January 02, 2010
SASKATOON -- The preliminary round is over, so let's quickly review the top performers so far in this tournament:
He leads the tournament in scoring with 10 points through four games, and he's scored a goal in every game so far -- topped off with a two-goal performance on New Year's Eve vs. the USA (plus a shootout goal). And he's doing all of this as one of the local stars, a Regina native who plays for the Regina Pats of the WHL (and is also an Edmonton Oilers prospect). His five goals are also good enough for a share of the tournament lead. He's a pure goal scorer, who specializes in finding open areas around the front of the net.
No. 2 Star: Jacob Markstrom, G, Sweden
In the three games he's played so far, this Florida Panthers prospect has allowed only a single goal per game against the Czech Republic, Russia, and then Finland. His save percentage leads the tournament (an amazing 0.969), and he's bailed out what has been a team prone to defensive breakdowns (like Finland registering 26 shots in the first period). He has yet to record a shutout, but three wins and a berth in a semifinal is all you can ask for.
No. 3 Star: Alex Pietrangelo, D, Canada
Before this tournament, he was in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise to see Pietrangelo on this list. He leads defensemen with nine points and has played the rover role on the Canadian power play (like P.K. Subban(notes) from last year's team) to near perfection, as Canada leads the tournament with a 43.3 power-play percentage. Plus he scored the crucial tying goal against the Americans, showing a knack for performing under pressure.
Honourable Mentions: F Derek Stepan (USA) led the third-ranked Americans in scoring with nine points, tied for second in the tournament. ... F Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson(notes) and F Andre Petterson (SWE) have led Sweden's dynamic offense, as Paajarvi has nine points while Petterson has a share of the tournament lead with five goals. ... G Benjamin Conz (SUI) has shown why he plays in Switzerland's top league, leading the underdog Swiss team to a surprising quarterfinal berth. ... 2010 draft eligibles F Taylor Hall (CAN), F Nino Niederreiter (SUI), F Vladamir Tarasenko (RUS) and G Jack Campbell (USA) have all stepped into leading roles on their respective teams, helping them advance to the playoffs.
Notebook: Saturday's schedule features one relegation game and the two quarterfinals, all being played at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, which will host the remaining eleven games in the tournament's schedule. Slovakia plays Austria (1 p.m. EST) in the relegation round, followed by Russia vs. Switzerland (5 p.m. EST) and the USA vs. Finland (9 p.m. EST) in the playoff quarterfinals... D Luca Sbisa(notes) (SUI) is out for the remainder of the tournament with an abdominal injury, but should be healthy in time for the 2010 Olympics in February... Canada will play the winner of the RUS/SUI game, while Sweden will play the winner of the USA/FIN game on Sunday in the two semifinals.