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Greetings from Ufa

by Seth Jones

Seth Jones, who plays for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, is currently starring for the United States at the 2013 World Junior Championship. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman has solid athletic bloodlines -- his father, Popeye Jones, played 11 seasons in the NBA. Jones has been paired with Mike Reilly and Jake McCabe at different points in the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. Prior to playing the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals of the medal round on Wednesday, Jones provided his assessment of the tournament through four preliminary-round games.

Greeting from Ufa, Russia!

I thought I would provide an update on how things are going for me and Team USA heading into the medal round during our off day.

I think things have been good so far. It's obviously a different culture for everyone, but we're starting to get used to it. The food is a little bit different and it's not usually what you eat back in America, but we just have to deal with it and the team has been really good working together. I think the chemistry is starting to come along off the ice as well. We usually don't hang out a lot since we're with our respective teams during the regular season, but it's been really fun getting to know everyone.

I haven't really gotten out to spend time with teammates. My mom made the trip here, so I've been spending a lot of time with her.

As far as the games are concerned, and compared to games I've been involved with at the Under-18 level, this is probably the most intense hockey I've ever played. Especially back-to-back games against Russia and Canada -- it was a grind. We played good games and came up just short on both occasions. I thought we did a lot of things right in both those games but just didn't get the outcome that we wanted.

I've been pretty satisfied with the way I've played. I think I can eliminate some turnovers in the defensive zone and neutral zone, and keep it simple. But for the most part I feel I've been pretty solid and have been able to create a little on offense as well.

We're now looking forward to the next step of this tournament in the medal round. Whenever I've worn the Team USA jersey in the past, we've always been on the top and I've always been a part of that team that gets the bye into the semis. But this was different. We faced a couple of tough opponents and didn't get the outcomes we wanted, so we had to come from behind and got a big win against Slovakia [on Monday]. So now we're looking to take it one game at a time, and focus on the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy the remainder of the tournament.

Follow Seth Jones on Twitter at: @seth_jones04

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