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Blues set for World Cup of Hockey 2016

Eight Blues will compete in tournament, which begins Sept. 17

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be held Sept. 17 - Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where more than 150 of the best players in the NHL will represent their countries in a battle for the World Cup.

"It's the best hockey in the world," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's better than the Olympics, because all of the players are rested and they get all this practice time. There's more practice time before you play your first game than we had in all of the Olympic experience, period. You're going to get players and teams ready, locked and loaded.

"You can't not watch this type of hockey. From an intensity level, a competitive one-on-one level, this is as good as it gets."

The Blues will have eight players participating in the World Cup: Alex Pietrangelo (Team Canada), Jay Bouwmeester (Team Canada), Vladimir Tarasenko (Team Russia), Jori Lehtera (Team Finland), Patrik Berglund (Team Sweden), Dmitrij Jaskin (Team Czech Republic), Vladimir Sobotka (Team Czech Republic), and Colton Parayko (Team North America).

Players who do not advance past the preliminary rounds will return to St. Louis to join the Blues for training camp, while players that reach the semifinals or the Final will return after the tournament.

Here's everything you need to know to get ready for the World Cup of Hockey:

Group A: Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team USA, Team Europe.

Group B: Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team North America

(Team North America is made up of the top players from USA / Canada under the age of 23. Team Europe is made up of the top European players not from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia or Sweden).

Each team will play a round-robin style preliminary round, with one game against each of the teams in its group. After the preliminary round, the top two teams in Group A and Group B will advance to the semifinals (Sept. 24-25), where the first-place team from each group will face an elimination game against the second-place team from the other group.

The remaining two teams will play in a best-of-three series beginning Sept. 27 to determine a champion.

Live coverage of the World Cup of Hockey will be available on ESPN in the United States.

World Cup Schedule (all times Central)

Preliminary Round (round robin)

Saturday, Sept. 17 
Team USA vs. Team Europe, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2 
Team Czech Republic vs. Team Canada, 7 p.m., ESPNEWS

Sunday, Sept. 18 
Team Sweden vs. Team Russia, 2 p.m., ESPN 
Team North America vs. Team Finland, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Monday, Sept. 19 
Team Europe vs. Team Czech Republic, 2 p.m., ESPN 
Team Russia vs. Team North America, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Tuesday, Sept. 20 
Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 2 p.m., ESPN 
Team Canada vs. Team USA, 7 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, Sept. 21 
Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 2 p.m., ESPN 
Team Europe vs. Team Canada, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Thursday, Sept. 22 
Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 2 p.m., ESPN 
Team USA vs. Team Czech Republic, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Semifinals (single elimination; A1 vs. B2, B1 vs. A2)

Saturday, Sept. 24 
Semifinal 1, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Sunday, Sept. 25 
Semifinal 2, Noon, ESPN

Final (best-of-three)

Tuesday, Sept. 27 
Final Game 1, 7 p.m.,ESPN

Thursday, Sept. 29 
Final Game 2, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday, Oct. 1 
Final Game 3, 6 p.m. (if necessary), ESPN2

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