International Tournaments

Islanders prospects experience at World Junior Championships

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 29: Kieffer Bellows (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 29: Kieffer Bellows (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /
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Here’s a look at who in the New York Islanders prospect pool has gone to the World Junior Championships and what they did at the prestigious tournament.

Most of us are getting excited for the World Junior Championship to get underway. Two New York Islanders prospects will be at the tournament; Simon Holmstrom with Team Sweden and Matias Rajaniemi with Team Finland.

Of course, there’s other hockey on right now. Most NCAA teams have begun play, and if you’re around during the day you could likely catch some European hockey as well.

But there’s nothing like best-on-best hockey, even if it’s at the U20 level like the WJC. The tournament is scheduled to begin on Christmas day and end on January 5th. Six days before the start of the 20-21 NHL season. Hockey fans will get best-on-best and then segway into the new season. That is tremendous after such a long break from the game.

As we lead into the tournament I thought it might be interesting to look at our current prospect pool to either remember or learn who has previous WJC experience.

(Note: I’m only going over players that haven’t played a full year in the NHL. So I won’t be listing Noah Dobson but guys like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows will be listed.)

Czech Republic

Jakub Skarek: 6GP, 2-4 record
Years: 2017, 2018, 2019

The Czechs are always a solid team at the tournament. In 2018, Skarek helped them move all the way to the Semifinals, splitting time with Josef Korenar. Going to the tournament on three occasions is a nice achievement. The furthest he got was the Bronze medal game in 2018, losing to the US.

Finland

Robin Salo: 5GP 
Year: 2018 

The 2018 Finnish team was much better than the 2017 team, even though they didn’t get past the quarterfinals. The 2017 Finns finished the preliminary round with a 1-3 record and faced relegation. Salo (a second-round pick by the Islanders in 2017) didn’t register a point in the tournament.

Otto Koivula: 11GP, 2A 
Years: 2017,2018 

Koivula was there in 2017. He played six games and didn’t register a point. He was back on the team in 2018 getting an assist in Finland’s 4-2 loss to open the tournament and another in the team’s 4-1 win over Denmark.

Russia

Ilya Sorokin: 3GP 1-1 (2.66/.886) 
Years: 2015
Medal: Silver

Sorokin’s only outings were a 3-2 (shootout) win over Denmark, a 3-2 loss to Sweden (against Linus Soderstrom), and he came in early after Sheterkin was pulled in the gold medal game against Canada.

He wasn’t very good for most of that gold medal game, the Canadiens were able to get three goals on him at least two of them were VERY soft. But by the third period, Sorokin was a rock. It wasn’t enough as Russia got the silver.

Anatoly Golyshev: 6GP, 3A
Years: 2015
Medal: Silver

Golyshev was there for the ride as well. He got a primary helper to get Russia on the board in the gold medal game. He also got a helper in a 7-0 win vs. Switzerland and in a 4-1 semifinal win over Sweden.

Sweden

Sebastian Aho: 7GP, 1G, 3A
Year: 2015

Aho was the second-highest scoring defenseman at the 2015 WJC. Only teammate Gustav Forsling had more points than Aho (with eight). Here’s his highlight reel from the tournament. I don’t know about you, but the more I watch the more I want to see him with the Islanders this year. (Sweden lost to Slovakia in the Bronze medal game that year.)

USA

Austin Czarnik: 6GP, 2G, 2A
Years: 2012

The US made the relegation round in 2012 after a 1-3 record through the Group B preliminary round. Both of Czarnik’s goals came in the preliminary round. One in a 12-2 dismantling of Latvia and the second in a 2-1 win over Switzerland.

Cole Bardreau: 7GP 1G, 2A
Year: 2013
Medal: Gold

Crazy the difference a year makes. After going through the relegation round, the US win it all the next year. Cole Bardreau was there with a goal and two helpers in the tournament.

Kieffer Bellows: 14GP, 11G, 2A
Years: 2017, 2018
Medals: Silver, Bronze

Bellows was on another level in 2018. He lead the tournament in goals with nine and also finished third in scoring with ten points. He picked up two goals in a 9-3 win over the Czech Republic (and Jakub Skarek) in the Bronze medal game.

Oliver Wahlstrom: 12GP 3G, 6A
Years: 2019, 2020
Medals: Silver

The 2020 WJC was supposed to be big for Wahlstrom. He had an ‘A’ on his jersey and should have been one of the top players after going eleventh overall in the 2018 draft by the Islanders. His five points in five games were good but losing 1-0 to Finland in the quarterfinals was disappointing. Why? Well, not only did the US crash out in the quarterfinals but Wahlstrom picked up 25 penalty minutes in that game for an illegal check to the head. Yes, it was at the end of the game, but there was no reason to do what he did.

Logan Cockerill: 7GP, 1A
Years: 2019
Medal: Silver 

Logan’s helper at the 2019 tournament came as the primary assist on an Oliver Wahlstrom goal against Russia in the semifinals. It was a pretty play as Logan accepts the pass in the neutral zone and pulls the defender down low while Wahlstrom comes in late, for what seems like a tap in. (Fast forward the video to 1:00)

Jacob Pivonka: 5GP 1A
Years: 2020 

Pivonka’s (Islanders fourth-round pick in 2018) lone point at the tournament was on a Curtis Hall game-winning goal against Germany in the preliminary round.

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