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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Monday, 01.02.2012 / 9:48 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Mrazek helps keep game scoreless

CALGARY -- Czech Republic goalie Petr Mrazek was up to his old tricks in the first period of his team's quarterfinal-round match in the 2012 World Junior Championship against the favored Russian National Junior on Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov to help his team escape with a 0-0 deadlock after 20 minutes. The winner of the contest will meet Team Canada in the tournament semifinals scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
 
Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded just 11 goals on 148 shots in the tournament. He enters Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
 
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but was denied by Mrazek's blocker before being sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
 
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.

Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski made five saves in the first.
 
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko, who suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft-eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.


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POSTED ON Monday, 01.02.2012 / 12:20 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Aittokallio to earn start in goal againt Slovakia

CALGARY -- Not surprisingly, Finnish National Junior Team coach Raimo Helminen announced that goalie Sami Aittokaillio will get the start against Slovakia on Monday in quarterfinal-round play in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Helminen made his decision following the team's brisk morning practice at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park facility.

Aittokaillio is the tournament leader in save percentage (.987) and goals-against average (0.50) in his two victories in the tournament. Fellow Finn Christopher Gibson sports an .865 save percentage and 4.50 goals against average in two starts for the Finns.

Helminen knows his team, winner of three straight, will have to be on the top of its game to have any measure of success against the Slovaks.

"We have to be careful with them, they're a hard-working team and they look very dangerous," Helminen told NHL.com.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 10:38 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Medal and relegation round schedule set for WJC

EDMONTON - So now that pool play in each bracket is complete, it's time for the teams in each bracket to congregate in Calgary for medal and relegation-round competition in the 2012 World Junior Championship.

In Group A, Sweden, Russia and Slovakia were the top three teams and in Group B, Canada, Finland and the Czech Republic earned spots in the medal round. The United States joins Denmark, Switzerland and Latvia in the relegation round, which will also take place at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Canada is the only country to win all four games in regulation during preliminary-round play, outscoring the opposition, 26-5. Sweden, the Group A winner and also unbeaten, outscored its foes, 26-11.

The teams receive a day off on New Year's Day but will commence action on Monday.

Quarterfinal Round
Monday

Finland vs. Slovakia, 5 p.m. ET
Russia vs. Czech Republic, 9 p.m. ET

Semifinal Round
Tuesday
Sweden vs. Finland/Slovakia winner, 5 p.m. ET
Canada vs. Russia/Czech Republic winner, 9 p.m. ET

Wednesday - Placement Round (5th/6th), 11 p.m. ET
Thursday - Bronze medal game at 3:30 p.m. ET
Thursday - Gold medal game at 10 p.m. ET

RELEGATION ROUND
Tuesday - Team USA vs. Latvia, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday - Latvia vs. Denmark, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday - Switzerland vs. Team USA, 5 p.m. ET

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 9:52 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Wedgewood preserves Canada's 3-0 lead on U.S.

EDMONTON -- The U.S. National Junior Team put the pedal to the metal in the second period in an effort to pare the three-goal deficit they faced after the opening 20 minutes in Group B preliminary-round play of the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.
 
Unfortunately for the Americans, Canada goalie Scott Wedgewood wouldn't allow it. Wedgewood stopped 12 shots in the middle period and extended his personal shutout streak in the tournament to five periods. Wedgewood has made 20 saves through 40 minutes.
 
Wedgewood was even taken out by U.S. forward Emerson Etem at the top of the right circle when he attempted to clear the puck. Etem, perhaps not wanting to collide with Wedgewood head-on, slid to the ice but tripped up Wedgewood with 4:19 remaining in the second. The Americans actually denied the Canadians on a 5-on-3 power-play for a little over a minute.
 
While there were no goals scored in the second, there was plenty of excitement and big hits. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (6-foot-6.5) of Team Canada leveled Austin Watson (6-foot-3) in the Canadian end midway through the period.
 
Mark Stone, Jaden Schwartz and Brett Connolly each scored goals in the first when Canada opened a 3-0 lead.
 
It certainly wasn't the start the U.S. needed coming off two straight losses to Finland on Wednesday and the Czech Republic on Friday by a combined 9-3 aggregate.
 
Stone began the barrage with his team-leading seventh goal of the tournament off a quick release from the slot after gathering a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau. Schwartz, Canada's captain, extended the lead to 2-0 when he took a feed from Stone in the slot and buried an attempt from in close on starter Jack Campbell.
 
Connolly then scored at the 15:59 mark of the first on an unassisted goal. After skating into the right circle, Connolly ripped a shot that beat Campbell to the long side for a 3-0 cushion.
 
The U.S. was totally outplayed in the opening 20 minutes by a quicker and stronger Canadian group. Campbell turned aside 16 shots. Wedgewood is making his first start since posting a 26-save, 5-0 shutout, against the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada jumps out to 3-0 lead on U.S.

EDMONTON -- Mark Stone, Jaden Schwartz and Brett Connolly each scored goals and Scott Wedgewood needed to make just eight saves as the Canadian National Junior Team holds a 3-0 lead on Team USA after one period in preliminary-round action at Rexall Place.
 
