Friday, December 31, 2010

Slovaks easy prey for Finns

Press Release

BUFFALO – Finland defeated Slovakia 6-0 to climb on top of Group A of the IIHF World U20 Championship. USA’s late game vs. Switzerland will decide which team gets the alluring semi-final bye.

Team USA will need a win against Switzerland – either in regulation time or overtime – to claim back first place from Finland.

Erik Haula had a pair of goals for Finland, while Miikka Salomäki, Jyrki Jokipkka, Joonas Danskoi and Valtteri Virkkunen collected singles before a predominantly Canadian crowd which treated the game as an appetizer prior to the Sweden vs. Canada showdown.

Finnish goaltender Joni Ortio collected his second shut-out of the tournament stopping just 17 mostly harmless shots to 43 at the other end. He boasted a 95 percent save percentage prior to the game and finished the preliminary round with a tidy 1.00 goals against average.

“We play better together than last year and our defence is really good,” Ortio praises the teammates in front of him. “Our opponents don’t have many scoring chances against us. That makes it easier for a goalie to play behind them.”

Finland completed the Preliminary Round Group A with three wins and one OT-loss, which came at the hands of Team USA on opening day. Slovakia will try to retain its top division status in the relegation round after posting a preliminary round record three losses and one OT win.

But this Slovak victory might prove very valuable as it was won against Germany on December 27th. As the Germans also go to the relegation round, this win will count in the relegation standings and it gives the Slovaks somewhat of a cushion. They play their opening relegation round game on January 2nd against Norway at Dwyer Arena.

“It was hard to motivate ourselves after the tough loss against Switzerland yesterday,” Dalibor Bortnak admitted after today’s game. “We tried hard, but we didn’t play very well. The next games will be really important for us. We have to rest and get ready for these games and we have to forget about this loss.”

The Slovaks have been involved in relegation anguish in six of the last seven IIHF World U20 Championships, so they know the drill which includes not wasting energy on games that don’t matter. Not even a win against the Finns would have prevented the trip down to the relegation round, and the lack of inspiration showed.

By the time Slovakia had its first shot on goal at the 10-minute mark of the opening period, Finland already had seven--and two goals. The 17-year old Miikka Salomäki scored his second goal of the championship after 100 seconds on a lucky bounce off the shaft of his stick and defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka made it 2-0 after pinching in on a power-play at 6:32.

The game was pretty much done midway through the opening period when Erik Haula – Finland’s lone NCAA collegian – waltzed effortlessly through the Slovak defense and put the puck high over goaltender Juraj Holly to make it 3-0. Finland outshot their halfhearted opponents 17-2 during the first 20 minutes.

Haula repeated the exercise at more or less the same time one period later, with the difference that he now came from the left side and in a short-handed situation, but the result was the same. Haula’s goal made it 5-0 and came a couple of minutes after Joonas Danskoi’s 4-0 goal during a power-play.

“We’ve been battling through four games pretty hard. It has paid off and I’m really proud of our guys,” Haula said after his goals number two and three. “We just have to keep playing the next game as hard as we can. From the game against the U.S. we know that we can beat any team when we play well. People definitely have to take a look at us.”

The game was a nice opportunity for the Finns players to pad their individual stats and make all feel involved. Valtteri Virkunen’s 6-0 goal at the end of the middle period was his first of the championship.

(Nathan can be reached at

SPOKANE CHIEFS: To Hold Open Skate at Avista Stadium

Press Release

Fans will have the opportunity to take the ice at Avista Stadium when the Chiefs open the facility to the public on Friday, January 14th as a part of the festivities leading up to the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic. The Chiefs will host the Kootenay Ice the following day in the WHL’s first ever outdoor hockey game.

The Chiefs will hold two different sessions, from 4:00-5:30 and from 6:00-7:30 on Friday night, and allow fans to skate on the ice.

Children 12 and under can enter the gates for $3 while all others can enter for $5.

