Four Prince Albert Raiders roster players and one prospect are wrapping up international duties at both the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship in Russia and the World Under-17 Challenge in Quebec.
Forwards Tim Vanstone and Reid Gardiner as well as goaltending prospect Rylan Parenteau followed in the footsteps of eight current Raiders (Leon Draisaitl, Josh Morrissey, Shane Danyluk, Mike Winther, Andy Desautels, Mark McNeill, Harrison Ruopp and Evan Morden) by competing in the World Under-17 Challenge.
The Raiders’ first three picks in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft and Team West opened the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Sweden, before suffering a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Russians, during which Gardiner recorded an assist and was named Team West’s Player of the Game.
Following a narrow loss to Finland, the West faced off against Team Pacific. With their team down 3-2 late in the third, Reid Gardiner tied the game with 3 minutes remaining in regulation, but it was all for not as Pacific would score in overtime to take the win.
In their final game of the tournament, Gardiner scored a shorthanded goal and Rylan Parenteau turned aside 14 of 16 shots faced en route to a 5-2 victory over Slovakia. Tim Vanstone recorded an assist and four penalty minutes, while earning Team West’s Player of the Game honours in the contest.
In Ufa, Russia, Leon Draisaitl ended Germany’s World Junior Championship on a high note, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists in a 5-2 victory over Latvia for their first win of the tournament and to avoid relegation for the first time since 1998.
Germany struggled in the round robin, losing to Canada, Russia and the USA before falling to Slovakia in overtime, and faced a tough test earlier in the relegation round when up against Finland. Draisaitl earned Germany’s Player of the Game distinctions in their tournament opening loss to Canada, as well as their victory over Latvia.
Raiders captain Mark McNeill is also in Ufa and will be playing for the bronze medal tomorrow night as Canada has a rematch with the host Russians.
Despite narrowly missing the score sheet on a few occasions, McNeill has played an important role for Canada thus far, dominating the face-off circle with a 64.71 winning percentage on draws, the highest on the team and third best in the tournament. McNeill has also seen substantial ice-time on the penalty kill, helping Canada to the second best penalty kill rate among the ten teams.
When Draisaitl and McNeill faced off against each other on Boxing Day it was the first time a pair of Raiders had played in the World Junior Hockey Championship since 2006, when Kyle Chipchura and Aki Seitsonen competed against one another for Canada and Finland, respectively.
McNeill, Draisaitl, Gardiner and Vanstone will be back with the Raiders on Wednesday January 9th when they host the Regina Pats at the Art Hauser Centre.