It certainly wasn't the start the U.S. needed coming off two straight losses to Finland on Wednesday and the Czech Republic on Friday by a combined 9-3 aggregate.

Stone began the barrage with his team-leading seventh goal of the tournament off a quick release from the slot after gathering a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau.
 
Canada captain Jaden Schwartz extended the lead to 2-0 when he took a feed from Stone in the slot and buried an attempt from in close on starter Jack Campbell.
 
Connolly then scored at the 15:59 mark of the first on an unassisted goal. After skating into the right circle, Connolly ripped a shot that beat Campbell to the long side for a 3-0 cushion.
 
The U.S. was totally outplayed in the opening 20 minutes by a quicker and stronger Canadian group. Campbell turned aside 16 shots. Wedgewood is making his first start since posting a 26-save, 5-0 shutout, against the Czech Republic on Wednesday.


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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 7:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Ready to rock at Rexall

EDMONTON - Here are the lineups for the New Year's Eve clash between Canada and the U.S.

Canada lineups
G-Scott Wedgewood
Howdon-Connolly-F.Hamilton (Harrington-Murray)
Huberdeau-Stone-Strome (Gormley-D.Hamilton)
Bournival-Pearson-Jenner (Oleksiak-Pysyk)
Schwartz-Gallagher-Scheifele (Beaulieu)

U.S. lineups
G-Jack Campbell
Czarnik-Arnold-Zucker (Tinordi-Merrill)
Rau-Archibald-Bjugsted (Clendening-Johns)
Coyle-Etem-Miller (Trouba-Gravel)
Saad-Brickely-Watson-Tynan

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 4:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Czech Republic and Finland prepare for puck drop

EDMONTON - The Czech Republic and Finland are prepared to do battle in what is a pretty big hockey game today at Rexall Place.

The winner will earn the second seed in the Group B pool. Finland currently has two wins and one loss for 6 points and Czech has two victories and one loss with 6 points. The Czech Republic scratches for the game include Vancouver Giants defenseman David Musil.

Finland lineups
G-Samie Aittolkallio
Mikael Granlund-Markus Granlund-Pulkkinen (Hakanpaa-Makinen)
Donskoi-Salomaki-Armia (Pokka-Hovinen)
Barkov-Aaltonen-Ruuttu (Ristolainen-Riikola)

Czech lineups
G-Petr Mrazek
Sekac-Jaskin-Holik (Riha-Krejci)
Uher-Filippi-Nosek (Mozik-Jank)
Straka-Hertl-Pribyl (Hrbas-Zamorsky)

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:51 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canadian defenseman Murray proving he belongs

As the youngest player on the Canadian National Junior Team roster, Everett Silvertips captain Ryan Murray has certainly had a lot on his mind the last month.

Despite that fact, the 2012 draft eligible defenseman just so happens to be playing like a seasoned veteran alongside Scott Harrington for the unbeaten Canadians. Murray told NHL.com that he believes his role along the blueline for Canada coach Don Hay has changed a bit.

"I think so," Murray said. "They want me to be a shutdown guy here, which I kind of what I do in Everett too. They want me to keep things extremely simple. If I can chip in offensively, that's great, but that's not my job. My job is to shut down other teams' top line."

Murray has two assists and is tied for the team lead with a sizzling plus-8 rating in three games for the Team Canada.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

U.S. capt. Jason Zucker clarifies 'guarantee' win

EDMONTON -- There are times when your emotions get the best of you.

That might have been the case with U.S. National Junior Team captain Jason Zucker following his team's disheartening 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic on Friday at Rexall Place.

Zucker was one of the first players available to the media after the loss. The U.S. would later learn that they would be eliminated from medal contention for the first time since 1999.

When asked about his team's chances against Team Canada in the New Year's Eve clash on Saturday, Zucker responded:

"We're going to beat them," he said. "That's what we're going to do. We're going to try our best and we're going to go out there and we're not going to change anything we do. We're going to play."

Zucker was again asked about his comment Saturday morning:

"There is no guarantee, you can't guarantee a win in this tournament, but we're going to come out and play like we're going to win and that's what I was saying," Zucker said. "We're going to give it everything we have and, in our mind, we're going to win this game.

"It's a huge rivalry and you have to come out and give a good fight."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:46 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

U.S. coach Dean Blais mum on starter in net

U.S. National Junior Team coach Dean Blais didn't reveal his starter in goal for his team's final Group B preliminary-round matchup against Team Canada during his morning conference with the media here at Rexall Place.

Jack Campbell, who was manning the cage during Friday night's 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic, is 1-1 with a 3.52 goals-against average and .867 save percentage. John Gibson suffered a 4-1 loss to Team Finland in his only start of the tournament on Wednesday, yielding four goals on 27 shots.

Canada coach Don Hay announced at his morning conference that Scott Wedgewood would be starting between the pipes. Wedgewood earned a 26-save shutout over the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory