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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Zibanejad calls his own shot

CALGARY -- Mika Zibanejad had a feeling when he woke up this morning that today was going to be a big day for him. He was right.

Zibanejad scored the only goal of the gold medal game 10:09 into overtime, giving Sweden a 1-0 victory against Russian for its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

The Ottawa Senators prospect picked up a loose puck near the red line, busted down right wing, cut in front of Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov and went forehand-to-backhand to lift Sweden to the win and 18,722 spectators at the Scotiabank Saddledome to their feet.

It was a proclamation he made to teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall -- twice.

"He told me this morning he was going to finish this game off," Boyce Rotevall said.

Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft, confirmed that fact with a gold medal around his neck and a big smile on his face.

"I told him before the overtime, too," he said. "This morning was a joke, but it's not a joke anymore. It was good to get that goal. You have to decide you want to win this."

Sweden's last title came in 1981, 12 years before Zibanejad was born.

"We haven't won in 31 years so I mean, it's wonderful to win now," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:34 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Friberg leads WJC All-Star team

CALGARY -- Max Friberg of Sweden will head home with a little something extra to go along with his gold medal.

Friberg was one of six players named to the World Junior Championship All-Star Team as selected by the media.

Too busy celebrating Sweden's first gold medal at the event since 1981, Friberg wasn't even aware of the honor. During interviews after Sweden's 1-0 OT win against Russia in Thursday's gold medal game, he was more enamored with the reward dangling around his neck.

"Thank you very much, but this is what's really important, this is what matters the most," Friberg said, pointing to his gold medal. "Of course, I'm happy that (the media) liked my game. "But (gold) is what really matters."

Russia's Yevgeni Kuznetsov was also named to the team along with Finland's Mikael Granlund. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom (Sweden) and Brandon Gormley (Canada) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) rounded out the team.

Though Russia came up a goal short in the gold medal game, the media named Kuznetsov as the tournament's most valuable player.

Kuznetsov was also named the tournament's best forward as selected by the championship directorate. Gormley and Mrazek were cited as the top defenseman and goalie, respectively.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 10:31 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden, Russia heading to OT

CALGARY – The gold medal game of the World Junior Championship is heading to overtime.

 

It’s not uncommon territory for the two teams, who met in the extra period back on New Year’s Eve. Joakim Nordstrom was the hero in that one, scoring 2:44 in to give Sweden a 3-2 victory.

 

Despite building a 50-16 advantage in shots, Sweden couldn’t manage to beat Russian starter Andrei Makarov over 60 minutes. The Russians, who threw a decent share at Johan Gustafsson, couldn’t get on the board either.

 

The 0-0 tie means both teams will play a 20-minute 4-on-4. If neither team scores, the game advances to a shootout.

 

Though heavily outplaying Russia throughout the contest, Sweden may feel lucky to get there.

 

With 32 seconds remaining, Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov found Nikita Gusev on the doorstep with a no-look, spinning backhand pass. Gusev couldn’t get it behind Gustafsson, who has gone long stretches in the game without any action.

 

Though the action was a little more even in the third period, Sweden dominated Russia through the first 40 minutes of action.

 

Sweden has outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including firing 22 shots at Makarov in the second period alone.

 

It was the same story in the first period, when Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame.

 

Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

 

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin. Bragin’s inclination to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off throughout the game.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 9:47 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden dominates, but still 0-0 after two

CALGARY - Sweden continued its utter dominance over Russia through the first 40 minutes of action in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship -- but still has nothing to show for its efforts in a game that was scoreless after 40 minutes.

Sweden outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including 22 in the second period. But Russian goalie Andrei Makarov has been flawless.

At the other end, Swedish starter Johan Gustafsson has barely been tested.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson in the first period. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot on Gustafsson -- and that was a weak one that off the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden scoreless after one

CALGARY -- Sweden fired 17 first-period shots at Russian starter Andrei Makarov, but the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot at Gustafsson -- and that was a weak shot that rolled of the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden couldn't get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin -- his decision to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off through the opening period.

Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame. Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:00 PM

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

Russia and Sweden ready for golden matchup

CALGARY -- The Swedish National Junior Team has visions of celebrating its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

In order for that to happen, the club will have to dethrone the defending champion Russia in Thursday's gold-medal match at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin, in a somewhat surprising move, will start Andrei Makarov between the pipes against the Swedes. Andrei Vasilevski had started all the big games for the Russians, but was pulled with less than five minutes remaining in Tuesday's semifinal round match with Canada after allowing four quick third-period goals.

Makarov entered the game cold and proceeded to stop all seven shots he faced in a 6-5 victory.

Not surprisingly, Sweden's Johan Gustafsson gets the nod in goal.

Here are the lineups:

Russia


G: Andrei Makarov
Apalkov-Kosov-Barbashev (Sergeyev-Arzamastsev)
Yakupov-Khokhlachev-Kuznetsov (Antipin-Ozhiganov)
Gusev-Kucherov-Grigorenko (Zheldakov-Nesterov)
Kulikov-Zemchenko-Telegin (Naumenkov)

Sweden

G: Johan Gustafsson
Larsson-Sundstrom-Friberg (Klefbom-Brodin)
Boyce Rotevall-Nordstrom-Thorell (Granberg-Nemeth)
Karlsson-Zibanejad-Rakell (Backman-Claesson)
Collberg-Forsberg-Rask-Rensfeldt (Klinberg)

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 5:08 PM

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

Canada beats Finland, 4-0

CALGARY -- Mark Visentin saved his best for last at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

In what would be his final appearance in a game for the Canadian National Junior Team on Thursday in the bronze medal contest against Team Finland, Visentin made several highlight-reel stops on the way to a 27-save shutout to lead Canada to a 4-0 victory.

In what arguably can be considered the best save of the entire tournament, Visentin somehow snared an attempt by Joonas Donskoi at the right post by reaching behind his back to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. The stop was showed well over 10 times on the center ice scoreboard and, each time, fans applauded while offering up plenty of "Oooo's and Ahhh's".

Quinton Howden scored a pair of goals and Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele once for Team Canada.   

In the first, Pearson converted a perfect feed from Scheifele to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Just 5:35 into the second Pearson returned the favor, dishing to Scheifele in the slot for a 2-0 advantage. Howden would score a power-play with just 30.7 seconds left in the second to extend the lead to 3-0. Howden converted a feed from Mark Stone with just 2:25 left in the game to close out the scoring.

Finland starting goalie Sami Aittokallio, who has played wonderfully in this tournament, was inadvertently run into by Howden with 9:41 left in the second. The goalie remained down for a few minutes before regaining his senses. He finished with 40 saves.

Canada goalie Mark Visentin, making his first start since Dec. 29 when he made 24 saves in a 10-2 victory over Denmark, has turned aside 18 shots through 40 minutes. Visentin denied Teemu Pulkkinen on a penalty shot with 2:11 left in the second after being whistled for throwing his stick in an attempt to block an original shot. Pulkkinen faked a slap shot and skated in, only to be stopped by Visentin's left pad. The goalie then slapped the puck out of his crease to the delight of the locals.

Pearson, in prime position in the slot, one-timed a perfect pass from Barrie Colts teammate Scheifele from the right circle with his team on the power-play at the 9:08 mark to give the Canadians the early lead. Canada isn't playing in the gold medal game for the first time since 2001, which is also the last time the country earned bronze.

Visentin had a solid opening 20 minutes, turning aside seven shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt by playmaker Markus Granlund with just 4:13 remaining in the period.

The Canadians received a bit of a scare in the period when defenseman Dougie Hamilton was struck in the ankle following a shot by Finland's Miro Aaltonen. Hamilton slowly returned to the bench but eventually returned to the ice for his regular shift alongside Brandon Gormley.

The Finns couldn't convert a 2-on-1 in the final minute of the period. Joonas Donskoi and Teemu Pulkkinen broke in but Donskoi failed to release his shot from deep in the left circle.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 3:23 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Finland vs. Canada lineups

CALGARY – After both clubs suffered heartbreaking losses in semifinal action, Canada and Finland still have the opportunity to take home a prize from the World Junior Championship -- a bronze medal.

Canada will look to rebound from a crushing 6-5 loss at the hands of the Russians on Tuesday. Falling behind 6-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the game, Canada battled back to within one before Ryan Strome hit the goal post in the dying minutes of the contest.

On the other side, Finland took a 2-0 lead against Sweden into the third period but lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Both teams will have to put disappointment aside to ensure they won’t be leaving the World Juniors empty-handed.

The game marks the second time in the tournament the two teams have met. Canada won the initial matchup between the two countries by a score of 8-1 in the tournament’s opening game on Boxing Day.

Canada

Brett ConnollyFreddie HamiltonQuinton Howden
Jaden SchwartzRyan StromeBrendan Gallagher
Jonathan HuberdeauMark ScheifeleMark Stone
Michael Bournival – Tanner Pearson

Brandon GormleyDougie Hamilton
Mark Pysyk – Ryan Murray
Jamie OleksiakNathan Beaulieu


Mark Visentin
Scott Wedgewood

Finland

Teemu PulkkinenMikael GranlundMarkus Granlund
Joel ArmiaJoonas DonskoiMiikka Salomaki
Alexander Ruuttu – Aleksander Barkov – Miro Aaltonen
Markus HannikainenMikael KuronenRoope Hamalainen
Otto Paajanen

Konsta MakinenJani Hakanpaa
Miro Hovinen – Ville Pokka
Simo-Pekka Riikola – Rasmus Ristolainen

Sami Aittokallio
Christopher Gibson
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:56 PM

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

IIHF suspends Canada's Jenner; Russia's Isanglulov

CALGARY -- The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Wednesday that Canada forward Boone Jenner and Russian defenseman Ildar Isangulov will be suspended for their next game at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

As a result, Isangulov, who had no points in six games, will miss Thursday's gold medal game against Sweden at 8 p.m. ET. Jenner, who notched two assists in five games, will have to sit out his team's bronze medal game against Finland on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET

At the 15:44 mark of the second period of Russia's 6-5 semifinal-round victory over Canada on Tuesday, Isangulov elbowed Jenner and was whistled for a minor penalty. When Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov made a comment to Jenner after the incident, Jenner speared him and received a five-minute major and game misconduct.

The International Ice Hockey Federation's disciplinary hearing determined, upon review, that Isangulov's elbow was to Jenner's head.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:17 PM

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

Latvia earns spot in 2013 WJC

CALGARY - The Latvian National Junior Team secured an invitation to the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday in dramatic fashion when Nikita Jevpalovs scored 1:43 into overtime to give his country a 2-1 victory over Denmark in the relegation round before 6,983 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It was sick," Jevpalovs told the IIHF website. "I only scored one goal in the tournament before, and to score one like this is a big deal."

Jevpalovs controlled a rebound off a shot taken by Robert Lipsberg and slipped his attempt between the legs of Denmark goalie Sebastian Feulk (29 saves). Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 22 shots for Latvia.

The victory enables Latvia to finish ninth at this year's WJC while Denmark places tenth. Denmark will be demoted to Division 1 in 2013, while Germany gets promoted for next year's tournament in Ufa, Russia. The other two relegation round teams, the U.S. and Switzerland, have already punched their tickets into next year's WJC. They will play 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday to determine the seventh-place finisher.

Denmark had taken a 1-0 lead 3:21 into the first when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored off a pass from Thomas Spelling before Latvia evened the score in the second at the 11:34 mark when Kristians Pelss ripped a one-timer eight seconds into a power-play.

"Right now there are not too many words to explain how bad our feelings are," said Denmark's Nicklas Jensen told the IIHF website. "That's not what we wanted. I think the game went quite well for both teams. Both teams had a lot of chances, but Latvia scored on a golden opportunity in the end. That's what won them the game. That's hockey."

Jensen, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, was shaken up early in the third period when he crashed into the boards behind the Latvian net. Jensen did return to the game. Jensen led the Danes with 6 points, including 2 goals.  

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia up 6-5 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Trailing 5-1 heading into the third period, Canada has inched to within a goal of Russia in semifinal action at the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Canadians now trails 6-5 with four minutes remaining.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power-play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Brendan Gallagher made it 6-4 after deflecting a point shot from Hamilton and Brandon Gormley's seeing-eye shot from the point has brought Canada to within a goal of tying the Russians.

Nikita Kucherov gave Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.
 
If Russia is able to hold on through the game’s final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:16 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia up 6-3 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Canada had its opportunity to build a slow climb over their 5-1 deficit. When the Canadians failed to do so, the Russians capitalized.

After its 26th consecutive penalty kill of the tournament, Nikita Kucherov has given Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Back on the power play, Canada struck to make it 6-2.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If Russia is able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:54 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia extends lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes

CALGARY -- Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada in semifinal action in the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power-play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If the Russians are able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, they'll meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:21 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia extends lead in second period

CALGARY -- Canada got the push back they needed to start the second heading into the first intermission trailing 2-0.

The only problem was the Russians answered – twice.

Canada's Brett Connolly cut Russia's lead to 2-1, but captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered just two minutes later.

With a delayed penalty coming to Russia, Connolly jumped over the boards. He picked up the puck, cut through the faceoff circle and rifled a shot over the right shoulder of Russian starter Andrei Vasilevski just 2:37 into the period.

Kuznetsov responded at 4:24.

Taking a pass from Alexander Khokhlachev, Kuznetsov let go a shot that caught the shaft of Scott Harrington's stick and went over the glove of Scott Wedgewood to make it 3-1.

Russia extended the lead to three courtesy of Kuznetsov's hat-trick goal.

Both he and Nail Yakupov managed to get behind Canada's defense. Yakupov fed Kuznetsov, who cut to his backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Wedgewood at 8:48.
 
After the goal, Yaroslav Kosov plowed into Wedgewood, who suffered an injury on the play. Mark Visentin, who was in net for Canada a year ago against Russia in the gold-medal game, has come on in relief. 

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 9:49 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia gets jump on Canada, up 2-0 after one period

CALGARY -- Though Canada holds a 13-8 shot advantage over Russia, through one period the Canadians find themselves trailing 2-0 in semifinal action at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Yevgeni Kuznetsov has given Russia a 1-0 off a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26 into the first period of their semifinal match against Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
 
After a turnover at the Russian blueline, Yakupov quickly darted up the ice and found Kuznetsov, beating Canadian starter Scott Wedgewood for the lead and silencing the capacity crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the process.

Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01 on the power play. Grigori Zheldakov worked the puck over to the Russian defenseman, whose shot from the point beat Wedgewood glove side for the 2-0 advantage.

The first period unfolded in almost exact opposite nature as their gold medal game a year ago. In 2011, Canada staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Ryan Ellis and Carter Ashton.

The survivor of this game moves on to face Sweden Thursday in the gold medal match. Sweden punched its ticket after a 3-2 shootout victory against Finland earlier Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 9:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia takes early lead on Canada

CALGARY -- Yevgeni Kuznetsov has given Russia a 1-0 off a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26 into the first period of their semifinal match against Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship.
 
After a turnover at the Russian blueline, Yakupov quickly darted up the ice and found Kuznetsov, beating Canadian starter Scott Wedgewood for the lead and silencing the capacity crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the process.

Though down, Canada holds a 9-5 edge in shots.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 8:48 PM

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

Canada and Russia ready for rematch at WJC

CALGARY -- Canadian fans has waited for a chance at redemption against the Russian National Junior Team in the medal round of the 2012 World Junior Championship all year.

They're now minutes away from getting their chance to root on their hometown heroes of the Canadian National Junior Team on Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the tournament semifinal round.

In last year's gold medal clash, Russia scored five goals in the third period to take a 5-3 victory before a stunned Canadian contingent in Buffalo, N.Y. After earning an overtime victory on 38 saves on Monday against Czech Republic, Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski will be right back between the pipes.

The Canadians are 10-7-1 in 18 decisions against Russia, winning five of the last six meetings.

The winner of the game will meet Sweden in the gold medal game on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.

Canada lineups:

G-Scott Wedgewood
Freddie Hamilton-Brett Connolly-Quinton Howden (Brandon Gormley-Dougie Hamilton)
Jaden Schwartz-Brendan Gallagher-Mark Scheifele (Ryan Murray-Scott Harrington)
Jon Huberdeau-Mark Stone-Ryan Strome (Jamie Oleksiak-Mark Pysyk)
Michael Bournival-Tanner Pearson-Boone Jenner (Nathan Beaulieu)

Russia lineups:

G-Andrei Vasilevski
Danil Apalkov-Yaroslav Kosov-Sergei Barbashev (Artyom Sergeyev-Zakhar Arzamastsev)
Nail Yakupov-Alex Khokhlachev-Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Viktor Antipin-Igor Ozhiganov)
Nikita Gusev-Nikita Kucherov-Mikhail Grigorenko (Grigori Zheldakov-Nikita Nesterov)
Pavel Kulikov-Ignat Zemchenko-Ildar Isangulov (Mikhail Naumenkov)

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 7:20 PM

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

Sweden rallies to beat Finland in shootout, 3-2

CALGARY -- Sebastian Collberg and Max Friberg scored in a shootout when the Swedish National Junior Team ralled for a 3-2 victory over Finland on Tuesday in the semifinal round of the 2012 World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Friberg's shootout goal, through the five-hole, was the clincher for the Swedes, who also received a shootout goal by the first shooter of the session, Collberg. Joel Armia struck in the shootout for Finland.

Finland captain Mikael Granlund had an opportunity to even the shootout at 2-apiece, but he fanned while trying to move the puck on his backhand.

Friberg, property of the Anaheim Ducks, scored off a turnover with just 1:44 remaining in the third period to pull his team into a 2-2 tie.

Friberg gained his opportunity from prime position in the slot after teammate Johan Sundstrom leaped to snare an attempted clearing attempt along the glass by Finland goalie Sami Aittokallio.

William Karlsson pulled Sweden to within 2-1 on a power-play goal just 3:11 into the third.

Finland's Simo-Pekka Riikola was whistled for hooking at 2:38 and the Swedes would make him pay 49 seconds later when Karlsson drove the slot and had the puck deflect off his leg and behind goalie Sami Aittokallio.

Armia cored an unassisted goal with 4:30 remaining in the second period to give the Finns a 2-0 lead. Armia, who has been playing extremely well this year following a below average debut for Finland at the WJC in 2011, connected for his fifth goal.

Armia skated in on Swedish goalie Johan Gustafsson and snapped a shot that hit the iron to the goalie's left before deflecting into the net.

The Finns opened a 1-0 lead with 1:31 left in the first when Alexander Ruuttu converted a great pass from Miro Aaltonen at the right post. The Finns last reached the gold medal game in 2001. The Swedes last garnered gold in 1981.







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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 7:14 PM

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

Sweden evens score with Finland; teams set for OT

CALGARY -- Max Friberg scored off a turnover with just 1:44 remaining in the third period to pull Sweden into a 2-2 tie with Finland in the semifinal round of the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Friberg gained his opportunity from prime position in the slot after teammate Johan Sundstrom leaped to snare an attempted clearing attempt along the glass by Finland goalie Sami Aittokallio

The teams are now headed to a 10-minute overtime with four skaters aside. Sweden holds a 52-21 advantage in shots.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 6:48 PM

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

Sweden cuts deficit to 2-1 early in the third

CALGARY - William Karlsson has pulled Sweden to within 2-1 on a power-play goal just 3:11 into the third period.

Finland's Simo-Pekka Riikola was whistled for hooking at 2:38 and the Swedes would make him pay 49 seconds later when Karlsson drove the slot and had the puck deflect off his leg and behind goalie Sami Aittokallio.

Max Friberg had taken the intial shot.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 6:19 PM

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

Finland opens 2-0 lead over Swedes

CALGARY -- Can the Finnish National Junior Team pull off the first major upset of the medal round in the 2012 World Junior Championship?

The Finns find themselves one defensive period away from elminating Sweden from gold medal contention. Joel Armia scored an unassisted goal with 4:30 remaining in the second period to give the Finns a 2-0 lead. Armia, who has been playing extremely well this year following a below average debut for Finland at the WJC in 2011, connected for his fifth goal.

Armia skated in on Swedish goalie Johan Gustafsson and snapped a shot that hit the iron to the goalie's left before the disk deflected into the net. Finland goalie Sami Aittokallio stopped 20 shots in the second and has 34 saves for the game.

The survivor of the match advances to Thursday's gold medal game to face either Canada or Russia at 6 p.m. ET.

The Finns opened a 1-0 lead with 1:31 left in the first when Alexander Ruuttu converted a great pass from Miro Aaltonen at the right post. The Finns last reached the gold medal game in 2001. 
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 6:13 PM

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

Finns cling to 1-0 lead midway through second period

CALGARY -- The Finnish National Junior Team is clinging to a 1-0 lead over Sweden midway through the second period of their semifinal round match in the 2012 World Junior Championship.

The Swedes are holding a 31-8 advantage in shots but haven't been able to solve goalie Sami Aittokallio. Mika Zibanejad, a first-round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators, had a great opportunity to even the score for for the Swedes with 7:41 left in the second, but was denied by Aittokallio.

Alexander Ruuttu's first-period goal with 1:31 on the clock remains to be the difference so far.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 5:45 PM

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

Ruuttu gives Finns 1-0 lead over Sweden after one period

CALGARY -- Alexander Ruuttu scored off a perfectly placed pass from Miro Aaltonen with just 1:31 remaining in the first period to give the Finnish National Junior Team a 1-0 lead over favored Sweden after one period of their semifinal round match in the 2012 World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Aaltonen appeared as though he was going to curl behind the Sweden net with the puck but, at the last possible second, zipped a pass to Ruuttu, who popped home his third of the tournament to the left of goalie Johan Gustafsson.

The Swedes held a 14-6 advantage in shots in the opening 20 minutes. Sami Aittokallio turned back all 14 shots. Both coaches had no issues having their top lines matched against the other's until late in the frame.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 5:13 PM

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

Finland-Sweden drop the puck in WJC semifinal

CALGARY -- So the Swedish National Junior Team and Team Finland are on the ice here at Scotiabank Saddledome getting set for the opening faceoff in what should be a pretty entertaining contest in the semifinal round of the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Finland has been led by the top line of Teemu Pulkkinen, Markus Granlund and Mikael Granlund on offense. In goal will be Sami Aittokaillio.

The Swedes have received major contributions from Johan Larsson, Johan Sundstrom and Max Friberg. The trio of Filip Forsberg, Mika Zibanejad and Rickard Rakell has also been sharp throughout the tournament. The Swedes will start Johan Gustafsson between the pipes.

