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2016 World Cup of Hockey: What You Need to Know

by Evan Sporer @ev_sporer / http://www.wild.com

TORONTO -- The 2016 World Cup of Hockey officially kicks off on Saturday when Team USA and Team Europe play the first round-robin game at Air Canada Center (2:30 p.m. CT). 

With six Wild players participating represented on three different teams, here is a full schedule of games, how to watch, and other important information. 

TORONTO -- The 2016 World Cup of Hockey officially kicks off on Saturday when Team USA and Team Europe play the first round-robin game at Air Canada Center (2:30 p.m. CT). 

With six Wild players participating represented on three different teams, here is a full schedule of games, how to watch, and other important information.

GAME

DATE

TIME (CENTRAL)

TELEVISION INFO

UNITED STATES VS. EUROPE

SAT., SEPT. 17

2:30 P.M.

ESPN2

NORTH AMERICA VS. FINLAND

SUN., SEPT. 18

7:00 P.M.

ESPN2

EUROPE VS. CZECH REPUBLIC

MON., SEPT. 19

2:00 P.M.

ESPN

FINLAND VS. SWEDEN

TUES., SEPT. 20

2:00 P.M.

ESPN

CANADA VS. UNITED STATES

TUES., SEPT. 20

7:00 P.M.

ESPN

EUROPE VS. CANADA

WED., SEPT. 21

7:00 P.M.

ESPN2

FINLAND VS. RUSSIA

THURS., SEPT 22

2:00 P.M.

ESPN

UNITED STATES VS. CZECH REPUBLIC

THURS., SEPT 22

7:00 P.M.

ESPN2

Here are the lines and pairings Wild players have been featured on:

Team USA

Zach Parise - Derek Stepan - Blake Wheeler
Ryan Suter - John Carlson

Team Finland

Mikael Granlund - Mikko Koivu - Joonas Donskoi
Lauri Korpikoski - Erik Haula - Leo Komarov

Team Europe

Marian Gaborik - Leon Draisiatl - Nino Niederreiter

Captain's Club

 The three lettermen for the Wild - Koivu, Suter, and Parise, each said the opportunity to represent ones country is something that becomes more and more important the older you get. 

"You realize that it's not always, first of all, that you can make it, and be healthy, and get a chance to play for your country," said Koivu, who is captaining Finland. "You do realize that more and more the older you get how fun it is, and you take a lot of pride for that, and it's a special time always when you get a chance to play for your country."

Suter and Parise nearly captured a gold medal in 2010 when the United States lost the Olympic final to Canada in overtime. How many more opportunities they get at one remains to be seen. 

"You get older, and you don't know how many more cracks you're going to get at it," Suter said. "You have to make sure that you put everything into it. 

"When you're younger, you take a lot of things for granted. As you get older, everybody starts to talk about the time ticking away. You have to start really bearing down and being ready to go."

Finnesota

Koivu, and Granlund both represented Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Championship earlier this summer in Russia. The Finnish team is returning many players from that roster to Toronto, something it sees as an advantage. "We're also a small country," Koivu said. "Players kind of know each other, and we know our identity; how we should play." Still, with the World Cup a shorter tournament - three round robin group games before the semifinals - time isn't a luxury. "It's different because it's a shorter tournament," Haula said. "In the World Championships you can get by losing a game because it's a longer process. Here, it's three games. It's kind of like Game 7 every single game."

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