NashvillePredators.com will be providing extensive coverage of the World Junior Championships in Czech Republic, with a particular emphasis on Team USA and the four Predators prospects playing for US squad. Helping us with our coverage is Predators prospect Blake Geoffrion. Geoffrion will be checking in with NashvillePredators.com periodically throughout the tournament with Blake’s Blog.
A second round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Geoffrion is making his second appearance in the World Junior Championships. Last season he won a bronze medal with Team USA, playing in all seven games during the tournament. As one of six returning skaters from last year’s team, he’ll be looked upon to play an expanded role on this year’s team. Geoffrion is joined on Team USA by three other Predators prospects, goalie Jeremy Smith, defenseman Jonathon Blum, and forward Ryan Flynn. Geoffrion and Flynn are likely to play extensively on the same forward line during the tournament.
Check back for more updates coming soon.
Relax, that is the word I would used to describe today’s day off.
We skated today but it was more of a recovery day. The forwards worked on goal scoring, while the D-men shot on the goalies in goalie practice.
Then it was back to the hotel to chill out for a while. Then we met at 7 pm to go out to eat. We had steak, which was really good, not only get something other than yogurt, bread, and pasta, but good to get out of the hotel as well.
Tomorrow we play Finland so we will be ready to go after recovering.
Russia was a very tough opponent (as expected), but we were able to come out with a 3-2 victory.
Early on in the game they were taking penalties all over the place because we were using our strength of playing with the puck down low and taking it to the net. This allowed us to take the lead on a PP goal from Rugs (Ruegsegger), who put in a rebound.
In the second period we lost a little of the momentum we had from the first period. We began to get out of character and away from our game plan. We kept turning the puck over high in the offensive zone, which resulted in some back and forth hockey and a lot of line rushes. This is the strength of the Russians; they want to play the flow and go style. They ended up scoring on a line rush later on in the second to tie the game up 1-1. Cherepanov put home a rebound past Smitty, which could have been prevented if we didn’t give up the rush to start with.
In the third period we came out hard knowing that this was our game to win. After an emotional talk from our coach and captain we came out flying. The Russians took a penalty early on in the third, Reemer made a really nice move around the defensemen and then shot a back hand five hole on the goalie to give us a 2-1 lead. After a lot of chances for both teams, Carms (Carman) put home a rebound to give us a two goal lead against Cherepanov’s line, which had scored earlier against us.
Smitty played really well along with Chris Summers and Blums (fellow Predators prospect Jonathon Blum) who were matched up against Cherepanov all night long. Summers was voted player of the game for us. We were all very happy to get the win and move on to our next opponent, Finland.
We beat the Swiss today, 4-2. They were a very good team. You could tell they had a good game plan coming in and they stuck to it.
Early on our team got a little frustrated because their goalie was standing on his head. He was stopping everything we put at him. But we kept working and never gave up. They took a lot of penalties which we didn’t capitalize on early, but after a while we took the game over with the momentum from the power plays.
Willy (Colin Wilson) had two power play goals in the game. He played really well from the first shift to the last and the same goes for his line, which consists of Reemer (van Riemsdyk) and Schroeder. They are all young guys, too, so it was nice to see them step up in the game.
We play Russia tomorrow night, a very skilled team as well. It’s going to be a battle.
Today was our off day and we didn’t do much. We woke up this morning around 9 am, which was nice because usually every morning we have to be up around 8 am.
Then we walked over to the rink and had a skate for about a half hour. We just went hard and short to stay ready and prepared for our next opponent, which is the Swiss. After we left the rink it was back to the rooms for a couple of hours. Of course this meant Smitty (Predators prospect Jeremy Smith) and I were threw in a DVD of the TV show which we are addicted to ("Nip Tuck").
After a couple of hours in the room we had a meeting to go over the mistakes we made in the game against Kazakhstan and to prepare for the Swiss. Then it was off to dinner. One thing that is a huge difference in Europe and the US is the food. Actually, it is not bad, but when every meal is pasta, yogurt, and bread it gets old after a while. The food at the last hotel is not even comparable to this hotel.December 26
Today was the first day of the tournament and Team USA started off on the right note. We won our first game against Kazakhstan 5-1. We played a very solid game out-shooting them 49-18. Although, I do have to give them credit, they never did give up.
I was glad that Coach Hynes prepared us very well before the game, telling us how motivated and emotional they would play. At last year’s World Juniors, we ran into the problem of underestimating our opponents, resulting in a loss to Germany 2-1 in overtime. So this year, the goal was to know not to look past any opponent and to play each and every game like it was our last. That is what championship teams do.
Other than that, the day was just like any other game day. We woke up at 8 am, had breakfast and a couple of meetings before we went back to our rooms for our pre-game nap. We usually go to the rink and have a pre-game skate, but since the game is at 4 p.m. (local time) in the afternoon today we did not skate. Tomorrow is our day off to rest and recover before playing the Swiss and Russia on back-to-back nights.
I also switched roommates today. I am now rooming with Jeremy Smith
another fellow Predators prospect, who is a great guy. To pass the time in the room we have been watching the TV series “Nip Tuck”. December 24
Well, it is Christmas Eve and I am in Liberec, Czech Republic. We have been here now for about four days. We have just been adjusting to the time and practicing,
We have also played an exhibition against the Czech Republic. Although we were not successful in the game against the Czech’s, I am very excited to see how we are going to do once the real games start. We have a big strong team that has a lot of depth in all positions.
Today we practiced in the morning for an hour and then had a little down time to ourselves and it was back off to the rink for another practice this afternoon. Following our afternoon practice we had our Christmas dinner, which was very good. We were treated to a huge turkey and mashed potatoes. I have to give my compliments to the chef because it was very good, almost as good as my mom’s.
We also exchanged gifts with one another. Everyone on the team brought a gift to exchange with another teammate. I was lucky enough to receive the DVD “Shooter” starring Mark Whalberg. From what I hear it is a good movie. I was glad to get one I haven’t seen. After the gift exchange we called it quits and it was off to bed. We have to be up early tomorrow morning because we are moving to another hotel that is closer where the actual tournament will be played.