A select amount of skates will be provided by Eagles Ice-A-Rena. Fans are encouraged to bring their own.

Fans are also invited to watch the Chiefs practice at Avista Stadium on Thursday, January 13th at 1:00. It will be the only time the team will get the chance to skate on the ice prior to the Saturday game. Practice is free and open to the public.

Tickets to the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic are available by calling the Chiefs ticket office at (509) 535-PUCK or TicketsWest at (800) 325-SEAT.



Spokane Chiefs vs. Kootenay Ice

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Press Release

With the departures of Kyle Tarini and Andrew Clouthier, Spits GM Warren Rychel wasted no time in filling the team's void up front.

Rychel announced today the Spitfires have acquired overage winger Jeff Brown from the Oshawa Generals, in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in the 2013 OHL Draft.

“This move solidifies our squad; Brown is a gritty and experienced player who will provide our club with scoring, toughness and leadership," Rychel said. "He’s a great addition to our team for the rest of the season and also for our playoff run. Brown is a tough player to play against and will become a fan favourite here in Windsor.”

The 20-year-old Toronto native is 6'1" and 202 pounds. He put up 92 points and 216 penatly minutes in 151 games over the last two-and-a-half seasons with Oshawa, including seven goals, nine assists and 56 penalty minutes in 25 games this year.

Brown will be in the lineup this afternoon versus Erie and will wear #11.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The SJHL champion La Ronge Ice Wolves started strong against the Swedish Under 17 team on Thursday night, but they could not sustain the momentum and lost 5-3 as the Swedes have taken the first two games of their four game set against SJHL teams.

Marc-Andre Carre got things started on the right foot for the Wolves when he put one behind Swedish netminder Marcus Hegberg just six minutes into the hockey game. A Robert Monfore power play goal then put the Wolves up by two after twenty minutes and another goal by Monfore at the 7:41 mark of the 2nd period had many of the over one thousand in attendance thinking the home team would be victorious.

The Swedes had other thoughts though. Daniel Ljunngren got Sweden’s first goal of the game at the 10:18 mark of the 2nd and they closed it to one at the 16:46 mark when Tobias Ternqvist put one behind Myles Hovdebo making it 3-2 after two periods.

While the first period was all La Ronge, the 3rd period was all Sweden. Tobias Ekberg tied the game at 3 at the 4:07 mark and just over three minutes later on the power play at 7:26, Mattias Kalin gave Sweden the lead. The Swedes kept coming at the Ice Wolves and made it a two goal deficit just ninety seconds later when Erik Karlsson solved Hovdebo for the last goal of the evening.

The Swedes will take New Years Eve off and be back in action on New Year’s afternoon when they take on the Humboldt Broncos in a 3 p.m start. The tour will wind up with a game in the Battlefords on January 3.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – Luca Ciampini’s first of three goals kick started the comeback as Quebec earned a 6-4 win over Finland on Thursday night at the PCU Centre.

Despite going down a goal only 23 seconds into the game and falling into a 3-1 hole late in the second period, Quebec recovered to keep pace with the United States atop Group A; both teams are 2-0 after two days.

“You have to get those goals back right away,” said Quebec’s Dillon Fournier of falling behind early.

It was Fournier who tied the game for Quebec just 5:30 after Jusso Ikonen opened the scoring, although goals from Henri Ikonen and Rasmus Ristolainen put the Finns up 3-1 with the minutes ticking away in the middle frame.

But Quebec struck back soon after, with Ciampini and captain Charles Simard-Hudon both scoring only six seconds apart to send the game to the intermission tied 3-3.

Quebec carried the momentum into the third period, adding goals by William Carrier and Ciampini. Ville Pokka made it a one-goal game shortly after the Finns pulled goaltender Oskari Setänen, but Ciampini finished his hat trick into an empty net with 53 seconds left.

