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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.
Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 5:47 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Meanwhile, in Niagara ...

While most eyes are focused on Russia and Canada at the HSBC Center, Sweden is opening its World Junior tournament a few miles away in Niagara, where they lead Norway 4-0 after one period.

Sebastian Wannstrom set up a pair of first-period goals, and Patrick Cehlin scored early and late in the second. Cehlin nearly had a hat trick, between his first and second goals of the period, he mis-fired on a penalty shot.

This game should serve Sweden as a nice way to get loose for Tuesday's big game against Russia.

We'll have some more on this game when it ends.
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.
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.

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.

Posted On Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 2:02 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

A closer look at the rosters

Mike Morreale will have all the World Juniors info from on-site, but I'll be jumping in from time to time to help out.

With the deadline for official rosters arriving about the same time Santa did, here's a look at one player to watch from each team.

Canada: Mark Visentin -- It looks like Visentin, the Niagara IceDogs goaltender taken by the Coyotes in the first round of the 2010 Entry Draft, will start Sunday against Russia. It wouldn't surprise me to see Olivier Roy see get a start -- or two -- in the preliminary round. Canada coach Dave Cameron saw first-hand last year what happens when you can't count on your goaltending. Best guess is Cameron will give each guy a chance to establish himself and then ride that goalie into the medal round.

Czech Republic: Martin Frk -- The 17-year-old forward jumped to QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads this season, and the early results have been outstanding. The 6-foot, 192-pound right wing is second among first-year league players with 31 points in 34 games. A big tournament here could propel him up the ranks for the 2012 Entry Draft.

Finland: Joel Armia -- At 6-foot-3 and 191 pounds, the right wing has the size and skill -- he's got 12 goals in 30 games with Assat in the Finnish Elite League -- but not cache in North America. Could Armia become this year's Nino Niederreiter?

Germany: Philipp Grubauer -- It seems like every year, there's a team that emerges seemingly from nowhere led by a red-hot goalie. Two years ago it was Jaroslav Janus lifting Slovakia, last year it was Benjamin Conz taking Switzerland to the bronze-medal game. Could Grubauer and Germany do it this year? Grubauer, a fourth-round pick by the Capitals last June, certainly has the talent -- he backstopped Windsor to a Memorial Cup title last year.

Norway: Sondre Olden -- A 6-foot-3, 172-pound left wing, Olden is the only NHL-affiliated player on the team's roster, and he'll be relied upon in a big way. He jumped up a level by going to Modo in Sweden, and has played mostly with their junior team. At last year's Division I WJC, he had 3 goals in five games.

Russia: Nikita Zaytsev -- The stay-at-home defenseman went unselected last year, so he'll be looking to prove himself in front of NHL scouts. He'll also likely be counted on to provide leadership for a team that completely fell apart during last year's tournament.

Switzerland: Nino Niederreiter -- The big forward arrived in Saskatoon mostly unknown and left as a guaranteed first-round pick who went fifth at the 2010 Entry Draft. This year, he's Switzerland's captain and top-line offensive force. He'll see every team's top checking line and defense pair, so he won't be sneaking up on anyone. Can he have the same high level of performance when he's in the spotlight?

Slovakia: Martin Marincin -- The big (6-5, 196) defenseman has dazzled in his first North American season with the WHL's Prince George Cougars, he leads all league defenseman with 35 points in 33 games. With two new goalies as well as four of their top five leading scorers from last year's tournament gone, Marincin will be counted on at both ends of the ice.

Sweden: Carl Klingberg -- At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Klingberg has the size of a power forward, but can he play that way in North America? Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg would love to see Klingberg adopt some of countrymate Gabriel Landeskog's tendencies. Landeskog plays a heavy forechecking game with a nose for the net, but he can't be the only one if Sweden wants to have success. Klingberg will have to play the same way.

U.S.: John Ramage -- The Flames prospect is the only returning defenseman, and also was named team captain. He won't put up big offensive numbers -- he had 3 assists, including one on John Carlson's gold medal-winning goal -- but coach Keith Allain will rely on him to shut down the elite offensive players in the tournament.
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.
Posted On Friday, 12.24.2010 / 10:20 AM

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

USA and Canada look ready ...

The National Junior Teams for the United States and Canada closed our their exhibition schedule on Thursday with decisive victories.

Team USA scored a 6-1 triumph over Norway -- its first pre-tournament win in three games -- at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena in Jamestown, N.Y. Team Canada earned a 4-1 victory over Finland at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

For the Americans, New York Islanders prospect Brock Nelson scored two first-period goals and goalies Jack Campbell and Andy Iles combined for 18 saves in the triumph over the Norwegians.

