With the NHL on pause until next week, hockey fans are eagerly awaiting the start of the 2022 World Junior Championship set to start Sunday in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.
Team USA, playing out of Group B in Red Deer, will open the tournament with a match against Slovakia and Florida Panthers prospects Ty Smilanic and Mackie Samoskevich will be part of the roster.
Let’s take a look at young Americans as they ready for their first WJC appearance.
Selected in the third round (74th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Smilanic enjoyed a successful freshman season at Quinnipiac University. He was the only first year player to appear in all 29 games with the Bobcats during the 2020-21 campaign, and produced 14 goals and added 7 assists to finish fourth on the team in scoring. Four of those goals were game-winners and he finished the year with 76 shots as the Bobcats made the NCAA tournament. Smilanic led the nation’s rookies in goals, tied for the national lead in power-play points and was third in power-play goals with six.
Now a sophomore, Smilanic has continued his scoring ways for Quinnipiac, racking up 13 points (8G/5A) in 18 games. He scored twice in a 5-3 win over Arizona St. on November 12, and eight days later posted a season-high three points with two goals and an assist in an 8-0 rout against St. Lawerence. In addition to his 13 points, Smilanic has registered 51 shots on goal, blocked 4 shots and is a plus-four. He lit the lamp in his last pre-tournament game, a 5-0 win over Long Island University on December 11.
Ty Smilanic just scores goals. It's what he does. pic.twitter.com/m4gpH5f0Ha— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) October 23, 2021
Samoskevich was Florida’s first round pick (24th overall) in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. In his draft year and second season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, He put up 13 goals and 24 assists in 36 regular season games, and recorded one goal and nine assists in eight games during the Clark Cup playoffs.
As a freshman on a very deep Michigan team, Samoskevich is already making a mark with four goals and seven assists in 19 games. The 19-year-old picked notched the game-winning goal in the season-opener against Lake Superior State and collected three helpers in a 5-4 overtime loss to Notre Dame. Samoskevich has registered 38 shots on goal, blocked 4 shots and is a minus-two. He drew and assist in his last pre-tournament game, a 6-1 loss to Ohio State on December 11.