Henri Ikonen was awarded Player of the Game honours for Finland, which returns to play on Friday night when it meets Atlantic in Portage. Quebec will also play on New Year’s Eve, facing off against Germany in Winnipeg.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

WINNIPEG, Man. – Ontario continued its winning ways at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Thursday night, shutting out Slovakia 5-0 to move to 2-0 and remained tied with Pacific at the top of Group B.

Mathew Campagna, Chris Marchese, Kerby Rychel, Sean Monahan and Scott Laughton scored the goals for Ontario, which remained on track to make the semifinals for the fourth tournament in a row.

Campagna scored the lone goal of the first period, with assists going to Marchese and Jesse Graham.

The second period was all Ontario, as they outshot the Finns 17-2 and jumped into a commanding lead thanks to goals from Marchese, Rychel and Monahan. Marchese finished the period, and the game, with a goal and an assist, giving him five points in two games, tying him for the tournament scoring lead.

Laughton, with assists to Jesse Graham – who finished with three helpers – and Slater Koekkoek, rounded out the scoring in the third period.

Daniel Altshuller, who made more than half of his 15 saves in the first period, picked up Player of the Game honours for Ontario, while Slovak forward Matej Paulovic was his team’s recipient.

Ontario will look to make it three in a row when it kicks off 2011 against West on New Year’s Day in Winnipeg (7 p.m. CT), while the Slovaks get back to action Friday against Pacific in Portage la Prairie (3 p.m. CT).

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Press Release

Kingston, MA- Bay State Breakers forward Zac Lynch has committed to attend Robert Morris University for the fall of 2012. RMU competes in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Hockey League and is currently second in the 12-team league.

Zac is a 6’0”, 180 pound right-shooting, 1992-born forward from Pittsburgh, PA. This is Zac’s first season with the Bay State Breakers. Previously, Zac played for Chris Stern and Alec Wright of the Pittsburgh Hornets AAA program.

“I am very excited to play for Robert Morris University. It has been my dream since I was 10 years old to play Division One hockey at a top academic school. Coach Schooley and his staff have put together a top ranked program and I am honored to be a part of it in the near future. To be able to play at home in Pittsburgh in front of family and friends is also very important to me,” stated Lynch.

“Zac has been a great addition to our program this year. He is one of the most consistent players we have on the team. He plays in all three zones and can be counted on in all situations. Zac is going to be a great Division One player for Robert Morris,” stated Breakers Head Coach McCauley.

"Coaches McCauley and Rennie of the Bay State Breakers have given me the opportunity, direction, and training to develop into a Division I player. I highly recommend their program to any player looking to improve their game and move on to the Division One level,” added Lynch.

Zac is the son of Diane and Dan Lynch of Pittsburgh, PA.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

DES MOINES - The Des Moines Buccaneers and Head Coach & General Manager Regg Simon announced today that forward Doug Clifford has committed to Niagara University.

The 20-year-old Woodhaven, MI native spent last season with the Traverse City Stars of the NHAL. He appeared in 56 games and accumulated 20 goals and 33 assists – leading the team in scoring. This season Clifford has appeared in 19 games for the Buccaneers with 8 goals and 7 assists.

“Doug has been a major contributor for the Buccaneers, has put in his time in junior hockey and has earned this opportunity,” said Coach Simon. “I think most scouts looked at him as not being fast or big but he has proven himself as a warrior and a strong hockey player and you can never have enough of those types of players on your team.”

The Niagara University Men’s Hockey Team is a Division I School in the Atlantic Hockey conference coached by Dave Burkholder. They are currently 10-6-2 overall and 7-4-0 in the Atlantic Hockey conference.

With the addition of Clifford’s commitment, the Des Moines Buccaneers now have a total of twelve players who have committed to NCAA Division I schools. Michael Shibrowski (Colorado College), Peter Stoykewych (Colorado College), Connor Kucera (Bowling Green State University), Blake Doerring (Vermont), Kevin Irwin (Ohio State), Cal Decowski (Minnesota-Duluth), Justin Selman (Michigan), Dajon Mingo (Bowling Green State University) Chris Joyaux (Ohio State), Ethan Prow (St. Cloud State University), and Mitch Cain (Bemidji State University).