Sweden lineups:

G-Johan Gustafsson
J. Larsson-Sundstrom-Friberg (Klefbom, Brodin)
Nordstrom-Rensfeldt-Thorell (Granberg-Nemeth)
Filip Forsberg-Zibanejad-Rakell (Backman-Claesson)
Collberg-Karlsson-Rask-Boyce Rotevall (Klingberg)

Finland lineups:

G-Sami Aittokallio
Pulkkinen-Ma. Granlund-Mi. Granlund (Makinen-Hakanpaa)
Armia-Salomaki-Donskoi (Hovinen-Pokka)
Ruuttu-Aaltonen-Barkov (Riikola-Ristolainen)
Ma. Hannikaninen-Ro. Hamalainen-Kuronen-Paajanen

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 2:16 PM

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

U.S. jumps out to 4-0 lead on Latvia

CALGARY -- The U.S. National Junior Team has opened a 4-0 lead on Latvia in the opening period of the relegation round at the 2012 World Junior Championship at Scotabank Saddledome.
 
Austin Watson recorded a natural hat trick and Jason Zucker also connected for the U.S. in the first. A victory and the United States will avoid being relegated. U.S. starting goalie Jack Campbell made nine saves in the opening period.
 
This year, the 10th-place team from the WJC will be relegated to Division I in 2013 and will be replaced by Germany, winner of the Division 1 crown earlier last month. Prior to Tuesday's matchup, the U.S. and Latvia had only met once before in WJC play -- a 12-1 victory by the Americans on Dec. 29, 2009, in Saskatoon, Sask.
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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 10:42 PM

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

Czechs, Russians tied 1-1 after two

CALGARY -- The Czech Republic Junior National Team is giving Russia -- the defending World Junior Championship gold medalist -- all they can handle through two periods of quarterfinal-round action at Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
After being outshot, 16-5, during a scoreless first period, the Czechs earned the territorial advantage for much of the second when each team connected for a goal. The clubs enter the second intermission in a 1-1 tie. The winner will face Team Canada in the WJC semifinal round slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
 
Russia, which was outshot, 15-9, in the second, pulled even on its third shot of the period when Danil Apalkov ripped one from the left circle that zipped over Petr Mrazek's right pad at the 12:47 mark.
 
The Czechs had taken a 1-0 lead 7:16 into the second when Tomas Hertl sent a nifty backhand pass across the crease to Jakub Culek, who stuffed his attempt home past goalie Andrei Vailevski.
 
Petr Straka barely missed giving the underdogs a two-goal lead midway through the period when his quick wrist shot from the right hash was denied by Vasilevski. The Russian goalie would then stop Daniel Krejci less than a minute later on another left pad save off a backhander from in close.
 
Mrazek would atone for allowing his 12th goal in five games by stoning Apalkov on the doorstep with 3:18 remaining in the second and then Yaroslav Kosov off a 2-on-1 with an incredible left-pad denial at the post a little over a minute later.
 
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov in the opening period. Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded 12 goals on 157 shots in the tournament. He entered Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
 
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but Mrazek got a blocker on the shot. The Russian captain and lone returnee from last year's gold medal-winning team was sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
 
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.
 
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko.
 
Grigorenko suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft- eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.

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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 9:48 PM

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

Mrazek helps keep game scoreless

CALGARY -- Czech Republic goalie Petr Mrazek was up to his old tricks in the first period of his team's quarterfinal-round match in the 2012 World Junior Championship against the favored Russian National Junior on Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov to help his team escape with a 0-0 deadlock after 20 minutes. The winner of the contest will meet Team Canada in the tournament semifinals scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
 
Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded just 11 goals on 148 shots in the tournament. He enters Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
 
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but was denied by Mrazek's blocker before being sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
 
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.

Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski made five saves in the first.
 
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko, who suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft-eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.


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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 3:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss safe after win over Denmark

CALGARY -- The Swiss are safe.

After edging Denmark 4-3 in overtime at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, Switzerland has avoided relegation and can finish no lower than eighth at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

After winning a faceoff in Denmark's end, Tanner Richard buried a rebound off of Dario Trutmann's shot from the point behind Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk with just 1:33 remaining in the extra period to lift Switzerland to victory, clinching its appearance in the 2013 World Juniors in Russia.

"For sure it's a relief," Richard said. "It's a lot of pressure because we're representing our country. It's for the guys next year, too. We have a young team and we all want to be in the A division next year. It's just great for our country."

The overtime loss gives Denmark their first ever points at the tournament. Nicklas Jensen, who had two goals in the losing effort, found little comfort in the fact.

"Obviously it's great to get a point for us," Jensen said. "Right now we're kind of disappointed. I thought we could've won the game in regulation time. We're not too happy with the score. We could've done better."

With a win over the United States on Wednesday, Switzerland will finish seventh. It's a game Richard said his Swiss can get up for.

"For sure, we can," he said. "We were quite disappointed when we blew the game against Slovakia. We wanted to be top-six. Now our goal is to finish seventh."

Cedric Schneuwly, Alessio Bertaggia and Gregory Hofmann also scored for Switzerland. Jensen's pair and a single goal by Oliver Bjorkstrand composed Denmark's offense.

Denmark opened the scoring in the first period when Oliver Bjorkstrand converted a 3-on-1 opportunity just 1:10 into the game.

Schneuwly countered just 35 seconds later for the Swiss, banging in a rebound from Sven Andrighetto's original offering. Switzerland went up 2-1 just two minutes later when Bertaggia beat Feuk over the blocker from the slot.

Denmark tied it before the period was out with the first of Jensen's two goals. On the power play, Jensen's point shot beat Swiss goalie Tim Wolf over the glove.

The teams traded goals in the second, with Jensen answering Hofmann's shorthanded penalty shot goal.

The loss pushes the Danes to the brink of relegation. Denmark would need a Team USA victory over Latvia on Tuesday, coupled by their own win over Latvia on Wednesday, to avoid demotion to Division I.

"We just have to take the positives from this game and our hard work and bring it against Latvia and not think too much about the past," Jensen said.
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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 12:20 PM

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

Aittokallio to earn start in goal againt Slovakia

CALGARY -- Not surprisingly, Finnish National Junior Team coach Raimo Helminen announced that goalie Sami Aittokaillio will get the start against Slovakia on Monday in quarterfinal-round play in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Helminen made his decision following the team's brisk morning practice at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park facility.

Aittokaillio is the tournament leader in save percentage (.987) and goals-against average (0.50) in his two victories in the tournament. Fellow Finn Christopher Gibson sports an .865 save percentage and 4.50 goals against average in two starts for the Finns.

Helminen knows his team, winner of three straight, will have to be on the top of its game to have any measure of success against the Slovaks.

"We have to be careful with them, they're a hard-working team and they look very dangerous," Helminen told NHL.com.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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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 / 2:10 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland without Sven for Slovakia

CALGARY -- If Switzerland wants to make it a third consecutive year with a quarterfinal at the World Juniors, they'll be forced to do so without standout Sven Bartschi.

Bartschi, who is suffering from what is being described as a light concussion, will not be back in time for Switzerland's game with Slovakia Saturday. The winner will finish third in Group A and advance to the quarterfinal of the World Junior Championship.

"He won't play tomorrow," coach Manuele Celio said after Switzerland's 5-3 win over Latvia. "If he's going to play he's going to play in the next round."

Manuele admitted Bartschi hasn't been back on the ice since suffering the injury in the first period of Switzerland's 4-3 shootout loss to Sweden Wednesday.

"He was on the bike a little bit," Manuele said. "It's normal procedure. The doctor is going to look at him. Even the Flames' doctor is going to look at him. I'll have some information tonight again after an assessment and we're going to see what's going on in the new year."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland overcomes Latvia's late scare

CALGARY -- Switzerland was expecting a rebound game from Latvia on Friday night after suffering a humiliating 14-0 defeat to the Russians the night before.

But few imaged the late game push Latvia would bestow on Switzerland.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, Latvia tied the game before Gaetan Haas and Christian Marti scored 59 seconds apart to lift Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Making matters worse was the absence of standout forward Sven Bartschi due to concussion-like symptoms. In the end, it was no worry for Switzerland after Christoph Bertschy stepped into Bartschi's place, adding 2 goals in the victory.

