While Finland continues to celebrate a surprise victory at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship last week, Blackhawks fans half a world away can also rejoice at the fantastic showing by the future of the club. The organization had four draft picks from 2012 and 2013 at the tournament representing three countries, two of whom won medals with their teams. Corey Pronman of ESPN Insider's NHL Draft Blog handed Chicago's group of prospects an overall grade of A- (subscription required), one of five teams in the upper eschelon along with Nashville, Washington, Buffalo and Montreal.
|(Todd Reicher/Rockford IceHogs)|
1st Star: C Joakim Nordstrom, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 4GP, 3G, 4A, +3 plus/minus rating
Nordstrom erupted for seven points last week, contributing in three of Rockford's four contests as the IceHogs snapped a seven-game losing streak. The 2010 third-round pick scored his ninth goal of the season in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Iowa Wild on Friday, contributed two goals and an assist the next night in a 4-2 win over Grand Rapids. On Sunday, in a 4-3 shootout loss at Chicago, Nordstrom added two helpers, including one on the game-tying goal late in regulation. He is currently tied for the team lead with 11 goals and shares second with 20 points, despite playing just 27 games this season.
|Glenn Hall, whose No. 1 jersey was retired by the Blackhawks in 1988, backstopped Chicago to the 1961 Stanley Cup, and just as impressively, played 503 consecutive games without wearing a mask.|
In hockey, few would argue that to be successful, everything starts from your goalie on out. In December, with the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning goalie Corey Crawford sidelined and backup Nikolai Khabibulin also injured, Chicago turned to rookie netminder Antti Raanta. The 24-year-old acquitted himself very well in the early going, and was named the NHL's Co-Rookie of the Month for his efforts.
|Finland captain Teuvo Teravainen led all skaters at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship with 11 assists and 13 points in seven games, including helpers on all three Finland goals in their 3-2 overtime win over Sweden in the gold-medal game. (Getty Images)|
Teuvo Teravainen wasn’t the only player on the ice for Finland at World Juniors, but at times over the last two weeks, it seemed like it wouldn’t have mattered if he was. The captain of Team Finland, which won their first gold medal since 1998 with a 3-2 victory over host team Sweden, was unquestionably their best player over the seven-game schedule, and had a strong case for overall MVP after putting up 11 assists and 13 points to lead all skaters in the competition. Chicago’s 2012 first-round draft selection also won 100 of 200 faceoffs (averaging 28.6 per game), both tournament-high marks. He was also named to the Media All-Star Team.
|Teuvo Teravainen, the Blackhawks' first-round draft selection in 2012, has captained Team Finland to the gold-medal game at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship in Malmo, Sweden. (Getty Images)|
Two Blackhawks prospects claimed medal positions with their teams today, as Sweden defeated Russia 2-1 in a tightly contested and highly entertaining semifinal match, and Finland shut down Team Canada with a 5-1 result. The tournament in Malmo, Sweden, will conclude tomorrow with a grudge match between the hosts and their Nordic next-door neighbors.
|Vincent Hinostroza (left), Teuvo Teravainen (middle) and Ryan Hartman helped their countries battle for a spot in the semifinals of the U20 World Championship on Thursday. (Photos by Matt Cashore/Notre Dame Athletics, Bill Smith, and Terry Wilson/OHL Images).
Thursday marked the biggest elimination day at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship, as eight teams battled head to head for spots in the semifinals. When the snow settled, two Blackhawks prospects remain in the hunt for World Juniors glory, while two others are going home earlier than anticipated.
|Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago's first-round draft pick in 2012, led Finland with a pair of assists in their final game of the group stages at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship. The quarterfinals are slated for Thursday, with four Blackhawks prospects still in the hunt for World Juniors glory. (Getty Images)
The final day of the group stages produced a few dramatic finishes, including a six-round shootout in the final tilt of 2013. Team Sweden outshot Team Russia 32-25 in a 3-2 victory that kept the host side unbeaten through four games, and they will face Slovakia in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Later, Team USA faced Canada in a tense showdown and was held without a power-play goal (in three chances) for the first time in the competition. The Canadians scored two goals early in the third period to prevail 3-2 and finish at the top of Group A; the Americans finished second and will face Russia in their first elimination game. Meanwhile, Team Finland recovered from a two-goal deficit to tie Switzerland at three goals apiece, ensuring second place in Group B, before falling in six rounds in the shootout. Finland plays the Czech Republic for a place in the semifinals.
Now into the second half of the schedule, the defending champion Blackhawks currently have 63 points and are on a pace to set a team-record regular season point total—with a shot at several others.
Outside of last season's NHL record total for a 48-game slate with 77 points, as well as 68 points through 41 games (half of a full slate), that start featured 24 games without a regulation defeat (21-0-3). If that pace had continued for 82 games, it would have meant a new NHL mark of 136 points.
|(Jon Quackenbos/Boston College Athletics)|
1st Star: C/RW Kevin Hayes, Boston College (H-EAST)
The Line: 2GP, 1G, 3A, +4 plus/minus rating
Hayes’ revival this season has helped bolster the Eagles’ offense, which currently ranks second in the country behind Minnesota. Chicago’s 2010 first-round pick extended his point streak to five games with a goal and three assists over the weekend. Hayes collected a pair of helpers in BC’s 5-0 win over Bowling Green on Friday, then added a goal and an assist the next night in an 8-2 victory against Penn State. Hayes ranks second on the team with 28 points (11G, 17A) in 18 games this season.
|Vincent Hinostroza, a 2012 draft pick, paced Team USA with four points (2G, 2A) in their 8-0 win over Germany today. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)|
Day 3 of the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship concluded with both Team USA and Team Sweden recording their biggest wins of the tournament so far. The Americans shut out Germany 8-0, outshooting their opponents 53-15 and scoring six times with the man advantage; they lead all teams at the tournament with 11 total power-play tallies in three tilts. The Swedes hit double digits against Norway, winning 10-0 with five power-play scores of their own.
Tomorrow, Teuvo Teravainen will captain Team Finland as they face a high-flying Russian team; USA and Sweden have the day off.