Lombardi Likes What He Saw
"The number one thing is that itis a great growth experience for all those players," Lombardi said. "They are with their peer group and it’s the best in the world and there is an enormous amount of pride and pressure on them. So you get to see your players perform in a setting where the importance of winning is incredibly high. I don’t think that from an organizational standpoint I have ever had that, where we had two captains, both of them in the final, and an assistant captain, all of them in the finals."
Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert, both defensemen, each earned a gold medal as they helped Team Canada defeat Team Sweden 5-1 Monday night at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. Forward Oscar Moller, who played for Team Sweden, will receive a silver medal and defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov will earn a bronze medal as all four Kings participants in the tournament home a medal.
"I think that the organization can be really proud, from the scouts right on up," Lombardi said. "It is a great feeling when you go there and see your kids put in those situations. Individually, I think that they all did well to varying degrees but when I meet with them after, like I met with Oscar and Hickey and Teubert after the game last night briefly, my whole message there is that I think they should have learned a lot. This is something that you can grow from once you get over all the emotion. Sit down and go over your tournament as far as how you played and most importantly what you learned."
Hickey, who was Canada’s team captain for the tournament, recorded three points (0-3=3), two penalty minutes and five shots on goal in six tournament games as Team Canada went a perfect 6-0. Teubert recorded zero points, four penalty minutes and five shots on goal also in six games also for Team Canada. The two were paired together and were typically matched up with the opposing team's best players.
"That’s the one thing here in Canada, I don’t know how to explain it but I don’t know if we have another setting where young players have this much scrutiny. Its like a 19-year old's Superbowl with the media coverage and 20,000 people in the building. Hickey has always been a very underrated player, he is smart defensively with or without the puck. We expect him to be just like he was on his draft day, a smart all-around player. I think its interesting that most people do see him as a puck-mover but something that we picked up on his draft year is that he is very underrated defensively because he is so smart and he is in the right spots. In his case, being in that leadership role after the letdown in training camp because he was injured and not really given a chance to make the Kings given his injury status, this was something that did a lot to compensate for that."
Moller, who was Sweden’s team captain, recorded four points (1-3=4), four penalty minutes and 23 shots on goal in six tournament games as Team Sweden went 5-1 and earned the silver medal for the second consecutive year.
"The thing with Oscar is that he was getting a lot of chances and some of them were not going in for him, but he created a lot in terms of for his teammates and for himself. It is very unusual for the Swedes to give the "C" to a player who never played for Sweden. For a kid to come over and play junior hockey (in Canada), the Swedish Federation doesn’t take too kindly to that, they like their kids to stay within their system. For this kid to do what he did and come over and play junior, then they give him the "C," that really says a lot about this kid’s character. He played his heart out. When I talked to him last night after the game he was crying and that’s good. There is nothing wrong with that."
Voynov, who was an alternate captain for Russia, recorded four points (1-3=4), zero penalty minutes, a plus-1 rating and 12 shots on goal in seven tournament games as Team Russia went 5-2 and earned the bronze medal for the second consecutive year.
"Like I said, for kids that you hope someday will be playing under the pressure of a Stanley Cup playoff game, you couldn’t have a better setting and I think that their success individually and as a team is a great accomplishment for them and the organization."