The Best Not in UfaWednesday, January 02, 2013
The preliminary round and the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Junior Championship are over and now the top remaining countries will battle it out for medals, starting with the semifinals on Thursday. The United States cruised past the Czech Republic 7-0 in one quarterfinal match up and will face Canada next round, while host nation Russia narrowly defeated Switzerland in a shootout and will play against Sweden in a rematch from last year's gold medal contest.
While many of the most gifted juniors compete in Ufa for gold, there are still plenty of talented players competing in the CHL. Let's take a look at what some of them did this past week to warrant your attention:
Brendan Gaunce (VAN - Belleville Bulls) - Gaunce produced two goals and, five points in two games last week to earn the OHL Player of the Week honor. The Vancouver Canucks first-round pick in the 2012 draft has totaled 12 goals and 11 assists in 28 games during his third season. The 18 year old appears to be just fine after missing eight games with a shoulder injury earlier this year that cost him a chance to play for Canada during the Subway Super Series in November. The Bulls are currently second in the Eastern Conference with 21 wins and 46 points in the standings.
Kerby Rychel (Windsor Spitfires) - Rychel has picked up exactly where he left off this season after enjoying a great sophomore year in the OHL. He has racked up 23 goals and 38 points in 38 games with Windsor following his 74-point outburst over 68 matches a year ago. Rychel is eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and the son of former NHLer Warren Rychel has to be gaining supporters for his skill and consistency. He notched three goals and two assists in two appearances last week to earn consideration for the OHL Player of the Week award.
Anton Zlobin (PIT - Val-d'Or Foreurs) - Memorial Cup hero Anton Zlobin was awarded with the first star distinction in the QMJHL for the period ending December 30th. He amassed nine points, including four goals, in only two games to receive the honor. Zlobin scored the game-winning goal for Shawinigan against London in overtime for the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. In his first season with Val-d'Or, he has accounted for 19 markers and 49 points through 32 games. The sixth-round selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 draft could be a candidate to do some damage in the NHL once he gets the opportunity.
Christopher Gibson (LAK - Chicoutimi Sagueneens) - The Sagueneens' netminder posted a .931 save percentage and a 2.53 goals-against average in a pair of games last week en route to being named the QMJHL's third star of the week. He made 30 stops in a 4-3 win over Shawinigan and turned aside 37 in a 2-1 loss to Baie-Comeau. Gibson was grabbed by Los Angeles in the second round, 49th overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. There aren't many goaltenders with sparkling statistics in the Quebec League this season, but his 2.82 GAA ranks him sixth overall and his .908 save percentage is the third best in the league.
Anthony Bardaro (Prince Albert Raiders) - The 20-year-old forward captured the WHL Player of the Week award after he recorded four goals and seven points in just two contests. Bardaro has already registered 36 points in 36 games this campaign after he finished with 37 in each of his previous two seasons. His best year offensively came in 2010-11 with Spokane when he concluded the year with 24 goals and 46 points in 63 WHL outings. The Raiders have been on a roll of late posting a 6-3-0-1 record in their past 10 matches and they own the top spot in the East Division.
Michael Ferland (CAL - Brandon Wheat Kings) - Ferland made his return to the WHL last weekend following unsuccessful and brief stints with the AHL’s Abbotsford and the ECHL’s Utah squads. He scored the game-winning goal for the Wheat Kings in Sunday's 6-5 victory against Red Deer for his first point of the year. Ferland had 47 goals and 96 points in 68 games with Brandon last season and he should help spark the team's offense again. He was taken in the fifth round, 133rd overall, by the Calgary Flames in the 2010 draft class.
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