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Posted On Monday, 12.27.2010 / 10:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Slovakia beats Germany; Czechs stop Norway

If a hot goalie is the equalizer, the U.S. National Junior Team better have paid strict attention to Slovakia's Dominik Riecicky.

Riecicky was an absolute one-man machine in the Slovakia net Monday, turning aside 47 shots on the way to leading his country to a 2-1 overtime victory against Germany in preliminary-round action in Group A at HSBC Arena. It would be surprising if Slovakia coach Stefan Mikes didn't have Riecicky right back between the pipes against Team USA on Tuesday (8 p.m.  ET, NHLN-US).

Riecicky, of course, wants that opportunity.

"I'd like to play against U.S. and for me it's high motivation because the championship is on their own soil," Riecicky said. "I'd love to see what happens."

Riecicky made 16 saves in the first, 17 in the second and 13 in the third. Marek Hrivik, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, deflected home a picturesque feed from Slovakia captain Richard Panik in the slot 3:39 into overtime to give Slovakia the decision.

"The first two periods were very tough for us, they had 34 shots and we had 17," Riecicky said. "But I thought in the third we were a better team and we had the momentum."

Panik, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, had a goal and an assist in the first game of his third World Junior Championship. Germany had pulled into a 1-1 tie 16:46 into the second when Norman Hauner jammed in a rebound in the crease.

Slovakia forward Tomas Jurco, a possible first-round pick in the June draft, was elated his country came away victorious and feels anything is possible against the U.S.

"It was a pretty hard game and we're really happy," Jurco said. "We're happy we stayed focused to the end, and it's a really big win for us. Our goalie was awesome. He had a few great saves and he's the goalie, so he's very good for us.

"If he plays against the U.S. like he did tonight, I'd say it's going to be a really hard game for USA because we can also play good defensively."

Meanwhile, at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University, Tampa Bay prospect Tomas Rachunek and Antonin Honejsek of the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors had goals to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-0 victory against Norway in Group B action.

Marek Mazanec turned aside all 21 shots he faced for the Czechs. Norway's Steffen Soberg made 36 saves in defeat.

Germany next will face Finland on Wednesday at HSBC Arena, while the Czech Republic will play Canada on Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN), also at HSBC. Norway next plays Wednesday, against Canada (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).

In case you missed it, spoke to Czech Republic assistant coach Jiri Fischer about the future of Czech hockey on an international stage.
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Posted On Monday, 12.27.2010 / 8:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Germany-Slovakia; Czech Republic-Norway

The only two games on the docket for Monday in the World Junior Championship are under way.

Germany is facing Slovakia at HSBC Arena and Czech Republic and Norway are meeting in Dwyer Arena.

The Slovaks lead the Germans, 1-0, on a second-period goal by captain Richard Panik, drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in 2009. The Czechs and Norway are scoreless after one period.

Starters for Slovakia
Jaray Majdan-Tomas Jurco-Andrej Kudrna
Oliver Jokel-Andrej Stastny-Michael Vandas
Marek Hrivik-Richard Panik-Miroslav Preisinger
Dominik Simcak-Dalibor Bortnak-Tomas Matousek-Peter Sisovsky
Adam Janosik-Martin Marincin
Lukas Kozak-Peter Trska
Peter Hrasko-Henrich Jabornik
Peter Ceresnak
Goalie - Dominik Riecicky

Starters for Germany
Tom Kuhnhackl-Tobias Rieder-Laurin Braun
Norman Hauner-Thomas Brandl-Marcel Ohmann
Marcel Noebels-Mirko Hofflin-Bernhard Keil
Marc El-Sayed-Matthias Plachta-Marius Mochel
Konrad Abeltshauser-Jannik Woidtke
Dominik Bittner-Corey Mapes
Peter Lindlbauer-Benjamin Hufner
Dieter Orendorz
Goalie - Philipp Grubauer

Starters for Czech Republic
Andrej Nestrasil-Roman Horak-Robin Soudek
Michal Hlinka-David Tuma-Jakub Orsava
Martin Frk-Jakub Culek-Petr Holik
Tomas Rachunek-Ondrej Palat-Antonin Honejsek-Petr Straka
Dalibor Reznicek-Jakub Jerabek
Petr Senkerik-Adam Sedlak
Oldrich Horak-Martin Planek
Goalie - Marek Mazanec

Starters for Norway
Andreas Stene-Jonas Oppoyen-Mats Rosseli Olsen
Rasmus Juell-Sondre Olden-Joacim Sundelius
Magnus Lindahl-Michael Haga-Hans Kristian Hollstedt
Petter Roste Fossen-Eirik Borresen-Nicholas Weberg-Simen Brekke
Nicolai Bryhnisveen-Tobias Skaarberg
Daniel Rokseth-Robin Andersen
Kenneth Madso-Adrian Danielsen
Jens Ulrik Bacher
Goalie - Steffen Soberg

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Posted On Monday, 12.27.2010 / 5:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Morin, Nelson day-to-day for U.S.; Roy in for Canada

Updating an earlier report, U.S. National Junior Team forwards Brock Nelson and Jeremy Morin were on the ice for the team picture Monday, but immediately left prior to the start of practice.

No one from USA Hockey would provide an update on the injuries, although TSN reported that both players are considered day-to-day with upper-body ailments.

When asked to comment on the extent of the injuries, coach Keith Allain said, "I'm not commenting on injuries."

U.S. forward Ryan Bourque was asked if the team would have to make some major adjustments if Nelson, a prospect of the New York Islanders, and Morin, who played in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks this season, were sidelined for an extended period of time.

"I can't really comment on it and everything's day to day," Bourque said. "I don't know much anyway.  I think depending on what happens in the next few days, we'll see and obviously that's part of the tournament. Guys are going to have to step up and guys will be held accountable. We'll see what happens."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was asked about Morin following his team's morning skate on Monday.

"I don't know anything. I didn't see the play," he said. "I didn't hear exactly how he was hurt, but I heard it was an upper-body injury. Whatever the case, I'm sure we're going to do what's best for the kid. I'm sure that's what the plan is, but I haven't heard."

Quenneville also said he didn't know whether or not the injury would sideline him the remainder of the tournament.

On the Canadian front, coach Dave Cameron named Olivier Roy his starter for Tuesday's game against the Czech Republic. Roy made 24 saves, including all seven in the third period, when Team Canada earned a 6-3 decision over Russia on Sunday.

Cameron was noncommittal when asked if Mark Visentin would get the nod against Norway on Wednesday.

"We'll go game by game and Mark will get in at some point," Cameron said.

Roy is excited about getting another opportunity.

"It's another great challenge and we have a great team for sure," Roy said. "We have to get ready for that next one.

"We knew entering camp that it would be a battle for spots on this team. It was pretty exciting playing (against Russia) but as the game went on, the excitement went down and I settled down. It was great to play in that game."
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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 9:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

U.S. leads 2-1 after 40 minutes

The U.S. was able to maintain a one-goal lead through two periods at HSBC Arena after exchanging goals with Finland in the second period.
Jason Zucker responded just 1:18 after Finland had pulled into a 1-1 tie, ripping a snap shot past goalie Joni Ortio from the right circle at the 15:08 mark. The goal was set up when Chris Brown checked a Finland player off the puck, providing Zucker, a Minnesota Wild prospect, his unassisted attempt.
Finland had squared the contest at 13:50 when Joonas Nattinen slammed home a shot from the slot off a turnover behind the U.S. net. Toni Rajala set up Nattinen after tracking the puck.
U.S. goalie Jack Campbell came up big on two occasions in the second period, denying Erik Haula, another Wild draft pick, on a point-blank attempt from between the circles at the 12:45 mark, and then Iiro Pakarinen's jam in the crease at 18:03. The U.S. outshot Finland in the second, 16-8. Ortio was solid in keeping his team within striking distance, turning aside 15 shots.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 9:06 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

U.S. leads 1-0 after one

It took almost 10 minutes for the U.S. to finally put it into gear, but once they did, the opportunities came fast and furious against Finland in their preliminary-round game.
The U.S. cashed in on their second power-play chance of the first when defenseman Justin Faulk ripped a slap shot from the point past Finland goalie Joni Ortio with just 1:05 left. Jonathan Merrill fed Faulk along the blue line after some good work by Chris Kreider down low.
Prior to the goal, however, Team USA was aided by the play of returning goalie Jack Campbell, who turned aside nine shots in the first. The Finns, who haven't beaten Team USA in three previous meetings in the WJC, are playing this tournament without playmaking forward Mikael Granlund. The Minnesota Wild's 2010 first-round pick (No. 9) is dealing with post-concussion syndrome.
Ortio, a Calgary Flames prospect, finished with six saves in the first. Team USA's top line of Kreider centering Charlie Coyle and Kyle Palmieri, was the trio that finally pumped some life into the U.S. with less than six minutes remaining in the first. The club earned its first chance with the man-advantage, and despite the fact they failed to score, it made a much more concerted effort to sustain some pressure in the Finland end -- and it remained that way.
The U.S. players are wearing replica Team USA jerseys from the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic team.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 6:07 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

All tied after two

Russia and Canada are all even after two periods here at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, 3-3.

Both teams struck for a pair of goals in the second, with Russia's Daniil Sobchenko connecting off a rebound while his team was working the power play to force the 3-3 tie at the 11:51 mark. Washington Capitals prospect Dmitri Orlov notched his second assist of the game on the play.

Florida Panthers prospect Erik Gudbranson had given Team Canada their second lead, 3-2, at 15:15 of the second when his blast from the point zipped past Igor Bobkov to a thunderous ovation. His defense partner, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Simon Despres, got the play started when he barreled down the slot before moving the puck to Sean Couturier in the right-wing corner. Couturier, a possible top-three selection in the 2011 Entry Draft, fed Quinton Howden at the right point and Howden slid the puck to Gudbranson.

Canada opened a 2-1 lead 10:35 into the second when team captain Ryan Ellis received a lucky bounce off the end boards. He fired a shot off the end boards that bounced back and hit Bobkov's left skate and went over the goal line. Russia countered just 1:16 later when Nikita Dvurechensky snapped a shot from the right circle that beat Canada goalie Olivier Roy through the legs at 11:51.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 5:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Canada and Russia tied after one period

The HSBC Arena was rocking from the minute the puck dropped for Team Canada's preliminary-round opener against Russia on Sunday afternoon. Canadian flags and jerseys decorated the place, which was packed wall-to-wall.

The Canada players were fired up, too. So fired up they threw their weight around at every opportunity to the delight of the sea of Canadian red within the arena. The feistiness probably cost them, though, when Russia struck at the 3:57 mark. Russia's Maxim Kitsyn scored off a turnover in the Canada end. St. Louis Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko did a nice job keeping the puck in play in Canada's end, taking a hit and forcing the puck to make the play.

Both teams had their opportunities throughout the period, but Canada began to really turn on the heat in the later stages, dictating much of the action in the Russia end. If not for the play of Russia goalie and Anaheim Ducks prospect Igor Bobkov, Canada likely would have connected for a few more goals before the first intermission. Buffalo Sabres prospect Marcus Foligno finally solved Bobkov when he roofed a rebound over the fallen goalie at 17:55 on the power play. Foligno, who soon might call HSBC Arena his home away from home, leaped into the glass following his goal, which ignited the fans in attendance. Montreal Canadiens prospect Louis Leblanc took the initial shot that forced Bobkov down to the ice.

Bobkov made 15 saves in the opening period and Canada's Olivier Roy turned aside 10 shots.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 4:12 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Switzerland defeats Germany, 4-3, in WJC opener

New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter had a goal and one assist and goalie Benjamin Conz made 32 saves when Switzerland slipped by Germany, 4-3, in the opening game of the preliminary round of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship on Sunday afternoon at HSBC Arena.

Niederreiter earned both his points in the first period when Switzerland (1-0), the darlings of the 2010 Tournament following a fourth-place showing, opened a 4-0 lead. Inti Pestoni, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, opened the scoring 4:31 into the first before Niederreiter connected at 9:21.

Defenseman Roman Loeffel, also eligible for the 2011 Draft, made it 3-0 at 9:48 after taking a pass from Niederreiter and Luca Campershioli closed out the scoring in the opening period. Switzerland went 3-of-4 on the power play in the opening period in building a seemingly insurmountable lead.

"The puck was bounding a lot, but I was able to get a lot of speed (on his first-period goal)," Niederreiter, Switzerland's team captain, said. "We know this isn't going to be easy. I think it was a great lesson to learn to keep going for 60 minutes until we got the victory. It seems we were a little lucky today. I thought (Conz) was phenomenal; he's definitely a key player for us and it's good to know that in key moments, he can step it up. All the guys did a nice job blocking shots and keeping it simple.

"We just have to learn to keep it simple."

Germany rallied with three unanswered goals, beginning with Marcel Noebels' tally 4:22 into the second period, when the underdog Germans held a 15-5 shot advantage. Conz was splendid from that point on, making several big blocks, including a nifty glove save on San Jose prospect Konrad Abeltshauser late in the period. Germany received a pair of third-period goals by Matthias Plachta at 10:10 and defenseman Corey Mapes at 15:19 to pull within one.

The Germans pulled goalie Philipp Grubauer (17 saves) with less than one minute left in the third but couldn't connect for the equalizer. Niederreiter, in fact, slid in front of a last-ditch effort off a point shot before swatting the puck over the blue line.

"We'll just take it game-by-game," said Conz through interpreter Alex Reinhard. "You try to create focus on each game and add the key points we learned from last year into this year … into the game. Maybe we can take it a step further."

Switzerland takes to the ice again against Finland on Dec. 28th at HSBC at 12:30 p.m. Germany will play against Slovakia on December 27th at HSBC at 7 p.m.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 2:31 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Germany, Switzerland kick off 2011 WJC

The Germans and Swiss took the ice at 12:30 p.m. at HSBC Arena on Sunday to kick off the tournament.  too many surprises on who did and didn't make the final roster, although Mathias Niederberger, the top-rated German goalie playing domestically according to NHL Central Scouting, failed to make the cut.

For Team Switzerland, Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter and fellow Portland Winterhawks teammate and Sven Bartschi made the cut but are playing on different lines. They were put together on the Swiss power-play, however.

German roster
G-Philipp Grubauer, Niklas Treutle

D-Konrad Abeltshauser, Jannik Woidtke, Dominick Bittner, Corey Mapes, Peter Lindlbauer, Benjamin Hufner, Dieter Orendorz.

F-Tom Kuhnhackl, Tobias Rieder, Laurin Braun, Norman Hauner, Thomas Brandl, Marcel Ohmann, Marcel Noebels, Mirko Hofflin, Bernhard, Keil, Matthias Plachta, Marc El-Sayed, Marius Mochel.

Switzerland roster
G-Benjamin Conz, Remo Giovannini

D-Romain Loeffel, Nicholas Steiner, Dominik Schlumpf, Dario Trutmann, Luca Camperchioli, Samuel Guerra, Ramon Untersander, Gaetan Haas.

F-Tristan Scherwey, Nino Niederreiter, Benjamin Antonietti, Sven Bartschi, Ryan McGregor, Joel Vermin, Reto Schappi, Gregory Hofmann, Inti Pestoni, Renato Engler, Samuel Walser, Yannick Herren.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 8:50 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Let the Games begin..

Well, it's finally arrived. The day most Canadians have anticipated since suffering a 6-5 overtime setback to the United States some 340-plus days ago -- the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Team Canada will open at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday against Russia, certainly no easy task against a team also eager to get back on track following a sixth-place showing in the 2010 WJC in Saskatoon, Sask. Team USA, meanwhile, will open against Finland at 8 p.m. ET. Both games are at HSBC Arena and, in addition to live coverage on the NHL Network, will be there to provide features, game reports and blog reports. So keep checking back often.

Canada was perfect in three pre-tournament games, outscoring Finland, Switzerland and Sweden by a combined, 17-3. Most impressive in that set was the triumph against Sweden, of course, which is also considered a medal favorite, with the likes of several top prospects, including Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner, Calgary defenseman Tim Erixon and forwards Calle Jarnkrok (Detroit) and Anton Lander (Edmonton).

But, as Canada coach Dave Cameron has said throughout the exhibition schedule, its anybody's game. Still, the Canadians do have an impressive arsenal at their disposal, despite the fact some may claim it might not be the offensive juggernaut that fans have become so accustomed to. In fact, you could almost say that the Canada and Team USA are mirror-images. They possess NHL-caliber talent and are big, strong, tough, fast and willing to play the roles their given.

In case you haven't seen our prediction at, you can see them here. Basically, I'm picking Team Canada based on their tremendous success in recent years in this tournament. Yes, the U.S. won it last year, but it's tough to go against the perennial favorite -- at least for one more season.

The one advantage the U.S. has against Canada is in goal, where the experienced Dallas Stars prospect Jack Campbell returns between the pipes. Canada likely will have Mark Visentin in net. Coach Dave Cameron informed his Sunday starter on Christmas Day but didn't inform the media. Reports from Canada have Visentin getting the nod. Both Visentin and Olivier Roy lack international experience.

Visentin earned a 5-2 victory against Finland and also stopped all 20 shots faced in an 8-0 defeat of Switzerland in exhibition play. Roy got the nod in the 4-1 triumph against Sweden, making 29 saves.

Cameron had top 2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospect Sean Couturier playing with Florida prospect Quinton Howden and Edmonton's Curtis Hamilton in the final exhibition tuneup. Columbus prospect Ryan Johansen, meanwhile, was moved to the top line alongside a couple of Buffalo prospects, Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno.

Team USA coach Keith Allain had San Jose prospect Charlie Coyle centering for the Rangers' Chris Kreider and Anaheim's Kyle Palmieri on the top line and Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad with the Rangers' Ryan Bourque and Chicago's Jeremy Morin.

In addition to the U.S. and Canada, there are two other games on the docket to open the WJC on Sunday. Germany will face Switzerland at 12:30 p.m. ET and Norway meets Sweden at 4 p.m. ET.
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Quote of the Day

As a player, it's obviously a sad day, but to be on the ice with some of those guys and show our respect as both teams did around center ice, it's definitely a nice touch.

— New Jersey defenseman Damon Severson on the ceremony to honor the fallen Canadian soldiers before the game Saturday in Ottawa
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