The Flames were represented by three of their prospects these World Junior Championships, and now, upon completion of the quarterfinals, all three may be out. Mason McDonald wasn’t played and Brandon Hickey was little-used as the Finns eliminated Team Canada, while Adam Ollas Mattsson got hurt in Sweden’s domination over Team Slovakia.
Depending on Ollas Mattsson’s health, this could be it for Flames prospects at this year’s tournament.
Sweden 6-0 Slovakia
Good news: Adam Ollas Mattsson has a 75% chance of winning a medal, as Team Sweden handily defeated Team Slovakia to advance to the semifinals.
Bad news: Ollas Mattsson may not be able to contribute further to his team’s success, as not even seven and a half minutes into the second period, he left the game with injury. His tournament could be over due to an awkward hit attempt against Slovakia’s Juraj Siska. Ollas Mattsson fell to the ice, appearing to hurt his knee, and had trouble getting up and skating off. He did not return to the game.
Give him this, though: as he was in the midst of struggling to get off the ice, from just inside his own blueline he corralled the puck and passed it to his defence partner, preventing a potential budding Slovakia scoring chance.
And then he was gone, limping down the tunnel and taken to hospital.
He didn’t have a ton to do prior to his injury, as the Slovaks were thoroughly outclassed in their quarterfinal matchup, outshot 55-17 and outscored 6-0. Ollas Mattsson had no shots, and did take a penalty when he failed to keep the puck onside, interfering with a player in an attempt to prevent a breakout.
Otherwise, he was on the penalty kill while healthy, and had a nice shot block early on. He once again exhibited his ability for crisp, clean first passes out of his own zone, though he was never really challenged; and had some decent puck movement in the offensive zone at the blue line with his partner, Andreas Englund.
And then his game was cut drastically short, and considering how he could barely stand, let alone skate, after falling and was taken to hospital, it’s certainly possible his tournament is over as well.
If there’s any silver lining to all this, it’s that Swedish media is referring to his loss as a “nightmare“, so that’s how important Ollas Mattsson, playing alongside Sweden’s captain, has been to his team.
Finland 6-5 Canada
Mackenzie Blackwood got the start, so it was Mason McDonald sitting on the bench throughout the game. So there’s the good news: he can’t be blamed!
Blackwood can be blamed, though, as he was at fault on four of the six goals that went against him. There’s no telling if McDonald would have been any better (or worse, for that matter), but Blackwood’s performance did not help his team and therefore we, as Flames fans, at least get the comfortable mystery of Schrodigner’s McDonald.
Brandon Hickey, however, is not quite afforded such a luxury, as he played a rather prominent role in Finland’s first two goals. The first, coming in the dying seconds of the first period, was a pass he made to Haydn Fleury behind his own net. Fleury bobbled it, and Finland got control and scored off of a shot Blackwood should have had to give the Finns momentum just before the period expired.
On the second goal, with Antti Kalapudas bearing down, he… fell. Hickey fell from just within his own blueline, and Kalapudas scored off of what turned into a clean breakaway for him.
Once again, Hickey was not used on the power play, though he did manage a couple of good offensive opportunities at even strength, including jumping well up into the play to keep a good cycle for the Canadians going in the first, and a heavy shot on a delayed penalty that generated another scoring chance for Canada in the second. However, he did not contribute to any goals.
Hickey was a staple on the penalty kill, however, and was good at clearing the puck (including a pretty awesome clear from his knees).
There was one final goal against Hickey was on the ice for: Finland’s winner on their five-on-three at the game’s end. There’s really only one way I’m going to interpret this, because five-on-threes are normally pretty hard to kill, let alone when facing a team that has scored as much and had as much power play success as Finland has had this tournament: he was out there for it, and that is a good thing.
Team Canada trusted Hickey enough to be out there for them in the most dangerous circumstances possible. That’s a silver lining.
It wasn’t the best game for him, ultimately; falling on that second goal against may very well end up one of the defining images of his tournament, even though it could have happened to anybody.
And now Team Canada is out, and with it, Mason McDonald and Brandon Hickey. Team Sweden will face Team Finland in one of the semifinal games on Jan. 4, but Adam Ollas Mattsson may not be able to play.
So this is it: a quarterfinals of silver linings for Flames fans, but not much more.