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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 4:37 PM

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

USA, Czechs tied after one period

EDMONTON - The Czech Republic survived an offensive barrage by the U.S. National Junior Team in the first period on Friday in Group B preliminary round play at the 2012 World Junior Championship to enter the intermission in a 1-1 stalemate.
 
Despite allowing the American nine minutes in power-play time, Czech goalie Petr Mrazek was able to turn aside 17 shots to keep his team even. U.S. goalie Jack Campbell, making his first start since the tournament opener against Denmark, needed to make just five saves.
 
The U.S. was given an extended power-play just 2:21 into the game when Czech forward Petr Straka was issued a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct. Straka leveled U.S. defenseman Derek Forbort along the boards at center ice. Forbort remained on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice by teammates. He did not receive another shift in the period -- leaving the United States with just six defensemen.
 
T.J. Tynan made the Czechs pay when he converted a picturesque feed from J.T. Miller from in tight at the 5:14 mark to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. The Czechs did a marvelous job killing off the remainder of the penalty, however, and even killed off a two-minor minor that followed before Tomas Filippi knotted the score at the 12:05 mark. Filippi's initial shot from low in the right circle was stopped by Campbell, but the rebound was jammed home.
 
The U.S. closed out the period with a four-minute power-play after Petr Zamorsky was whistled for a double minor for high sticking. Mrazek was his usual sharp self between the pipes, making several big stops, including a juicy rebound off the stick of Miller with 38.9 seconds remaining.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:52 PM

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

Campbell gets pivotal start for Team USA vs. Czechs

EDMONTON - If the U.S. National Junior Team seeks to remain in contention for a gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship, a victory over the feisty Czech Republic is in order on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET at Rexall Place.

That being the case, U.S. coach Dean Blais will have Jack Campbell back between the pipes with so much at stake. If the U.S. falls to the Czech Republic in regulation, and should Finland defeat Denmark in regulation on Friday night, the Americans would be destined for the relegation round regardless of the outcome of its New Year's Eve clash against rival Canada.

If the United States defeats the Czech Republic, however, it would not only remain in medal contention, but in a position to capture first place in Group B so long as the Czech Republic avoids a regulation loss to Finland and Team USA defeats Canada.

Campbell is certainly no stranger to the big international stage, particularly under the tutelage of Blais.



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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:42 PM

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

Canada extends lead to 7-0 over Danes

EDMONTON - Mark Stone, Scott Harrington and Freddie Hamilton scored goals in the second period to help the Canadian National Junior Team extend its sizeable lead to 7-0 over Denmark in preliminary round action of the 2011 World Junior Championship.
 
Harrington's blast from the point gave Canada a 5-0 advantage just 25 seconds into the second. Stone's second of the game and team-leading sixth of the tournament came off a tip from in front. Hamilton's goal also came off a well-placed redirect off a shot by Harrington.
 
Harrington, a second-round pick (No. 54) of the Pittsburgh Penguins last June, has a goal and three assists through two periods. Canada has outshot the Danes, 37-15.   
 
Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Stone and Ryan Strome each connected in the first when the Canadians outshot Denmark, 19-3, and built a 4-0 lead.

The line of Jonathan Huberdeau-Mark Stone-Ryan Strome clicked for four points in the first, including 2 goals and 2 assists.
 
Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk, who entered the game having made 57 saves on 71 shots, has made 30 saves through 40 minutes.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 8:55 PM

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

Canada off to fast start vs. Denmark

EDMONTON -- Team Canada has no intention of taking its foot off the gas in preliminary-round action at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Mark Stone and Ryan Strome scored goals and the unbeaten Canadians outshot Denmark 19-3 in the first period on the way to opening a 4-0 lead on Thursday at Rexall Place.

Stone's goal 16:05 was his team-leading fifth goal of the tournament. The line of Jonathan Huberdeau-Stone-Strome clicked for four points in the first -- two goals and two assists.

Canadian starter goalie Mark Visentin needed to make just three saves. Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk stopped 15 shots.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 1:28 PM

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

Visentin back in net for Canada against Denmark

EDMONTON - So Team Canada coach Don Hay will go back to goalie Mark Visentin between the pipes on Thursday when the Canadian National Junior Team faces Denmark in Group B preliminary round action of the World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

"Our reasoning is both goalies are playing well and we want to make sure everybody is sharp for the next game on New Year's Eve [against Team USA] and both guys are going good right now … we want to make a decision [on Saturday goalie] after tomorrow," Hay told the media.

Visentin was in net on Monday when the Canadians scored an 8-1 victory over Finland. He stopped 24 of 25 shots. Scott Wedgewood earned a 26-save, 5-0 victory, over the Czech Republic in Canada's second match of the tournament on Wednesday.

So what does Hay stress against the Danes, a team that has scored just three goals and allowed a tournament high 18 in two losses.

"Details and habits and playing as a team and not getting too far ahead of yourself and really focusing on doing the good things that make you a good team," Hay said. "When you get into pressure situations, both details and habits are really important in your game. If you're good at those, they come naturally. If you have to think about it, sometimes it's a little too late and you can't recover."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 9:42 PM

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

Canada leads Czechs 3-0 after two periods

EDMONTON -- The Canadian National Junior Team got goals from Ryan Strome and Brett Connolly in the second period and have opened a 3-0 lead on the Czech Republic through 40 minutes in preliminary-round play of Group B of the 2012 World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

Strome, property of the New York Islanders, gave Canada a 2-0 lead with 3:44 remaining when he took a pass from Freddie Hamilton low in the left circle before sweeping home his second of the tournament with his team on the power play. Goalie Scott Wedgewood earned an assist on the play when launched a pass to Hamilton from his end to the Czech blue line. Hamilton's attempt was denied at the right post but he alertly gathered the puck to set up the Strome goal.

Connolly's second of the tournament at 18:11 was a thing of beauty. He skated towards the net and took a shot that initially rang off the left post. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect somehow managed to get his stick on the floating puck just before crossing the end line and tuck in the rebound.

Canada held a 27-20 advantage in shots through 40 minutes.

Mark Stone gave the Canadians a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the tournament in the opening period. The goal was typical Stone, as he gained position in the slot and jammed home a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau at 5:37. Stone had four of Canada's first nine goals in the tournament.

Stone missed an opportunity to put his team ahead by two when he was denied by Czech goalie Petr Mrazek on a penalty shot with 37.2 seconds left in the first. Stone got his chance after Czech defenseman Jiri Riha closed hand on puck in the crease following an initial save by Mrazek.

Stone attempted to go to his forehand from in tight but Mrazek closed the pads and stopped the attempt. He promptly pumped his arms in celebration after keeping his team within striking distance -- prompting plenty of boos from the Canadian faithful.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 8:48 PM

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

Stone continues torrid pace for Canada

EDMONTON -- Mark Stone scored his team-leading fourth goal of the 2012 World Junior Championship to give Team Canada a 1-0 lead against the Czech Republic in preliminary round play of Group B at Rexall Place.
 
The goal was typical for Stone, as he gained position in the slot and jammed home a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau at 5:37. Stone has four of Canada's nine goals in the tournament.
 
Stone missed an opportunity to put his team ahead by two when he was denied by Czech goalie Petr Mrazek on a penalty shot with just 37.2 seconds left in the first. Stone got his chance after Czech defenseman Jiri Riha closed hand on puck in the crease following an initial save by Mrazek.
 
Stone attempted to go to his forehand from in tight but Mrazek closed the pads and stopped the attempt. He promptly pumped his arms in celebration after keeping his team within striking distance -- prompting plenty of boos from the Canadian faithful.
 
Despite giving up the goal, the Czechs did play a solid 20 minutes. The club came out physical and played at a high tempo -- something it will need to continue if it is to have any chance against the prohibitive favorite.
 
Canada goalie Scott Wedgewood, who is making his first start in a WJC game, turned aside 10 shots. The New Jersey Devils prospect also received plenty of defensive support, particularly when the Czechs were on the power play. In a 7-1 victory against Denmark on Tuesday, the Czech Republic finished 3-for-4 with the man advantage. The club went 0-for-2 in the first against Canada as Wedgewood and defensemen Scott Harrington, Brandon Gormley, Ryan Murray and Dougie Hamilton did a superb job.
 
Mrazek, who is making his second straight start between the pipes, turned aside 14 shots.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 5:30 PM

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

Saad draws United States even with Finland

EDMONTON -- The U.S. was finally able to solve Finland goalie Sami Aittokallio just 19 seconds into the third to pull into a 1-1 tie in the 2012 World Junior Championship contest at Rexall Place. Brandon Saad cashed in from in tight after retrieving a pass from Emerson Etem for his first goal of the tournament. 
 
Despite being outshot, 24-9, through 40 minutes of play, Finland held a 1-0 lead over the United States.

The Finns opened a lead 1:21 into the second when Nashville Predators prospect Miika Salomaki controlled a pass from Joel Armia low in the right circle before roofing a shot over the fallen John Gibson. Less than a minute later, Aittokallio did the splits to deny Nick Bjugstad's quick release from left circle.

In their pursuit of squaring the contest, both T.J. Tynan of the U.S. and Simo-Pekka Riikola were send off for roughing behind the Finland cage at the 2:10 mark of the second. The penalties were the result of the U.S. forwards crashing the cage while Aittokallio was attempting to cover the puck.

Despite playing at a feverish pace in the opening 20 minutes, both teams had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

The Finns, coming off an 8-1 loss to Team Canada on Monday, were determined to play physical and fast against the bigger and stronger Americans. The U.S., meanwhile, seemed to take away much of the middle of the ice, content on allowing their opponent to work along the boards. The U.S. scored an 11-3 victory in its tournament opener on Monday against Denmark.

Each team was penalized twice, and the Finns actually had a 4-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds that was denied by the United States. The U.S. entered the game having allowed three power-play goals in three times short against Denmark.

Both teams were able to generate some quality scoring chances but couldn't solve the opposing goalie. Aittokallio, property of the Colorado Avalanche, had eight saves and Gibson turned aside four. The start for Gibson marked the first time since the 2010 WJC gold medal game against Team Canada that three-time WJC participant Jack Campbell didn't get the starting nod between the pipes.

Gibson, drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round last June, is making his first appearance in a WJC game.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale



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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 4:15 PM

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

U.S., Finland scoreless after one period in Edmonton

EDMONTON -- Despite playing at a feverish pace in the opening period, the United States and Finland had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard during their 2012 World Junior Championship matchup here at Rexall Place.
 
The Finns, coming off an 8-1 loss to Team Canada on Monday, were determined to play physical and fast against the bigger and stronger Americans. The U.S., meanwhile, seemed to take away much of the middle of the ice, content on allowing their opponent to work along the boards. The U.S. scored an 11-3 victory in its tournament opener on Monday against Denmark.
 
Each team was penalized twice, and the Finns actually had a 4-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds that was denied by the United States. The U.S. entered the game having allowed three power-play goals in three times short against Denmark.
 
Both teams were able to generate some quality scoring chances but couldn't solve the opposing goalie. Finland's Sami Aittokallio, property of the Colorado Avalanche, had eight saves and Team USA's John Gibson turned aside four shots. The start for Gibson marked the first time since the 2010 WJC gold medal game against Team Canada that three-time WJC participant Jack Campbell didn't make the start between the pipes.
 
Gibson, drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round last June, is making his first appearance in the World Junior Championship.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 1:58 PM

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

John Gibson gets the start in goal for Team USA

EDMONTON - U.S. National Junior Team coach Dean Blais will give John Gibson an opportunity on the grand stage on Wednesday when the 18-year-old goalie faces Finland in the club's second game of the 2012 World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

Gibson was named the top goalie at the 2011 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in Germany, going 4-2-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage as the U.S. garnered its third straight gold medal.

Gibson was a second-round selection (No. 39) of the Anaheim Ducks in 2011. He is currently in his first season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. In six games with the Rangers, Gibson is 4-2-0 with a 2.34 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Gibson will be filling in for Jack Campbell, who earned an 11-3 victory over Denmark on Monday in the team's tournament opener. All three goals scored on Campbell, who is making his third tour of duty for the U.S. at the WJC, were of the power-play variety. In 10 WJC starts, Campbell is 6-2-1-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L).  

The U.S. is scheduled to play Finland at 3:30 p.m. ET (NHLN-US). It will mark the 31st meeting between the two countries, with Finland holding a slight series advantage. Despite the fact the U.S. is 11-2-0-15-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) against Finland at the WJC, the U.S. has won six of its last seven outings against the Finns. That surge includes a 3-2 overtime decision in the preliminary round last year in Buffalo, N.Y., when forward Nick Bjugstad connected for the game-winner.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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