"I think it was a lucky game for me tonight," Bertschy said. "The most important stat is that we won, and now I look forward to the game tomorrow."

Saturday brings Slovakia in a battle to determine which team advances to the quarterfinal.

"We already talked after the game in the dressing room what's going to be," Swiss coach Manuele Celio said. "We've got to keep up and try to be really ready for 4 o'clock tomorrow."

Victory almost didn't happen after the serious push late from Latvia.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

"We brought them back in the game," Manuele said. "We didn't need to do that. We should have won easily. After 3-3, the guys stayed calm and put the puck on the net. I hope it's good learning for tomorrow."

Latvian coach Eriks Miluns was happy with the way his team responded after the Russian drubbing.

"It was our best game in the tournament," Miluns said through an interpreter. "After last night's loss our boys showed character. Luck was a little bit not on our side but I'm proud the way we battled and came back in the third. Hopefully we get the bounces soon."

Haas' first goal came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.

While Switzerland will look to Slovakia, Latvia has the unenviable task of avoiding relegation for the second time in three years. They'll battle the loser of Switzerland and Slovakia, as well as Denmark and the United States.

"They're both going to be tough games," Miluns said. "All the teams will be battling to stay in the top division. Any team that's going to come from that side, it's going to be a hard game. The main opponent is going to be Denmark for us to stay in the top division."

Zemgus Girgensons agreed that if Latvia is to stave off relegation, it has to come at the expense of Denmark.

"We have to beat them to stay in the top division," he said. "It's our goal."
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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 Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi-less Swiss tackle Latvia

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Losing Bartschi to concussion-like symptoms earlier in the tournament, Bertschy stepped up against Latvia on Friday night, scoring twice while Gaetan Haas also added a pair -- including the winner -- to pace Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The win moves Switzerland to 1-0-1-1 and into an important date with Slovakia on Saturday to determine who advances to the quarter-final.

The win wasn't without a serious push back from Latvia in the third period.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored just 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Christian Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

Haas’ first came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.


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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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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss extend lead in second period

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Switzerland continued to roll over Latvia, extending its lead to two after goals by Bertschy and Gaetan Haas.

Gaetan Haas deflected a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period. Haas coughed the puck up in front of goaltender Tim Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked Wolf backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 10:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss dominating, lead after first

CALGARY -- Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but has just a one-goal lead to show for its efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Kristers Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Christoph Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:05 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Vasilevski overshadowed by Kuznetsov's performance

It's not hard to go overlooked when your teammate puts up 9 points in one game.

But that doesn't mean the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski thus far at the 2012 World Junior Championship has gone unnoticed by his fellow Russians.

Though it was Yevgeni Kuznetsov recording 9 points in Russia's 14-0 rout of Latvia Thursday, the game also marked the second of back-to-back shutouts for Vasilevski.

Vasilevski, who has started two of Russia's three games in the tournament, has yet to allow a goal at the World Juniors, turning aside 70 straight shots en route to a pair of blankings against both Switzerland and Latvia.

The fact that a puck still hasn't gotten by Vasilevski hasn't been lost on his teammates.

"It's good for us," said Alexander Khokhlachev, who has 3 goals and three games for Russia. "When we come here we have some questions about goaltenders but he's played great for us. He's a young guy and he has two games, two shutouts."

Only two goaltenders – Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis (85) and Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk (122) have faced more shots than Vasilevski, who has yet to show a blemish on the scoresheet.

"We kept high hopes for our goalie," Kuznetsov said through a translator. "He's a young guy, so hopefully it'll continue that way."

It hasn't been the quantity of saves from Vasilevski, but the timeliness of his stops that has coach Valeri Bragin beaming about his goaltender.

"It's most important in the moments where you need your goalie to play well and he played well," Bragin said through a translator. "He played good when he needed to play good."

Vasilevski's next test will come against Sweden on New Year's Eve. He will need to be equally as good for Russia with the potential of first place in Group A on the line.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 5:16 PM

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

Mrazek standing tall for Czechs in 2-2 tie

EDMONTON -- Two periods in the books here at Rexall Place and Czech Republic goalie Petr Mrazek is standing tall.
 
The U.S., which needs to win in regulation if it is to have any chance at reaching the medal round, is currently in a 2-2 tie with the Czech Republic after two periods.
 
Despite allowing the United States six power-play opportunities, the Czechs can thank their lucky stars that the Detroit Red Wings prospect is manning the cage. Mrazek has turned aside 31 shots as the Czechs, while attempting to play a physical game, are getting penalized time and again for being overly aggressive.

The U.S. opened a 2-1 lead on its second power-play goal of the game in the second period when Bill Arnold cleaned up a rebound to Mrazek's right at the 11:50 mark. Jason Zucker took the initial shot from the low in the right circle that deflected off the pads of Mrazek and onto the stick of a well-positioned Arnold.

The lead was short-lived, however, as U.S. forward T.J. Tynan made an ill-advised pass from the his own corner towards the middle of the ice that was easily picked off by Tomas Hertl. Goalie Jack Campbell had retrieved the puck and fed to Tynan to begin a transition. After intercepting the pass, Hertl skated in and deposited a nifty backhand to goalie Jack Campbell's long side.

The Czechs survived an offensive barrage by the U.S. in the first to enter the intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.

U.S. goalie Jack Campbell, making his first start since the tournament opener against Denmark, has stopped 17 shots.

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 -- shortening the U.S. blue line to six players.

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 later two-minor minor before Tomas Filippi knotted the score at the 12:05 mark. Filippi's initial shot from low in the right circle was initially stopped by Campbell, before he jammed in the rebound when the goalie couldn't control the rebound while opened the five-hole.

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 stop, including a juicy rebound off the stick of Miller with 38.9 seconds remaining.


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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 / 1:55 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Kuznetsov turns in dominating performance

The Russians knew their captain was good.

But nine points good?

Yevgeni Kuznetsov, the only returning player from Russia’s gold medal-winning squad last year, came within one point of Peter Forsberg’s all-time tournament record of 10 against Japan at the 1993 World Junior Championship with his performance Thursday night -- much to the awe and delight of his teammates.

“It was like ‘Are you kidding me, what are you doing?” Nail Yakupov said after the game. “He’s amazing, you know? He did everything today. He’s a great player. It’s his second World Juniors and he plays in the KHL. He plays like an NHL player.”

After being held off the scoresheet through the first 20 minutes by Latvia, Kuznetsov exploded, recording points on six straight Russian goals before adding three more points – including his hat trick goal -- in the third period.
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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 Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:46 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Grigorenko injured in Russian rout

Though Russia handed Latvia a lopsided 14-0 defeat Thursday night, the reigning world champions may have suffered a big loss.

Early in the second period, forward Mikhail Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blue line, sending the 2012 draft-eligible prospect to the ice in pain. Grigorenko did not return to the game and his status for the tournament is in doubt.

"There was an injury around the ankle," Russia coach Valeri Bragin said through a translator after the game. "We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."

When asked if Grigorenko could be lost for the duration of the World Juniors, Bragin confirmed.

"It's possible."

Grigorenko has two goals and four points in three games for the undefeated Russians.

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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 / 4:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Friberg channels 'Tiger' for goal celebration

Tiger Williams was the first.
 
Max Friberg has now become the latest.
 
The Swedish sensation revived the scoring celebration of the former NHL enforcer, taking to riding his stick in Williams-esque fashion after scoring what looked like the game clincher in the shootout in a 4-3 victory over Switzerland Wednesday night in Calgary.
 
“It was just something that came up in my mind,” Friberg said. “It was nothing against the other team. I was very impressed by their game. I was just happy and I had no teammates to celebrate, so I had to do something.”
 
Switzerland responded with a shootout goal of its own before Sebastian Collberg iced the game for Sweden.
 
