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NHL Network-U.S. to air all U.S. games at 2010 WJC

by Adam Kimelman
A holiday-season tradition will return to the NHL Network-U.S. for the third-straight season, as once again the network will broadcast all of Team USA's games at the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Gary Thorne, Dave Starman and Fred Pletsch will be the broadcast team for the tournament, which runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Saskatoon and Regina, Sask.

The network also will televise six other preliminary-round games, as well as all medal round games. For non-U.S. games, the network will utilize the TSN broadcast.

All 16 games will be aired in high-definition.

Thorne, who will handle play-by-play duties, boasts over 30 years of sports broadcasting experience. He served a 12-year stint (1992-2004) as the voice of ESPN's NHL telecasts and was also the lead hockey play-by-play voice of NBC's 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He currently serves as a play-by-play commentator for college football on ESPN and ABC, and for MLB on ESPN Radio.

Starman, who will serve as the color analyst, currently is the lead analyst for CBS College Sports' hockey coverage. He served as the analyst for the NHL Network's coverage of Team USA's games at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, as well.

Pletsch, who will serve as the rinkside reporter, is a college hockey analyst on Fox Sports Detroit and has worked as a sideline reporter for ESPN and for NHL Network for the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship. He is the associate commissioner of the CCHA.

The World Juniors is a launching pad for future NHL stars, and the 2010 event will be no different. Canada will compete for unprecedented sixth straight gold medal, and leading the way will be St. Louis Blues top prospect Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto Maple Leafs 2009 first-round pick Nazem Kadri, and the Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle, a hero from last year's event. Also likely to make the team is top 2010 Entry Draft prospect Taylor Hall of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires.

Looking to derail Canada's efforts will be a Sweden team that has won back-to-back silver medals. Sweden will be led by goalie Jacob Markstrom, a Florida Panthers prospect considered to be the best NHL-affiliated player in Europe. Also on the team are seven other players from last year's team, including scoring sensation Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.

The U.S. team will boast an up-tempo group that also should have a strong defense. Cam Fowler, the top-scoring defenseman in the OHL and a top prospect for the 2010 draft, will led a group that also should include Washington Capitals prospect John Carlson.

Up front, the U.S. will rely on Montreal Canadiens prospect Danny Kristo, and Jordan Schroeder, a 2009 Vancouver Canucks first-round pick who led the U.S. team last year with 11 points in six games.

The U.S. will play four games in the preliminary round, headlined by a New Year's Eve game against Canada. They open Dec. 26 against Slovakia, then play Switzerland on Dec. 27 and Latvia on Dec. 29. The U.S. finished fifth last year in Ottawa.

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