December 04 2012 10:42AM
As speculated yesterday and widely assumed, two Toronto Maple Leafs prospects were named to the American World Junior preliminary squad, both off their OHL teams. That's Tyler Biggs of the Oshawa Generals, selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, and Garret Sparks, goaltender for the Guelph Storm, selected in the 7th round that same year.
America's camp runs from December 16 to December 23, with much less pomp the Canadian trials will offer, and also fewer players. Only four skaters will be cut from the preliminary roster, and with the team likely to take three goalies to Russia, I think it's safe to say both Biggs and Sparks will make the trip. Whether Sparks sees any action is dependent on the health of John Gibson.
Biggs has been getting some rave reviews for his play lately. After starting out the year with limited point totals, Biggs has come along with a healthy scoring rate of about a goal every second game, but is getting involved in the offence, recording more assists, and taking fewer penalties. He's not at the level some OHL players are in his age group and hasn't cracked the top page of the scoring leaderboard, but it'd do Leafs fans some good to get a chance to see him play in high-def.
Sparks, meanwhile, has the 6th best save percentage among 21 qualified OHL goalies, also after a slow start playing behind some painfully bad defence. He's had a .940 save percentage in the last two months (after starting out below .900) and I guess is coming around to facing over 34 shots a night.
Here's the Americans' tournament schedule. All times are Eastern (on a 24-hour clock) and are all shown on TSN including the pre-tournament games. TSN is showing all the medal round games as well:
|Dec 20||vs. Sweden*||12:30|
|Dec 21||vs. Finland*||6:00|
|Dec 27||vs. Germany||9:00|
|Dec 28||vs. Russia||9:00|
|Dec 30||vs. Canada||4:00|
|Dec 31||vs. Slovakia||5:00|