"It was a great atmosphere here in Jamestown tonight and we thank the community for their support," said Keith Allain, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. I thought we took a step forward tonight and we're looking forward to opening the tournament against Finland on Sunday."

The big question for Team Canada leading into their first preliminary-round match with the Russians on Sunday is … who will start in goal?

After a 5-2 victory over Finland, no one was willing to provide any insight into the matter.

"We'll wait and see. I don't know yet," Phoenix Coyotes prospect Mark Visentin said after making 18 saves to pick up his second exhibition victory. Canada finished 3-0 against pre-tournament competition.

Edmonton Oilers prospect Olivier Roy proved his ability in a 4-1 victory over tough Sweden on Tuesday.

"Whether I played half, didn't play at all or played the full game, to me it was just to focus on the task at hand," Visintin said. "The task given to me was the full game and I'm really happy we won."

Canada coach Dave Cameron seems to be enjoying the banter regarding the big secret.

"What's a conundrum? Somebody said I had a goalie conundrum. Is that bad?" Cameron asked.

"This has been an ongoing thing through the summer camp, through the regular season, through these three games. It won't be my decision alone, like everything else it will be a coaching staff decision."

Finland opened a 1-0 lead on a goal by Henri Tuominen before Canada captain Ryan Ellis scored to give the Canadians life. Canada's power-play quarterback, Ellis, tied the score 26 seconds into the second, one-timing a pass from Jaden Schwartz past goalie Joni Ortio. Ellis was the 13th different player to score for Team Canada in exhibition play.

Ryan Johansen scored twice, becoming the first Canadian to score more than once in exhibition play and 2011 draft-eligible prospect Sean Couturier also connected.
Posted On Friday, 12.24.2010 / 10:13 AM

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

John Ramage named captain for Team USA

Calgary Flames prospect John Ramage (Chesterfield, Mo./Univ. of Wisconsin) was named captain of the 2011 U.S. National Junior Team on Dec. 24. He'll be joined by alternate captains Ryan Bourque (New York Rangers) and Jeremy Morin (Chicago Blackhawks).

All three players were members of last year's U.S. squad that captured gold at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Regina and Saskatoon, Sask.

Ramage, who had 3 assists in seven tournament games last year, recorded the only assist on John Carlson's OT goal in the gold-medal game against Canada on Jan. 5. Ramage participated in the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp and produced 1 assist in six games against teams from Finland, Sweden and the U.S. He sports a plus-9 rating through 18 games at the University of Wisconsin this season -- his second campaign with the Badgers.

Ramage was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round (103rd overall) last June.

Morin, drafted by Atlanta in the second round (No. 45th overall) in 2009 but since traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, tied for fourth in scoring with 5 assists in last year's WJC. Bourque, a third-round pick (No. 80 overall) of the Rangers in 2009, had 3 assists at last year' event.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 11:50 PM

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

Team Canada wins; USA loses shootout (again)

Bolstered by the goaltending of Olivier Roy, the Canadian National Junior Team scored a 4-1 victory over Sweden on Tuesday in the second of three pre-World Junior Championship exhibition games at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Meanwhile, across the border, the U.S. National Junior Team dropped its second straight game via a shootout, this time to the Czech Republic, 3-2, at The Sports Centre in Rochester, N.Y.

"I don't think anybody thought we were going to win every game, 8-0," Cameron told The Canadian Press. "There's a lot of good hockey teams here and Sweden is one of them. It's a real challenge to beat them and they pushed us and we found a way.

"It was a real good test. That's how you get better."

Brayden Schenn, Zack Kassian, Ryan Johansen and Cody Eakin scored for Team Canada. Despite the victory, much was made of the Canadians dismal power-play, which went 1-for-8. Max Friberg scored midway through the third period to pull the Swedes within 2-1.

The Americans received a pair of goals by Kyle Palmieri but the Czech Republic notched a 3-2 victory in a shootout, marking the second straight shootout loss for Team USA. Team USA finished 1-for-6 on the power-play and goalie Jack Campbell stopped 30 of 33 shots. Czech goalie Filip Novotny made 32 saves, including 14 in the second period. Defenseman Martin Planek and forward Petr Straka scored for the Czechs.

"We're a team that wants to play with speed," Team USA coach Keith Allain said.

Team USA closes its pre-tournament schedule on Thursday against Norway at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena in Jamestown, N.Y.

Cameron isn't sure who'll start in goal for the final exhibition against Finland on Thursday in Kitchener, Ont. before opening the WJC against Russia on Sunday.

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

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