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World Championship Kicks Off Friday

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche center Matt Duchene will represent Team Canada at the 2011 IIHF Men’s World Championship, which kicks off April 29 and runs through May 15. The annual tournament will be held in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia.

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Duchene will be making his second straight appearance at the IIHF Men’s World Championship. A year ago, the Haliburton, Ontario native finished second on the team in both goals (4) and points (7-tie) in seven games for Team Canada in Germany.

Canada has been placed in Group B at the tournament, where it will be joined by Belarus, France and Switzerland. The Canadians open preliminary-round play on Friday against Belarus.

If the Canadian squad earns one of the top three spots in Group B following its three preliminary-round contests, the club will advance to the qualification round, which begins on May 5.

Canada has played two exhibition games to prepare for the tournament, beating France by a 3-2 score in Paris on Sunday and then topping the Czech Republic, 4-2, on Wednesday in Prague.

Duchene picked up a pair of helpers in both games. The center assisted on power-play goals by Rick Nash and Chris Stewart in the victory over France and then registered primary assists on first-period goals from Luke Schenn (an even-strength tally) and Brent Burns (on the power play) in the triumph against the Czech Republic.

Canada is looking for a measure of redemption after finishing in seventh place at the 2010 IIHF Men’s World Championship, the country’s worst finish at the tournament since 1992.

Avalanche head athletic trainer Matthew Sokolowski is also taking part in the event as one of the therapists for Team Canada.
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