Tournament Review: U18 Worlds – Part 2

Jokke Nevalainen

2019-04-30

 

The U18 Worlds are now over. Sweden won their first ever gold medal at the under-18 level, and doing it while hosting the tournament must feel extra special. Here’s the second part of my tournament review where I go through all the teams from Group B. In case you missed the first part where I went through all the teams from Group A, here’s a link to it: Tournament Review: U18 Worlds – Part 1.

 

In case you missed the articles I posted during the tournament, here are links to them. I did a bunch of interviews while in Sweden, and I included most of them in those articles.

 

Slovakia

 

Winger Maxim Cajkovic (2019) led the team in points with three goals and seven points in seven games. Cajkovic is projected to go in the second round this summer, and his goal-scoring ability was well-known even before this tournament. He has a great shot but the other parts of his game still need some work. He carried an ‘A’ on his chest for the Slovaks.

 

Another winger who really impressed me was Martin Chromiak (2020) who had two goals and three points in seven games. I wasn’t familiar with him beforehand but saw a lot of potential, so I’m looking forward to see more of him next season.

 

On defense, Samuel Knazko (2020) was arguably Slovakia’s top defenseman despite being an underager – and he was also their alternate captain. He’s a good puck-mover who also played well on the power play but was held pointless in the tournament. He also made a few massive mistakes which will likely haunt him for a little bit.

 

Goalie Samuel Hlavaj (2019) is highly-ranked and he played well in this tournament but his numbers (.894 SV%) suffered because of the team in front of him. At 6-foot-4, Hlavaj has great size, and he has already played at the World Juniors as well.

 

Chromiak and Knazko are eligible to play at the under-18 level next year but they won’t be able to do it at the top level because Slovakia was relegated after losing a three-game series to Switzerland. Those two will have to work hard to get their country back to the top level in 2020.

 

Latvia

 

I have absolutely nothing on this team. No one on the team had more than two points, and none of their players stood out when I watched them. Well, I guess you could say their goalie Arturs Silovs (2019) stood out because he was the reason Latvia avoided relegation round. He’s a big kid at 6-foot-4, and his .918 save percentage in five games is really impressive considering the team in front of him.

 

USA

 

Team captain and projected first overall pick Jack Hughes (2019) led the tournament in points. He had nine goals and 20 points in seven games which is all kinds of incredible. In fact, 20 points is the second highest single-tournament point total in the history of the U18 Worlds – just one point shy of Nikita Kucherov’s record. That was good enough to earn a spot on the Media All-Star team. Hughes’ combined point totals of 32 points over the past two years in the event is a new record, though, as he