If you missed it last week, the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks were halfway around the world competing against other junior teams from across North America and Europe at the Junior Club World Cup.
The Black Hawks had a pretty nice run in Omsk, Russia, making it to the championship game against the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. In a pretty evenly matched contest, the Black Hawks fell just short, losing 2-0 to Sudbury to finish second in the tournament.
It was an interesting event to start off the Junior season, with club teams from Sweden, Belarus, Russia, Finland, Latvia, Canada and the United States and a pair of national U20 teams from Denmark and Norway.
Coming up after the jump, a look at some top performances by Americans in the tournament and some thoughts on what to make of this USHL vs. OHL result.
Waterloo concluded the six-game event with a record of 3-1-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L), with its signature victory coming against Sweden’s Linkopings HC in a shootout in the semis.
Check out the highlights here (FYI, you might want to mute the video)
It was a nice start to the season for goaltender Eamon McAdam, who is heading into his first draft-eligible season as a late 1994 birth year. He was named goaltender of the tournament, having posted a 2.17 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in four starts. The Perkasie, Pa., native was one of the four goaltenders invited to the All American Prospects Game. With his strong pre-season performance in Omsk, he might be able to get some extra attention in what is looking to be one of the weakest American goaltending crops in some time for the NHL Draft.
Last year’s Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award winner Justin Kloos had four goals and two assists in the tournament. After going undrafted last year, he’ll be looking for a second chance in his first full USHL season.
Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Vince Hinostroza had a terrific tournament with six points himself, collecting four goals and two assists. Hinostroza scored what stood to be the game-winner in the shootout against Linkopings that punched Waterloo’s ticket to the final (No. 12 in the video highlights above).
Taylor Cammarata, a 2013 NHL Draft hopeful, had five points in the tournament with two goals and three assists. Three of his five points came in Waterloo’s first game. Cammarata also was quite productive in Waterloo’s two pre-tournament contests against Russian junior squads.
Over for Sudbury, American Michael Kantor had an eight-point tournament to finish tied for second among all scorers. The 1992-born Illinois native had four goals and four assists as he’s set to enter his fourth and final season in the OHL.
When it comes down to it, the Junior Club World Cup is a summer tournament, and there’s no need to put added emphasis on how this defines the USHL. It was great for the Black Hawks to go over and compete at a high level, getting a little taste of the international hockey experience and testing their mettle against other strong clubs.
Obviously, the final brought the intriguing match up of USHL vs. OHL. Regardless of setting or time of season, these games will always be interesting just because of the contentiousness between the NCAA path of which the USHL is part of and the CHL path. However intriguing, the game shouldn’t be considered a defining moment in the ongoing war of words in the NCAA vs. CHL debate.
Judging by some of the reaction on Twitter, some took the result to mean a little more than they should have.
Had Waterloo won, I’m sure it would have riled up the USHL-NCAA crowd, but at the end of the day, it’s a preseason game and a win wouldn’t have proven anything.
The loss is disappointing for the USHL, I’m sure, feeling like it had an opportunity to score one for credibility. Sudbury had a great tournament, with a much older team and there’s no shame in losing a game in August.
Even if this game was the Clark Cup Champion Green Bay Gamblers against Memorial Cup champion Shawinigan Cataractes, a single game hardly proves which league is best. It proves that one team was better than one other on one night.
Junior hockey as a whole has become nothing more than a certifiable pissing contest. The USHL wants to say its every bit as good as the CHL. The CHL — which doesn’t have to do much more than point to numbers — wants to prove its the best and perhaps more accurately, the only route, to the NHL, even if that’s not the case.
One thing I wish they’d all just agree on is that each developmental route and each developmental league offers different things and different opportunities for different players. No one has the right formula to get every player to the NHL.
Perhaps these leagues should focus less on trying to compare each to the other and more on the players they do have and continue to develop them as best they can.
In a recruiting battle where there are so many different items to point to as to why a player should go one way or the other, a single game in August isn’t going to be one of them.
It was a nice summer tournament for both Sudbury and Waterloo. Seems like it should just be left at that.
If you’d like to watch the archive of Sudbury vs. Waterloo, the game is available in its entirety on the KHL’s YouTube channel. Here’s the direct link. Commentary is in Russian, but grab yourself a couple of rosters and you should be good to go.