Alex Ciernik’s World Juniors are officially over just before the medal round is set to begin. The Slovakian forward took a hit toward the end of a preliminary round matchup against Norway. He was taken out of the game and would be held out against the Slovak’s final game against USA as a precaution.
With the medal round beginning on Tuesday, Slovakia has officially replaced Ciernik on their roster. So his tournament ends after three games. There was concern that Ciernik would not be available for the tournament to begin with as he had been out for almost a month prior due to a concussion. He was still named to the preliminary roster despite that, and was able to join the team.
While he registered only one assist in three games, he was rather noticeable on the ice. He often used his speed to be able to go from the defensive zone to the offensive zone to create chances. His footwork allows him to go through multiple defenders at a time as he is also able to keep the puck on his stick in the process.
It likely wouldn’t have mattered if Slovakia had Ciernik in the lineup for their last game as Cutter Gauthier and the USA squad tormented them all game long. But now, he will continue to watch as Slovakia will take on Finland in the quarterfinals. The Slovaks finished second in the group stage after the loss to USA. Finland ended up in third in Group A.
Even with Ciernik’s offense not showing up on the scoresheet during the tournament, Flyers fans have gotten to see up close the kind of impact he can have. As a fourth round pick, expectations aren’t the highest on him. But his production in Sweden, added with his overall skill set, provides excitement to the kind of player he can become.
Ciernik is only 19 years old so he has even more room grow. It’s too early to say if he could have an impact at the NHL level. But, the Flyers are seeing value coming from a late round selection in a draft where they already had plenty of talent. If he pans out, the Flyers 2023 draft gets that much better.