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2014 World Junior Championship

Sweden, Russia, Finland lead talented Group B

Tuesday, 12.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With the defending silver- and bronze-medalists, along with a dark-horse medal favorite, Group B of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship is a difficult one to handicap.

Sweden, Russia and Finland all bring loads of talent, including a number of players with NHL experience.

Sweden already boasted a talented group of forwards that will be bolstered by the arrivals of Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Hurricanes and Filip Forsberg from the Nashville Predators.

The Buffalo Sabres are allowing center Mikhail Grigorenko to play for Russia, and the lanky, talented forward likely will center the top line.

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Group A: U.S. bids for repeat, Canada redemption

Tuesday, 12.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The United States will look to become the first country in five years to win back-to-back gold medals when the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship takes center stage starting Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden.

Canada, the previous country to win consecutive gold medals (2005-09) will be one of nine other teams looking to squash the American dream of a repeat at the 11-day event, which concludes Jan. 5, 2014.

The Group A field, which consists of the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, will play preliminary-round games at 5,800-seat Malmo Isstadion.

"Playing on an Olympic rink is important for our guys," U.S. coach Don Lucia said. "It's not necessarily the same game on the big sheet versus the smaller sheet. Skating is going to be important, compete level is going to be extremely important. In that short tournament we have to get along and all fight for one thing, and that's USA Hockey."

Canada coach Brent Sutter returns after leading the country to undefeated gold medal-winning efforts in 2005 and 2006. He knows nothing will come easy for any of the 10 participating teams.

"There's so much parity with the junior hockey countries now," he said. "They've modeled themselves after the Canadians and they've caught up. Hockey fans in Canada don't give the other countries nearly enough credit. There's this perception that we're the only country that's great."

Canada hasn't won a gold medal at the WJC since 2009. At the 2013 WJC Canada finished fourth after a 6-5 overtime loss to Russia in the bronze-medal game. It marked the first time since 1998 that Canada failed to come home with a medal.

Here's a look at the teams in Group A (listed in order of 2013 WJC ranking):

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Laughton to captain Canada World Junior team

Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 5:04 PM / 2014 World Junior Championship

NHL.com

Oshawa Generals center Scott Laughton, a 2012 first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers (No. 20), was named captain of the Canada National Junior Team for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba were named alternate captains.

"It's a huge honor," Laughton told TSN. "To be able to wear the 'C' for Canada and to have a great group of guys in the room and to be able to lead these guys, they're all so talented. It's a huge honor for me."

Canada coach Brent Sutter told TSN Laughton reminds him of Mike Richards, whom Sutter had as captain of the 2005 World Junior Championship team that won the gold medal in Grand Forks, N.D.

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Compher, Fitzgerald, DeAngelo cut at U.S. WJC camp

Wednesday, 12.18.2013 / 1:21 PM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- As exciting as it is to be a part of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in any capacity, releasing players in an attempt to reduce the roster to the maximum number never is easy.

That was the task put in the hands of United States National Junior Team coach Don Lucia and the managerial team following a 3-2 overtime victory Tuesday against Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn.

The end result was the decision Wednesday to cut University of Michigan forward J.T. Compher (Buffalo Sabres), Boston College forward Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston Bruins) and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Lucia said the decision to cut Compher was due to a left foot injury sustained in practice Monday while blocking a shot. Compher had his foot in a walking boot Tuesday.

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Skjei, Fasching familiar with U.S. coach Lucia

Wednesday, 12.18.2013 / 9:56 AM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brady Skjei and and Hudson Fasching entered United States National Junior Team selection camp this week with different perspectives.

Skjei was one of the final players to be cut from last year's team that won a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Fasching, a power forward, is in the midst of his first collegiate season and taking his first crack at making the U.S. roster.

One thing they have in common: They play for U.S. coach Don Lucia at the University of Minnesota.

But if you think that gives them a leg up on the 27 other players hoping to make this year's U.S. team, you would be wrong. Lucia once coached his son, Tony, with the Gophers and said on several occasions his relationship with him made it more difficult to play him on scoring lines or the power play or penalty kill.

