Three weeks ago, a pair of Michigan’s freshman phenoms departed for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Riga, Latvia. Neither will be coming home empty handed.
Freshman defenseman Owen Power helped Team Canada take home the gold medal — the country’s first since 2016. On the way to winning gold, Power’s squad knocked out freshman forward Matty Beniers and Team USA in the semifinals.
Power had a strong tournament and continued to prove why he’s the frontrunner to be the first overall pick in the NHL draft next month. He finished with 3 assists in the tournament, and while it was not an overwhelming performance on the scoresheet, those three points were the most of any defenseman on his team. What really stood out with Power, though, was his defensive abilities.
In Canada’s quarterfinal matchup against Russia, Power had the second-most ice time of any player at 24:02. While he didn’t register a point, he helped stifle Russia’s offensive attack and was rewarded with player of the game honors. In the championship game, Power had 24:17 of ice time and his big minutes helped propel Canada to the gold in a 3-2 overtime victory over Finland. Power had a major impact on the tournament even without stuffing the stat sheet, and at just 18 years old, he was dominating his competition on the defensive end.
Beniers, meanwhile, was hoping to add another gold medal to his collection after winning the World Juniors Tournament in January but ended up having to settle for bronze with Team USA. He finished with just a single goal and assist in the tournament, but his goal was highlight-reel worthy. Against Latvia, Beniers took a puck from behind the net, spun to avoid a defender and then cut in front of the net and jammed the puck past the goalie for the score.
In team USA’s quarterfinal matchup against Slovakia, Beniers went sliding hard into the boards and his ankle got caught under him — appearing to cause serious injury. Wolverine and NHL fans collectively held their breath as Beniers was helped to the locker room, unable to put weight on his ankle, but it appears a major injury was avoided. While this ended Beniers’ tournament, he was seen skating around just fine during warmups for team USA’s next matchup two days later.
After playing at an elite level in the college ranks, the duo proved that, despite their youth, they could compete on the international stage — and have the medals to show for it. Having played their last competitive hockey ahead of the draft, Michigan will now closely monitor where Beniers and Power get drafted, and if they will choose to return to the Wolverines for another season.