- Carter Hart (Goalie)
- 2016 2nd round pick (48th Overall)
- 2016-17 Team: Everett Silvertips (WHL)
- 2016-17 Stats: 16-3-4, .928 SV%, 1.85 GAA, 4 SO
Hart had the inside track to the starting job for Team Canada, but he split time with Connor Ingram in the preliminary round. Each netminder started two games, with Ingram picking up the only loss in a 3-1 contest on New Year’s Eve.
Hart started the opening game, a 5-3 win against Russia, but didn’t necessarily play as sharp as his coaches as hoped. He stopped just 14 of the 17 shots he faced, although none of the goals were really that soft. A defensive turnover led to a great chance for Russia’s first goal, and then Hart got beat cleanly from the slot on the second. The third goal was a bit iffy, however, as Hart appeared to get a piece of the puck but it still snuck by him into the back of the net.
He bounced back nicely against a weak Latvia team, however, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced. Both goals he allowed were by no fault of his own. The first, late in the second period, was a clean shot off a 2-on-0 odd man rush for Latvia. A defenseman nearly got back to make it a two-on-one, but that’s a bad position to put your goalie in. The second one was another odd man rush, this time a breakaway with a defenseman riding the forward the whole way. Unfortunately the forward was able to shrug off the defender and make a nice move for the goal.
After being benched for the end of round robin play and the quarterfinal win, Carter Hart showed why he’s the best goalie in all of junior hockey in his perfect relief appearance in the semifinal and stellar showing in the gold medal game. Hart shared the net with Ingram, and finished with a 3-0-0-1 record, with that one blemish of course being the gold medal shootout against Team USA.
Overall Hart played well for Canada. He showed emotion after the loss, which seems to be the complete opposite of how he looks on the ice. In the crease he is cool, calm and collected as he moves side to side with ease. His ability to stay square with the shooter is remarkable, and he’s already drawing comparisons to some great NHL goaltenders.
Hart finished the tournament with a .906 save percentage (96 saves on 106 shots) and a 2.38 goals against average. That’s impressive for just a 18-year old. That’s right, he’s only 18 and will still be eligible for the tournament next year. He will certainly be back with a vengeance in 2018 for Canada.
3-0-0-1, .906 save percentage, 2.38 goals against average
- Matej Tomek (Goalie)
- 2015 3rd round pick (90th overall)
- 2016-17 Team: North Dakota Fighting Hawks (NCAA)
- 2016-17 Stats: N/A
Slovakian goalie Matej Tomek must be going back to North Dakota with a feather in his cap. Maybe the Slovakian’s only just avoided the relegation round, and lost to Sweden heavily in the quarters, but the Bratislava finally got a chance to play games, after sitting close to eighteen months at the University of North Dakota, and most importantly showed the great talent that made him considered by several well regarded sources as high as the second best goalie in the 2015 draft.
Tomek played two of his sides five games over the tournament, and frankly outshone Slovakian starter and Rangers prospect Adam Huska. Huska could only manage a .873 sv% against Sweden, Canada and Latvia, whilst Tomek managed to finish the tournament with a .913 sv% while playing games against the USA and Russia.
Against the USA Tomek helped spares his team-mates blushes as he stopped 45 shots in a US shooting gallery that saw 50 shots against him and five goals. Tomek only had a chance on one of the goals, with the other being odd-man situations and chance in close. He was hung out to dry on multiple occasions by his defenseman, and managed to make some great saves to keep the scoreline respectable.
In his second contest of the tournament against Russia it was more of the same. Against another strong team Tomek stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced as Russia spent probably two-thirds of the game in the Slovakian end of the ice. His team-mates could not muster a goal, and without his solid performance the score-line could have been much worse.
Hopefully the coaches at North Dakota have been watching carefully. Tomek has shown that his draft position and impressive NAHL season before it were no fluke, he is performing well against the best his age-group can offer, and outperforming an already established NCAA goalie in Huska behind the same team. He might not get too much of a chance before the end of this season, with his College side rolling two established goalies, but next year the young Slovakian should be his teams starter, and hopefully show more of what he showed over the course of this tournament.
2 games, 2 losses, .913 save percentage, 3.50 goals against average
- Felix Sandström (Goalie)
- 2015 3rd round pick (70th overall)
- 2016-17 Team: Brynäs IF (SHL)
- 2016-17 Stats: 9-2-0, .918 SV%, 2.00 GAA, 2 SO
Sandström came into the tournament in magnificent form for club-side Brynäs. Over the five SHL games he played in the weeks leading up to the tournament he won all five, and posted a .955 sv% while picking up two shut-outs.
“Highlight reel” would be the best way to describe what the young net-minder did in Eastern Canada. Playing at the SHL level in a more structured league with less breakdowns Sandström has relied more on good positioning and efficiency of movement in performing to a high standard. However, with break-downs galore across the WJC he had a chance to show his immense athleticism and show-stopping reflexes.
If you were to compile a list of the best ten saves of the tournament Sandström would feature prominently, heck, it would not be a surprise if the top three saves were all his!
In the group stages against Denmark he brought gasps from the crowd with an amazing post-to-post save on a wrap-around attempt from Wejse. Against Finland he stopped a point-blank one-timer with a one goal lead and minutes left on the clock, a Finnish forward got free in the slot and fired a one-timer on the Swedish goal from close to point blank range, the young Flyers prospect some-how reacted to throw a glove up and repel the shot. It was an unbelievable, instinctive save that was vital for his team.
The knock-out stage of the tournament was no different for him. Against Slovakia the Swedes faced some high quality chances despite the 8-3 scoreline. Sandström made several impressive saves, but the best was a goal-line pad stop on Adam Růžička. The Slovakians thought they had scored. The youngster elevated the puck from inside the paint, but Sandström brought his knee up with the puck and managed to deflect it away from his cage. The semi-final against Canada was no different, Sandström kept his team in the game despite seeing over forty shots. Once again the crowd ohhh’ed and ahhh’ed as he made some jaw-dropping saves. He denied Matthieu Joseph on a sharp wrap-around chance, showing impressive flexibility to block off both posts with his pads at the same time. Sandström then made Tyson Jost look to the sky in disgust twice in quick succession. On a cross-crease pass to Jost, who was in all alone, Sandström denied him initially with a telescopic pad save, Jost picked up the rebound and elevated it, but the Gävle native somehow snared it with his glove.
In the final he once again performed to a high level. There were not really any stand-out saves as in previous games, but he snared a number of high quality chances with ease. The Russian game-winner in OT was tough for the young goalie, a bad mistake by Dahlin that Nylander could not atone for meant Guryanov got in all alone, and threaded the puck through his five hole.
However, despite no medal Sandström will not go home from Montréal empty handed. On the final day of the tournament he was named the best goaltender at this years World Juniors, joining a rich list of previous winners such as Dominik Hašek, Tuukka Rask, Carey Price, Marc-André Fleury, Roberto Luongo, Pelle Lindbergh, Steve Mason and José Théodore. His coach Tomas Montén was effusive in his praise of Sandström throughout the tournament, rightfully so.
5-1-1, .915 save percentage, 2.17 goals against average
Alex Appleyard provides weekly updates of Flyers prospects in Europe here at Sons of Penn. You can find him on Twitter at @avappleyard for live updates and conversation regarding the young guns overseas and the big club here at home in Philadelphia
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Sons of Penn Radio (January 11th)
On this week of SOP Radio, we ring in the New Year with Wayne Simmonds the All-Star, dissect the problems of a struggling Flyers team, praise the play of the organization’s prospects, and look at the road ahead.
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