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Avs Defensemen Thriving at Worlds

by Brendan McNicholas / Colorado Avalanche
Two Colorado defensemen and one Avalanche prospect are representing their countries at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship.

The 73rd annual event, which is being contested this year in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland, runs through May 10.

All three players have helped their team move on to the qualification round at the tournament. Quarterfinal play begins Wednesday, May 6.

Ruslan Salei – Belarus
An assistant captain for Belarus, Salei is leading the team in ice time (29:28 per game) and ranks first among Belarus defensemen in scoring with four points (1g/3a).

In Belarus’ first game of the qualification round, Salei scored 4:35 into overtime to give Belarus a 3-2 win over Norway on Thursday.

Belarus will wrap up the qualification round by playing Finland on Saturday and taking on the Czech Republic on Sunday.

John-Michael Liles – United States
Liles is tied for first on Team USA in scoring with six points (1g/5a) in four games so far at the tournament. The Indianapolis native helped the Americans to a 2-0-1-0 record (W-OTW-OTL-L) and a first-place finish in Group C during the preliminary round.  He tallied a goal and two assists in USA’s 6-5 overtime loss to Sweden in the final preliminary game on Wednesday.

The United States opened the qualifying round with a 6-2 victory over France on Friday. Liles had one assist in a team-high 20:24 of ice time.

Liles and Team USA will face Russia on Saturday and then finish off the qualifying round against host Switzerland on Monday.

Jonas Holos – Norway
Holos logged 28 minutes of ice time to help Norway to a 5-4 overtime victory against Denmark on Wednesday. The win, which came in Norway’s final preliminary round contest, allowed the team to advance to the qualification round.

In their first qualification round game on Thursday, Holos skated for 24:56 and recorded one shot on goal as Norway was downed by Belarus in overtime. Holos has yet to record a point at the tournament, but ranks second on the club in average ice time (25:20) and has fired nine shots on goal.

Team Norway has a pair of tough tests on its docket, as the club will face Canada on Sunday, followed by a Monday meeting with Slovakia.
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