The team Slovakia will send to the 2011 World Junior Championship has started to take form with Thursday's announcement of a roster for training camp.
The process began Tuesday, when the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation announced a preliminary 23-man European roster. That list will be trimmed to 15 following a training camp that starts Dec. 6 in Bratislava. The remaining players and the coaching staff, including coach Stefan Mikes, will fly to the U.S. and join eight Slovakian players currently starring in the Canadian Hockey League to play a pre-tournament schedule in Jamestown, N.Y., starting Dec. 16. Slovakia will play exhibition games against Russia, Norway and the United States, and then will finalize its roster.
Slovakia, which will compete in Group A with the United States, Switzerland, Finland and Germany, opens its WJC preliminary-round schedule Dec. 27 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo against Germany.
Three players from last year's team -- forwards Michael Vandas and Andrej Stastny, and defenseman Henrich Jabornik -- are returning for camp. Slovakia went 1-3 to finish fourth in Group A last year.
Also invited to camp is defenseman Peter Ceresnak of Dukla Trencin Jr., the No. 1-rated 2011 Entry Draft prospect in Slovakia according to NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings. The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder is touted as one of Slovakia's most physical players.
The 23 players invited all are eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft.
While the Slovakian Ice Hockey Federation has yet to reveal its list of the eight CHL players who will join the team in the U.S., there are reports that three players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, two from the Western Hockey League and one from the Ontario Hockey League will be invited.
Among those from the QMJHL likely will be Saint John Sea Dogs right wing Tomas Jurco, who is No. 6 on Central Scouting's list for players in that league. In 27 games with Saint John this season, Jurco has 14 goals, 28 assists and a plus-22 rating.
"Tomas is a dynamic player and although he was a little behind in his conditioning at the start of the season, he's going to be outstanding," Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant told NHL.com. "He's big-bodied with great skill and he competes really hard."