April 24, 2022

Bedard, Lekkerimaki dominate second day of Under-18s

New day, same face. 

Connor Bedard continued his assault — the 2022 version anyway — on the second day of the IIHF World Under-18 Championship, propping Canada up to an 8-3 win against Germany for its first win in the tournament. 

Sweden also earned its first victory, 6-2 against Switzerland, to put itself in the win column on the strength of some standout performances from 2022 NHL Draft eligible forwards Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Noah Ostlund, and Leo Carlsson of the 2023 class. 

They weren’t the only standouts. 

Team USA continued to roll to a second straight win thanks to a two-goal effort from Rutger McGroarty, who paced his club to a 6-2 victory against Czechia. Finland, like the Americans, earned a second straight win with a 4-1 nod over Latvia that saw 2023 eligible Kasper Halttunen net two goals. 

Here’s who stood out on the second day of the World Under-18s: 

Third star: Rutger McGroarty – Team USA

The United States are off to a perfect 2-0 record after dismantling both Canada and Czechia on consecutive days. The latter was in large part to McGroarty’s performance. McGroarty, No. 12 in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2022 draft, gave Team USA some breathing room with his goal at 12:37 of the second period, and put the game well out of reach with his second of the game at 13:29 of the third. After being held at bay on the first day, McGroarty better showcased what makes him a potential top-10 pick.

Second star: Jonathan Lekkerimaki – Sweden

Lekkerimaki, like McGroarty, put the puck in the back of the net twice after being held completely off the scoresheet yesterday. He also helped turned the tide for Sweden after a disappointing first day, tying the game 2-2 at 3:04 of the third period with a highlight reel marker, and added his second in under 10 minutes when he scored again on the power play at 11:13 to eliminate any Swiss rally. 

First star: Connor Bedard – Canada

Bedard gonna Bedard. The projected top pick for the 2023 NHL Draft did all the things scouts and fans alike expected out of the 16-year-old in netting the tournament’s first hat-trick. Not a bad encore after having two points (one goal, one assist) in a tournament-opening loss against Team USA. Bedard had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in seven games at the tournament a year ago, a figure he’s sure to smash this go-round.

Highlight of the night

Stick taps for this one all around. Lekkerimaki flawlessly scooped up a long stretch pass from defenseman Mattias Havelid before driving wide on Yann Voegeli, outwaiting goalie Alessio Beglieri, and placing a perfect backhand right under the bar to tie the game 2-2 with his first of two on the game. 

Reporting in: Ryan Chesley (Team USA)

Ryan Chesley is a solid two-way defender who drives transition play with his high-end skating ability and strong passing skillset. His skating and vision with the puck allow him to drive play from the blue line. He’s active, jumping into the rush and starting his team’s breakout. Chelsey loves to have the puck on his stick while skating through the neutral zone, allowing him to create a number of successful zone entries for Team USA. His ability to create both controlled zone exits and entries makes him one of the USA’s top blueliners. Defensively, he is very steady. He has the skating ability and the IQ to successfully defend off the rush and in the defensive zone setup. He’s responsible in his own zone, and has the positional discipline to stay with his assignment without taking his eyes off the puck. The downfall in Chesley’s game is he’s not all that flashy. He won’t wow anyone with his play, but he will give you quality minutes on a regular basis. I have been adamant all year that Chesley is a top-20 talent in this class and will be a quality top-four defender that plays for a long time in the NHL. I personally would feel comfortable taking him anywhere from 15-20, but think he will actually wind up going somewhere in the 18-22 range. — FCHockey head US scout Austin Broad

3 Stars of the 2022 World Under-18s


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