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Flames contingent geared up for World Championship

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The youth of the Calgary Flames is ready to make a splash on the international stage.

Nineteen-year-old Sean Monahan will join Sven Baertschi, 21, and Johnny Gaudreau, 20, as three of five Flames players that will participate in the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus from May 9-25.

“It's an honour, obviously,” said Monahan, who last represented Canada on the international stage at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in 2011. “It's your country. I've played for Canada before and it's always a lot of fun, so it's going to be a pretty awesome experience. I'm looking forward to it.

“It's pretty special to be named to that team. To get that opportunity, it's a great honour.”

Monahan isn’t the only Flames property marking their first appearance in the tournament. Both Baertschi and Gaudreau will mark their debuts by represent their respective countries in Group B.

Baertschi has suited Switzerland at all levels of international action and most recently competed at the 2012 World Juniors in Calgary, AB. It was the second time he represented his country at the U20 level after twice skating in the World Under-18’s.

The 21-year-old’s season with the Abbotsford Heat ended on the weekend, allowing him to attend.

“I mean, it’s special,” said Baertschi, who departs for Minsk on Monday. “I’m really excited about it. I missed it one year ago. I couldn’t go because of a little injury that I had. That was a big opportunity for me back then and I wasn’t able to go. Of course it’s tough that we lost out with Abby and of course I wish I was playing here still but it’s another opportunity for me.

Gaudreau, meanwhile, will represent Team USA for the second consecutive season and third time in the past three years.

He helped his country earn gold at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, leading the tournament with seven goals in seven games en route to being named to the tournament’s all-star team. He also represented the Americans at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, recording two goals and four points to help Team USA to a silver finish.

“It means a lot,” said Gaudreau, Calgary’s fourth round pick (No. 104) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “I’ve had the chance to put on that jersey two or three times already and every time is pretty special. Representing your country and when you put that jersey on, you get pretty excited about the whole idea of playing for your country and playing against other countries in international tournaments.

“I was excited when I found out. I’m excited I get to come over there and play.”

The trio will be joined in the tournament by veteran forwards Mikael Backlund and Jiri Hudler.

Backlund had a breakout year with the Flames this season, setting career-highs in goals (18), assists (21) and points (39) in 76 games this season. The 25-year-old has also represented Sweden at the 2006 and 2007 World Under-18’s and at the World Juniors in 2008 and 2009. He last suited up for his country at the 2011 Worlds, recording three goals and five points in nine games.

Hudler, who will be making his third appearance at the Worlds for the Czech Republic, will join Backlund and Monahan in Group A.

Hudler, who paced the Flames with 37 assists and 54 points in the 2013-14, will represent the Czech Republic at the tournament, building on his international resume that already features a trip to the World Under-18 Championship in 2000 and three appearances at the World Junior Championship from 2002-2004. He’s previously played in two World Championships, coming in 2003 and 2013.

Brad Treliving, hired as the Flames new general manager on April 28, will also participate in the tournament.

Treliving is part of the management group for Hockey Canada that helped construct the roster alongside general manager Rob Blake, assistant general manager Brad Pascall, and assistant general manager Ron Hextall.

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