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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
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Phoenix Coyotes 2006 #1 draft pick (29th overall) Chris Summers is competing for Team USA at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship from Dec. 26, 2007 through Jan. 5, 2008 in Liberec and Pardubice, Czech Republic. The sophmore at the University of Michigan will be blogging about his experiences throughout his first World Junior Championship.

The 22-member American squad assembled at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube on Sunday, Dec. 16, for the start of training camp. Team USA's first test is an exhibition game at Western Michigan University on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The team leaves for the Czech Republic later in the week and has its second of two exhibition games vs. the Czech Republic on Dec. 22. The tournament gets underway on Dec. 26.

>> MONDAY | DEC. 17, 2007

The journey begins. It was day two of our "climb to the top of the world" and we’re still trying to establish our team identity. It was great to see everyone, a lot of very familiar faces and some not so familiar. Even though we have guys from Minnesota or Wisconsin, we’re a new team now.  After a few introductions we finally got on the ice today with the coaches for two practices. It didn’t take long for Coach (John) Hynes to show us what it takes to be a championship team. From meetings, to walking in the lobby, to details in practice, everything we do is for a purpose and should be done as a team.

>> SATURDAY | DEC. 22, 2007

We finally made it to the Czech Republic, but even after three days of being here everyone is still trying to adjust to the time change.  After 10 plus hours of travel we ended up in a small town about an hour outside of Prague. The hotel we’re at is really nice, the food is outstanding, and all but about one person speaks English.  The town is beautiful, we haven’t had a chance to walk around yet; we’ve pretty much only seen the hotel and the rink.  Tonight we’re driving another 3 hours to scrimmage the Czech team, something that I think everyone is really anxious for.  Practices have been up-tempo and very team oriented.  As coach Hynes puts it “we’re preparing for battle, the tournament is war that is won period by period, shift by shift…the team that will become world champions will be the team that has the most chemistry the greatest will to win as a TEAM.”  All the guys are buying into his style of play, he’s shown that he knows how to win and that’s exactly what he demands out of every player.  With the first games of the tournament just around the corner (Kazakhstan and Switzerland) we’re not going to be the ‘typical’ U.S. team and be upset.  We have to win the games we need to win, and to do that we have to play our game for 60 minutes.

>> WEDNESDAY | DEC. 26, 2007

We’re in the tournament now!  Tonight we beat Kazakhstan 5-1 for our first win of the round robin, and it was a solid start for our team.  We ran into a few troubles in our scrimmage against the Czechs earlier in the week, but we went through meetings and practices to fix the leaks and I think it was evident tonight in the way we played.

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, it definitely was a different experience for me this year.  Instead of waking up Christmas morning to presents and a big breakfast cooked by my dad, I had to shake Blum to wake up so we wouldn’t be late for the team breakfast of cereal and oatmeal.  We did have a gift exchange which was kind of fun, but still no Christmas at home.
I think its fair to say that most guys are getting kind of tired of the food here.  Now that we’ve switched hotels, the food quality seemed to decrease.  Every meal is either noodles, rice, and pork, or we have the occasional beef with our noodles and rice.  I don’t know if they have the late night pizza delivery, but they should definitely get on that.

>> FRIDAY | DEC. 28, 2007

We beat Switzerland 4-2 tonight, and it was another great team effort.  We came out strong in just about every aspect of the game, but it just didn’t show on the scoreboard.  Going into the third period we were up 2-1, but the shots were 38 to 13 in our favor.  For the first half of the third period we were on the powerplay and were able to tally two more goals, but they scored a late goal in the third to come within one.  After the game coach Hynes once again made it very clear to us that we are here as a team.  He was referencing the amount of powerplay time we had tonight, and as most people know, not everyone plays on the powerplay.  I feel like we’re headed in the right direction in the tournament, even if we only have two games under our belt.  Guys are still coming together both on and off the ice. 

Tomorrow will be another good test for our team.  We play team Russia at 8 pm, and already we’re in preparation.

It was kind of nice tonight, the team supplied us with pizza after the game which was a good change in pace from the never ending supply of potatoes and rice at the hotel.  I wouldn’t call it the best pizza I’ve ever had, but at least it was pizza.

>> MONDAY | DEC. 31, 2007

Happy New Year! 

Even though there’s still about 6 more hours until the new year starts back at home.  We beat team Finland tonight 5-3, but we also let up 3 goals in the third.  I’ll be honest, it was a tough game to play in, both teams already knew where and when they were playing for the quarters or semi-final game.  We still came out strong and tried to stick to the game plan, playing our style of hockey.  As coach Hynes says “a true championship team wins every game they play.”  With emphasis on the ‘every game’ part.

We had a really strong game against Russia two nights ago.  I think of all the teams we played in our round-robin, they were the strongest and most skilled.  I thought that game was a step in the right direction for our team, we are starting to show what we are capable of doing.

We now have three days off.  Tomorrow morning we pack up and leave for the semi-final game in another city.  I couldn’t tell you the name of the city and even if I could say it, I probably would not be able to spell it.  Everyone is in pretty good spirits, I think that the move and the days off will do our team a lot of good.  A lot of guys were talking today about how weird it is that we’re all sitting on our laptops and USA apparel on new year’s eve instead of being with family or friends.  Well for the last two weeks and the next week this is our family and friends.

Keep checking back to for more reports from Chris Summers!

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