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2015 IIHF World Championship: a trip well worth taking

Several Arizona Coyotes are coming back from the IIHF World Championship with hardware.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

The 2015 IIHF World Championship ended this past weekend, and it was a good one if you played for the Arizona Coyotes.

Let's take a look at how the various Coyotes fared in the semifinals and finals of the tournament, where Arizona was represented by five out of the seven players it sent to Prague and Ostrava.

4th Place - Czech Republic

Martin Erat - IIHF Stat Line: 1 goal, 3 assists in 10 GP

For the second year in a row, the Czech Republic finished just off the medal podium with a 4th place finish. After beating Finland 5-3 in the Quarterfinals, the Czechs had the unlucky distinction of drawing juggernaut Canada in the semifinals. The host nation played well, but ultimately lost to the Canadians 2-0.

Erat had just one assist in the elimination round. But considering his team got shutout twice in the same stretch, that should not come as a tremendous surprise. One of those shutouts came against the next team on this list.

3rd Place - United States

Mark Arcobello - IIHF Stat Line: 1 goal, 2 assists in 10 GP

The Americans took the bronze medal for the second time in three years, and they earned it on the back of strong goaltending from Winnipeg Jets prospect Connor Hellybuyck. The Americans defeated the Swiss 3-1 in the Quarterfinals before falling 4-0 to Russia in the semifinals.

Unlike the Sochi Olympics, where the Americans seemingly phoned it in for the bronze medal match against Finland, the United States powered its way to a 3-0 victory against the Czech Republic to secure third place overall.

Arcobello did not have a significant amount of offensive output at this tournament, but his points were timely. His one goal proved to be the game winner against Russia, and both of his assists (one in the Quarterfinal game) were on America's opening goal. The forward did a good job in a depth role for the USA.

Connor Murphy - IIHF Stat Line: 0 points in 10 GP

Connor Murphy's ten game trek to the Czech Republic seemed to embody the kind of role Arizona envisions him playing on their blue line: not necessarily a lot of offense but good, clean defensive play. The young defenseman, despite finishing with no points, still managed to record only a -2 rating over the life of the tournament. Problems with +/- aside, that suggests Murphy did a very good job limiting opposing scoring opportunities.

Arizona's management will likely be pleased with Murphy's play, as he showed an increasing maturity that bodes well for his development. While the team would certainly like more offensive output from him, that is more of a bonus rather than an essential part of his game.

John Moore - IIHF Stat Line: 1 assist in 9 GP

On the other hand, Moore is a defenseman that the Coyotes want to post a threat on the second power play unit. His tournament performance therefore is hard to label as anything but disappointing.

Moore's lone assist came in group play, and it was not enough to keep him on the roster for the bronze medal match, as he sat in favor of Jake Gardiner. International experience is not a bad thing to have, but both he and the Coyotes were likely expecting much more out of this tournament.

2nd Place - Russia

Viktor Tikhonov - IIHF Stat Line: 1 goal, 2 assists in 10 GP

If Tikhonov is looking to land an NHL contract next season, he's probably going to want to show teams highlights from last year's tournament instead of this one.

The former 1st round pick of the Coyotes was virtually invisible after the opening game of the tournament, though his team did not need his scoring to make the gold medal match, where they were thoroughly trounced by Canada 6-1.

Playing with more high end NHL talents on the roster probably limited Tikhonov's ice time and chances to contribute offensively. Even so, Tikhonov's performance at this tournament was a far cry from his 2014 IIHF World Championship best 16 point tournament last year.

1st Place - Canada

Mike Smith - 8-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .930 SV% in 8 GP

Canada's gold medal - its first since 2007 - may have been won thanks to the Canadians' explosive offense. But were it not for Mike Smith, Canada may not have had a chance to play for gold.

The embattled Coyotes starter surrendered just one goal - a garbage time goal in their 6-1 thrashing of Russia - in the medal round. In particular, when the Canadians could only muster two goals against the Czechs in the semifinal, it was Mike Smith who pitched a shutout to get the Canadians over the top.

Smith's impressive stat line, and impressive tournament overall, should be a good confidence booster for a goalie whose dreadful start to the 2014-15 NHL season was only partially mitigated by improved play down the stretch.


So another World Championship is in the books, and five members of the Coyotes organization will return to their home nations with hardware. While the Coyotes hope that their players will be preoccupied with the Stanley Cup Playoffs this time next year, there will be plenty of storylines to watch should the Desert Dogs make their way to Moscow and St. Petersburg for the 2016 IIHF World Championship.