Friberg admitted the idea for the celebration, which drew a chorus of boos from the crowd, came from time spent on the Internet.
 
“I watch a lot of video clips on YouTube so I’d seen it a couple times,” Friberg said. “I thought they would like it but they booed instead.”
 
Though he never saw Friberg’s post-goal performance, Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg defended his player’s actions.
 
“I didn’t see it actually,” Ronnberg said. “I heard they were booing, I thought it was because they missed the shot. He’s a humble kid. I don’t think he did it to humiliate somebody or offend somebody.”

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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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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 1:09 PM

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

Wedgewood gets start for Canada vs. Czech Rep.

Canadian National Junior Team coach Don Hay announced on Wednesday that goalie Scott Wedgewood would be between the pipes for the club's second game of the 2012 World Junior Championship when his team faces Czech Republic at 8 p.m. ET.

Wedgewood, a third-round selection (No. 84) of the New Jersey Devils in 2010, is currently in his fourth season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. In 21 appearances this season, the 6-foot, 194-pound Wedgewood is 13-8-0 with a 3.08 goals-against average.

"Scott played good in the selection camp and we were impressed with what he did in the pre-competition games and that probably changed my mind a little bit in how I wanted to go about things [with rotating the goalies]," Hay told the media. "We're going to need both goalies going ahead. Mark [Visentin] played very well against the Finns and that was expected of him from his experience and summer camp and what he's done in pre-competition. I think we're in a good situation if they both continue to play like they have."

Visentin stopped 24 of 25 shots in an 8-1 victory over Finland in their tournament opener on Monday.

"We wanted both our goalies to play in a competitive game and this is going to be a very competitive game to test not only Scott but our team," Hay said. "I think we feel he's capable and ready to play and we have a lot of confidence in him."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 10:38 AM

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

The start of something good

Ever wonder how TSN and NHL Network hockey insider Bob McKenzie got his start?

        Canadian broadcaster Bob McKenzie
Forward Mark Stone of the Canadian National Junior Team certainly does, although he wasn't even born when his father would ultimately have an indirect impact on McKenzie's rewarding broadcasting career.

Stone's father, Robert, was a sportswriter for The Sault Star (in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) before deciding to leave and give McKenzie his shot as a hockey writer.

"It was the summer of 1978 and I had gotten a summer job at the Sault Star during my second year at Ryerson [University]," McKenzie said. "It was a four-man sports department and Rob was there. I played on the Northern Plumbing slow pitch team with him."

As the story goes, McKenzie was told at the end of the summer that if a spot opened in the sports department, he would be hired.

"In January, Bob Stone departed Sault Ste. Marie for a job in Winnipeg and the paper called me in January and said Stone was leaving and there was a job in the sports department," McKenzie said. "So in April and May of 1979, I worked there."

When McKenzie broached the subject with Mark Stone, the youngster smiled and nodded his head when the inquisitive reporter asked him, "What exactly was the job your dad took in Winnipeg?"

"I really couldn't tell you," Mark said.

And what is the elder Stone doing now?

"He's selling aircraft engines," Mark Stone said.

Well, of course!

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:44 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Slovakia avoids scare from Latvia

CALGARY -- It was a bigger scare than Slovakia would have preferred in its 2012 World Junior Championship debut.

Tied 1-1 with Latvia after 40 minutes, Slovak forward Marek Tvrdon scored the game-winner 2:02 into the third period and goalie Juraj Simboch kicked out 25 shots en route to a 3-1 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.

"We had a really tough time at the beginning of the game," Slovak coach Ernest Bokros said through a translator. "It was really tough to get into the game. After the first period we talked to the boys and they played better. We told our guys to keep focused and keep going. It was an important game for us since we want to try to stay in the group. We don't want to get eliminated. We told guys to keep going."    

Tomas Jurco also scored for Slovakia and Michael Toman added an empty-netter with 37.3 seconds remaining to clinch the victory. Juris Ziemins had the lone goal for Latvia.

"Everybody tried hard," Latvian captain Kristians Pelss said. "One shot changed the whole game. It's a difficult game because we could win this game. Hopefully the next game will be better."

Tvrdon broke the tie when he lifted a third rebound attempt over Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis during a scramble to give Slovakia. It was only the second of 44 shots to beat Gudlevskis.  

Latvia tried to answer back. Ziemins had Simboch sprawling midway through the period, but couldn't beat the post. It was as close as the Latvians would come to tying the game before Toman hit the vacated net in the final minute.

Slovakia carried the play through the scoreless first period and into the second, it was Latvia that got on the board first.

Minutes after Gudlevskis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Ziemins put Latvia up 1-0 when the puck caromed off the end boards, under the stick of Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it into the top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift. Girgensons took the puck out of the corner and drove to the net but was denied by Simboch. Straupe then slid the rebound just past the far post.

After Gudlevskis stopped Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved him on the power play. Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevskis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.

Both teams now turn their attention to Russia. Slovakia faces the Russians on Wednesday, while Latvia gets the day off before facing them on Thursday.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 11:36 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia, Slovakia all even after two

Though Slovakia was able to carry over the jump shown in the final minutes of the first period, it was Latvia who managed to get on the board first Tuesday night in Calgary.

Minutes after Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Juris Ziemins put Latvia up, 1-0.

The puck careened off the end boards, under the stick of Slovak goalie Juraj Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift.

Taking the puck out of the corner and driving to the net, Girgensons was stopped by the Slovak goalie. Straupe slid the rebound just passed the far post, keeping Slovakia within one.

After stopping Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved Gudlevis on the power play. Tomas Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 11:12 PM

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

Czech Republic scores 7-0 victory in WJC opener

EDMONTON - The Czech Republic received goals from six different players while Petr Mrazek needed to make just 12 saves en route to a 7-0 victory over Denmark in preliminary-round action of Group B on Tuesday during the 2012 World Junior Championship at Rexall Place.

Tomas Hertl, who was named the Czech Republic's player of the game, paced the offensive attack with a pair of goals and Radek Faksa, Petr Holik, Tomas Filippi, Dmitrij Jaskin and Jiri Riha each connected for one apiece. The Czechs held a 44-12 advantage in shots.

"I'm pleased I could score two goals and double pleased I could help the team win," Hertl told NHL.com through Czech interpreter Jan Wagner. "The strengths of our team is its speed and the camaraderie of the players."

The only previous meeting between the two teams in the U20 WJC was in 2008 -- a 5-2 win by the Czechs.

Hertl and Faksa, two players considered to be relatively high on the wish lists of many NHL scouts and general managers in June, had given the Czech a 3-0 lead through two periods.

"Hertl is still young and he's been helpful for us," Czech defenseman David Musil said. "He's used to playing on the bigger ice in the Czech. Hopefully, he can keep up his play against Canada [on Wednesday]."

The Czech Republic will play its second game of the tournament against host Canada at 8 p.m. ET (NHLN-US). The Czechs certainly do not want a repeat of last year when, after scoring a 2-0 victory over Norway in its WJC opener, the country was outscored by Canada, Sweden and Russia by a combined 21-8.

Goalie Mrazek, a fifth-round draft choice (No. 141) of the Detroit Red Wings in 2010, was barely tested but maintained his concentration throughout.

"This was a big game for us because it was the first … it was an important win," Mrazek said. "We have a lot of offensive players and good defensive players, so I think we can score some goals in this tournament."

The Czechs scored three power-play goals and one shorthanded in defeating the Danes, who have been outscored 18-3 in two games. The U.S. earned an 11-3 victory over Denmark on Monday.

Hertl scored his second of the game 2:44 into the second when he connected from an impossible angle after curling the net behind Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk and ripping a shot from the goal line to the goalie's left. According to NHL Central Scouting, Hertl is rated No. 1 among skaters playing in the Czech Republic this season. Prior to joining the Czech National Junior Team, Hertl had 9 goals and 15 points in 23 games with HC Slavia Praha.

