Under 18 Action (Rated PG)

Matt Bugg

2007-04-23

stamkos

 

Your wife doesn't know. And hey, she doesn't need to. There's nothing wrong with it. You just like to watch. And screw society for judging you.

 

It's time to enjoy some premium under 18 action – of the international variety.

 

That's right, it's that time of year: the World U18 Hockey Championship finished up Sunday with the medal games. USA vs. Russia for the Gold. Sweden vs. Canada for Bronze. Here are some notes from throughout this year's edition of this most pivotal tournament, which showcased the 2007 and 2008 draft classes.

 

 

Team Canada

Sweet 16s:

-While the entire tournament has been a showcase for top '08 defenseman Drew Doughty, Canada's 5-2 preliminary round win over Russia on Tuesday was his coming-out party. On view in front of the whole nation thanks to TSN, the 6'0 rearguard failed to disappoint. Every nice pass out of the zone, every nice hit, every great defensive play- if it wasn't Doughty's handiwork, it didn't happen. Throwing hits while never taking himself out of position, Russian sprite Nikita Filatov barely avoided replacing Rostislav Olesz on the highlight reels as he avoided a would-be Phaneuf-esque bomb by Doughty.

-The '2008 Line', named so for having a trio of underaged forwards in Steve Stamkos, Jamie Arniel and Zach Boychuk, dominated for much of the tournament. Stamkos' powerful, accurate slapper proved to be the best among his peers, and the driving force behind several opportunities. Crash-happy Arniel is a much more talented version of his uncle, former journeyman Scott Arniel, owning a superb wrister, great wheels and the same sense for garbage goals. Finally, Boychuk's superb hands and playmaking ability were on display, the keys behind a 91-point campaign in the WHL.

From Q to A+:

-Angelo Esposito is going in the top 12. The U18s were just what he needed. Struggling offensively all tournament, 'Espo' made up for it by playing superb defense, often the first forward back thanks to his excellent speed. He put the Russians away in the aforementioned prelim match with his first of the tournament. Cool as a cucumber, the crafty centre walked the puck out front off the faceoff and put it home for the score.

-Yves Bastien was going to be one of my steal picks, but he has simply played too well on the international stage to go under the radar. Extremely hot down the stretch in the Q, Bastien's problem has always been playing too calm a game. Instead of using his blazing speed and hands, he defaults to his smart defensive positioning game. He's an excellent backchecker, but he could be a league-leader if he just played one way. If he finds a balance, he's going to be a ridiculous pro.

Putting the 'See' in BCHL:

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-Kyle Turris has been pretty good. The lanky centre demonstrated his creativity when he got boxed out by a defenseman in the slot, spun, waited, waited, and had a nice chance on his backhand. The play never dies on his stick, because he always finds a way to get it to someone. Showed off his massive