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Nashville Represented By Five At World Junior Camps

by Jimi Russell / Nashville Predators

The Predators have five prospects participating in this week’s World Junior evaluation camps in Lake Placid, N.Y. The United States and Finland have each played two games thus far, while Canada is set to arrive on Tuesday and begin play on Wednesday.

Zach Stepan

Forward Zach Stepan has made it through the first round of cuts at the U.S. World Junior Evaluation Camp as the team was trimmed from 44 skaters to 31 on Monday evening.

Nashville’s third choice, 112th overall, in the 2012 Entry Draft opened the scoring for Team USA White on Monday against Finland, as he buried a power-play goal at 6:22 of the opening period. Stepan’s goal ignited the Americans as they jumped out to a 3-0 in the first 10 minutes of play, en route to a 5-2 victory.

The United States will play Sweden on Wednesday, Finland on Thursday and will close out evaluation camp on Saturday against Canada.

Juuse Saros

Goaltender Juuse Saros, Nashville’s fourth pick, 99th overall, in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, posted a win in Finland’s opening game in Lake Placid, a 6-5 overtime decision against Team USA Blue. The 5-10, 178-pound netminder turned away 20 of 25 shots against in 63 minutes played.

This is Saros’ third stint with Team Suomi at the international level. Last year, at the U-18 World Championships, the Forssa, Finland native started all seven games, including the 2-1 bronze medal win over Russia, and posted a 5-2 record with a 1.86 goals-against and .946 save percentage. Saros was named to Finland’s 2012 U-18 squad, but did not see any game action.

Finland takes on Canada on Wednesday, the United States on Thursday and it wraps up against Sweden on Saturday afternoon.

Mikko Vainonen

Defenseman Mikko Vainonen posted an assist in Finland’s opening win against Team USA Blue.

Nashville's sixth choice, 118th overall, in the 2012 Entry Draft participated in Finland's selection camp for the 2013 World Junior Championship, and captained the Finnish squad at the 2012 U-18 World Championships, posting four assists in seven games as Finland fell to Canada in the bronze medal game.

Brendan Leipsic and Felix Girard

Both Brendan Leipsic (third round/2012) and Felix Girard (fourth round/2013) have been invited to Canada’s World Junior Evaluation Camp.

This marks Leipsic second international stint, after skating for Canada Western in the 2011 U-17 World Hockey Challenge, posting five points (3g-2a) in five games. This is also the second stint for Girard, who posted one goal in the 2012 U-18 World Championships as Canada won the bronze medal.

The Canadians, who played a controlled scrimmage on Monday, have yet to arrive in Lake Placid, but will take on Finland on Wednesday, Sweden on Thursday and the U.S. on Saturday.

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