"I understand that to play in the U20 championship is the entry for big hockey but I still have this team on my mind right now," said Hertl, who likes to emulate Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin.

Radek Faksa extended the lead to 3-0 when he deflected home a shot from between the circles at the 11:13 mark. Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers is rated No. 4 among skaters in the Ontario Hockey League. In 27 games with the Rangers this season, Faksa has 14 goals and 27 points. Jiri Riha took the initial shot from the left point that Faksa deftly chipped home with his back to the goal cage.

The Czech Republic has outshot Denmark, 31-7, through 40 minutes. Feuk has made 29 saves.

The Czechs opened a 1-0 lead in the first when Hertl redirected a shot through the legs of Feuk from low in the left circle with his team on the power-play. Denmark is coming off an 11-3 loss to the U.S. in its tournament opener on Monday.

Jakub Culek took the initial shot from the top of the left circle. Defenseman Marek Hrbas also assisted on the goal. Feuk turned aside 15 shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Petr Straka less than four minutes into the game, to keep the Danes within striking distance.

The highlight for Denmark came with 9:49 left in the third period when defenseman Anders Thode threw a shoulder into the chest of Czech forward Tomas Hyka, who came off his feet before landing on the ice. Hyka returned to the bench on his own power.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 10:53 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia, Slovakia scoreless after one

After a slow start from both teams in Calgary, Latvia and Slovakia managed to find their feet in a competitive first period that was scoreless despite a combined 25 shots.
 
It took Latvia until the 7:27 mark to mark its first shot on goal on Slovak starter Juraj Simboch, while Slovakia managed to get just two pucks on Latvia's Kristers Gudlevskis in the first half of the period.

Though it took them longer than they'd like to record their first shot of the game, the Latvians carried the pace through the first 20 minutes.

Robert Lipsbergs, who had a pair of goals in Latvia's opener against Sweden, almost put his country up near the midway mark of the first. Streaking in on his off wing, Lipsbergs fired a shot off the pad Slovakia starter Juraj Simboch, gathered his own rebound, but was denied again.

When Slovak defenseman Peter Bezuska misplayed the puck at the offensive blue line, Latvian captain Kristians Pelss was able to break in alone on Simboch, who also denied him with his pad, one of 12 first period saves.

Killing its third penalty of the period, Slovakia responded.

Stepping out of the penalty box with four minutes remaining in the period, Tomas Matousek jumped into a 3-on-1 rush led by Richard Mraz. Mraz dropped the puck to Matousek in the high slot, but was denied by Kristers Gudlevskis.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 6:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi has home-ice edge in Calgary

Calgary is more than 4,800 miles from Switzerland, but Sven Bartschi still has home-ice advantage.

Bartschi, selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round (No. 13) of the 2011 NHL Draft, said fans are making him feel at home as Switzerland tackles preliminary-round action at the World Junior Championship in Calgary.

But that doesn't mean there isn't added pressure for the native of Langenthal, who is the main attraction of Group A with Canada skating in Edmonton until after the new year.

"I want to enjoy the whole thing," Bartschi said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself because it's in Calgary. It's a big Christmas gift for me to come down here and play at the 'dome."

The "dome" Bartschi is referring to is Scotiabank Saddledome - home of the Calgary Flames. It was also the same place the boisterous crowd of 15,390 that was cheering on Bartschi and the Swiss in their tournament opener against Russia, a 3-0 loss.

But Bartschi wasn't willing to take all the credit.

Given the nature of Canada's rivalry with Russia coupled by Russia's come-from-behind gold medal victory over Canada at last year's World Juniors in Buffalo may have helped the Swiss, Bartschi said.

"I think the whole crowd was behind us and cheered us on because of the rivalry between Russia and Canada," he said. "Still, it was a lot of fun out here."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 5:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Girgensons already hearing Nino comparisons

CALGARY - Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons is well aware of the comparison he’s facing at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Two years ago, a draft eligible Nino Niederreiter grabbed headlines as he pulled Switzerland to a fourth-place finish at the World Juniors, the country’s best finish since 1998. Some five months later, Niederreiter was chosen fifth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders.

Now, many expect Girgensons to have the same breakthrough performance that Niederreiter put together two years prior.

“It puts big pressure on me but it’s not a big deal,” said Girgensons, who scored in Latvia’s 9-4 tournament-opening loss to Sweden Monday. “I’m just going to do my best, that’s it. I just don’t try to think about it that much and try to play my game and do my best and help the team to perform good.”

Niederreiter exploded for six goals and 10 points in seven games at the 2010 tournament en route to being named to the media’s all-star team.

Girgensons doesn’t have to match Niederreiter’s outburst at the World Juniors in order to be a high pick in the 2012 draft. In fact, he’s already well on his way to accomplishing the feat, according to NHL Central Scouting's Dave Gregory.

"Zemgus is someone who's going to push being a real high-end rank for us all year," said Gregory in November. "We saw him at the Research, Development and Orientation Camp and he was impressive there with arguably some of the best available draft-eligible kids.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 5:35 PM

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

Blais spends off-day working the penalty-kill

If there's one area of concern for U.S. National Junior Team coach Dean Blais following his team's 11-3 victory over Denmark in the 2012 World Junior Championship, it would be the team's penalty-killing.

After allowing 4 goals in 16 times short during three exhibition games prior to Monday's tournament opener at Rexall Place in Edmonton, the Danes connected for three power-play goals in as many attempts.

"That's not good," Blais told NHL.com. "Thank goodness we weren't taking a lot of penalties. We've got to move a little bit better. There were opportunities to get the puck out of the zone … it started with a lost faceoff. We've been really good on faceoffs, and you lose three and three pucks end up in the net instead of forcing them 200 feet back into our end."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:13 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Larsson exits game against Latvia

Forward Johan Larsson left Sweden’s 9-4 victory over Latvia in the first period for what the team is calling a precautionary move.

The team isn’t concerned with their captain, who assisted on Max Friberg’s first goal before leaving the game with what the team is calling a contusion on his thigh.

“He had a hit on his thigh in the first period,” said team doctor Bjorn Sandstrom. “That’s why he didn’t play anymore. I don’t think it’s a dangerous injury. I’m not very worried about him.”

Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg wasn’t about to take a chance with Larsson on tournament's opening day.

“He got a small injury in the first but we don’t take any chances this early in the tournament,” coach Roger Ronnberg said.

The team is already playing without 2012 draft eligible forward Pontus Aberg, who was knocked out of the World Junior Championship before the tournament got underway.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:06 AM

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

Canada's Devante Smith-Pelly fractures foot

A big opening-day win on Boxing Day before 16,647 screaming fans in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship proved a tad costly to the Canadian National Junior Team on Monday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The Canadians' 8-1 win over Finland was tempered when it was learned after the game that defensive-forward Devante Smith-Pelly would be lost for the remainder of the tournament with a fractured left foot. Smith-Pelly suffered his injury when he slid to the ice to block a shot from the right point by Teemu Pulkkinen.

In 26 games with the Anaheim Ducks in his rookie NHL campaign this year, Smith-Pelly had 3 goals, 5 points and 10 penalty minutes. The Ducks announced that Smith-Pelly would be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks.

Adding insult to injury is the fact Team Canada cannot replace him on its roster. The only situation that would allow a team to add another player would be in the case of a goaltender injury.
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 12:27 PM

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

Visentin gets the nod in Canada's WJC opener

Canadian National Junior Team coach Don Hay on Monday declared goalie Mark Visentin his starter against Finland in the country's 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship opener at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The Canadians, winner of the silver medal the previous two years, will open their Group B preliminary-round schedule against the Finns Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

In addition to having the most experience of the two goalies on the team, the start could give Visentin an opportunity to put to bed the final 20 minutes of last year's gold-medal loss to the Russians. Visentin is constantly reminded of his team's gold medal game collapse on Jan. 5, 2011. To some, it was considered the worst defeat in the illustrious international history of Team Canada.

