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.
Brothers Freddie and Dougie Hamilton become the first brothers to play for Canada since Randy and Mike Moller in 1982.
The U.S. National Junior Team will also play a pre-tournament schedule with games in Red Deer (vs. Russia on Dec. 20), Camrose (vs. Switzerland on Dec. 21) and Three Hills (vs. Slovakia on Dec. 23). Head coach Dean Blais will work the bench for Team USA for the second time in three years. His experience and leadership are qualities his former players admire.
The final 22-player U.S. roster for the WJC will be unveiled Dec. 22. Defenseman Justin Faulk of South St. Paul, Minn., will not be released by Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford for participation in this year's tournament.
Also, in case you missed it, here's a list of the top 2012 draft eligible prospects who could be joining their respective countries at the WJC this year.
Keep checking back to NHL.com for comprehensive coverage of the 2012 WJC. The World Junior Championship blog on NHL.com is a great place to stop for pre-game lineups and intermission reports throughout the tournament.