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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 12:19 PM

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

Jaden Schwartz named captain of Team Canada

St. Louis Blues prospect Jaden Schwartz on Thursday was named captain of the Canadian National Junior Team for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley and forwards Brett Connolly, Quinton Howden and Devante Smith-Pelly were named the team's alternate captains. Schwartz, Connolly and Howden are the only three returning skaters from last year's silver medal-winning Canadian team in Buffalo, N.Y.

Goalie Mark Visentin is also a returnee.

Schwartz had a goal and 2 assists while playing key minutes alongside center Brayden Schenn and Louis Leblanc in the first two games of the WJC last year, but it ended suddenly when he suffered a broken left ankle in a 7-2 victory against the Czech Republic just two games into Team Canada's preliminary-round schedule.

"I've been waiting for this ever since that tournament ended," Schwartz told NHL.com. "I'm excited to be here. Sometimes you don't know how lucky you are, and if you get another opportunity to play for your country, you want to make the best of it and leave everything out there because you don't know how many chances you're going to get."
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:30 PM

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

Frk will not join Czech Republic at WJC

Martin Frk, one of the top players eligible for the 2012 Draft, will not be joining the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., beginning Monday.

Frk, who missed 29 games this season with a concussion, is in his second season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. According to the Halifax Herald, Frk will "head home for the holidays and not return to the Mooseheads until January."

He is ranked No. 2 among skaters in the QMJHL by NHL Central Scouting.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:49 PM

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

Injured Seth Jones will be unavailable for WJC

Defenseman Seth Jones, who was battling for a roster spot on the U.S. National Junior Team this week, sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's exhibition game against Team Russia and will be unable to participate in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Jones apparently suffered his injury after taking a big hit along the boards while attempting to drive the net.

USA Hockey released a statement regarding Jones on Wednesday afternoon. U.S. coach Dean Blais is scheduled to name his official 22-man roster headed to Edmonton to compete in Group B of the tournament on Thursday morning.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:09 AM

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

Russia earns 6-3 exhibition win over Team USA

Nail Yakupov, who is projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick at the 2012 Draft, had a goal and one assist and Andrei Vasilevski made 34 saves as the Russian National Junior Team scored a 6-3 exhibition victory over Team USA on Tuesday in Red Deer, Alta., in preparation for the 2012 World Junior Championship later this month.

          Nail Yakupov, Team Russia
Russia, the defending WJC gold medalist, also received a pair of goals by Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) and one apiece from Ignat Zemchenko and Viktor Antipin. Ivan Telegin (Winnipeg Jets) dished out three assists in the victory. Vasilevski, who plays for Tolpar Ufa in the MHL and is eligible for the 2012 Draft, made 17 of 18 saves in the second period when the U.S. held the territorial advantage. Yakupov, who plays for the Sarnia Sting, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated player from the Ontario Hockey League.

Coach Valeri Bragin kept the top 2012 draft-eligible player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts), and Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals) out of the lineup as healthy scratches for the Russians, who went 2 for 4 on the power play. Team USA finished 0 for 6 with the man advantage.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Canada defeats Finland, 3-1, in WJC exhibition

So what did we learn from Canada's 3-1 exhibition victory over Finland on Monday?

For starters, no Canadian player wore the 'C', although forwards Devante Smith-Pelly and Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Brandon Gormley all wore the 'A'.

  Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin
Team Canada received goals from Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) of the Oshawa Generals, Mark Stone (Ottawa Senators) of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens) of the Vancouver Giants while goalie Mark Visentin (Phoenix Coyotes) of the Niagara IceDogs earned the victory behind 22 saves. The Canadians will next play Switzerland in a pre-tournament matchup on Thursday.

Teemu Pulkkinen (Detroit Red Wings) of Jokerit scored the lone goal for Finland.

Canada coach Don Hay had just 11 forwards to work with since wings Jonathan Huberdeau (foot) and Quinton Howden (concussion symptoms) were sidelined by injuries. As a result, Jenner and Michael Bournival (Colorado Avalanche) of the Shawinigan Cataractes played both center and on the wing during the game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:33 PM

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

Jack Campbell talks U.S. camp and coach Blais

U.S. National Junior Team goalie Jack Campbell preferred to look on the brighter side when asked if it was disappointing to learn that defenseman Justin Faulk would not be a part of the team at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Faulk, who had a key role along the blueline in Team USA's bronze medal-winning effort in Buffalo, N.Y., last year, will not be released by Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford to play in this year's tournament. According to Rutherford, Faulk has been too important a player to the Hurricanes.

"Hey, look at it this way, for once we're like Team Canada where a player eligible for the tournament is remaining in the NHL," Campbell told NHL.com. "Seriously, though, it's more of a credit to Justin and how much work he's put in. To be a top four defenseman on that team … that's pretty special for a 19-year-old.

"I've known Faulker for probably three or four years now, and nobody earned it more than he did. So it's not necessarily that anyone's down or anything, but it's just the way it goes. He's a big part of their team."
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 2:36 PM

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

A holiday tradition: WJC ready to rock!

Don't look now, but the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship is quickly approaching.

This year's tournament will take place Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta. A full tournament schedule can be found here.

Hockey Canada will host pre-competition games this month prior to the start of the actual tournament on Boxing Day. Canada is scheduled to play Finland in Calgary on Dec. 19, Switzerland in Red Deer on Dec. 22 and Sweden in Edmonton on Dec. 23.

In case you missed it, NHL.com Correspondent Aaron Vickers provided the lowdown on the 22-man Canadian roster that will participate in this year's tournament. Read it here. One of the surprise cuts was top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Couturier out with head injury


PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers’ injury troubles continue.
 
On Monday, the team learned that leading scorer Claude Giroux would be out indefinitely with a concussion. Three days later, it was announced that Flyers captain Chris Pronger was done for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome.
 
Rookie Sean Couturier became the third player to be sidelined by a head injury this week after being hit in the head by a puck Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins. Fellow rookie Brayden Schenn is also out with a concussion.
 
Couturier, the eighth-overall pick of the Flyers in the 2011 Draft, was helped off the ice with just 48.7 seconds remaining in the first period after being struck on the side of his head by a rising slapshot off the stick of teammate Kimmo Timonen.
 
The puck appeared to hit behind Couturier's left ear. Couturier does wear a shield, but he remained on the ice for several minutes before finally being helped off.
 
Prior to the opening faceoff in the second period, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Couturier would not return to the game "due to a head injury."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 12:11 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Chara returns for Bruins after knee injury

PHILADELPHIA - Defenseman Zdeno Chara will return to the lineup Saturday after sitting out the previous two games with a knee injury when the Boston Bruins meet the Flyers here at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.
 
"It felt good [Friday] in practice and there were no setbacks," Chara told the media about two hours before the opening faceoff. "You never really put a time frame on when you are going to be back [following an injury]. It depends on how you feel. It wouldn't matter who we were playing today … I'm not returning just because it's Philadelphia. I'd be playing no matter what; I just want to be playing."
 
Chara appeared to injure his left leg in a second-period collision Dec. 10 with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Antoine Vermette. The Bruins have won seven of their last nine games and are just two points behind the Flyers for top honors in the Eastern Conference.
 
The Bruins are 6-5-3 in the 14 regular-season games Chara has missed during his tenure in Boston. The Bruins captain has six goals, 19 points and a plus-18 rating in 2011-12.
 
Chara said it wasn't fun sitting and watching from the sidelines and is looking forward to helping his club continue its winning ways. Since launching a 10-game winning streak Nov. 1 with a 5-3 victory against Ottawa, the Bruins have gone 17-2-1.
 
"It's hard to really make comments on the games when you are not playing," Chara said. "It's like watching television … you don't see those plays develop and what's causing them or what's causing the breakdowns. We found a way to win and that's a positive, but also we need to be better.
 
"The games against the Flyers are always good. We're two physical teams so those are the kind of games that are always fun to play."
 
To make room for Chara in the lineup, the Bruins assigned defenseman Steven Kampfer to their American Hockey League affiliate in Providence on Friday night. In seven games with the Bruins this season, Kampfer has one assist and a plus-six rating.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 12:51 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Murray and Pearson earn spots for Team Canada

It's interesting to note that two players eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft will play a part for Canadian National Junior Team coach Don Hay in the anticipated 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., later this month.

             Tanner Pearson, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Not surprisingly, defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League will be looked upon to stabilize the back end. Meanwhile, forward Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts had really been ripping up the Ontario Hockey League prior to attending Canada's three-day selection camp. His inclusion on this team, particularly since he has quite the chemistry with Barrie teammate and Canada's likely top-line center Mark Scheifele, isn't a surprise either.

Both players on Thursday were also invited to participate in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game scheduled Feb. 1 in Kelowna, B.C. Pearson will play for Team Orr and Murray will dress for Team Cherry.

"Tanner has made a steady improvement each season," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "This season he has broken out and has led the league in scoring almost from the start of the season."

Pearson leads the OHL with 66 points, including 26 goals and 40 assists, through 30 games with the Colts this campaign.

"He's become a skilled forward with lots of finish around the net," Edwards said. "He has very good hands and can handle the puck very well in traffic. He also has very good play-making ability and sees the ice and passes the puck as well as anyone. He is creative and highly skilled."

No wonder Hockey Canada's managerial team opted to keep the 6-foot, 198-pound Pearson.

Three other players considered to be blue chip prospects were sent home, including defensemen Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels (WHL), Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's (OHL) and forward Philliip Di Giuseppe of the University of Michigan. Dumba is rated No. 3 according to NHL Central Scouting's preliminary WHL list. Ceci is rated No. 10 in the OHL and Di Giuseppe is the lone 'A Watch Player' in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Murray is the second member of the Silvertips to represent Canada at the World Juniors. Goaltender Leland Irving, currently in the Calgary Flames organization, was a member of Canada's gold-medal squad in 2007. He has three goals and 7 points in 11 games this season for Everett.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic