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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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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:05 AM

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

Denmark suspends five players for post-game incident

EDMONTON -- The last thing Danish National Junior Team coach Todd Bjorkstrand needed to see on television following a 10-2 loss to Team Canada on Thursday were five of his players hamming it up for cameras, photographers and journalists during an impromptu gathering at the coaches' press conference table within the media area of Rexall Place.
 
But that's exactly what Bjorkstrand witnessed on TSN after his team suffered their third straight loss. Those players would pay the consequences, too, as Bjorkstrand decided to suspend all five for Friday's final Group B preliminary-round match against Finland -- a 10-1 loss.
 
"Obviously it's not the way we want our players acting after we lose a hockey game 10-2 against Team Canada," Bjorkstrand said. "It's the wrong way, and that's it. It was my decision [and I got no feedback from the Danish Ice Hockey Association]."
 
The loss officially knocked the U.S. from medal contention. The Americans dropped a 5-2 decision to Czech Republic earlier in the day. Bjorkstrand was asked if suspending the five players helped compromise a game that would ultimately doom the United States.
 
"We're going out every game to win and we had three lines and that was it," Bjorkstrand said. "Playing back-to-back games was difficult, especially since we were playing Finland, but I thought the guys did well. You have to go through those things, but it was the wrong message.
 
"I'm responsible for Team Denmark and not for Team USA."
 
Bjorkstrand remains undecided whether the suspended players will be allowed to return to the lineup for the relegation round beginning on Jan. 2 at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
 
"I don't want my players goofing around after a game we lose 10-2, even if it's Canada … it's absolutely the wrong message," Bjorkstrand said. "It's unfortunate. They're kids and they were fooling around, but the hockey in Denmark has come a long way. We have players in the NHL and the senior national team has been in the A Group for many years now. We're here to do well, compete and stay in the A Group."
 
Denmark, which has allowed 38 goals in the preliminary round, was playing without the services of forwards Mathias Bau-Hansen, Jonas Sass-Jensen, Nicki Kisum, Anders Thode and Anders Schultz. Bau-Hansen had 2 goals and 3 points in three previous games.
 
The problem began when the five players departed their locker room and congregated at the coaches' press conference table in the media area. They then began holding a pretend press conference, with each player taking a turn behind the microphone, which was turned off at the time. All the while, each of them began posing for pictures and shaking hands among themselves.
 
It didn't take long before several news outlets and journalists began taking pictures and video of the session.
 
"You always feel afterwards that you could have done something different," the coach said. "They feel bad about it, and we just have to get through it. The guys we had on the ice [Friday] played hard. We want to play good hockey and represent the hockey community in the right way."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:40 PM

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

Pulkkinen scores four as Finland routs Denmark

EDMONTON -- Teemu Pulkkinen scored 4 goals and Miikka Salomaki had 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Finland to a 10-1 victory over Denmark in Group B preliminary-round action of the 2012 World Junior Championship on Friday at Rexall Place.
 
The victory officially knocked the U.S. National Junior Team from medal contention for the first time since 1999. The U.S., which suffered a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic earlier in the day, needed winless Denmark to defeat Finland if it was to have any hope at advancing into the medal round.
 
Salomaki, Jani Hakanpaa and Ville Pokka scored goals in the first period when Finland opened a 3-0 lead on 22 shots. Pulkkinen, a 2010 fourth-round draft choice (No. 111) of the Detroit Red Wings, scored four consecutive goals to close out the scoring in the third period. He took 13 of Finland's 59 shots on goal for the game. All of Pulkkinen's goals were assisted by Mikael Granlund.
 
The line of Pulkkinen-Markus Granlund-Mikael Granlund actually finished with 11 points, including 7 assists. Finland goalie Christopher Gibson stopped 24 of 25 shots. Head coach Raimo Helminen said after the game that Sami Aittokallio, who earned the victory against the U.S. on Wednesday, would be his likely starter against the Czech Republic on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.
 
Denmark, which has allowed 38 goals in five preliminary-round games, was playing without the services of five suspended players -- including forwards Mathias Bau-Hansen, Jonas Sass-Jensen, Nicki Kisum, Anders Thode and Anders Schultz.
 
All five suspended skaters were part of a joke at the conclusion of Thursday's 10-2 setback to Canada. Upon conclusion of the usual post-game press conference, the guilty players approached the press conference media riser where coaches hold their post-game talks and began pretending to answer questions from the media. All the while posing for pictures and shaking hands.
 
It didn't take long before several news outlets and journalists began taking pictures and video of the impromptu session among friends. After seeing what those players had done while watching TSN, Denmark coach Todd Bjorkstrand decided to suspend them for the game against Finland.
 
"Obviously it's not the way we want our players acting after we lose a hockey game 10-2 against Team Canada," Bjorkstrand said. "It's the wrong way and that's it. It was my decision [and I got no feedback from the Danish Ice Hockey Association]."


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I had one really not-good game. I came back to the hotel and he [his father] was on Skype. My mother called first and said, 'Your father wants to talk to you.' So he moved my mother away, and he yelled at me for like 30 seconds. I understood him, and then he said, 'I'm done.' And he was gone. The next game I got my first shutout.

— Anton Khudobin recalls a fond memory, explains why he was so sharp in the Hurricanes' 3-0 win against the Capitals on Friday
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