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Steel Forward Mattson Commits to Bemidji State

Press Release

Chicago Steel forward Danny Mattson will continue his playing career next season at Bemidji State University.

Mattson is currently tied for second in scoring on the Steel with 11 points (4g, 7a) while being limited to just 14 games so far this season. The 20-year-old also leads the club with a plus-five rating. He has four multi-point games this season, including contributing to all three goals (1g, 2a) in the 3-2 win over Cedar Rapids on October 22nd. It is the second USHL season for the native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mattson began the 2009-10 campaign with the Omaha Lancers before being acquired by the Steel mid-season. He tallied 29 points (15g, 14a) in 58 games between the two clubs.

Mattson's Chicago Steel teammate Sam Windle is also committed to Bemidji State University along with Des Moines Buccaneers forward Mitch Cain and Lincoln Stars defenseman Matt Prapavessis.

Bemidji State is currently in its first season in the WCHA and has eight USHL alumni on the roster; Jake Areshenko (Fargo Force), David Boehm (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Ryan Cramer (Waterloo Black Hawks), Drew Fisher (Sioux Falls Stampede/Indiana Ice), Radoslav Illo (Tri-City Storm), Ben Kinne (Sioux City Musketeers), Matt Read (Des Moines Buccaneers), and Shea Walters (Green Bay Gamblers).

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Nilan Nagy Commits to Holy Cross

Press Release

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Phantoms and Head Coach Curtis Carr take great pride in announcing the commitment of defenseman Nilan Nagy to Holy Cross for the fall of 2011. Nagy becomes the eleventh Phantom on the current roster and the twelfth Phantom to secure a college commitment this season.

Nagy, a Canonsburg, PA native, has played 21 games during his rookie campaign in Youngstown. In those 21 games Nagy has tallied one goal and three assists (4pts) along with eight penalty minutes. Before coming to the USHL, Nagy played in the North American Hockey League with the Traverse City North Stars. In one season in the NAHL Nagy recorded one goal and 23 assists (24pts) in 56 games played.

“Holy Cross has been talking to me since the Fall Classic,” said Nagy. “They have kept up with me during the season and I recently had a chance to visit the school. After my visit I loved the program and I loved the atmosphere there. I knew it was the right fit for my college career.”

Nagy’s four points puts the six foot defenseman second in points among Phantoms blueliners. Nagy plans to study accounting once he arrives at Holy Cross.

“They liked my style of play,” said Nagy. “I play a more defensive minded style and I worry about things in my own end. The commitment takes the pressure off me but I still need to work hard and focus on the little things to help my team succeed.”
Nagy’s commitment is a bright spot as the Phantoms have struggled as of late. For Head Coach Curtis Carr this commitment is what the USHL focuses on.

“In the USHL we have two goals, win games and move players to the next level,” said Carr. “This commitment and our eleven other college commitments shows that we are developing our players for the next level of hockey.”

Nagy joins Waterloo forward Jake Youso as the second USHL player to commit to Holy Cross this season. Head Coach Curtis Carr feels that Nagy will be a perfect for Holy Cross and the Atlantic Hockey conference.

“Nilan is a very good, all around defenseman,” said Carr. “He makes simple, smart plays with the puck. He is a very dedicated young man who works hard both on and off the ice. He will be an asset and a staple at the Holy Cross program for the next four years.”

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Riders' Kovacs Commits to Northeastern University

Press Release

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Justin Kovacs has committed to play collegiate hockey at Northeastern University beginning in the fall of 2011.

Kovacs is playing in his second USHL season with the Riders and is third on the team in scoring with 18 points (4g, 14a) while also posting a plus-seven rating in 23 games. His 14 assists lead the club and two of his goals have been game-winners. Kovacs recorded a hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in the 4-3 win over Indiana on November 17th. The 19-year-old from Grosse Point Woods, Michigan has experienced a breakout season after putting up seven points (3g, 4a) in 24 games during his rookie USHL season in 2009-10.

