The BCIHL Young Stars lost a hard-fought game against the Kazakhstan National Junior Team, falling 2-0 in the College Hockey Showcase at the Langley Events Centre Monday.
The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship-bound Kazakhs earned their third straight win in the College Hockey Showcase, with goalie Vladislav Nurek making 30 saves for his team’s first shutout of the tournament.
Batyrlan Muratov and Dmitriy Mitenkov scored for Kazakhstan, who are preparing to make a return to the top level of the World Junior Championship for the first time since 2009. Kazakhstan also beat the University of Victoria (6-2 on Tuesday) and Trinity Western University (4-3 in overtime on Thursday) as part of the tournament.
Young Stars Michael Lenko (SFU) and Lucas Mills (TWU) split the goaltending duties, making 25 and 16 saves, respectively, with each allowing one goal.
Kazakhstan outshot the Young Stars 43-30, with Simon Fraser goalie Michael Lenko making 25 saves on 26 shots before giving way to TWU’s Lucas Mills, who stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced through the second half of the contest.
The Young Stars team included forward Spencer Gerth from Langley and defenceman Elijah Vilio from Aldergrove.
“That first 15 minutes was a pretty out of sorts, but you get into the game and you get a few hits and with both Lenko and Mills playing well, we had a fighting chance,” said BCIHL Young Stars Head Coach Barret Krop.
“I think for the most part, it was a great opportunity for those guys to have an international experience. I think this type of game where we come together as a league helps the BCIHL in terms of levels of respect and competitiveness. It also gives us a bit of a profile in that we were able to be part of helping Kazakhstan prepare for the World Juniors.”
The Kazakhstan team now heads to Port Alberni, where they will play a pair of games as part of the Lordco Auto Parts Road to the World Juniors.
Langley Events Centre will also host a pair of games as part of the series: Finland and Denmark will hit the ice on Wednesday while the United States battles the Czech Republic on Saturday.
The Finnish team features prospect Kaapo Kakko, who is ranked second overall for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, while the U.S. roster has top-rated prospect Jack Hughes, as well as his older brother Quinn Hughes, who was selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks.