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Posted On Wednesday, 01.05.2011 / 9:01 PM

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

Canada opens 3-0 lead on Russia in gold medal game

It appears nothing is going to stop these Canadian juniors from reaching the pinnacle this year.

Canada connected once in the second to grab a 3-0 lead over Russia through 40 minutes of play in the gold-medal game of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship and will now look to put together one more solid period to earn their sixth gold in the last seven years.

Brayden Schenn ripped home his tournament-leading eighth goal from the right circle off a nice pass from Marcus Foligno along the left-wing half boards 6:27 into the second period to extend Canada's lead to 3-0. Schenn's goal was his second point of the game and 18th point of the tournament, tying him with Dale McCourt for most points in one WJC with 20 minutes remaining. McCourt's mark has stood since 1977.

The goal forced Russian coach Valeri Bragin to pull goalie Dmitri Shikin and replace him with Igor Bobkov. As the dejected Russian goalie skated to his bench, the center ice scoreboard highlighted a fan holding a sign that read: "Canadian Fried Shikin."

The Canadians had an opportunity to extend the lead when they were issued their second power-play of the game, but it was Russia that had the best scoring chance. Danil Sobchenko found an opening and broke in on Mark Visentin. The Canadian goalie, who has yielded just two goals in the last two games, scooped up the attempt directed toward the five-hole.

The Russians received some horrible luck with 4:29 remaining in the second when captain Vladimir Tarasenko needed to be helped off the ice after incidental contact by a Canadian player just inside the Russian blue line.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.05.2011 / 8:17 PM

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

Canada opens 2-0 lead on Russia in gold medal game

The Canadian National Junior Team continued its march toward a sixth gold medal in seven years in the opening 20 minutes of the gold medal game in the World Junior Championship on Wednesday.

Canada leads Russia, 2-0, in the seventh gold-medal clash between the clubs since the playoff format was adopted for the tournament in 1996.

Carter Ashton connected for his first of the tournament -- becoming the 15th player to at least have one goal -- with just 13.5 seconds remaining in period off great work behind the Russian net. After fighting off a check by Denis Golubev, Ashton skated to the front of net and received a pass from Louis Leblanc before finishing it off with a splendid sharp-angle shot from low in the right circle that entered the top far corner on Russian goalie Dmitri Shikin.

Russia committed the first mistake of the game when Georgi Berdyukov was whistled for hooking at the 4:20 mark of the first period. Canada, which entered the game with the top power-play in the tournament with a 43.48 proficiency rate, needed just 30 seconds to grab the early lead.

Brayden Schenn gathered a pass from Calvin de Haan in the right circle and quickly fired a cross-ice pass to captain Ryan Ellis in the opposite circle. Ellis collected and fired into a wide-open cage as Shikin never slid over to cover that portion of the cage.

Dmitri Orlov also pulled the Russians even when he stickhandled his way into the Canadian end and uncorked a slap shot that Mark Visentin corralled. Cody Eakin broke into the Russian end on a neutral zone turnover 11:40 into the first but was bothered just enough by the stick of defenseman Yuri Urychev.

Yevgeni Kuznetsov had an apparent breakaway attempt denied by a diving Tyson Barrie with 5:10 remaining in the period as the Canadian defense did all they could to deny the speedy Russian forwards an easy access to the goal cage.

Vinsentin turned aside eight shots in the opening period.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.05.2011 / 7:17 PM

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

U.S.A. names top players

The U.S. National Junior Team scored a 4-2 victory over Sweden in the bronze medal game to become the first American club to earn a medal of any color on home soil in four tries on Wednesday at HSBC Arena.

The victory also marked the first time the Americans have won back-to-back medals.

The top three players for the United States in the tournament, as selected by their coaching staff, were forward Charlie Coyle, defenseman Jon Merrill and goalie Jack Campbell.

