Kulich, Havelid add some spice to the third day of the Under-18s
We’re entering quarterfinal action at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, but not before a little more preliminary round drama.
And oh was there drama.
Czechia upset — if you want to use the adjective — Canada in a thrilling 6-5 overtime win to punctuate their round robin performance at the Under 18s. It was fueled by an impressive performance by their power play, led by captain Jiri Kulich.
Not to be (completely) outdone, Team USA hit double-digits in turning in an impressive performance against Germany. Paced by efforts from Seamus Casey, Cruz Lucius, Rutger McGroarty, and Cole Spicer, the Americans downed Germany in a landslide 10-2 effort.
Switzerland beat Lavia 4-3, and Sweden, thanks to a pair of goals from defenseman Mattias Havelid, bested Finland 4-3, too.
It’ll set quarterfinal matchups between Finland and Canada, Czechia and Switzerland, Sweden and Germany, and Team USA and Latvia.
Here’s who stood out on the third day of the World Under-18s:
Third star: Cole Spicer – Team USA
There were plenty of American candidates to reach the ‘three star’ status on the third day of game play at the World Under-18s, but Spicer’s effort — one of three Team USA players to hit double-digits in goals — stood out in their effort to clinch a first-place finish in Group A. Spicer, No. 92 in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2022 draft, was named player of the game for his country in the rout.
Second star: Mattias Havelid – Sweden
The defenseman made the impact. Havelid, ranked No. 44, opened the scoring to put Sweden up 1-0, and scored what would be the eventual game-winer when he pushed Sweden’s lead to 4-1 midway through the contest. Sweden’s assistant captain also finished with a plus-3 rating and five shots in the contest. Only Tomas Hamara of Czechia has more points from the blue line than Havelid’s four.
First star: Jiri Kulich – Czechia
Hard to argue against the performance Kulich turned in against Canada in Czechia’s victory. The No. 25-ranked prospect for the 2022 draft had 10 shots, including seven in the second period alone, to help lift his country to a win over Canada. Oh yeah. He also scored twice and added an assist — including the OT winner — in the upset to run his total to a tournament-leading six points (five goals, one assist) through three games.
Highlight of the night
It didn’t win them the game, but it brought them oh-so-close. Lenni Hameenaho drops a pass back off his partial break to Tuomas Uronen, who makes no mistake in beating Swedish goaltender Hugo Havelid to pull Finland to within 4-3, the eventual final.
Lenni Hämeenaho with a great drop pass and Tuomas Uronen snipes to make it 4-3. #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/tOPdLhjAZg
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) April 26, 2022
REPORTING IN: JULIAN LUTZ (GERMANY)
Julian Lutz is a big powerful winger who can score and make plays in the offensive zone. This is a challenging season for Lutz because of his injuries, but in my opinion he makes the best of this opportunity to show his skills one more time in front of dozens NHL scouts. Lutz is, in my opinion a good skater. He has a good posture and is strong on the skates. Even though he is a big guy his skating stride looks effortless. Lutz is a great scorer and he could have not done a better job to present his one-timer. On the power play, Lutz did a great job moving with the puck so he is all the time in a perfect lane for a cross-ice pass. If the pass he received was not precise enough for a one-timer, Lutz was able to either catch the puck, make couple steps improving his position and then fire off a quick wrister or take a shot-pass into the slot. Lutz also flashed his puck skills, his great control of the puck at full speed always having the head up looking for teammates. In tight, he showed solid 1v1 skills and even beating defenders with a through-the-legs move. Lutz is a relentless backchecker who battles for the puck from behind. He needs to move his legs in the defensive zone and be more careful with his stick, as he was weakening his team with needless tripping penalties. In my opinion, Lutz has a chance to be picked in the second round of the 2022 draft. — Miroslav Simurka
3 STARS OF THE 2022 WORLD UNDER-18S
Day 1: HOWARD, KULICH MAKE STATEMENTS ON OPENING DAY OF UNDER-18S
Day 2: BEDARD, LEKKERIMAKI DOMINATE SECOND DAY OF UNDER-18S
Day 3: KULICH, HAVELID ADD SOME SPICE TO THE THIRD DAY OF THE UNDER-18S