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Petro's WCH Blog: The Real Games Begin

by Alex Pietrangelo / St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo is representing his country at the World Cup of Hockey, which is being held Sept. 17 through Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. It's an exciting time for the 26-year-old - not just because he's playing for Team Canada, but because he gets to do so in front of his family and friends since the tournament is being hosted less than an hour from his hometown. Throughout the World Cup of Hockey, Pietrangelo will be keeping a blog exclusively for stlouisblues.com to share his experience of playing for Team Canada.

TORONTO - It's been about 12 days since our training camp opened with Team Canada, and a lot has happened since then.

I think the first couple days here were pretty rough for everybody: sore groins, sore hips and the rest. But we had a three or four-day training camp to get the kinks out, and then off we went to Columbus to play Team USA. The hardest part for guys like me - who usually ease into NHL preseason games - is here, we went 0 to 60 pretty quickly. But I guess there's no better way to test yourself though than getting thrown to the fire right away.

About those games with Team USA: we knew the preliminary games against them were going to be intense. Team Canada is the defending champions so to speak, and they're trying to catch us, so we knew they were going to come out with a lot of fire. The first game was a little more physical than the second one, and we were ready for it. It's fun playing against the Americans - not only do we know the guys over there, but it's always been a rivalry and always will be. It's one of the most fun games you're ever going to play.

Speaking of guys we know - No. 42 isn't much fun to play against. He laid a big hit on me in the first game that I wasn't too happy about, because I knew later he was going to make fun of me. I was right - he did. Oh well, that's part of the game, right? I'll make sure I get payback on him somehow - maybe he'll get an extra shot after the whistle or something like that the next time we meet.

It's always weird playing against your teammates for the first time. Not just David, but Osh, Bish, EJ and now Bergy - we played against Vladi on Wednesday, and him and I were laughing with each other in warm-ups. When you get in the game, you don't really think about them as your teammates, but it certainly makes for a fun environment before and after the game.

We finished 2-1 in the preliminary games. The biggest thing we all took away from those was probably the quality of the competition. We played the US twice, and then we played Russia. Both teams were equally dangerous. It's going to be interesting throughout the tournament to see who can beat who. Every line on every team seems to be capable of being a first line.

We realize the intensity it's going to take to win this thing, but we got on the ice Friday for practice and when we were done, everybody came off thinking we are ready. It's going to be important that we play a good game Saturday against the Czech Republic (7 p.m., ESPNEWS) so that we can build some more confidence - plus it's always nice when you win and can have a couple day off.

We're looking forward to getting started for real. And we have the home-field advantage here in Toronto. That should give us an extra boost.

Stay tuned for more updates, and thanks for following my blog.

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