EVERETT – Two members of the Everett Silvertips took part in this year’s IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, as defenseman Mirco Mueller skated for Team Switzerland and goaltender Austin Lotz with Team Canada. Canada ended the USA’s four-year reign of dominance in the Gold Medal Game, capturing the ten-nation tournament title in Sochi, Russia, which is also the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Switzerland qualified for the playoff round with a third-place finish at 2-2 in Group B during the preliminary round. The Swiss began with a 4-1 win over Slovakia and closed with a 3-0 win over Germany, suffering rough losses to Sweden (6-0) and Canada (10-1) in between. Switzerland then faced Finland in the quarterfinals, with Mueller scoring a goal, assisting on another and posting a team-high 22:24 of ice time, but the Finns used four third-period goals to win the game 7-4 and advance.
Mueller finished second among Swiss defensemen and tied for fifth on the team with three points (1g/2a) in five tournament games. He played the third-most minutes of any player on his team (an average of 21:03), posting a -1 plus/minus rating, two penalty minutes and six shots on goal as well.
Although Lotz did not play in the tournament as Canada’s third goaltender, the Canadians rolled to a 4-0 record in round-robin play and and finished 7-0 on their way to the Gold Medal. Following wins over Slovakia (4-1) and Germany (3-1) to start the tournament, Canada pounded Switzerland 10-1 and Sweden 6-0 to finish first in Group B. Canada then defeated the Czech Republic 6-0 in the quarterfinals and knocked off Finland 3-1 in the semis. Despite a hard charge from the United States in the Gold Medal Game, Canada hung on for a 3-2 victory to take the tournament championship. Finland then topped host Russia 2-1 to take the Bronze Medal.
Mueller, who recently completed his 17-year-old season with the Silvertips, has already represented Switzerland this year at the World Junior Championships. The native of Winterthur posted two assists and ranked fifth in the entire tournament with a +7 plus/minus rating as the Swiss finished in sixth place. In 63 games with Everett this year, Mueller was second among all WHL rookie defensemen with 31 points (6g/25a) on his way to Silvertips Rookie of the Year honors. He played in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January and is currently ranked 9th by NHL Central Scouting among all draft-eligible skaters playing in North America ahead of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Lotz, 17, is on a roster for international competition for the second time following last year’s stint with Team West at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge. One of three goaltenders on Canada’s roster, he played the second half of a 4-3 shootout win over the Czech Republic in exhibition play last Tuesday. The St. Adolphe, Manitoba product posted a 15-19-3-1 record, .907 saves percentage, 3.37 goals-against average and one shutout in 42 appearances for the Silvertips in his sophomore WHL season this year. Lotz stopped at least 40 shots on nine different occasions this season, upping his stock for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to 10th-place among North American goaltenders in the final rankings from NHL Central Scouting.
CLICK HERE for complete tournament coverage from the International Ice Hockey Federation.
With their 10th Anniversary season concluded, the Silvertips are now preparing for their 11th year in the WHL in 2013-14. Visit our website throughout the offseason for updates on our head coaching search, the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, NHL Entry Draft and much more! To keep up with all the latest team news and information, “like” the Everett Silvertips Hockey Club on Facebook or follow @WHLSilvertips on Twitter.