While the World Junior Championship tournament that grabs headlines does not start until after Christmas, the Division 1 World Junior Championship tournaments were recently held in Füssen, Germany and Tychy, Poland. Division 1 is split into two groups (A & B) with the winners of each being promoted for 2020 and the losers being relegated; the winner of Division 1A is promoted to the main World Junior Championship.
The 2019 edition of Division 1A saw six teams—Belarus, Latvia, Germany, France, Austria, and Norway—battle it out for promotion. Belarus was relegated from the Top Division in 2018, and Norway was promoted from Division 1B.
The round-robin tournament saw Germany emerge victorious with a record of 4-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L). France will face relegation after a 1-0-0-4 record and will be replaced by Slovenia in Division 1A in 2020.
Nashville Predators prospect Vladislav Yeryomenko skated for Team Belarus in the tournament, playing mostly on their top defensive pairing. Below, I will highlight the 2018 pick’s tournament as well as some other names to watch.
Vladislav Yeryomenko - D - Calgary Hitmen [WHL]
NSH - 2018 - Round 5 - 151st overall
Belarus—predicted to heavily compete for promotion this year—skated to a record of 3 regulation wins and 2 regulation losses, scoring 18 goals along the way and allowing 13. The team defeated Norway, France, and Austria and lost to Germany and Latvia.
Yeryomenko finished the tournament with two points (both assists), which was the most among Belarussian defensemen (tied with his partner Dmitri Deryabin and Sergei Sapego) and tied for eighth in team scoring as a whole.
In Belarus’ first game against Norway there were probably three instances at the start of the first period where Yeryomenko carelessly iced the puck by wrapping around the boards from below the goal line—some while under pressure and some while not.
But, in the above clip, watch Yeryomenko (#6 in white) maintain excellent gap control through the neutral zone, forcing the puck-carrier to pass and then clamping down on the forward crashing to the net.
Here we see Yeryomenko (#6 in red) maintain good position between the puck-carrier and the net, read the impending handoff to the pinching defenseman, and break up the play before executing a really nice breakout pass through a tight window. He won’t skate with forwards stride-for-stride but is adept at using his stick properly.
Here we see Yeryomenko running the power play from one side of the point to the other. He doesn’t always follow expected passing routes and eventually gets a shot on net for a rebound that his teammate puts home.
Here Yeryomenko nicely challenges the puck-carrier on the half-wall but is caught watching the play as a rebound develops, which the crashing forward puts home for a power play goal.
As a whole I thought Yeryomenko had a nice tournament. He didn’t stand out but had some impressive moments where he highlighted the strengths of his game—an active stick and close gap control in the neutral zone, an exaggerated stride in space with the puck, a controlled wrist shot that finds its way to the net, etc.—and some moments where the things he could improve were also on display—his skating in the defensive zone, gap control on the penalty kill, etc.
Dominik Bokk - F - Vaxjo Lakers HC [SHL]
STL - 2018 - Round 1 - #25th overall
The German was taken last year in the first round by the St. Louis Blues after a 41-point performance in 35 games for Vaxjo in the SuperElit league last season. He led the tournament in scoring this year with one goal and eight points in five games as Germany won promotion to the Top Division.
Above is Bokk (#15 in black)’s sweet goal where he burns Yeryomenko. He has 11 points in 22 games for Vaxjo this season; his game is highlighted by excellent passing, nifty hands, and good offensive instincts.
Justin Schutz - F - EC Salzburg II [AlpsHL]
FLA - 2018 - Round 6 - #170th overall
Bokk’s teammate was selected by the Panthers in June from the RB Hokey Akademie in Austria. Schutz was tied for second in tournament scoring with four goals and seven points in five games for Germany.
Here Schutz (#10 in black) has a nice takeaway and zone entry to set up a pretty goal by Taro Jentzsch.
Schutz has eight points in seven games for EC Salzburg and has skated in three games for EHC Munchen in the DEL this season.
Mathias Emilio Pettersen - F - University of Denver [NCAA]
CGY - 2018 - Round 6 - #167th overall
The Norwegian-born Petterson was a teammate of Jachym Konelik’s in Muskegon last season, where he scored 46 points in 60 games, earning a selection by Calgary at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He led Norway with three goals and six points in four games at this year’s tournament, including the game-winning goal below:
Pettersen has five goals and 15 points in 14 games for Denver this season and has quite the backstory read here:
ICYMI: Mathias Emilio Pettersen left Norway when he was 14, and four years later is showing to be one of the top freshmen in the nation playing for @DU_Hockey. By @ryan_s_clark. https://t.co/XLpFve8nqZ— The Athletic (@TheAthleticDEN) November 28, 2018
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2019 NHL Entry Draft Hopefuls
There were several 2019 draft hopefuls on display at the tournament, and, for the most part, they did not disappoint. Some players to watch include:
Moritz Seider (Germany) - D - Adler Mannheim [DEL]: 5 GP / 1 G / 6 A / 7 PTS
- 2019 Draft Projection: Late First Round
Vladimir Alistrov (Belarus) - F - Edmonton Oil Kings [WHL]: 5 GP / 2 G / 4 A / 6 PTS
- 2019 Draft Projection: Rounds 3-4
Yannik Valenti (Germany) - F - Vancouver Giants [WHL]: 5 GP / 2 G / 1 A / 3 PTS
- 2019 Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6
Alexei Protas (Belarus) - F - Prince Albert Raiders [WHL]: 5 GP / 2 G / 3 A / 5 PTS
- 2019 Draft Projection: Late Seventh Round or Undrafted
Taro Jentzsch (Germany) - F - Sherbrooke Phoenix [QMJHL]: 5 GP / 4 G / 0 A / 4 PTS
- 2019 Draft Projection: Undrafted
Deniss Fjodorovs (Latvia) - F - HK Riga [MHL]: 5 GP / 1 G / 0 A / 1 PT
- 2019 Draft Projection: Undrafted
That’s it for coverage of the beginning of junior tournament season. Stay tuned for coverage of the World Junior A Challenge featuring Tomas Vomacka, the World Junior Championships featuring Jachym Kondelik and Eeli Tolvanen, and the Spengler Cup featuring Dante Fabbro.
All statistics are courtesy of iihf.com and eliteprospects.com.