And Visentin had a front row seat.
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 6:45 AM

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

U.S. members celebrate holiday in Western Canada

For the first time in its history of competition at the World Junior Championship, the U.S. National Junior Team will face Denmark. The game is slated for 8 p.m ET (NHLN-US) at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The U.S. has won its last four WJC openers. Last year, Nick Bjugsted scored in overtime as the United States scored a 3-2 victory over Finland. Finland will open the tournament against Canada in what is sure to be an intriguing tussle on Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The U.S. received a special gift from team doctor Phil Johnson's daughter, Paloma, upon their arrival at Rexall Place on Christmas Day. All the players found tiny stockings filled with cookies baked by the 10-year-old. In addition, the U.S. locker room was decorated with drawings by members of Paloma's elementary school class.

In addition, the players held a gift exchange on Christmas night. According to USA Hockey's public relations department, the most popular item "was what can best be described as a Christmas sweater," which Bjugsted apparently stole Jon Merrill at the end of the exchange. Looks like the Grinch is alive and well in Western Canada.

While most members of Team USA celebrated Christmas, team captain Jason Zucker has been celebrating Hanukkah. Zucker is the only Jewish member on the team.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 12:19 PM

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

Jaden Schwartz named captain of Team Canada

St. Louis Blues prospect Jaden Schwartz on Thursday was named captain of the Canadian National Junior Team for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley and forwards Brett Connolly, Quinton Howden and Devante Smith-Pelly were named the team's alternate captains. Schwartz, Connolly and Howden are the only three returning skaters from last year's silver medal-winning Canadian team in Buffalo, N.Y.

Goalie Mark Visentin is also a returnee.

Schwartz had a goal and 2 assists while playing key minutes alongside center Brayden Schenn and Louis Leblanc in the first two games of the WJC last year, but it ended suddenly when he suffered a broken left ankle in a 7-2 victory against the Czech Republic just two games into Team Canada's preliminary-round schedule.

"I've been waiting for this ever since that tournament ended," Schwartz told NHL.com. "I'm excited to be here. Sometimes you don't know how lucky you are, and if you get another opportunity to play for your country, you want to make the best of it and leave everything out there because you don't know how many chances you're going to get."
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:30 PM

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

Frk will not join Czech Republic at WJC

Martin Frk, one of the top players eligible for the 2012 Draft, will not be joining the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., beginning Monday.

Frk, who missed 29 games this season with a concussion, is in his second season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. According to the Halifax Herald, Frk will "head home for the holidays and not return to the Mooseheads until January."

He is ranked No. 2 among skaters in the QMJHL by NHL Central Scouting.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:49 PM

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

Injured Seth Jones will be unavailable for WJC

Defenseman Seth Jones, who was battling for a roster spot on the U.S. National Junior Team this week, sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's exhibition game against Team Russia and will be unable to participate in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Jones apparently suffered his injury after taking a big hit along the boards while attempting to drive the net.

USA Hockey released a statement regarding Jones on Wednesday afternoon. U.S. coach Dean Blais is scheduled to name his official 22-man roster headed to Edmonton to compete in Group B of the tournament on Thursday morning.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:09 AM

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

Russia earns 6-3 exhibition win over Team USA

Nail Yakupov, who is projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick at the 2012 Draft, had a goal and one assist and Andrei Vasilevski made 34 saves as the Russian National Junior Team scored a 6-3 exhibition victory over Team USA on Tuesday in Red Deer, Alta., in preparation for the 2012 World Junior Championship later this month.

          Nail Yakupov, Team Russia
Russia, the defending WJC gold medalist, also received a pair of goals by Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) and one apiece from Ignat Zemchenko and Viktor Antipin. Ivan Telegin (Winnipeg Jets) dished out three assists in the victory. Vasilevski, who plays for Tolpar Ufa in the MHL and is eligible for the 2012 Draft, made 17 of 18 saves in the second period when the U.S. held the territorial advantage. Yakupov, who plays for the Sarnia Sting, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated player from the Ontario Hockey League.

Coach Valeri Bragin kept the top 2012 draft-eligible player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts), and Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals) out of the lineup as healthy scratches for the Russians, who went 2 for 4 on the power play. Team USA finished 0 for 6 with the man advantage.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Canada defeats Finland, 3-1, in WJC exhibition

So what did we learn from Canada's 3-1 exhibition victory over Finland on Monday?

For starters, no Canadian player wore the 'C', although forwards Devante Smith-Pelly and Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Brandon Gormley all wore the 'A'.

  Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin
Team Canada received goals from Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) of the Oshawa Generals, Mark Stone (Ottawa Senators) of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens) of the Vancouver Giants while goalie Mark Visentin (Phoenix Coyotes) of the Niagara IceDogs earned the victory behind 22 saves. The Canadians will next play Switzerland in a pre-tournament matchup on Thursday.

Teemu Pulkkinen (Detroit Red Wings) of Jokerit scored the lone goal for Finland.

Canada coach Don Hay had just 11 forwards to work with since wings Jonathan Huberdeau (foot) and Quinton Howden (concussion symptoms) were sidelined by injuries. As a result, Jenner and Michael Bournival (Colorado Avalanche) of the Shawinigan Cataractes played both center and on the wing during the game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:33 PM

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

Jack Campbell talks U.S. camp and coach Blais

U.S. National Junior Team goalie Jack Campbell preferred to look on the brighter side when asked if it was disappointing to learn that defenseman Justin Faulk would not be a part of the team at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Faulk, who had a key role along the blueline in Team USA's bronze medal-winning effort in Buffalo, N.Y., last year, will not be released by Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford to play in this year's tournament. According to Rutherford, Faulk has been too important a player to the Hurricanes.

"Hey, look at it this way, for once we're like Team Canada where a player eligible for the tournament is remaining in the NHL," Campbell told NHL.com. "Seriously, though, it's more of a credit to Justin and how much work he's put in. To be a top four defenseman on that team … that's pretty special for a 19-year-old.

"I've known Faulker for probably three or four years now, and nobody earned it more than he did. So it's not necessarily that anyone's down or anything, but it's just the way it goes. He's a big part of their team."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 11:50 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

NHL Network and NHL.com will have WJC covered

The NHL Network U.S. will provide live broadcasts and NHL.com will offer live streams of U.S. National Junior Team games at the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., this year.

Matt Rosen, Dave Starman and Rob Simpson will make up the broadcast team for the NHL Network's coverage of Team USA's games during the tournament, which runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Team USA will play four preliminary round games in Group B at Rexall Place in Edmonton prior to the start of the medal round on Jan. 2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Rosen, who will handle play-by-play duties, has spent three years calling college hockey and football for the Big Ten Network. He also served as the host for all Phoenix Coyotes radio broadcasts as well as the team's post-game call-in show, "Coyotes Wrap-Up." In 2005-06, Rosen did play-by-play for the Roanoke Valley Vipers of the United Hockey League. Prior to that, he could be heard as the voice of the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League. Matt's father, Sam Rosen, has been the television voice of the New York Rangers since 1982.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 2:36 PM

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

A holiday tradition: WJC ready to rock!

Don't look now, but the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship is quickly approaching.

This year's tournament will take place Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta. A full tournament schedule can be found here.

Hockey Canada will host pre-competition games this month prior to the start of the actual tournament on Boxing Day. Canada is scheduled to play Finland in Calgary on Dec. 19, Switzerland in Red Deer on Dec. 22 and Sweden in Edmonton on Dec. 23.

In case you missed it, NHL.com Correspondent Aaron Vickers provided the lowdown on the 22-man Canadian roster that will participate in this year's tournament. Read it here. One of the surprise cuts was top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.
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