IIHF World Championships Start Today For U.S., Canada
Fans of eight NHL teams still have a vested interested in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as do those whose hockey fandom doesn’t end when their team’s season does. However, all hockey fans are getting another on-ice viewing option in line with the NHL postseason.
The IIHF World Championships begin today and run through May 22, starting with a quartet of games. First on the docket are tilts between Sweden and Latvia and the United States and Canada at 8 a.m. One of those matchups may receive more interest than the other from hockey fans on the North American continent.
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The U.S. and Canada open pool play against one another as part of Group B. This group also includes Finland, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany and Hungary. Over in Group A are the Czech Republic, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Norway, Russia and Switzerland. Russia is the host of this tournament, with games being played at the Ice Palace in Moscow and Yubileiny in St. Petersburg. The Americans and Canadians will compete in the latter venue toady.
The U.S. roster features a mix of 20-somethings who are at various levels of professional hockey development. Two Blackhawks prospects — forwards Vincent Hinostroza and Tyler Motte — will suit up for the Americans. The oldest player on this roster is Columbus forward Nick Foligno (28), while the youngest is Auston Matthews (18), projected by many to be the first-overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft.
Guys on the American roster who are currently with an NHL organization are goaltenders Keith Kinkaid (New Jersey) and Mike Condon (Montreal); defensemen Connor Murphy (Arizona), Chris Wideman (Ottawa), Noah Hanifin (Carolina), Jake McCabe (Buffalo), David Warsofsky (New Jersey), Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) and Foligno; and forwards Jordan Schroeder (Minnesota), Patrick Maroon (Edmonton), Dylan Larkin (Detroit), Matt Hendricks (Edmonton), Hudson Fasching (Buffalo) and Frank Vatrano (Boston).
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The rest of the group features college guys, although Matthews’ current club is ZSC Lions Zurich in Switzerland.
The Canadian side doesn’t boast any Blackhawks or Blackhawks prospects, but it does offer many more players who are currently at the NHL level. Only defenseman Michael Matheson, who plays for the AHL’s Portland Pirates, isn’t currently on an NHL roster among those on the Canadian team.
This will be the first of seven pool-play games for the United States, with the team facing Belarus on Saturday, Finland on Monday, France on Thursday, Hungary on May 13, Germany on May 15 and Slovakia on May 17. The postseason portion of the tournament will begin Thursday, May 19.
Here are today’s listings
Game Time– 8am
TV Listings– NBCSN
Live Streaming– NBC Live Extra
Hinostroza and Motte project to get as fair a shake as most anyone else on their team when it comes to ice time, so Blackhawks fans will certainly be interested to see those two play, at least. An interesting connection on the U.S. roster involves the University of Michigan, which Motte attends. The same can be said for two of his teammates in forwards J.T. Compher (a Colorado prospect) and Kyle Connor (a Winnipeg prospect). Could the three be utilized together in some way?
Outside of the Blackhawks connections on the U.S. team, this is a cool time to see some younger (and youngish) hockey types take to the ice for an international event. You’ll have guys looking to make a name for themselves and create an impact teaming with and squaring off against some established or rising NHLers. It should be an entertaining show. Check back in with those post throughout this morning’s game for updates on the action, and don’t forget to follow Blackhawk Up (@Blackhawk_Up) on Twitter for updates.