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U.S. members celebrate holiday in Western Canada

Monday, 12.26.2011 / 6:45 AM

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

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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.
Quote of the Day

We never really stopped believing in ourselves. We were hearing a lot of things about our team in the regular season. Seems like we put things back together at the right time and we're back in the finals with this group. We know what we have in this room, we believe in each other, we believe in the organization and it really matter what other people say.

— Patrick Sharp after Blackhawks clinched Western Conference title with Game 7 win vs. Ducks