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Avs Have Defensive Presence at Worlds

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche is currently being represented by two NHL players and one prospect 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 from Friday, April 24 through Sunday, May 10.

John-Michael Liles – United States
Liles has been a leader for the young United States defensive corps, helping the squad jump out to a 2-0 record.

The blueliner recorded an assist, three shots on goal and a +2 plus/minus rating while skating for a team-high 19:40 as the U.S. topped Latvia by a 4-2 count on Saturday. Liles picked up another assist and again held a +2 rating on Monday during a 6-1 victory over Austria. Through two games, he ranks second on the team in ice time, averaging 18:07 per game.

Team USA, which has already secured a spot in the qualification round, will play Sweden on Wednesday with first place in Group C on the line.

Joe Sacco, head coach of the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate) is serving as an assistant coach for Team USA.

Ruslan Salei – Belarus
Salei, one of only two current NHL players on Belarus’ roster, has taken on a load of responsibility at the 2009 World Championship.

Tabbed as an assistant captain, Salei skated for a game-high 28:19 in Belarus’ tournament-opening 6-1 loss to Canada on Friday. The defenseman assisted on his squad’s lone goal and also put two shots on net.

Belarus then took a 2-1 shootout decision from Slovakia on Sunday, with Salei logging 32:29 of ice time and firing two shots on goal.

The club finished preliminary round play on Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over Hungary. Salei registered a pair of assists while skating for 28:20.

Jonas Holos – Norway
Much like Salei, Avalanche prospect Jonas Holos has been a minutes eater for his native country. Holos – Colorado’s sixth selection (sixth round, 170th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft – is playing at the World Championship for the fourth time in his young career.

The defenseman skated for 23:33 and led all blueliners with four shots on goal in Norway’s opening game, a 5-0 loss to Finland on Saturday.

Holos then logged a game-high 24:54 of ice time and notched two shots in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic.

Holos and Team Norway will finish up preliminary round action on Wednesday when they face Denmark.
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