Ottawa Senators’ Prospects on the 2020 World Junior Championship

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The 2020 World Junior Championship was stuffed with upsets and pleasure, making it one of many extra memorable tournaments lately. It started with wild hypothesis in regards to the ‘Group of Loss of life’ – the nickname given to Group A that included Canada, Russia, USA, the Czech Republic and newcomer, however actually no pushover, Germany. Most of the predictions had been appropriate when, after two video games, each staff was tied with a win and a loss apiece. Including to the stress was Canada, who arrived as a medal hopeful however suffered their worst defeat in event historical past (6-Zero) by the hands of the Russians.

The playoffs had been no much less thrilling, with the Finns upsetting the stacked American squad 1-Zero within the quarterfinals, sending them house with no medal for the primary time in 5 years. Russia saved the annoyed Swedes, who now boast a document 52-game preliminary win streak, out of the gold medal recreation, defeating them 5-Four in time beyond regulation to e-book a rematch with Canada for gold. Nonetheless, the Canadians got here out on prime this time, getting back from a Three-1 deficit to win Four-Three. It was a curler coaster trip from begin to end.

Canadian gamers and training employees pose for a bunch in the course of the medal ceremony for the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship remaining match between Canada and Russia at Ostravar Enviornment (Picture by Peter KovalevTASS through Getty Pictures)

With the highs and lows nonetheless recent, right here’s a glance again at some particular person performances. The Ottawa Senators watched three of the group’s finest junior prospects signify their international locations on junior hockey’s greatest stage, and so they have a lot to be enthusiastic about. All three gamers took optimistic steps ahead regardless of not being their staff’s greatest star. If the World Juniors are any indication of future success, the Senators are in good palms.

Jacob Bernard-Docker – Canada

As one of many Senators’ prime prospects, all eyes had been on Jacob Bernard-Docker when he was chosen to Canada’s staff. He almost made the roster in 2019, however ended up being the ultimate minimize when Canada trimmed their protection to seven gamers. He was indispensable in 2020, placing up 14 factors in 18 video games with the College of North Dakota this season and serving to his staff ascend to the highest of the Nationwide Collegiate Hockey Convention.

Jacob Bernard-Docker on the Ottawa Senators’ 2019 improvement camp (Courtesy Ottawa Senators)

With prime prospects like Bowen Byram and Jared McIsaac already slotted in as Canada’s prime protection pairing, Bernard-Docker was assigned to a depth shutdown function with Kevin Bahl. In his staff’s first recreation in opposition to the USA, final yr’s silver medalists, he logged over 19 minutes – the third highest on the staff. Solely Ty Smith logged extra time amongst defensemen, and each he and Bernard-Docker had been instrumental within the opening win in opposition to the Individuals.

Associated: Ottawa Senators’ Prospect Pyramid

After that, it didn’t take lengthy for Bernard-Docker to maneuver up the depth chart. By the gold medal match-up with Russia, he was taking part in on the highest pairing with Byram and logging large minutes on the penalty kill. He scored a single purpose, in Canada’s 6-1 win over Slovakia, however was hailed as one of many staff’s steadiest defensemen, if not one in all their finest. The event proved that Bernard-Docker can play each ends of the ice successfully, which ought to make the Senators very joyful.

Shane Pinto – USA

Many had been disillusioned when Shane Pinto was chosen 32nd total by the Senators in 2019. With prime prospects like Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink and Raphael Lavoie nonetheless on the board, who many had projected as first-round choices, the comparatively unknown faculty commit was thought of a wasted decide. Because the 2019-20 season progressed, the choice didn’t look any higher, particularly as Kaliyev rocketed to just about two factors a recreation within the OHL.

Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators, 2019 NHL Draft. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But, Pinto was the most important star of the bunch on the 2020 World Juniors. On a stacked American squad, which included Brink and Kaliyev, he was the staff’s second-highest scorer with seven factors, and tied for the lead in targets with 4. Though the Individuals left the event with no medal, due to a stellar efficiency by Finland within the quarterfinals, it was a no brainer to call Pinto one of many staff’s three finest gamers.

Certainly one of his finest performances was within the opening recreation in opposition to Canada. Centering the primary line with Nick Robertson and Oliver Wahlstrom, Pinto scored the USA’s first purpose three minutes into the sport, assisted on Robertson’s purpose that introduced them inside one, and scored the purpose that tied the sport at 4. A fast retaliation by Canada’s Alexis Lafrenière and an empty-net purpose put a cease to Group USA’s comeback, however Pinto’s efficiency didn’t go unnoticed, incomes him Participant of the Recreation honors.

Lassi Thomson – Finland

Finland had a troublesome World Juniors. After shedding their prime middle Anton Lundell to an harm earlier than the event, additionally they misplaced Rasmus Kupari, a Los Angeles Kings’ first-round decide taking part in within the AHL this season, after only one recreation. Disadvantaged of their two greatest stars, the Finns had their work minimize out for them so as to repeat as gold medalists. It was as much as the protection and their depth gamers to step up and transition to a slower, grinding model, moderately than the high-flying offense many thought we might see once more.

A lot of the duty rested on Lassi Thomson, the Finnish captain and member of final yr’s gold medal staff. Like Bernard-Docker, Thomson is an offensive defenseman, and has six targets in Finland’s Liiga this season. He additionally wasn’t a extremely popular choice by the Senators in 2019, taken 19th total regardless of being ranked as a late-first/early-second spherical decide. However when tasked with an even bigger function on a weakened staff, he rose to the problem, taking part in tight protection and with a bodily edge regardless of his smaller (6-foot-Zero) stature.

Lassi Thomson, Ottawa Senators, 2019 NHL Draft. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the long run, the staff simply didn’t have sufficient gasoline within the tank, falling 5-Zero to Canada within the semifinals and shedding to Sweden within the bronze medal recreation. Thomson, regardless of taking part in probably the most minutes of any Finnish participant, was unspectacular, ending with simply three assists. Nonetheless, Senators common supervisor Pierre Dorian was pleased with what he noticed, saying, “He’s one of many gamers that has performed probably the most minutes and he’s one in all their leaders…we anticipate he’ll begin his North American professional profession subsequent yr,” (from ‘GARRIOCH: GM Pierre Dorion impressed with Senators prospects at world juniors’, Ottawa Solar – 1/13/20).

Though the Senators had simply three prospects on the 2020 World Juniors, every had been key members of their staff and confirmed promise. It’s essential to keep in mind that this event just isn’t a assure of success, neither is it a dying sentence if it goes poorly – simply consider gold-medalist goaltender Justin Pogge or Sean Couturier, who ended his solely event with three factors in seven video games. The World Juniors affords a short snapshot of a participant in a few of the highest strain video games he’ll ever play, and the Senators can take consolation in the truth that when positioned in that scenario their prospects carried out their finest.

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