World Under-18 Ramblings: Michkov Magic, Lysell’s Engine and U.S. Drama

Tony Ferrari

2021-04-30

Photo courtesy of the IIHF

 

The 2021 World Under-18 Championships are four days in now with four games on the schedule again after a light two-game day on day three. Canada and Finland, the top team in each group after two games, had the night off with others looking to push their way up the standings! Russia took care of business with Matvei Michkov scoring four goals including both a lacrosse goal and a between the legs goal! Sweden started slow but found a way to get by Switzerland with Fabian Lysell being the offensive catalyst. Belarus overwhelmed Latvia with Danila Klimovich potting two more goals. As has been the case in most Group B games, the U.S. and the Czech Republic play a tight game that ended in a shootout. Day four was yet another exciting day at the U18s!

 

Group A

Sweden 3-1 Switzerland 

The first period was controlled by the Swiss with Carl Lindbom holding down the fort in the Swedish net. Chance after chance, save after save, the Swedes were given a better fate than they probably deserved in the first period as they came out of it with a scoreless tie. It was a solid period by the Swiss as pressured consistently throughout the frame.

The second period began with the Swiss finding the scoreboard less than three minutes in. Benjamin Bougro is able to bang in the rebound after some excellent work by Dario Sidler to keep the puck in the zone. The Swiss pressure the whole first period and crack the deadlock to start the second frame.

 

 

The second period was when all the action happened in this one and that was just beginning. Fabian Lysell began to push the pace, pressure the Swiss defense, and generate some scoring chances. The tide really turned when Simon Edvinsson was hit knee-on-knee and going down. The Swedish defender stayed down for a minute and briefly left the game but returned to help in the turnaround. The key though was the major penalty for kneeing assessed to the Swiss, giving the Swedes a chance to strike where the Swiss were weakest, on the penalty kill.

 

 

The extended powerplay was the perfect opportunity for Fabian Lysell to kick things up a notch. Buzzing through the offensive zone, pushing the pace of the game, Lysell found Isak Rosén cross seam for a beautiful goal to get Sweden on the board. With the man advantage remaining, Lysell was allowed to do more damage. Again creating havoc with motion throughout the offensive zone, Lysell pulled attention and then found the seam, serving up captain Liam Dower-Nilsson for the go-ahead goal. They would add one more goal on the same powerplay when Arvid Sundin, with the puck below the goalline, spotted Lysell attacking high-to-low on the backside and tried to hit him with a pass. The pass was deflected, bounced off a body, and snuck into the net to give the Swedes a third powerplay goal on the kneeing major.

 

 

With three powerplay goals, The Swedes found a way to get production in a game they were a bit lacking at five-on-five. Two of the goals were directly created by Lysell’s dynamic skill and vision, and the third coming because of a fluke that he was quasi-responsible for. Lysell continued to push the pace and the Swedes were a bit better throughout the game but the game was certainly closer than it seemed with Lysell and Lindbom playing big roles in the win.

 

Belarus v Latvia

Belarus has been a sneaky good team at this tournament so far. They’ve been led by defender Dmitri Kuzmin, the tournament’s top-scoring defenseman,  and forward Danila Klimovich who is tied for the tournament lead in goals with six. Both played a big role in this one as well. Klimovich collected two goals in this one and Kuzmin added three assists.

 

 

To be honest, this game just felt like Belarus taking care of business and there wasn’t much to dive into outside of Klimovich’s continued announcement of his arrival at this tournament. Belarus put themselves in a position to be in the 2v3 matchup in the quarter-finals rather than facing what is tracking to be the Russians who sit atop Group B.

 

Group B

Russia 6-1 Germany

This game summary truly only needs a few sentences. Let’s start with this. Russia looks like the best team in Group B. They’ve got the firepower up front to score with anyone. Nikita Chibrikov and Fyodor Svechkov have been outstanding at the Under-18s. Ivan Miroshnichenko has proved that figuring out the visa issues was key for the Russians.

The real key to all of the Russian success though, especially in this game, was super prospect and 2023 draft-eligible forward Matvei Michkov. If he hadn’t signed long-term with SKA St. Petersburg through 2025-26, he would be challenging Connor Bedard for first overall in their draft year. He is a super prospect on the same level as Bedard but his commitment in Russia is the only concern come draft day.

Why was he the key to this game you ask? He scored four goals. FOUR. One was a lacrosse goal. Another was a between the legs goal. This kid is INSANE! Enjoy the goals. Michkov is dope.

 

 

USA v Czech Republic

I joked before this one that my good pal Chris Peters, who is doing colour commentary at the U18s, was going to have to pretend to not being panicking when the Czech’s keep things as close as the Germans did a couple of days earlier. Sometimes jokes are scary true.

 

 

The Czech team was putting in the work earlier and found the net late in the first to get a leg up on the American squad. Martin Ryšavý finished from in tight to energize the Czech Republic. The pressure was heavy and consistent as the U.S. was outshot 18-8 in the first 20 minutes. Things looked ugly at times but Kaidan Mbereko was strong in net for the Americans, a theme that would help define this game.

 

 

The second period was fairly similar to the first with the U.S. on it heels for the most part but they seemed to get things going a bit in the final five minutes. They began to get some chances and work their way into the middle of the ice more consistently but couldn’t find twine. Before the period ended though, Sean Behrens wanted to make sure his team knew that he was going to do what it takes and he finished the period with a BIG hit.

 

 

Lane Hutson, the U17 defender added to the roster after Luke Hughes’ absence, has been a highlight all tournament and he continued his strong play against the Czech Republic. He used his feet to create some space and then his vision and dynamic passing found Sasha Pastujov who does what he does best. Scores.

 

 

As mentioned, Mbereko’s performance in net was outstanding. He was doing everything in his power to keep the U.S. in this one as the Czech’s would repeatedly steal momentum and put pressure on the American netminder. An injury scare for the goaltender came when he extended to make a desperation save and went down awkwardly. Leaving the ice for about ten minutes of game time, Mbereko returned to the net and – spoiler alert – was perfect the rest of the way to the shootout. Mbereko was the MVP of this team in this game finishing with 30 saves on 31 shots.

 

 

To rewind a bit, the previously mentioned Hutson was an absolute stud in this game as well. He ended up being the hero in the shootout after getting an assist on the game-tying goal. To say the 2022 draft-eligible defender has put his name on the map is an understatement.

 

 

The World Under-18s are just the best!

 

*****

 

Be sure to follow DobberProspects on Twitter for all of the latest on the World Under-18’s, we will be tweeting out the schedule and scores for every game and providing coverage throughout the tournament! You can follow me on Twitter @theTonyFerrari for more on the U18s and the 2021 NHL Draft in general!

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Mikulas Hovorka 4.0 5.5
Fabian Lysell 8.5 9.0
Jakub Lauko 6.0 6.0
Matthew Poitras 7.5 7.5
Alexander Nikishin 9.0 9.3
Alexander Rykov 7.0 7.5
Justin Robidas 5.5 4.5
Zion Nybeck 8.0 3.0
David Kase 4.0 6.0
Jacob Julien 6.5 6.0

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