The 2013 World Junior Championships opened on December 26 in Ufa, Russia and the Buffalo Sabres prospects involved in the yearly tournament have already made major contributions to their teams.
The four Sabres prospects that have made an appearance in the tournament - Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrey Makarov for Russia, Joel Armia for Finland and Jake McCabe for the United States – have all made their presence felt on the ice.
Grigorenko has been and will continue to be one of the most watched players in Ufa and has not disappointed. After notching an assist in Russia’s opener against Slovakia, Grigorenko was a force on the ice against the United States earlier this morning doing everything but getting his name on the scoresheet. The United States goaltender John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks) made a few excellent stops to rob Grigorenko of his first goal of the tournament.
Makarov may be the only reason the Russians beat the United States today 2-1, with a dazzling performance, especially toward the end of the first period after his team took an early 1-0 lead. Makarov stopped 41 out of 42 shots, keeping his team in the game during periods of American dominance. This was Makarov’s first start of the tournament.
Armia came out strong out of the gate, notching two assists in Finland’s 5-1 victory over Latvia opening day. The entire Finnish team looked slow in today’s game against the Czech Republic, a 3-1 loss. Armia also has four penalty minutes and is a minus-2 in the tournament.
McCabe was named the United States’ captain earlier this week and has played great defensively for the Americans. While not showing up in the points column, McCabe is a plus-1 over the two games and has four penalty minutes.
The World Juniors continue on through the new year, ending with the gold medal game on January 5.