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Kuehnhackl, Rieder top Germany WJC camp roster

by Mike G. Morreale
All five German players selected at the 2010 Entry Draft were invited to the preliminary camp for the German National Junior Team that will compete in Group A at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., beginning later this month.

Forwards Tom Kuehnhackl (Pittsburgh, fourth round), Mirko Hofflin (Chicago, sixth round) and David Elsner (Nashville, seventh round), defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser (San Jose, sixth round) and goalie Philipp Grubauer (Washington, fourth round) head a 30-player roster scheduled to arrive in Rochester, N.Y., on Dec. 18 for the start of camp. The Germans will play an exhibition game against Czech Republic on Dec. 20.

The World Junior Championship will be held Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2011.

Germany's camp roster also includes eight players currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League, including Kuehnhackl, currently in his first season with the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires. His father, Erich, was voted the greatest Germany hockey player of the 20th century.

Also playing in the OHL this season is Kitchener Rangers forward Tobias Rieder. A 5-foot-10 1/4, 169-pound center, Rieder is No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of OHL skaters for the 2011 Draft. He already has represented his country on several occasions at Under-17, U-18, and U-20 level.

He tied for the team lead with 4 goals at the 2010 Division IA World Junior Championship, helping Germany win the title and earn promotion to the top tournament this year.

"It's exciting to represent your country," Rieder said. "These are the top teams and the best players in the world, and we have the chance to play against them."

Marcel Noebels, a left wing with the Seattle Thunderbirds, is rated No. 13 on the preliminary ranking of Western Hockey League players.

Four players from Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of German skaters playing domestically earned invitations. Mathias Niederberger is the top-rated goaltender, and left wing Norman Hauner (No. 4) left wing Nicolas Krammer (No. 8) and defenseman Corey Mapes (No. 12) all are highly regarded.

Forward Nickolas Latta of the OHL's Sarnia Sting, is the youngest player on the roster. He's eligible for the 2012 Entry Draft. A 5-foot-11, 182-pound center, Latta has 9 points in 28 games this season. Last season he played for SC Riessersee in the top German junior league, where he averaged almost two points per game. He led his team in scoring with 31 goals and 31 assists in 34 games and was the third-leading scorer in the league.

"I like to score goals," Latta said. "I'm a fast skater and use my speed. I don't mind taking the body. I've heard from my dad and my uncle (both played in the OHL) that this is a tough league."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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