Coyle, a first-round choice of the San Jose Sharks (No. 28 overall), finished with 2 goals, 6 points and a plus-1 rating. Merrill, a second-round pick of the Devils (No. 38 overall), led all defenders on the team with 4 points. Campbell, the first American-born player drafted last June (by the Dallas Stars), entered the bronze medal game 4-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.05.2011 / 5:07 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Sweden, USA trade second-period goals

A quick exchange of goals in the second period livened up Wednesday's bronze-medal game here at HSBC Arena.

The Swedes, who lost to Russia two nights ago in the semifinals, struck first as Oscar Lindberg scored a goal from the seat of his pants at the 11:56 mark. On the play, Carl Klingberg came steaming down the right side and fired a tester that USA goalie Jack Campbell pushed into the left circle. Lindberg, however, got just enough of the puck as he fell to the ice to sweep it through Campbell's legs as he went from post to post. American defenseman Jon Merrill just missed an opportunity to clear the puck off the line.

That goal, however, seemed to finally awaken the Americans, who had peppered Swedish goalie Fredrik Petersson Wentzel with shots, but not many testers. Just 96 seconds after the Swedish goal, things were knotted again as the Americans struck on the power play.

Chris Kreider got the goal, one-timing a pass from Chris Brown into the far corner of the net before the Swedish goalie could react. Brown made the play with a strong rush into the zone that took him all the way around the net before he picked out Kreider, who was pretty tightly marked. Kreider, though, was able to get off a quick shot that seemed to surprise Petersson Wentzel.

After two periods, the US holds a 24-18 advantage in shots.

The first period was all about the goaltending.

Petersson Wentzel, the surprise starter for the Swedes, repaid the confidence of coach Roger Ronnberg, stopping all 13 shots the Americans managed in the first. The highlight came when he flashed the left leg to stone Kyle Palmieri on Team's USA's first power play.

Robin Lehner, a top prospect in the Ottawa system, had played the semifinal game against the Russians.

Campbell, who has played every game for the Americans, wasn't nearly as busy, making just 5 saves in the first. But, his right-leg save against Calle Jankrok in the game's first minute -- on a Swedish power play -- set the tone for the period.

Team USA's Emerson Etem probably had the best opportunity to score in the first, but he hit the post after taking a sweet feed from Mitch Callahan.

Canada plays Russia in the gold-medal game later this afternoon.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.05.2011 / 11:40 AM

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

Medal round games to determine WJC 2012 slate

The winners and losers of tonight's medal-round double-header at HSBC Arena will put the finishing touches on the layout for the 2012 World Junior Championship slated for the Canadian province of Alberta.

The preliminary-round group that involves Canada will be staged at the 16,839-seat Rexall Place in Edmonton and the group, as well as the final round and relegation round, will take place in the 19,289-seat Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

A lottery will be held for fans who want to buy ticket packages for Calgary (21 games) or Edmonton (10 games) and that draw will close today (Jan. 5) on Jan. 5, the day of the gold medal game in Buffalo, at midnight MT and Jan. 6 at 2 a.m. ET. The groups for 2012 will be released immediately following Wednesday's gold-medal game between Canada and Russia.

Basically, the winner of the gold medal game will be placed in Group A with Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia. The winner of the bronze medal game between the U.S. and Sweden will be placed in Group B with the gold-medal round loser (either Canada or Russia), along with Finland, Czech Republic and Denmark.

Here are the current 2011 WJC standings heading into tonight's medal round:

Ranking 2011
1. Winner Canada/Russia
2. Loser Canada/Russia
3. Winner Sweden/United States
4. Loser Sweden/United States
5. Switzerland
6. Finland
7. Czech Republic
8. Slovakia
9. Norway
10. Germany

Swiss takes fifth-place game

Yannick Herren scored the only goal in a shootout and goalie Benjamin Conz made four saves to lead Switzerland to a 3-2 victory over Finland in the placement game at HSBC Arena.

Luca Camperchioli scored a power-play goal 5:23 into the second period to pull Switzerland into a 2-2 tie. Nino Niederreiter assisted on the play. Following a scoreless third period and 10-minute overtime, the teams entered the shootout.

Erik Haula and Teemu Pulkkinen scored first-period goals for Finland, which had opened a 2-1 lead. Inti Pestoni also connected for Sweden, which received a 28-save performance by Conz.

The victory enabled the Swiss to finish fifth in the tournament after placing four last year. Niederreiter, the captain of the team, finished the tournament with 2 goals, 4 points and a team-leading 26 shots. Conz finished 2-3 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in six starts for the Swiss.



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Posted On Monday, 01.03.2011 / 8:59 PM

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

Canada continues barrage on U.S. goalie Campbell; leads 3-0

If not for U.S. goalie Jack Campbell, the anticipated semifinal round clash between the Canadian Junior National Team and the U.S. might very well be a blowout.

In fact, by the midway point of the second period, Canadian fans were chanting, "This is our house." It didn't matter that they were sitting inside HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.

Campbell stopped 15 shots in the second period but received little support in front. Canada opened a commanding 3-0 lead at the 5:59 mark as Ryan Johansen continued his red-hot play after connecting with his team working a 5-on-3 man advantage -- the U.S. entered the game as the least penalized team in the tournament. With both Charlie Coyle and Patrick Wey both in box and the Canadians working a 2-man advantage for 1:36, Johansen controlled a feed from Ryan Ellis and deposited his third of the tournament.

Campbell would be called upon to make numerous stops from that point, including denials on Sean Couturier and Quinton Howden in the slot. Canada goalie Mark Visentin was also up to the task, however, making some equally difficult stops when the U.S. did find a rare crack in Canada's defensive armor.

Visentin, who made 12 saves in the second, has 17 through 40 minutes. A shutout over the Americans would be shocking, to say the least. Campbell has 25 saves through two periods.

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Posted On Monday, 01.03.2011 / 8:10 PM

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

Canada dominates opening period, leads U.S., 2-0

The Canadian National Junior Team just completed, perhaps, its best 20 minutes of hockey in the 2011 World Junior Championship.

The fine effort resulted in 2-0 lead over the United States, the defending gold medalists. The winner of tonight's second semifinal will play Russia in Wednesday's gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Quinton Howden, who performed splendidly in the first, struck 13:54 into the game to give Canada a 2-0 edge. Brett Connolly took a feed from Erik Gudbranson and skated down his right wing before hitting the tip of Howden's stick in the slot. The deft deflection entered the far corner on Campbell.

Canada opened the game dictating much of the pace, throwing its weight around and bottling the Americans up in their own end. Curtis Hamilton opened the scoring for Canada on a fine individual effort. After gathering the puck in the left circle, Hamilton sped towards U.S. goalie Jack Campbell and backhanded a shot that Campbell got with his left toe. Hamilton alertly jammed home the rebound at the 2:38 mark.

U.S. forward Jerry D'Amigo was the target of two big hits in the opening 20 minutes. Just 1:40 into the game, defenseman Erik Gudbranson slammed D'Amigo into the side boards. D'Amigo was also the recipient of a thunderous body check at the U.S. players' bench by Howden, the Florida Panters' 25th overall choice last June.

U.S. defenseman Brian Dumoulin got in on the relentless hit parade by both teams when he decked Carter Ashton in the Canada end.

Canada outshot the Americans, 12-5, in the opening period. Despite yielding two goals, Campbell did play well, turning back 10 shots. Canada's defense did a marvelous job in support of starter Mark Visentin, not allowing much down the middle of the ice.
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Posted On Monday, 01.03.2011 / 5:11 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Russia up 2-1 after two periods

Russia has shown no tired legs after Sunday night's miracle comeback against Finland in the quarterfinals.

Back on the ice 17 hours after the overtime win against Finland, Russia was right back on the HSBC ice Monday afternoon, playing top-seeded Sweden in the first of the day's two semifinals.

After two periods, Russia holds a 2-1 lead and is looking to spring a second-straight upset.

Team captain Vladimir Tarasenko gave Russia the lead in the first period and then Denis Golubev stretched the lead to 2-0 when he found himself alone in the slot after a great pass from Stanislav Bocharov and used a sweet forehand-backhand move to get Sweden goalie Robin Lehner moving in the wrong direction before potting a far-corner shot just inside the goal post.

Tarasenko, a 2010 first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, scored at the 6:37 mark of the first period, on just Russia's second shot. On the play, Tarasenko put together a strong cycling shift before barging toward the net along the goal line extended and firing a no-angle shot that somehow deflected behind Lehner.

Sweden applied the majority of pressure early on -- outshooting Russia 12-4 at one point -- but could not solve Russian goalie Dmitri Shikin, who robbed Jesper Fasth and Johan Larsson with beautiful saves.

In fact, it took almost 38 minutes before Sweden finally found the back of the net and it took an explosive slapper from Adam Larsson on the power play to turn the trick.

Defenseman Maxim Berezin was in the box for tripping when Jesper Thornberg passed a puck into the slot from the corner. Rickard Rakell, in the slot, tried to play it, but only got enough of his stick on it to slow it down. Then Larsson, projected as a top-five pick for the 2011 Entry Draft, pounced, pinching in to unload a cannon that beat Shikin, who had stopped the first 27 shots he faced in this game.

Russia needed a miracle comeback Sunday -- scoring two goals in the game's final four minutes against Finland to force OT before Evgeny Kuznetsov won the game in the seventh minute of OT -- just to get into Monday's game.

Sweden, meanwhile, heavily was favored to win this semifinal. Not only did they already beat Russia, 2-0, in pool play; but they were well-rested. By knocking off pre-tournament favorite Canada on the last day of pool play, Sweden earned the quarterfinal bye and did not have to play Sunday.
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Posted On Monday, 01.03.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Russia up 1-0 after one period

Russia has shown no tired legs after Sunday night's miracle comeback against Finland in the quarterfinals.

Back on the ice 17 hours after the overtime win against Finland, Russia was right back on the HSBC ice Monday afternoon, playing top-seeded Sweden in the first of the day's two semifinals.

After one period, Russia holds a 1-0 lead on a flukish goal by captain Vladimir Tarasenko, a 2010 first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues.

Tarasenko scored at the 6:37 mark of the first period, on just Russia's second shot. On the play, Tarasenko put together a strong cycling shift before barging toward the net along the goal line extended and firing a no-angle shot that somehow deflected behind Swedish goalie Robin Lehner.

Sweden applied the majority of pressure early on -- outshooting Russia 12-4 at one point -- but could not solve Russian goalie Dmitri Shikin, who robbed Jesper Fasth and Johan Larsson with beautiful saves.

The Russians needed a miracle comeback Sunday -- scoring two goals in the game's final four minutes against the Finns to force OT before Yevgeny Kuznetsov won the game in the seventh minute of OT -- just to get into Monday's game.

Sweden beat Russia, 2-0, in pool play.
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Posted On Monday, 01.03.2011 / 4:00 PM

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

WJC semifinal round under way

The first game of today's back-to-back semifinal in the World Junior Championship is under way here at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

It'll be interesting to see if the Russians are skating on fumes in the later stages of the game after needing overtime to dispose of the feisty Finns on Sunday in the quarterfinal round. Sweden has goalie Robin Lehner between the pipes and Russia counters with Dmitri Shikin, the winning goalie against Finland.

In case you missed Sunday's recap of Russia's miraculous victory over Finland, check out the recap provided by NHL.com managing editor Shawn Roarke. Another story posted early Monday was on Sweden's change in attitude and how coach Roger Ronnberg feels the country is no longer considered a "soft" international foe.

At 7:30 p.m. ET (NHLN-US), all eyes will be on Canada against the United States in what should be one heck of a game. U.S. coach Keith Allain has already confirmed that forwards Jason Zucker and Jeremy Morin will return to the lineup. That will give him a four full lines to work with against a relatively healthy Canadian Team.

Here's a preview of tonight's big showdown.

Also, in case you missed it, I had a chance to speak with U.S. goalie coach Joe Exter, who provided some great insight into the mindset of U.S. goalie Jack Campbell.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp