Kemell turns in big-time performance on fourth day of the Under-18s
And then there were four.
Quarterfinal action at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship provided no shortage of excitement — particularly for Finland, Czechia, Sweden, and the United States — as the tournament trimmed out four teams.
In an overtime thriller, Finland bested Canada 6-5 on the strength of a hat-trick from Joakim Kemell, possibly the 2022 NHL Draft’s top goal-scorer. He didn’t disappoint in this effort, unless one happened to be on Canada’s side. Canada had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 4-2, and 5-3 before dropping the contest.
Sweden will meet Finland in the semifinal after dispatching of host Germany in a convincing 7-1 win, thanks in part to the effort of Jonathan Lekkerimaki, who factored in on five goals for the Tre Kronor. In all, Lekkerimaki scored once and had four primary assists. Mattias Havelid also had four points (two goals, two assists), and leads all tournament defensemen with four goals.
Team USA cruised into a semifinal matchup on the strength of a 13-3 win against Latvia. The points rally featured outbursts from Seamus Casey (two goals, one assist), Ryan Leonard (three goals), Frank Nazar (one goal, two assists), and captain Rutger McGroarty (two goals, one assist).
They’ll meet Czechia with a shot at gold on the line. Czechia upended Switzerland 8-0, with Jiri Kulich continuing in his standout tournament. Kulich had three points (two goals, one assist) in the win, and Simon Slavicek and Marek Soukup each had two goals.
Third Star: Rutger McGroarty – Team USA
Two goals, one assist, and seven shots — just another day at the office for America’s captain. McGroarty put Team USA up 1-0 just 4:05 into the elimination game, and pushed the lead to 3-0 by 7:40. He also assisted on Stramel’s goal at 12:24 to put Latvia down 4-0, effectively quashing any hope for a comeback just a dozen minutes in. The effort moved McGroarty, No. 12 in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2022 draft, into a share of second in the tournament in goals (6) and fifth in points (7).
Second Star: Jonathan Lekkerimaki – Sweden
A five-point performance launched Lekkerimaki, ranked No. 16, into a tie for tournament scoring, and put Sweden into medal contention. The projected first round pick shredded Germany’s penalty kill, factoring four assists and a goal of his own with the man-advantage. His single goal shouldn’t detract from his shooting touch, as the sniper also had a share of the game-high in shots at five. In all, Lekkerimaki has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in four games.
First Star: Joakim Kemell – Finland
Big stars make big plays at big moments. Kemell, ranked No. 7, certainly adhered to that mantra against Canada. Kemell erased two one-goal deficits for Finland before capping his hat-trick with a goal 28 seconds into overtime, intercepting a drop pass between 2023 NHL Draft standouts Adam Fantilli and Connor Bedard before roofing a shot over Reid Dyck to put the finishing touches on a nifty deke that put Finland in the semifinal. In all, Kemell has five points (four goals, one assist) in three games in the tournament.
Highlight of the night
Logan Cooley may be committed to the University of Minnesota next season, but he sure gave off Michigan vibes on Thursday. The US National Team Development Program standout and projected No. 2 pick for the 2022 draft scored the goal of the tournament for the Americans in a blowout of Latvia, scooping and swooping the puck 12:58 into the first period to extend Team USA’s lead to 5-0. A dandy, no doubt.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 28, 2022
Reporting In: MICHAEL MASTRODOMENICO – Canada
Michael Mastrodomenico is a two-way defenseman who uses his strong skating ability and his physicality to make his presence felt on the ice. His skating defines his entire game. Every aspect of his game is linked directly to his skating. Mastrodomenico is an effective transition blueliner who loves to jump into the rush and carry the puck up the ice. He will flash some high-end puck skills on occasion, but in reality if he does go on an end-to-end rush it’s because of his speed and agility on the ice. Defensively, he’s developed a mean streak and loves to throw his weight around. He threw a number of big hits in this game and made sure his presence was felt whenever he was on the ice. He has decent puck skills, and can create some highlight reel plays but he’s more of the simple and efficient player. Mastrodomenico makes easy and calculated plays with the puck that will rarely put his team behind the eight-ball whenever he’s out there. I think the biggest thing he needs to work on is just reigning himself in, especially in the physical game. Any defender can chase a big hit, but the smart defenders understand when and where to pick their spots and I think Mastrodomenico is still in the process of learning the nuances behind being a physical defender. He has improved throughout the entire season and could potentially be on the NHL’s radar in the later half of the NHL Draft. I think he caps out as a bottom-pairing defenseman, but he can provide some depth that all team’s rely on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taken anywhere from the fifth-to-seventh round. — Austin Broad