Today Junior hockey fans around the world rejoiced as the annual World Junior Championship tournament got underway in Buffalo.
Each and every year the best players in the world under age 20 represent their country in a tournament that lasts just under two weeks. It usually features promising prospects who are set to enter the upcoming NHL draft, top prospects from the last draft and other big names with serious potential.
The 2017 World Junior Championship was won by the United States and featured sensational performances from prospects such as Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Alex Nylander (BUF), Clayton Keller (ARI), Thomas Chabot (OTT), Dylan Strome (ARI), Joel Eriksson Ek (MIN), Colin White (OTT) and Mathew Barzal (NYI) just to name a few.
This year is extra special for Rangers fans because they get the chance to watch 2017 draft prospects Lias Andersson, No. 7 overall, and Filip Chytil, No. 21 overall, strut their stuff as they look to gain some respect and notoriety on one of the biggest stages for a hockey prospect.
Both were in action on Tuesday and had some solid results. Filip Chytil and the Czech Republic kicked off the tournament with a 5-4 victory over Russia. During the contest Chytil tallied a goal, and an assist and played 15:17.
Chytil was very noticeable, and started the game off with a spectacular opening shift.
He picked up his first point of the game assisting on a goal scored by Ostap Safin, a right winger selected by the Edmonton Oilers No. 115 overall in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
Later on Chytil scored his goal by skating hard to the net and putting home a loose puck that was sitting in the blue paint of the goal crease.
There were a few scary moments during the game in which he took a few bumps, one such incident occurring when he took a helmet directly to the nose.
Oof, helmet straight to the nose pic.twitter.com/ygy1Bhpb5R— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 26, 2017
After the game Chytil met with the media and talked about the physicality of the game and delivered an awesome quote.
Chytil said he wasn’t sure if he broke his nose but said he had to get back on the ice for his country.— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) December 26, 2017
You’ve got to love his passion, and I am glad to hear that after all the bumps and bruises he was doing OK.
The next game on the docket featured Sweden vs. Belarus and it was a lopsided affair. Andersson picked up two goals in the 6-1 victory, and one of his goals saw him connect with his Frolunda teammate and potential No. 1 overall pick at the 2018 draft Rasmus Dahlin.
Andersson’s other goal came from in front of the net in which he quickly skated into some open ice and released the puck as quickly as he received it.
Andersson finished the game with 17:41 in ice time, and unofficially tallied an assist in addition to his two goals although it never did show up on the box score. There were additionally some nice moves that didn’t result in points, but were exciting to watch.
It is only day one of the tournament but both Ranger prospects got off to a solid start. Both prospects are off on Wednesday and will square off on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.
Stay tuned to Blueshirt Banter for future updates on Andersson and Chytil’s performance at the 2018 World Junior Championship tournament.