The International Ice Hockey Federation’s 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship begins Friday, May 10th in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia and four Erie Otters alumni, all members of the 2017 OHL championship squad, will be competing for gold by representing their home countries during the tournament that runs through Sunday, May 26th. Among the 12 competing country rosters are Anthony Cirelli and Dylan Strome with Canada, Erik Cernak with host Slovakia, and for the second year in a row Alex DeBrincat will suit up for the United States.
Cirelli and Strome are competing in their first IIHF World Championship, but this certainly is not the first time they’ve donned the maple leaf on their chests. They were teammates at the 2017 IIHF World U20 Championship where they won silver medals after falling the US in a shootout in the gold medal game. Strome served as captain of Canada in 2017, and also was selected to Canada’s 2016 World Junior Championship roster where he led the team in scoring with six points (4G-2A). Cirelli was traded to Erie shortly after the 2017 WJC and went on to score the OHL championship clinching goal for the Otters later that year. Cirelli finished his second professional season with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season and posted career highs with 39 points (19G-20A), and also led all Lighting forwards in average shorthanded time on-ice (2:42/gm). Strome found himself in a change of scenery after the Arizona Coyotes traded the second year pro to the Chicago Blackhawks, reuniting the 22-year-old with Otters linemate Alex DeBrincat. Strome had a breakout year with the ‘Hawks with 51 points (17G-34A) in 58 games, finishing the season with 57 total points (20G-37A) in 78 regular season games with the Coyotes and Blackhawks. Cirelli and Strome open their group play Friday, May 10th against Finland.
DeBrincat will suit up for the Red, White and Blue for a second straight IIHF World Championship after helping USA to a bronze medal finish in 2018, where he recorded nine points (1G-8A) in ten games played. The Farmington Hills, Michigan native is off to a torrid start in his professional career, capping off his second NHL season with career highs in goals (41), assists (35) and points (76) and good for third on the Chicago Blackhawks in scoring. DeBrincat will be looking to add a third IIHF medal around his neck as the 21-year-old also has a bronze medal from the 2016 World U20 Championship. The United States opens their tournament against host Slovakia on Friday, May 10th.
Cernak is no stranger to international play as he has represented Slovakia on eight other occasions and will get to play in front of his hometown with Kosice being one of the host cities in Slovakia’s tournament plans. The 21-year-old defenseman is appearing in his first IIHF World Championship, but has previously appeared in four World U20 Championships making him one of ten players to appear in each of the World Junior Championship tournaments he’s eligible for, joining a group that includes Sweden’s Peter Forsberg. He helped Slovakia to their second ever medal at a U20 tournament with a bronze medal victory over Sweden in 2015. Cernak finished the 2018-19 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning after a call-up in November. The blue liner began his second pro year with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) before joining Tampa Bay for their record season where he played in 58 games and posted 16 points (5G-11A) and a +25 rating. Tournament host Slovakia kicks off their tournament against the United States on Friday, May 10th.
Season memberships for the 2019-20 season are on sale now and can be purchased in person at the Erie Otters front office located at 201 E. 8th Street in Erie, or by calling 814-455-7779. Take advantage of advanced ticket pricing through May 31st when you make a deposit on your ticket package. For the latest Otters news, visit www.ottershockey.com, or follow the team on Facebook (www.facebook.com/erieottershockey), Twitter (@ErieOtters) and Instagram (@ErieOtters).