In case you hadn’t heard the news from up north – hey, it’s possible – Canada has been eliminated from the World Junior Championship, as has Sweden. Sadly, that means the world junior dreams of Markus Phillips, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Johan Sodergran have evaporated like the fog rolling off Mount Seymour. With their departures from the tournament, there are two Kings prospects vying for gold amidst the four teams remaining. United States and captain Mikey Anderson faces Russia at 1:00 p.m. PT Friday, while Rasmus Kupari and Finland face Switzerland in the other semi-final at 5:00 p.m. that evening.
A quick glance at the stats to date:
And, several notes passed along from LA Kings PR:
–Mikey Anderson (Kings fourth-round pick, 103rd overall, in the 2017 NHL Draft) recorded his second assist and fourth point of the tournament. He also registered a plus-3 rating in the game. He leads Team USA defensemen in points in the tournament. He and Team USA beat the Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals, and will move on to face Team Russia in the Semi-Finals.
–Rasmus Kupari (Kings first-round pick, 20th overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft) was held scoreless on six shot in a 2-1 overtime win over Canada to advance to the Semi-Finals, where they will take on Switzerland.
–Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Kings second-round pick, 41st overall, in the 2017 NHL Draft) went scoreless on two shots in Canada’s 2-1 overtime Quarterfinal loss to Finland. Canada was eliminated from the tournament.
–Markus Phillips (Kings fourth-round pick, 118th overall, in the 2017 NHL Draft) went scoreless on one shot in Canada’s 2-1 overtime Quarterfinal loss to Finland. Canada was eliminated from the tournament.
–Johan Sodergran (Kings sixth-round pick, 165th overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft) went scoreless in Sweden’s 2-0 Quarterfinal loss to Switzerland. Sweden was eliminated from the tournament.
Sudden-death overtime that results in tournament elimination is fascinating, though the circumstances leading to Toni Utunen’s golden goal were heartbreaking for a Canada squad that fell short of the semi-finals for only the second time since 1998 and failed to medal on home soil for the first time in tournament history. This puts an abrupt World Juniors end to Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s Rock, Paper Scissors hijinks with Spokane teammate Ty Smith.
But if you’re only going to watch one video today, let it be this one: From Red Bull Läpimurto in Finland and producer Juho Heinola, here’s an in-depth profile of Rasmus Kupari and his dreams of making the NHL, set amidst a well-articulated description of Finnish hockey identity and how players from Finland navigate their paths to the NHL. It also has sharp slow-motion footage of events at Staples Center and Toyota Sports Center and features an interview with Director of Player Personnel Nelson Emerson:
More coverage of LA Kings prospects:
Aside from Pavel Shen’s 2-1 goal in a New Year’s Eve showdown between Canada and Russia, Phillips has been exceedingly effective in his role. Even that goal doesn’t fall solely on Phillips’ shoulders — Evan Bouchard, Phillips’ primary defensive partner, had front row seats as the Russian winger took the puck to the front of the Canadian net.
Phillips has been one of Canada’s best, most reliable defensemen through the tournament. The host Canadians control most of the goals with Phillips on the ice, as his plus-three can attest. Phillips has also been active at the offensive end of the rink, subtly chipping in with three assists in the round robin portion of the tournament, good for a tie for first in defensive scoring on Canada with Ty Smith.
This is in line with what had been shared of Markus Phillips before the tournament, according to a team scout: “He has rounded out his game very well this year. Focused on playing defense. His use of skating is much better. More physical and harder to play against. Accepted defensive responsibility and plays big minutes against top players.”
–Via Carrlyn Bathe, a conversation with United States captain Mikey Anderson:
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 1, 2019
–Lead photo via Kevin Light/Getty Images