BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – A trio of former National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players earned medals at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Championship on Sunday, with former Western Michigan defenseman Oliwer Kaski earning a gold medal with Finland. Former North Dakota stars Tyson Jost and Troy Stecher each claimed silver medals at the two-week tournament with Team Canada.
Kaski and Finland defeated Jost, Stecher and Canada in the World Championship gold-medal game on May 26 at Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava by a score of 3-1. It was Finland’s first World Championship since 2011 and only the country’s third gold medal ever at the IIHF Men’s World Championship. The Finns defeated Sweden in the quarterfinals and Russia, 1-0, in the semifinals to make the title game. Canada garnered silver for the second time in three years after not medaling at last year’s World Championship. Russia defeated the Czech Republic for the bronze medal on Sunday.
Kaski (Pori, Finland) played in all 10 games on the blue line for Finland at the tournament, dishing out two assists and posting a +3 plus/minus. His assists came in an overtime loss to the United States May 13 and in a win over France on May 19. In his lone season with the Broncos in 2015-16, Kaski scored four goals and compiled 12 points in 31 games on the back end. This past season, Kaski suited up for the Lahti Pelicans in Finland’s top professional league, tallying 19 goals and 51 points in 59 regular-season games. He was signed to a one-year contract by the Detroit Red Wings today (Tuesday, May 28).
Stecher (Richmond, B.C.) appeared in all 10 games on the blue line for Canada at the World Championship, chipping in a goal and two assists, while logging a +9 plus/minus. He tallied his goal in a comeback win over host Slovakia on May 13, and dished out an assist in Canada’s semifinal win over the Czech Republic on Saturday. An All-American and All-NCHC selection, Stecher played at North Dakota from 2013-16, winning a national title in his final season, and chipped in 23 points in 78 games with the Vancouver Canucks this season.
Jost (St. Albert, Alberta) joined Team Canada late after the Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2016-17 NCHC All-Rookie Team forward played in eight games for Canada at the World Championship, handing out a pair of assists in a win over Great Britain on May 12, while recording a +4 plus/minus at the tournament. Jost also won a silver medal with Canada’s World Junior Championship team in 2017 in his lone season at UND. This past season he tallied 26 points in 70 regular-season games for the Avalanche and tacked on four points in the playoffs.
Former North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol won a silver medal as well, as he served as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Championship.
Three other NCHC alumni also skated at the 2019 IIHF World Championship for three other countries. Former WMU (2014-17) forward Frederik Tiffels (Cologne, Germany), playing in his third straight World Championship, compiled four points on two goals and two assists, in eight games for Germany. Now a member of Kölner Haie in Germany’s top professional division, Tiffels scored the game-winner against Denmark on May 12 and scored a goal in the loss to the U.S. on May 19. Germany lost to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on May 23, with Tiffels handing out an assist in the 5-1 defeat.
Former North Dakota (2015-18) and current Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (Rochester, Mich.) suited up in six games for Team USA, which fell in the quarterfinals to Russia. Former St. Cloud State (2014-16) forward Patrick Russell (Birkerod, Denmark) joined Team Denmark late after finishing the AHL Playoffs with the Bakersfield Condors, playing in four games at the World Championship with an assist in a shootout loss to Slovakia in Denmark’s final game on May 21.
The 2020 IIHF Men’s World Championship will be held in Switzerland.
Former WMU defenseman Oliwer Kaski skates with the IIHF World Championship trophy after winning gold with his native Finland in Slovakia.