With the preliminary portion now complete, the final eight teams, which includes some LA Kings, prepare for the knockout stage at the World Championship.
On a rare off-day at the 2021 World Championship, we take some time to reflect on the preliminary portion of the tournament. Among other highlights, the Worlds thus far have showcased some impressive showings from certain LA Kings players.
Of the nine Kings players who participated in this tournament, eight of them have advanced to the medal round.
The lone exception is Adrian Kempe as Team Sweden finished two points shy of a spot in the medal round. As for the Kings forward, he did have a decent showing in Latvia, scoring a goal and adding four assists in seven games for his native country.
As for the Kings players who did advance, we begin with Team USA, who finished atop Group B.
Finishing the preliminary schedule with a stellar 6-0-0-1 record, Team USA really found their footing in Latvia after a slow start. After their tournament-opening loss to Finland, the Americans reeled off six-straight victories with a performance-by-committee type of success.
Of those who succeeded for Team USA thus far was Kings forward Trevor Moore.
Building off his impressive season with Los Angeles, the native of Thousand Oaks, CA, did not let up once he landed in Riga, scoring four goals and two assists in seven games for his native country to go in hand with a plus-five rating. But, Moore wasn’t the only King who was productive for Team USA.
Defenseman Matt Roy, who earned himself alternate captaincy, lead the way defensively and even added an assist. Fellow Los Angeles blueliner Christian Wolanin also had an assist to go along with a plus-two rating while Cal Petersen led all tournament goaltenders with three wins. while posting a stellar 1.01 goals-against average — second only to Finland’s Harri Sateri. Petersen also led all netminders with .959 save percentage and tied for most shutouts with two.
Finishing right behind Team USA in Group B was Finland, which includes Kings defenseman Olli Maatta, who collected two assists and a plus-one rating in seven games.
The biggest surprise of this tournament, however, was the early performance of Team Canada.
After being shut out in their tournament opener against host Latvia, Canada would get shellacked by Team USA by a 5-1 count before losing 4-2 to Germany.
Canada, however, would regroup to win their next three games — against Norway, Kazakhstan, and a 7-1 thumping of Italy — before losing in a shootout to Finland. But, with some outside help, the Canadians managed to squeak their way into the medal round, finishing fourth in Group B, just two points behind Germany.
As for Team Canada’s Kings’ representatives, it was a decent showing.
While Jaret Anderson-Dolan did garner himself his country’s “Player of the Game” honors en route, the Calgary native notched two assists in seven games. Gabe Vilardi, meanwhile, recorded just one assist and a minus-three rating while defenseman Sean Walker was held pointless and finished with a minus-one rating.
With Wednesday being an off day, the medal round begins on Thursday.
Team USA will look to continue their hot streak as they open the medal round against Slovakia (9:15 am ET, 6:15 am PT); Team Canada opens against a familiar foe in Russia (1:15 pm ET, 10:15 am PT) at the Olympic Sports Centre; and right across the street at Arena Riga, Team Finland battles the Czech Republic (also at 1:15 pm ET, 10:15 am PT).
In the other non-Kings-related matchup, Switzerland takes on Germany at 9:15 am ET (6:15 pm PT).
It’s been a fun tournament thus far and, as the aforementioned teams all battle for a spot in the semi-final, let us cheer on our LA Kings in hopes that one, or some of them, can bring home the 2021 World Championship.