Sunday, September 4, 2011

Red Army beats KV to win WJCC

Krasnaya Armiya Moscow, the junior club of CSKA, won the first ever World Junior Club Championship on Saturday in Omsk, Russia. They defeated Energie Karlovy Vary 7-2 in the final game before a sell-out crowd of 9,500. 

The opening faceoff of the final game before a full house in Omsk.
Photo: Jiří Ryžuka,
After surrendering only 1 goal in its first three games, KV was shelled for 3 in the first period and trailed 5-0 by the time the game was 25 minutes old. In a fairly balanced attack, the Russian club was led by 2 goals and 1 assist from Mikhail Plotnikov, who was the player of the game.

"This was the first time in my life I've seen so many people in the stands. It's an incredible feeling. Such adrenaline. I had never experienced such feelings. When you score, it's just an explosion of emotions!" About the game, he said, "We knew nothing about the Czechs. We had never even seen them, at the hotel or on the ice. And we could have scored more than seven goals. It's too bad that I couldn't complete the hat-trick."

At the team's website, Karlovy Vary's Jiří Ryžuka speculated that their opponent "is maybe the strongest junior club in Europe. It would certainly be an interesting confrontation to see them play the winners of the North American Memorial Cup, the St. John's Sea Dogs."

Indeed, that's the kind of match-up that was hoped for when the tournament was organized. But the calibre of the North American teams sent to compete was a disappointment. The Canadian representative came from the Alberta Junior Hockey League, which is on the second tier of Canadian junior hockey, and the American representative was an all-star team created from the third-tier Eastern Junior Hockey League.

Defending champions of the MHL, the Red Army team were the favourites to win, but they started slowly. They beat Tatranskí Vlci, the junior club of the KHL's Lev Poprad, 4-3 in their first game and then were shut out 2-0 by HK Riga. In their last game of the group stage, they faced a must-win game against the EJHL Selects and blew them out 9-1.

Karlovy Vary entered the final as the only unbeaten team in the tournament. They were a perfect 3-0 in the group stage, surrendering only 1 goal in the process. Goaltender Vladislav Habal posted a pair of shutouts against Mälmo and Shinnik, 4-0 and 1-0, before Fort McMurray managed a goal against back-up Denis Rauscher in the third game, which finished 4-1.

Despite making the finals, no player from Karlovy Vary recorded more than 3 points. Jaromír Kverka scored 3 goals, including 1 in the final game. Martin Funk scored Energie's other goal in the final game.

Two players from Riga finished atop tournament scoring with 8 points in three games. Miks Indrašis recorded 5 goals and 3 assists, while linemate Robert Bukarts scored 4 goals and 4 assists. Also recording 8 points was  Also from Riga, Kristers Gudlevskis was named the tournament's top goaltender. The best defenceman and forwards were both from CSKA: Andrei Sergeev and Roman Lyubimov.

Karlovy Vary's junior squad begins its Junior Extraliga schedule on September 8 at home to Mladá Boleslav.


  1. Given how bad it has been for Czech Jr's... should this be viewed as a positive or a negative?

  2. I wouldn't want to read too much into it. It was a short tournament and Karlovy Vary got through the group stage with strong defence/good coaching/team play. One account I read described their style as "trapping". Then they were obviously overmatched in the final. Nonetheless, they should be proud of what they accomplished, as it was probably better than anyone expected. As some people have said, it would be nice to see some better competition at this tournament (higher calibre teams from North America, as well as a team from Finland and maybe Germany or Switzerland).