Future Oiler Oscar Klefbom has a golden smile following Sweden's 1-0 OT victory over Russia
For 10 days, hockey in Edmonton and Calgary has turned to the 2012 IIHF World Juniors Tournament and with good reason; the best U20 hockey minds from around the world converged in Calgary for the medal rounds this past week. Although Team Canada came close in the end, they were no match for Russia and battled Finland for the bronze medal, taking the victory with a 4-0 win. For gold, it was Russia vs Sweden, and as you all know, future Oiler Oscar Klefbom and Team Sweden would take the gold medal after 70:09 of play.
Several other Oilers' prospects participated in the ten day tournament, with each shining in their own way. Kristians Pelss seemed to have the least success in terms of rankings but he is the only NHL drafted player on Latvia's roster. Pelss was the team captain and often the team translator, but there is one other player who may be drafted in the first round of the upcoming draft, Zemgus "Big Z" or "Pickles" Girgensons. Latvia may not have been the strongest or most skilled player at the tournament, but his team earned 9th place and a spot in next year's competition.
For the Marty Party, Martin Gernat and Martin Marincin their play kept Slovakia in every game and helped to earn Slovakia 6th place in the tournament. If the IIHF kept track of time on ice, you would be amazed at the amount of time the Marty Party played because it was countless minutes on the penalty kill. Martin Gernat still has some soreness in his shoulder. Gernat suffered an upper body injury before the tournament, but still played every game. Gernat told me that he expects to miss some time before playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Of course, things change all of the time, and you never know what might happen.
David Musil of the Vancouver Giants played for the Czech Republic, the same team that beat Slovakia for 5th place at the tournament. Musil and his team were disappointed with their finish because they came so close to beating the Russians in the quarter finals, and so could have played for a medal instead. While answering questions about his time at the tournament, Musil was the victim of a team practical joke as seen in the video below. Musil, usually serious seemed to enjoy the joke, and admitted that it hadn't happened during the tournament before. The man with the shaving cream Musil thought was Dominik Uher, but because it happened so fast, there is no real way to be sure.
Edmonton Oil King and Buffalo Sabre's prospect Mark Pysyk was on the bronze medal winning Team Canada, but Tyler Bunz was among the last cut. Those two would have made excellent teammates and would have represented the Edmonton Oiler family and Edmonton well. Instead, Pysyk alone did a fine job, taking home several learnings including more of what playing at the professional level may entail.
For the Oilers, this was not the best of weeks. It started off well and good as the Oilers beat the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-3. The win was great, but losing Tom Gilbert and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was not. Gilbert suffered an knee injury after a hit from Dan Carcillo. Carcillo received injury on the play and may need surgery, but the NHL has suspended Carcillo for 7 games. The suspension should be effective of whenever Carcillo is fit to play, but I don't make the NHL rules, and that's probably still a very good thing.
Tuesday, the Oilers travelled to play the Buffalo Sabres. The loss was far better than it could have been, the Oilers walked away with a 4-3 loss. The best news was of course that the team didn't lose any more players. Thursday, the team lost by the same score, but this time to the St. Louis Blues.
The Edmonton Oil Kings will be joined by Henrik Samuelsson, who has been playing for Modo of the Swedish Elite League. it's not that the Oil Kings are in desperate need of help, but it is understandable that players would want to play for the team who has been continued their winning ways.
In very disappointing Oiler prospect news, Medicine Hat Tigers' goaltender Tyler Bunz has been charged with impaired driving following an incident in St. Albert last May. Bunz has submitted a plea of not guilty and will face trial March 5, 2012. While details are few, it is difficult to speculate just what may have occurred. Because Bunz is still 19, there is a chance that he is still under Alberta's graduated driver's license program which allows for a zero alcohol level of tolerance.
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