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Posted On Friday, 12.24.2010 / 10:20 AM

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

USA and Canada look ready ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Ramage named captain for Team USA

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Friday, 12.24.2010 / 1:22 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Winter Classic Blog

The transformation has begun

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger took a knee for the final play of the football game here tonight. Soon after the Steelers' players were finished tossing their gloves into the crowd and barreling down the steps into the tunnel leading into their cavernous locker room the transition from NFL football stadium to NHL hockey rink began.

As I look out the clear glass windows in the press box right now I can see the goal posts being torn down and a few people surveying the field. They're using a tape measure to outline the dimensions necessary for the stage, which will be constructed overtop the grass field to compensate for the crown.


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Posted On Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 10:07 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Winter Classic Blog

A little down time for Dan and the boys

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Craig held a meeting with his ice crew at the staff hotel Thursday. They casually discussed everything from scheduling to potential pitfalls and finally, what they were going to do Thursday night because going to Heinz Field was not an option.

Originally Craig's crew was hoping to attend the Steelers game, but since they technically don't have to be at the stadium until their walk-through Friday morning the guys decided to scratch that and head out for an early dinner so they could get back to the hotel in time to watch the Penguins-Capitals game as well as some of the Steelers game.

They'll meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. Friday before heading over to the stadium together. Even Craig didn't bother coming to the stadium Thursday night because there is literally nothing for him to do until the union workers put down all the decking and build the stage that will house the rink.


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Posted On Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 6:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Winter Classic Blog

Touch down Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- This blog entry, the first of many from the ground here in Pittsburgh, is coming to you live from Seat No. 153 in the Heinz Field press box. As I look out the crystal clear glass in front of me I see a tarp spread out overtop the gridiron and the lights shining brightly on the yellow seats.

Steelers vs. Carolina in a matter of hours. Penguins vs. Capitals in a matter of days.

A football field tonight. The makings of a hockey rink tomorrow.

NHL.com has arrived on the scene for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and the buzz it's obvious no matter where you go in this town. Pittsburgh has Winter Classic fever, and today's weather certainly helped.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 11:50 PM

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

Team Canada wins; USA loses shootout (again)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 11:30 AM

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

USA Hockey announces roster for WJC

Team USA announced the 22-player roster for the World Junior Championship on Wednesday morning via its Facebook account.

For the scoop on all the returnees -- of which there are eight -- and those who made the final cut, click here.

The members of the U.S. National Junior Team will get a real treat on on Wednesday evening when Joe Dames, a decorated U.S. Army Ranger who served six tours of duty in Iraq between 2006-09, speaks to them in Amherst, N.Y.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 9:00 AM

By Seth Ambroz -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Seth Ambroz draft blog

On a roll heading into holiday break

Hi everyone. Our team (Omaha) is doing pretty well of late (13-7-3, second in Western Conference). We just have to be patient. I feel as though our whole team is becoming more successful and a lot of the younger guys are learning the league a lot more and that's been a big reason.
 
You definitely want to be positive with the younger kids since learning the league is not easy. You want to be there for any advice they want and you have to be willing to lend your hand and maybe give your advice when they don't even ask. Anything that will keep their confidence up and help them.
 
Personally, I'm always learning more. I've been in the league now for three seasons and, this year, I'm taking more of that leadership role and being that guy that people look to. I want to be a person that the players and people respect. That's been more of my focus this year … trying to take on that leadership role and lead by example (Ambroz has 10 goals, 17 points and a plus-7 rating in 19 games).
 
It's always nice to score goals but you can't score if you don't shoot the puck so whenever I get a chance to shoot, I'm definitely not going to hesitate, unless there's a better play. Hopefully, if there is a better play, I can make that but you can't score without shooting (Ambroz is second in the USHL with 96 shots).
 
My linemates Justin Crandell and Nick Oddo are playing really well. Oddo missed one game with a sore knee a few games ago, but Ken Babinski filled in on that line to provide the same chemistry. When you have the same two guys, it's nice, but the lines change throughout the year so I'm not too worried about it. I feel like everyone on our team is capable of just making plays and being all-around good players. We have a lot of talent on this team and I feel like things are starting to turn around and click now. It has definitely been going well.
 
I just had one fight earlier in the year and there have been situations where I wanted to fight, but it didn't turn out that way. But, as I've said before, when the time comes, I'm definitely there to stick up for my teammates or if there's a good reason to fight, I won't hesitate to do it.
 
I'm looking forward to the holidays. I'll be heading back to Minnesota to be with my family and friends. I'm also looking forward to watching the World Junior Championship. It was awesome last year and it'll be exciting to see what happens this year. It should be another great tournament and definitely fun to watch.
 
Thanks for reading and happy holidays.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.21.2010 / 8:59 PM

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

Germany suffering like Norway

If I'm part of the Germany or Norway traveling party for the 2011 World Junior Championship, I'm considering finding alternate means of getting home after the tournament.

It was announced today that Germany would have to move its exhibition game against the Czech Republic, scheduled for Wednesday, to Thursday, because of a delay in their gear arriving.

Players from Norway's team were heading to hockey shops around the Buffalo area to round up equipment for the start of the tournament. Looks like Germany might have to do the same thing.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.21.2010 / 10:35 AM

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

Norwegians struggle to stay upbeat

When Norway earned a spot in the main draw of this year's World Juniors, never in their wildest dreams did they anticipate this type of loss even before the games had begun.
 
According to Jan-Petter Selvik, who is accompanying Norway's National Junior Team to Buffalo for the tournament, Airline Lufthansa was unable to inform team representatives exactly where and when their missing hockey bags and equipment were lost or even when they will be returned.
 
As a result, Norway has decided to send 11 players to Buffalo to purchase new equipment and other miscellaneous items as needed. Pretty amazing that the Norwegians and coach Geir Hoff are forced to deal with this at a time when they should be concentrating on playing the game they love.
 
"We have agreed to focus forward and do our best," Selvik said in his blog. Norway's scrimmage against Slovakia, originally slated for Monday, now will be played at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, at the Jamestown (N.Y.) Savings Bank Arena.
 
Selvik also mentions in his blog that some players and managers lack personal clothing and medication, but that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
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