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  • Malcolm Subban and Canada play prior to the U.S.-Russia showdown (Nathan Denette, The Canadian Press)

    You are not a bad Canadian for opting for extra sleep before studying Slepyshev.

    Canada resumes action at the world junior championship early Friday, but its game vs. Slovakia is essentially the warm-up (loosely speaking given the climate in Ufa) is the matinee before the feature performance. The outcome  between Team USA and Team Russia — former Sarnia Sting teammates and still good friends Alex Galchenyuk and  Nail Yakupov going head-to-head — will give the winner a huge leg up toward a top placing in the Group B.

    Canada, based on form, should be able to take Slovakia. That helps make the argument to grab more Z's in order to be more mentally alert when Canada's next two opponents play at a more reasonable hour. You never know, coach Steve Spott might call you to ask if you saw anything that can be exploited with either team's penalty kill or its defensive positioning. Every armchair has her/his day. You gotta believe.

    Here is what to watch for on Day 3:

    Read More »from World junior championship: U.S.-Russia tilt highlights Friday’s full slate on Day 4
  • Lightning prospect Tanner Richard (Getty Images)No. 1 star: Tanner Richard, Switzerland

    Switzerland spotted Latvia the first goal before rolling to a 7-2 win in Group A, so its player of the game Richard gets the honour for his three-assist effort. The Tampa Bay Lightning third-rounder has bright future as a two-way centre, which he showed to full effect by continuing the playmaking ways that have made him a top assist man for the OHL's Guelph Storm. Richard, 19, who spoke before the tournament of Switzerland's need to put away teams it can beat, gave his club its first lead by feeding Mike Künzle for a power-play goal in the opening period.

    Latvia pulled a goal back in the second period, but the Swiss CHL connection delivered a backbreaker later on in the frame. On a penalty kill, Richard carried out from the corner and set up Rouyn-Noranda Huskies star Sven Adrighetto for a short-hander and 4-2 lead. Latvia, bearing the burden of being the ninth-seeded team which has to play back-to-back to start the tournament, never scored

    Read More »from World junior championship: Tanner Richard tops WJC 3 Stars on Day 2
  • Galchenyuk had 3 points for Team USA on Thursday (Getty Images)

    Alex Galchenyuk is looking good in Uncle Sam's red, white and blue — while affirming that only an injury concern is why he'll be wearing Montreal Canadiens bleu, blanc et rouge.

    There was a school of thought from last season that Galchenyuk, despite his season being scuttled by knee surgery, should go No. 1 overall in the NHL draft instead of Sarnia Sting teammate Nail Yakupov. There should be plenty of debate and rehash on Friday when they go head-to-head in the Russia-U.S. showdown at the world junior championship (9 a.m. ET/6 a.m PT, TSN). It's early yet, but the high-slot howitzer Galchenyuk scored on during Team USA's 8-0 walkover over Germany was a glimpse into why Habs fans cannot wait to see him in the NHL.

    Work on that wrist shot, kids.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Montreal Canadiens hopeful Alex Galchenyuk scores in Team USA debut (VIDEO)
  • UFA, Russia – The Russian national team will be temporarily without the services of Chicago Blackhawks prospect Maxim Shalunov at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

    The forward was handed a supplemental one-game suspension after hitting Slovakian defenceman Tomas Nechala in the face with his stick. Shalunov was given a double-minor for high-sticking.

    The incident occurs at the 33-second mark of this video:

    “It’s surprising,” said Shalunov, via translator, of his suspension. “I thought it was a normal part of hockey. He’s not really that injured so I don’t know why, but what are you going to do?

    “I had no intention to injure any player, it was just an ordinary collision. I was just very surprised.”

    Nechala spent a few minutes face down on the ice after the incident. A a pool of blood was on left on the ice once he was finally able to go to the bench with the help from the team’s medical staff.

    “I was even surprised with the penalty during the game because I was trying to avoid a

    Read More »from World junior championship: Maxim Shalunov suspended for one game
  • Ufa at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning

    Ufa, Russia – Waking up in Ufa this morning we were welcomed by at least a foot of fresh snow.

    The winter weather here is par for the course and the snow provided a nice respite from the freezing temperatures that hovered around –30C  the night previous – and that’s without the wind chill.

    Trying to get a cab to the rink for Team Canada’s morning practice proved difficult as most motorists were trying to navigate the snowy, icy roads. The helpful staff at the media hotel, going beyond the call of duty once again, managed to land us a ride to the rink with a plainclothes police officer who was sitting in the lobby.

    Amil, our police escort of sorts, packed four of us media types – Chris Stevenson (QMI Agency), Terry Koshan (Toronto Sun),  Joanne Ireland (Edmonton Journal) and yours truly into his grey Mazda.  Koshan got into the car first, and had to move the contents lying on the backseat – which included a thermos and a loaded handgun.

    Koshan’s a good guy, but the sight of him waving us into the car while holding what looked like a Glock, is not what you want to see first thing in the morning (or anytime, really). He eventually gave the gun to Amil who promptly dropped it into his driver’s side compartment.

    “Don’t worry it’s (a) toy,” said Amil. “Just toy.”

    In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have asked: “Why is a police officer carrying a toy gun?” But I’m going to blame that one on sleep deprivation.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Ufa gives new meaning to riding shotgun
  • BU's Matt Grzelcyk still seeks to make USA's roster (Getty)

    Short of Russia requiring overtime to beat an underdog Slovakian squad, the first day of the IIHF U-20 world championships passed without event or upset. The second day of the tournament has just two games, with the feature game being a Group B matchup on TSN at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, or a much more accessible hour than the televised tournament opener from a night ago.

    Team Germany vs. Team USA (9:00 a.m. Eastern / TSN)

    Fans will get their first look at the American team this tournament, and the Americans have yet to decide who their final defenceman will be. Pat Sieloff of the Windsor Spitfires and Matt Grzelcyk of the Boston University Terriers (aptly nicknamed 'Gralphabet') are competing for the last spot, according to Bob McKenzie.

    The American forwards, not their defence, had a tough time adjusting to international ice, if their pre-tournament games are any indication. The team scored just four goals in two games against Sweden and Finland. The Canadian team was plagued with similar offensive issues coming into the tournament but blasted the Germans for nine goals in the opener, however Germany started backup Elmar Trautmann over their starter Marvin Cüpper of the Shawinigan Cataractes.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Setting up Thursday morning’s games
  • Finland's Miro AaltonenNo. 1 star: Miro Aaltonen, Finland

    The sympathy vote gives Aaltonen the nod on Day 1, as he accumulated two goals, one assists, a +2 plus/minus and one nasty injured right ankle during Finland's 5-1 victory over Latvia.

    The 19-year-old who plays for Espoo in the Finnish Elite League was the best man on the ice during the first 40 minutes of the game. Aaltonen sniped goals 3:04 apart in the first period to stake the Young Lions to an early 3-1 lead. First he tipped in Rasmus Ristolainen's long wrist shot and by getting into the dirty area to convert a centring feed from Joel Armia, who is not the only Buffalo Sabres draft choice who will be mentioned in today's 3 Stars.

    In the second period, Aaltonen reciprocated for Ristolainen, outquicking Latvia's Nikita Jevpalovs on a faceoff and drawing the puck directly back to the 18-year-old defenceman for a point shot.

    [Related: Finland's Aaltonen suffers gruesome ankle injury]

    Aaltonen's points-per-minutes-played rate is going to be hard to match over the duration of the tournament. Sadly for him, he won't get a change to maintain or improve it.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Miro Aaltonen tops WJC 3 Stars on Day 1
  • Watch it once, that is enough. Finland lost one of its veteran contributors on the first day of the world junior championship when Miro Aaltonen's right ankle bent in a way that ankles are not meant to bend.

    Aaltonen, who plays for the Espoo Blues in the Finnish Elite League, was working on a three-point game in the third period when he was checked by Latvia's Pauls Zvirbulis while breaking out of his own zone. All of his weight came down on the right ankle; suffice to say, his tournament is over and his season could be, too.

    The play comes 30 seconds into the TSN recap.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Finland’s Miro Aaltonen suffers gruesome broken ankle (VIDEO)
  • Buffalo Sabres first-rounder Grigorenko was pivotal on 2 Russian goals (Getty Images)

    Ufa, Russia – The host Russians were given a scare in their opening game of the world junior championship on Wednesday.

    They needed overtime to defeat Slovakia 3-2 when Albert Yarullin’s shot beat netminder Adam Nagy with 10 seconds remaining in the five minute bonus.

    “They played really well and it was the first game for us,” said Mikhail Grigorenko, who plays for the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts. “We weren’t ready for that kind of game from them.”

    Russia going to overtime means it only gets two points in the standings instead of three for regulation win. That lost point could loom large later in the round-robin.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Slovakia scares Russia in overtime opener
  • Yakupov was popular during 2 seasons in Sarnia (OHL Images)

    Whether Canada likes hearing this or not, vilifying Nail Yakupov for not mastering English Canada's hockey euphemisms is dirty.

    The Russia captain might not have meant anything by it when he made his instantly infamous "these guys play dirty" comment about Team Canada. (Whatever he meant by it, the quote will get around the hockey world twice before the context can tie its skates.) Since it is a world junior championship and Canada and Russia are rivals for the gold medal, it is easier for the Canadian media to fit him for the black hat. (Teammate Maxim Shalunov getting a four-minute high-sticking minor in the Slovakia-Russia game likely didn't help.) Far be it to point out that he was talking about his own game — it is not always about us, eh — or that the over-the-top overreaction by Mr. Irrelevant, CBC Hockey Night In Canada commentator Don Cherry, makes Yakupov look like the good guy.

    Yakupov's comment, honestly, was not that bad. There has never been a Canadian hockey team worth a whit which did not staff a few roster spots with players versed in chirping and getting opponents off their games. Yakupov dealt with that on a lower level for two seasons in the OHL; now the Edmonton Oilers first overall pick knows he will be a marked man in the Dec. 31 showdown in Ufa.

    "I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready." (R-Sport)

    That is all he said. "Dirty" was not the most diplomatic word, but considering what a 19-year-old Russian's impressions are of Canadian hockey, both firsthand and related (all the way back to Bobby Clarke busting Valeri Kharlamov's ankle in 1972), it's hardly scandalous. Canadians are just as quick to point out the alleged softness of overseas players. Call it a wash.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Nail Yakupov calls Canada ‘dirty’; Don Cherry has predictable idiotic response


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