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Weekend World Championship Games Paced by Preds Defensemen

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

Over the weekend, Nashville Predators defensemen representing their countries in the World Championship played in support of Predators General Manager David Poile’s recent comments about the Predators defense being one of the League’s best. Through Sunday’s games, Seth Jones leads all tournament defensemen in scoring (2g-7a-9pts) and Roman Josi sits tied for second (1g-5a-6pts). Ryan Ellis, who scored his first goal on Sunday, also appears in the Top Five (1g-3a-4pts). Ellis (+8) and Jones (+7) also find themselves among the Top Five in tournament plus/minus rating.

Josi and his Swiss teammates notched their second win of the tournament on Saturday, beating Kazakhstan 6-2. Josi, who registered two assists, including an assist on Yannick Weber’s game-winning power-play tally, led Switzerland in ice time for the seventh straight game (27:33). Simon Moser, who led all Swiss forwards in time on ice (22:51), also recorded an assist.

Two of Sunday’s four contests saw Predators players facing off on opposite sides of the ice from their Nashville teammates, with Predators defensemen again playing large roles for the winning teams.

In Team USA’s 3-1 win against Finland, both Jones and Craig Smith assisted on Tyler Johnson’s game-winning goal in the third period. Jones added a second assist in the game while continuing to lead Team USA skaters in ice time (27:37), five minutes more than the next closest skater.

For Finland, Pekka Rinne made 21 saves and Miikka Salomaki was a +1 in the loss.

Of all Preds defensemen in Belarus, it was Canada’s Ellis that made arguably the biggest impact for his team over the weekend. Tied at two with Sweden after regulation, Ellis tallied his first goal of the tournament in overtime to secure the 3-2 win for the Canadians. In addition to scoring the game-winning goal, Ellis led his team with a +2 rating.

Mattias Ekholm led all Swedish skaters in ice time (23:14) and assisted on Sweden’s second goal of the game and Calle Jarnkrok was a +1.

The Predators representatives in Belarus will each see the ice one more time before the end of the preliminary round on Tuesday. On Monday, Finland takes on Kazakhstan at 8:45 a.m. CT and Sweden faces Italy at 12:45 p.m. On Tuesday, it’s the United States against Germany and Canada against Norway at 4:45 a.m., while Switzerland takes on Latvia at 8:45 a.m.

The Nashville Predators have 13 representatives at the 2014 World Championship being held May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Head Coach Peter Laviolette, Assistant Coach Phil Housley, Video Coach Lawrence Feloney, Seth Jones and Craig Smith are representing the United States, who is looking for back-to-back medals at the tournament after a bronze a year ago; Miikka Salomaki, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are playing for Finland; Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm are looking to defend Sweden’s crown at the tournament; Simon Moser and Roman Josi are looking to build on a silver-medal winning performance in last year’s worlds for Switzerland; and Ryan Ellis is playing for Canada.

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