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U.S. Junior team wins exhibition in overtime

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 11:29 PM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MANKATO, Minn. -- United States National Junior Team coach Don Lucia smiled when asked for his thoughts on the brilliant overtime goal by Hudson Fasching in a 3-2 exhibition win Tuesday night against Minnesota State University at Verizon Wireless Center.

Lucia, who is in his 15th season as coach at the University of Minnesota, knows Fasching quite well -- the 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward is a freshman for the Golden Gophers.

"I gave him grief," Lucia said. "I said his coach would play him more if he could make moves like that."

Fasching was chosen in the fourth round (No. 118) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Los Angeles Kings.

"But good for Hudson," Lucia said. "We wanted to play four groups of two on the 4-on-4 in overtime, and those guys made a nice play on that. They made a nice play coming up the rink and Hudson made a nice 1-on-1 play."

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Grzelcyk using last year's cut as added motivation

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 11:24 AM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing United States National Junior Team general manager Jim Johannson told Matthew Grzelcyk before informing the young defenseman he would be the final cut prior to the start of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship was that he would get another shot this year.

At the time, it wasn't exactly what Grzelcyk wanted to hear. Particularly since he would now have to board a plane in Ufa, Russia, to make the long journey back to the United States.

"When you try out for a team, you want to make it, but seeing the guys they had last year didn't make it too disappointing," Grzelcyk told NHL.com. "But just to be invited to the camp was an honor in itself. It was tough to get that news kind of late, but what can you do. They won gold, so that was awesome to see those guys celebrating in the end.

"A lot of them are my best friends; I was so happy for them."

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USA's Eichel views World Juniors as latest challenge

Monday, 12.16.2013 / 12:40 PM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- As an eighth grader, hockey prodigy Jack Eichel was playing for and against 20-year-olds in his debut with the Boston Junior Bruins of the Empire Junior Hockey League.

He served as captain of that team the following season, scoring 86 points in 36 games.

"Anytime you get to be around older guys, you get their habits and the way they go about their business," Eichel told NHL.com. "Being able to play against older guys makes you a better player. I think that if you're not challenging yourself you're not going to get better."

The challenges continued following his freshman year at Chelmsford High School in Massachusetts when the 16-year-old center joined the United States National Team Development Program's under-17 team in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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U.S. opens selection camp with hopes of gold

Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 11:25 PM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The opening practice at United States National Junior Team selection camp offered plenty of energy and enthusiasm on Sunday evening at Mariucci Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota

Despite the fact a few players at schools along the East Coast weren't able to arrive here until later in day due to weekend games, the 29 players in attendance ran each drill at a fast pace. United States National Junior Team coach Don Lucia had his team go through several drills.

"We had to find our legs out there," Boston University sophomore forward Dan O'Regan told NHL.com. "But the pace was better than what I expected on a travel day. Then again, that's what you'd expect with 29 of the best players in the country; we'll probably see the same thing throughout the whole week."

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McDavid hype continuing to grow at Canada camp

Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 10:47 AM / 2014 World Junior Championship

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

TORONTO – Connor McDavid has been the talk of Canada's junior national team this week.

How much have people been talking about the precocious 16-year-old who is trying to bull his way onto a team, and into a tournament, traditionally dominated by 19-year-olds? On Friday, a reporter prefaced a question about McDavid to teammate Kerby Rychel by apologizing for asking the question.

"It's OK, he deserves it," Rychel said of the attention coming McDavid's way. "He's an exceptional hockey player. He deserves to be here. He's got tremendous skill. His speed is going to be a big factor on the big ice like this. He's a phenomenal hockey player and we are lucky to have him here now."

It appears McDavid will stay with Canada too, despite initial thoughts that his youth might hold him back. He is going to Europe when the national team departs Sunday for the World Junior Championship, but Canada still needs to cut two forwards and a defenseman. It does not appear that McDavid will be among those hearing bad news from coach Brent Sutter between now and Dec. 26, which is the date of Canada's opening game.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday