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COYOTES PROSPECTS WIN MEDALS AT IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP

Wednesday, 01.06.2010 / 1:16 PM / Features
By Anthony Perez
The 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship ended Tuesday night in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with Team USA winning the gold medal.

Two Coyotes prospects represented their home countries in this year’s tournament and each one earned a medal.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, whom Phoenix chose with the sixth pick overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, played for Sweden, which won the bronze medal. Goaltender Mike Lee, whom Phoenix selected in the third round (91st overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, played for Team USA, which won the gold medal.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (middle) with Keith Gretzky and Don Maloney. (Photo by Getty Images)

Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney, Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving and various scouts attended some of the games. Treliving said that the organization is happy with the progress that Ekman-Larsson and Lee displayed during the tournament.

“With any young player you want to see the progress, see the development from year to year,” Treliving said. “Both those young players have taken big steps this year to be able to be in this type of tournament, with the competition level the way it’s at and to really shine in the tournament.”

Ekman-Larsson played in all six of Sweden’s games and notched two goals and three assists. Both of his goals were power-play goals. He also finished the tournament with 12 penalty minutes and a plus-minus rating of plus-five.

Ekman-Larssson’s five points ranked eighth among defensemen in the tournament. He played his best game on Dec. 27 when he had a three-point performance in Sweden’s 7-3 victory over Austria.

Treliving said Ekman-Larsson’s speed and mobility were on display during the tournament.

“He’s an elite skater," Treliving said. "If you look at his mobility and agility, the way he gets around the ice, he’s better than anybody in that age group right now.”

Mike Lee.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Lee played in five of Team USA’s seven games and posted a 4-0 record with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. He stopped 108 of the 119 shots he faced in the tournament.

In Tuesday's gold-medal game, Lee stopped four of seven shots before being lifted from the game. His most impressive outing in the tournament came Monday when he stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced to beat Ekman-Larsson and the Swedes 5-2.

“That team that he beat in Sweden, that’s a heck of a team,” Treliving said. “They’re considered a real mature team, there’s a lot of high draft picks on that team. There’s a lot of skill, and to be able to backstop his team to win that game was a tremendous feather in his cap.”

Neither Ekman-Larsson nor Lee have been in the Coyotes system for that long, but Treliving said it’s good to see two of the organization’s newest prospects compete against top-tier competition.

“These are the best players in their age group in the world," Treliving said. "It really says a lot about the work that they’ve put in and the steps that they’ve taken, so we’re really excited about both players.”

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