Kovacs will be joined by RoughRiders teammate Rasmus Juell who is also committed to Northeastern. Eight other players will attend Northeastern following their USHL careers; John Gaudreau (Dubuque Fighting Saints), Garrett Haar (Fargo Force), Ludwig Karlsson (Green Bay Gamblers), Jon Gillies (Indiana Ice), Ben Oskroba (Lincoln Stars), Cameron Darcy (Team USA), Adam Reid (Team USA), and Adam Berkle (Youngstown Phantoms).

Northeastern University is located in Boston and is a member of Hockey East. Sixteen USHL alumni are currently on the roster for the Huskies, the most on any team in the conference; Anthony Bitetto (Indiana Ice), Justin Daniels (Sioux City Musketeers), Drew Daniels (Sioux City Musketeers), Luke Eibler (Youngstown Phantoms), Randy Guzior (Chicago Steel), J.P. Maley (Des Moines Buccaneers), Bryan Mountain (Des Moines Buccaneers), Jamie Oleksiak (Sioux Falls Stampede/Chicago Steel), Steve Quailer (Sioux City Musketeers), Brodie Reid (Lincoln Stars), Steve Silva (Green Bay Gamblers), Zak Stone (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Alex Tuckerman (Sioux City Musketeers), Garrett Vermeersch (Lincoln Stars/Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Robbie Vrolyk (Sioux Falls Stampede), and Clay Witt (Sioux Falls Stampede).

USHL stats - Justin Kovacs

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Ducks Sign Smith-Pelly to Entry Level Contract

Press Release

The Ducks have signed right wing Devante Smith-Pelly to a three-year entry-level contract. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

Smith-Pelly, 18 (6/14/92), has appeared in 33 games for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season, scoring 20-17=37 points with 25 penalty minutes (PIM). His +28 rating co-leads his club and ranks tied for third in the OHL. In addition, the 6-0, 215-pound winger currently ranks second on the Majors in goals (tied for 15th in OHL) and points, helping the club to an OHL-best 28-4-1 record (57 points). Smith-Pelly scored a career-high 1-4=5 points on Dec. 17 in a 9-4 Majors win over Sudbury. He has also strung together two season-high five-game point streaks this season: Oct. 8-22 (2-5=7) and Nov. 26-Dec. 5 (6-3=9).

A native of Scarborough, Ontario, Smith-Pelly scored 29-33=62 points with a +27 rating and 35 PIM in 60 games with Mississauga in 2009-10. He completed the season tied for the team lead in scoring while ranking second in goals and power play goals (10), and third in assists and plus/minus. Smith-Pelly also collected 8-6=14 points in 16 OHL Playoff games, helping the Majors advance to the OHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. He ranked first on the club in postseason goals and tied for first in postseason scoring.

Selected by Anaheim in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Smith-Pelly has scored 62-62=124 points with 84 PIM and a +51 rating in 150 career OHL games. He has also added 10-9=19 points with 24 PIM in 27 OHL playoff contests.

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Press Release

PORTAGE LA PRAIRE, Man. – Henrik Samuelsson had a hat trick, giving him five goals in two games, as theUnited States moved to 2-0 at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 4-1 win over Germany on Thursday afternoon.

Media Gallery

Samuelsson needed just 35 seconds to open the scoring, and added his second at 4:06, less than two minutesafter Lennart Palausch had got the Germans on the board.

The Americans took advantage of two of the four second-period power plays they had, with Samuelssonfinishing off his hat trick and Miles Koules making it 4-1, both on the man advantage.

The U.S. took a three-goal lead and 31-17 advantage in shots on goal into the third period, but couldn’tput another past German netminder Marvin Cüpper, who made 15 saves in the third period and 42 overall.

Not surprisingly, Samuelsson, son of former NHL defenceman Ulf Samuelsson, earned Player of the Gamehonours for the U.S., while Cüpper was a deserving recipient for the Germans.

