Your Future NTDP U17s?
Despite the heartbreaking loss to Russia in the gold medal game, there will be plenty of time for this 2004-group of Americans to bounce back and become better as a unit, as most likely, a large sum of these players will be playing for the US National Team Development Program next season.
Leading the way for Team USA was Shattuck St. Marys product Isaac Howard, who led the team in goals with seven. Howard, a Minnesota-Duluth commit, displayed a nose for the puck and seemed to be in all the right situations to use his quick release to put pucks in the net.
Also providing a positive impact for Team USA was Detroit Honeybaked Center Frank Nazar, who finished the tournament with five points. Nazar, who is currently committed to the University of Michigan, impressed with his unique ability to control the puck in small and tight situations, and dynamic offensive ability.
Finally, goaltender Dylan Silverstein was lights out for Team USA, including an outstanding 22-save performance against Canada to lead his team into the gold medal game. Following his performance, it seems as if the Calabasis, California native will be a lock for the National Development Program next season.
However, with that being said, most of these players will be likely candidates for the program next season, meaning that these individuals will have an opportunity to avenge their loss against Russia in the 2020 IIHF U17 World Challenge and in future events as well.