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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 1:46 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Russia rides power-play goals to WJC semifinals

Russia defenseman Nikita Zadorov scored two second-period power-play goals to help rally his team to a 5-3 victory against the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday.

The triumph enables Russia to advance to the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the quarterfinal later Thursday between Sweden and Slovakia (1:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). The Russians lost 3-2 to Sweden in the final game of the preliminary round in the Group B pool Tuesday.

"We want to play Sweden," Zadorov told the IIHF website. "It was a close game last time and we're going to watch some video and play better."

After earning medals in two of the past three World Junior tournaments, including the gold at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia, the Americans will go home this year without a medal.

Stefan Matteau had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Hartman and Nicolas Kerdiles also scored for the U.S. Goalie Jon Gillies made 20 saves.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 1:35 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Discipline, penalty kill send U.S. home early from WJC

The trip home this year for the United States National Junior Team will not be nearly as memorable as the one the team made last year.

After celebrating a third gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, the United States will arrive home empty-handed in 2014 after dropping a 5-3 quarterfinal game against Russia on Thursday at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.

"It's definitely disappointing," U.S. forward Ryan Hartman told NHL.com. "We came in with a goal to win gold and obviously fell short. It's a learning experience for the guys coming back next year; it's a good learning tool for them."

Hartman, U.S. captain Riley Barber and goalie Jon Gillies were the three returnees from the team that won the gold last year in Ufa, Russia. Hartman pointed to struggles on the penalty kill that led to the early dismissal this year.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 6:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

U.S. ready for quarterfinal game vs. Russia

The United States National Junior Team will look to rebound from its first loss at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship when it faces Russia in the quarterfinal round of the tournament Thursday (6 a.m. ET, NHLN-US, NHL.com) at Malmo Arena in Sweden.

The Americans are 3-4-0 against Russia in the past 10 World Junior tournaments, including a 2-1 preliminary-round loss at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. The U.S. has six wins and 20 losses against Russia in all-time at the WJC, though three of the victories have come in the past seven meetings.

The last meeting in the quarterfinal round was a 6-1 Russia win in 2002. In the last medal-round match between the teams, Russia won 4-2 in bronze-medal game at the 2008 WJC.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 9:10 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

U.S. readies for Canada with Group A top seed on line

The United States and Canada are prepared to renew acquaintances in preliminary-round action of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden on Tuesday (11:30 a.m. ET, NHLN-US, NHL.com).

The top seed in Group A is on the line, meaning a quarterfinal-round match Thursday with the fourth-place team in Group B is at stake.

The United States enters atop Group A with three victories and nine points, outscoring its opposition 19-4. Canada needs to defeat the U.S. in regulation to gain the necessary three points to grab the top seed. Canada has two regulation wins and one shootout loss for seven points.

"I think right now the guys know we're playing for the top seed and it doesn't matter if we're playing Canada or the Czechs or Sweden … that's our No. 1 focus," U.S. coach Don Lucia told NHL.com. "I think it'll be good that we play a good, quality team like Canada because it will help us get ready for that quarterfinal game when it's single elimination.

"Playing a good opponent with high-end talent and full of first-round draft picks (11) means there's little margin for error. Every player must be on top of his game."

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Posted On Monday, 12.30.2013 / 3:56 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Petan scores twice as Canada rallies past Slovakia

There isn't a player in the Canadian Hockey League who can match the offensive prowess of Nicolas Petan of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks over the past two seasons.

That success has certainly carried over into the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship as a member of the Canadian National Junior Team.

Petan, who has 186 points in the past 103 games to lead all scorers in the CHL since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, scored two of the biggest goals of his career on Monday to help rally Canada to a 5-3 victory against Slovakia in preliminary round action before 2,558 fans at Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

After spotting Slovakia a 3-1 lead in the second, the Canadians roared back to score four unanswered goals to earn their second win in the Group A bracket. Canada will conclude play in Group A against the United States on New Year's Eve at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com). Slovakia will meet Czech Republic in its final preliminary-round match on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

"This win was a huge boost of confidence for us," forward Jonathan Drouin told TSN.ca. "Every team is good in this tournament and we had a great comeback by our team. But it's behind us and now we have a big game [against the United States]."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 2:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Special teams spark U.S. past Germany

One of several areas the United States National Junior Team has certainly excelled at during the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship has been specialty teams.

