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Leopold, Hlinka Advance to Quarterfinals

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Five members of the Avalanche organization have been 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.

Team Slovakia and Peter Budaj avoided relegation with a pair of victories over Slovenia in their best-of-three relegation round series. The Slovaks earned a 5-1 win over Slovenia on Friday, followed by a 4-3 shootout victory Saturday. With the series victory, Slovakia qualifies for the top level of the 2009 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Switzerland. Budaj played in one game for Slovakia at the event, dropping a 3-2 decision to Finland in the preliminary round despite stopping 28-of-31 shots.

Jaroslav Hlinka tallied an assist on Sunday in the Czech Republic’s 5-3 loss to Sweden. The forward has posted four points (1g/3a) at the tournament while averaging 18:24 of ice time per game. The Czech Republic wrapped up the No. 2 seed in Group E, setting up a rematch with Sweden in the quarterfinal round.

Jordan Leopold and Team USA earned a 9-1 victory over Norway Monday in the squad’s final qualifying round contest. The Avalanche defenseman picked up his first point of the event by assisting on Brandon Dubinsky’s tally in the middle frame – one of Dubinsky’s three goals in the contest. Leopold has totaled a +1 rating in three games while averaging 16:59 of ice time. The United States will next face Finland in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday.

Belarus finished the qualifying round in fifth place in Group E after dropping identical 3-2 decisions to the Czech Republic (Saturday) and Denmark (Monday). Ruslan Salei recorded two assists to go along with a +3 rating while averaging a team-high 28:36 of ice time in five games. Vladimir Denisov, who skated with the Lake Erie Monsters this past season, had three assists and a +4 rating in six games for Belarus.

The quarterfinal round of the IIHF Men’s World Championship is set to begin Wednesday. In Halifax, Canada will face Norway at 3:30 p.m. MT, followed by the United States and Finland squaring off at 7:15 p.m. Russia and Switzerland will do battle at 1:00 p.m. in Quebec City, with Sweden facing the Czech Republic at 7:15 p.m.

All 56 games from the 2008 IIHF Men’s World Championship are available live and on demand at

Click here for a complete schedule and statistics from the event.

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