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.
Kazakhstan will now travel to Port Alberni, B.C. to play the Junior A Port Alberni Bulldogs (Dec. 19) and Switzerland (Dec. 21). The Kazakhs will open the World Junior Championship Dec. 27 against Finland.
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.
Muratov opened the scoring when he took advantage of a defensive miscue at the Young Stars blueline, walking in alone on, deking to his right and squeaking it past Lenko.
The Young Stars pushed back in the second period, but it was Mitenkov countering for Kazakhstan, getting the puck in the slot from Ivan Verechshagin and, all alone, wiring a shot up top past Mills. Muratov also picked up an assist on the play.
The Young Stars outshot Kazakhstan 8-7 in the third period but were held off the scoreboard.
The BCIHL regular season resumes Jan. 3 when TWU hosts Simon Fraser at the LEC (7 p.m. PT).
BCIHL YOUNG STARS ROSTER
#1 – Michael Lenko – SFU – Gabriola Island, B.C. (English River Miners – SIJHL)
#29 – Lucas Mills – TWU – Burnaby, B.C. (Abbotsford Pilots – PJHL)
#7 – Dylan McCann – VIU – Surrey, B.C. (Campbell River – VIJHL)
#9 – Tayden Woods – Selkirk – Calgary (Woodstock – MJAHL)
#14 – Dylan Heppler – Selkirk – Taber, Alta. (Beaver Valley – KIHL)
#16 – Edward Lindsey – Selkirk – Castlegar, B.C. (Castlegar – KIJHL)
#17 – Jordan Bogress – TWU – Delta, B.C. (Humboldt – SJHL)
#18 – Brett Witala – VIU – Kelowna, B.C. (Kelowna – KIJHL)
#21 – Cole Plotnikoff – SFU – Surrey, B.C. (Kindersley – SJHL)
#23 – Hayden Guilderson – Victoria – Chilliwack, B.C. (Estevan – SJHL)
#39 – Branden Voss – Victoria – Camrose, Alta. (Drayton Valley – AJHL)
#44 – Spencer Gerth – TWU – Langley, B.C. (Everett – WHL)
#61 – Mitch Newsome – SFU – Surrey, B.C. (Coquitlam – BCHL)
#81 – Carter Huber – Victoria – Calgary (Okotoks – AJHL)
#88 – Gavin Rauser – VIU – Campbell River, B.C. (Powell River – BCHL)
#2 – Tyler Severson – Victoria – Calgary (Creston Valley – KIJHL)
#4 – Adam Morton – VIU – Ashton, Ont. (Almaguin Spartans – GMHL)
#5 – Vince Bitonti – Selkirk – Calgary (Castlegar – KIJHL)
#8 – Elijah Vilio – TWU – Aldergrove, B.C. (Aldergrove – PJHL)
#53 – Arjan Cheema – SFU – Surrey, B.C. (Aldergrove – PJHL)
#55 – Evan Cusmano – TWU – Abbotsford, B.C. (Aldergrove – PJHL)
BCIHL Young Stars Head Coach Barret Kropf
“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. 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.”