That theme continued Sunday in an 8-0 victory against Germany at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

The United States broke open the game with four power-play goals in the second to take a 6-0 lead. U.S. coach Don Lucia acknowledged that his team is beginning to gain "traction" on specialty teams.

"We have a lot of different pieces we can use on [the power play]," Lucia told NHL.com. "[Assistant coach Greg Brown] has control and he's coaching them up. We have defensemen who can make some plays and three units going. We've been a plus in every game so far on specialty teams and that goes a long way in helping you win games."

The United States, in fact, has only given up one even-strength goal in the tournament.

The Americans, who finished 6-for-10 with the man advantage against Germany, held a 22-4 shot advantage in the second when their opponent was assessed 33 penalty minutes. The United States held a 53-15 advantage in shots for the game.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 1:58 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Fucale to start for Canada against Slovakia

Canadian National Junior Team goalie Zachary Fucale, a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in June, is expected to make his debut between the pipes on Monday when his team faces Slovakia in preliminary round play of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

Canadian coach Brent Sutter confirmed the decision Sunday after his team's practice. Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings) was the starter in Canada's previous two games, a regulation win against Germany and a shootout loss to the Czech Republic. Paterson has a 3.36 goals-against average and .867 save percentage.

Fucale, who would be making his first appearance for Canada at the WJC, is 19-7-1 with a 2.51 GAA and .902 save percentage for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 8:27 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Stolarz earns start against Germany; Stepan returns

Zach Stepan will return to the lineup and Anthony Stolarz will earn his first start in goal when the United States National Junior Team faces Germany in preliminary round action at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship on Sunday at the Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

The United States enters Sunday's game in first place in Group A pool with six points. A matchup against rival Canada looms on Tuesday at the Isstadion at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com).

Stepan (Nashville Predators), who missed Saturday's victory against Slovakia with a lower body injury, will return to the lineup against Germany and will likely begin the game alongside center Nicolas Kerdiles (Anaheim Ducks) and right wing Riley Barber (Washington Capitals). Daniel O'Regan (San Jose Sharks) will not play against Germany and is listed day to day.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 11:32 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

U.S. pulls away in third, doubles up Slovakia 6-3

Forwards Ryan Hartman and Jack Eichel and defenseman Matthew Grzelcyk each had a goal and an assist and goalie Jon Gillies made 27 saves to lead the United States National Junior Team to a 6-3 victory over Slovakia on Saturday in the preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at Malmo Isstadion in Sweden.

The U.S. entered the third period holding a precarious 3-2 lead, but broke the game open by outscoring the Slovaks 3-1. The Americans outshot Slovakia, 47-30, including a 16-8 margin over the final 20 minutes.

While it wasn't textbook hockey, U.S. coach Don Lucia will certainly take it. His team remains unbeaten in the Group A pool with six points in two games.

"When you get into a tournament like this, there will be a lot of close games in the third and you have to be a good strong finishing team and we did a good job," Lucia said. "We got the puck down low and that's when our team is at its best; we're not a fancy team, that's not our identity."

The U.S., which has scored 11 times in two games and received goals from 10 different players, will next face Germany in preliminary round play on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com).

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Posted On Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 7:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

United States set for Slovakia; Stepan out

The United States National Junior Team will go for its second straight win in preliminary-round play at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship with a Group A game Saturday against Slovakia at the Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.

The Slovaks are coming off a 9-2 victory against Germany on Friday, led by two goals each from Milan Kolena and Columbus Blue Jackets 2013 first-round pick (No. 27) Marko Dano. The United States defeated the Czech Republic 5-1 in their tournament opener Thursday.

The U.S. leads the all-time series with Slovakia nine victories, three losses and one tie in 13 games. At the 2013 WJC the Americans beat Slovakia 9-3 in the preliminary round on the way to winning a gold medal. The U.S. has won the past three meetings against the Slovaks.

The only change to the U.S. lineup will come with the forward group as only 12 forwards will be in the lineup, rather than the 13 used in the opener.

Nashville Predators prospect Zach Stepan, who played left wing on the fourth line, exited the game against Czech Republic midway through the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. He did not practice with the team Friday and has been listed as day-to-day.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres