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Strait, USA To Battle Canada

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

One of hockey’s hottest rivalries will be rekindled Friday when Canada and the United States meet in a semifinal matchup at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

And Penguins prospect Brian Strait will be in the middle of it when the puck drops at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on TSN in Canada and on The NHL Network in the United States; coverage begins at 1:30 p.m.

The winner will advance to Saturday’s tournament final against the winner of Friday's other semifinal, which pits Russia against Sweden.

Strait, a 2006 third-round Penguins draft choice (65th overall), is the oldest player on the roster as he will turn 20 on Friday. The Boston University sophomore defenseman serves as Team USA’s captain. He helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 2006 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April, 2006.

The Canada-U.S. game is a rematch of last year’s classic semifinal, a 2-1 shootout victory by Canada in a game that has entered World Junior lore as one of the most exciting in tournament history. After the teams played to a 1-1 tie following regulation time and a 10-minute, four-on-four overtime period, the game was decided after seven shootout rounds.

Canada and the United States have combined to win each of the past four World Junior titles; the U.S. captured its first-ever WJC tournament in 2004 and the Canadians have won each of the past three.

 

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