Five members of the Avalanche organization are representing their respective home nations at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship. The 72nd annual event, which is being contested in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City, Quebec, began on May 2 and will run through May 18.
Peter Budaj is tending goal for Team Slovakia, Jaroslav Hlinka is skating for the Czech Republic and Jordan Leopold is manning the blue line for Team USA. Meanwhile, Avs defenseman Ruslan Salei and Vladimir Denisov – who played the 2007-08 season with the Lake Erie Monsters – are competing with Team Belarus.
Budaj stopped 28-of-31 shots in his lone preliminary round game, a 3-2 loss to Finland on Wednesday. Team Slovakia ended the opening round with one win and two losses, setting up a best-of-three matchup against Slovenia in the relegation round beginning on Friday. The winner will return to the 2009 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Switzerland, while the losing team will be relegated to Division I next year.
Hlinka has posted three points in two games for the Czech Republic. The center had two assists in a 5-4 loss to Russia on Sunday and then scored a goal in a 7-2 win over Italy on Tuesday. The Czech Republic recorded two wins and an overtime loss in the preliminary round and will next face Switzerland on Thursday in the qualifying round.
Leopold was added to Team USA’s roster on Wednesday and should be in the lineup for Thursday’s qualifying round contest. The United States, which garnered the second seed in Group B following preliminary round play, will face Germany in its first qualifying round game.
Team Belarus finished preliminary round play with two victories and one loss and will face Russia to open its qualifying round schedule on Friday. Salei has posted one assist in two games with a +1 rating and is averaging a team-high 29:03 of ice time. Denisov has totaled one assist and a +2 rating in three contests.
All 56 games from the 2008 IIHF Men’s World Championship are available live and on demand at www.WCSN.com
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