Samuelsson is one of two American players with NHL bloodlines, along with forward Stefan Matteau, who isthe son of Stéphane Matteau. The elder Matteau is also a U17 alumnus, having won gold with Quebec at thefirst tournament in 1986.

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Press Release

WINNIPEG, Man. – Pacific continued its hot start to the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Thursday,beating the Czech Republic 3-2 and staying atop Group B with a perfect 2-0 record.

Despite the Canadian side controlling the play early, it was the Czechs who hit the board first thanks toa lucky bounce – goaltender Mackenzie Skapski easily blockered aside a shot from Dominik Volek, only to seethe puck ricochet off a Pacific defender and in for a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Magee scored Pacific’s first goal late in the opening period, dancing through the Czech defenceand snapping a shot past netminder David Gaba, with assists going to Ryan Olsen and Steven Hodges.

The teams once again traded goals in a chippy second period, with Troy Bourke converting a picture-perfectgoalmouth feed from Hunter Shinkaruk for the Pacific goal, and Pavel Sedlacek replying for the Czechs, whoheld a 27-25 advantage in shots after 40 minutes.

The set-up man in the second period, Shinkaruk was the sniper in the third, beating Gaba at the 5:42 markfor a one-goal lead that Pacific would not relinquish.

Skapski finished with 30 saves, while Gaba had 31 in a Player of the Game performance. Defenceman MattDumba took home the honour for Pacific.

Pacific looks to move to 3-0 when they travel to Portage la Prairie to meet Slovakia in the 3 p.m. CT gameon Friday, while the Czechs will remain in Winnipeg and meet West in the New Year’s Eve nightcap (7 p.m. CT)at the MTS Iceplex.

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Russia records first win, 8-2

Press Release

NIAGARA – Russia needed five third period goals to overcome a persistent Team Norway in Group B, winning 8-2 in a game that was tied 2-2 at one point. Danil Sobchenko scored twice while Dmitri Orlov and Nikita Dvurechenski had three points each for Russia, who finally managed to get their first points of the tournament. It will now need to secure a playoff round spot against the Czech Republic tomorrow while Norway prepares for the Relegation Round.

"It was a rather difficult game for us as things didn't work out in the beginning. In the third period things finally clicked," Sobchenko said. "We showed we are capable of scoring, but we need to be more patient."

Before tonight’s game both Russia and Norway were equal on points – that is, neither team had registered any points so far in Group B. Nevertheless Russia had everything to lose and Norway all to gain.

The game didn’t show so much in the first period. Sloppy defending saw Russia spoil its lead twice. Andrei Sergeyev gave Nicholas Weberg the puck from behind his own goal line. The Norwegian made no mistake alone in front of net and erased Russia’s opening goal by Nikita Dvurechenski.

Although Danil Sobchenko’s rebound tip-in less than a minute later restored Russia’s lead, Norway was not done unwrapping gifts yet.

Playing a man short, Vladimir Tarasenko once again handed over the puck in his own zone easily. During the flurry of chances that followed, Jonas Oppøyen wristed the puck behind goaltender Dmitri Shikin to tie the game 2-2 at 15:59.

Tarasenko made up for his mistake early in the second period when he gave back the Russians the lead on the power play with a low hard shot from the left point. It was one of the 30 shots at Norwegian netminder Lars Volden, who came up huge for his team.

A one-goal lead is a tricky one to defend, even when Russia is facing Norway.

Russia took the safe approach and stormed out the gates for the third period. Just 18 seconds after the faceoff, Sobchenko scored his second of the game. He skated by the Norwegian defence on speed and then patiently rounded Volden to make it 4-2.

It went all downhill from there as Russia scored four more goals in almost seven minutes to run up the score to 8-2. In total, seven different players scored for Russia, who outshot Norway 45-15 in the last two periods and 55-24 in total.
Norway will head into the Relegation Round with a point disadvantage on the other teams. In order to stand a chance to stay up they must at least post their first victory of the tournament against either Germany or Slovakia. The first round is played on January 2 at the Dwyer Arena.

"We were lucky to score two goals in the first period. Russia was clearly better in the rest of the game," Volden admits. "We know we now have to win both our remaining games to avoid relegation. That's our aim this tournament."

Russia will meet the Czech Republic on New Year’s Eve in a direct match-up with qualification to the playoff round or a drop to the relegation series on the line. This winner-takes-it-all game will add new life into the traditional rivalry that has lost some of its importance over the past few years.

(Nathan can be reached at

USA looks for bye after easy win

Press Release

BUFFALO – The United States scored two goals in the first period and two more in the second en route to a comfortable 4-0 win over Germany at HSBC Arena. Jon Merrill and Charlie Coyle led the offence with a goal and assist each.

The win puts the Americans back on top of the Group A standings with eight points while Finland has seven. Both teams play New Year’s Eve to decide the group winner and which team gets a bye through the quarter-finals. The Americans play Switzerland at 8pm while Finland plays Slovakia at 12:30pm.

Germany is destined for the Relegation Round now, winless in four games and fighting to stay in the top pool for 2012. They will next play on January 2.

Offered Germany's Tobias Rieder: "We have to start to prepare for the Relegation Round now, and I hope we’ll win those two games to remain in the Top Division and to play in this tournament again next year."

The last time these nations played was on May 7 when the senior editions played before a then-world record crowd of 77,803 at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The Germans pulled off a significant upset with a 2-1 overtime win that night, but there was no such result in the offing this evening.

"We’re growing as a team here, and the chemistry is good," said American forward Jerry D'Amigo. "We’re playing good defence. I think that’s the main thing here. We didn’t concede any goals; guys are backchecking. We hang in the opponent’s zone most of the game, have lots of shots. That’s what we need to do."

It’s a bad sign when the player scoring the first goal of the game doesn’t raise his arms and barely cracks a smile. Such a reaction is reserved when a superior team crushes an inferior one, and that’s what happened when Charlie Coyle opened the scoring at 12:37 on a power play.

He claimed the puck from a scrum of players just inside the German blue line, roared in on goal, and flipped the puck over the glove of Niklas Treutle. Coyle accepted reserved congrats from his mates, knowing full well this was a mismatch, a fact borne out by the 23-2 shots on goal disparity in the first period.

Just 48 seconds later, Jerry D’Amigo did pretty much the same thing, roofing a shot over the goalie’s blocker this time from the left wing. It was clear these goals were all the Americans would need to win this game.

The second period was notable for two things. First, the Americans doubled their lead to 4-0, and the Germans, after being dominated for the first 15 minutes, showed a bit of life and managed ten shots on Jack Campbell’s goal. Few were particularly dangerous, but at least they showed some skating and determination.

Jon Merrill made it 3-0 on a long wrist shot at 7:54, and then Chris Kreider’s point shot on the power play went all the way into the net for the fourth goal. Shots were 38-12 after 40 minutes.

The Americans again limited their opponents to two shots in the final 20 minutes, a period marked by countless whistles and little action, the result having been decided long ago.

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Postponed Titan vs. Wildcats game to be played in January

Press Release

BOUCHERVILLE, Thursday, December 30, 2010 – The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League today announced the new date and time of game #341 between the Titan and the Wildcats in Moncton which was postponed earlier this week due to hazardous weather conditions in New Brunswick.

The game will be played on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7 pm.

(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Press Release

The Swedish Under 17 team started its four game tour of the SJHL with a hard fought and exciting 5-4 win over the Flin Flon Bombers Wednesday night in front of over 12-hundred fans at the Whitney Forum. The Swedes looked like they might make it a one-sided affair as they led it 2-0 after one on goals by Nick Sorensen and Axel Waltott.

Sorensen’s 2nd of the game on the power play at the 6:46 mark of the 2nd made it 3-0 for the yellow clad Swedes, but Flin Flon got on the board less than a minute later on a goal by James McNulty. Jesse Mychan’s power play goal three minutes into the 3rd closed the gap to one, but Sorensen completed the hat-trick on the power-play at 11:28. Ryan Fox made it 4-3 at the 13:31 mark, but Sorensen completed a four goal evening with an even strength marker at 18:26. Flin Flon came right back though as Fox netted his 2nd of the evening just 15 seconds later, but the Bombers could not get the equalizer.

The Swedish squad will move into La Ronge for a game against the SJHL champion Ice Wolves on Thursday night.

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Giants Acquire Joel Rogers From Swift Current

Press Release

The Vancouver Giants acquired defenceman Joel Rogers from the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for defenceman Dalton Reum. Rogers, a native of Abbotsford, B.C., has played his entire 4 year career in the WHL with Swift Current. Originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 WHL bantam draft by the Broncos, the 19 year old is considered a solid stay at home blueliner. In 28 games this season he has 3 assists and 40 penalty minutes. He will arrive in Vancouver later tonight and be available to play tomorrow when the Giants take on the Everett Silvertips.

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Sloppy Swedes stay perfect

Press Release

NIAGARA – It wasn’t pretty but Sweden set up the group final against Canada on New Year’s Eve by defeating the Czech Republic, 6-3. While the Swedes now can focus on trying to get a semi-final bye, the Czechs are again involved in relegation woes.

While undefeated Sweden (3W-0L)--for the first time during this championship--will move into the HSBC Arena in Buffalo for the New Year’s tilt against Canada, the Czech Republic (1W-2L) and Russia will play a crucial game in Niagara’s Dwyer Arena the same day. Incredibly, the loser of that game will go to the Relegation Round.

If Russia ends up among the four last teams of the championship it will be a first, and a major disappointment. If the Czechs miss the playoff round, it will be a continuation of a trend which has been in place since the Czech Republic won a bronze medal in 2005.

In the five IIHF World U20 Championships since then the Czechs have finished 6 – 5 – 5 – 6 – 7, with the last placing putting them into the Relegation Round in Saskatoon. During this period of slow but steady decline the Czechs have been solidly outplayed by Sweden.

Prior to the meeting today, Sweden had five consecutive wins against the Czechs, with last year’s 10-1 as the most lopsided score between the teams in Under-20 competition. One has to go back to 2003 in Halifax to find the last Czech win (3-1).

This matchup showcased plenty of sloppy play, defensive errors, mediocre goaltending, unforced penalties and five power play goals, three of them Swedish. The entire Team Canada brass was on site at the cozy arena at the Niagara University campus and they were probably not overly impressed with their opponents prior to the highly anticipated New Year’s Eve showdown.

The Swedes scored five unanswered goals after an early Czech lead, but the Czechs refused to go away and the precocious Martin Frk (only 17 years old) got two quick goals in the second period to cut the deficit to 5-3, to give his team a ray of hope.

But Calle Järnkrok put the game away with the 6-3 goal at 5:48 of the last stanza and this backhander, also Järnkrok’s first goal of the tournament, clearly deflated the opposition. Jesper Fasth led Sweden with two goals.

While the Swedes march on, the Czech junior program continues to struggle with teams loaded with players from the Canadian major junior leagues. This mix again reflects the character of the team. The style is not traditionally Czech, and it’s not Canadian; it’s something a little bit of everything and this seldom leads to success.

The Czech Republic opened the game in the same fashion as they did against Canada the other day when they took the lead after 49 seconds. This time the Czechs enjoyed an early power-play which resulted in Michal Hlinka’s 1-0 goal when he lifted a backhand from close range over the pad of Fredrik Petersson-Wentzel.

Power-play goals dominated the opening period and Sweden turned the score around through a pair of PP markers. Johan Larsson, on a nice cross feed from Johan Sundström, got them even at 5:53 and they took the lead with four minutes of the first. Rickard Rakell, the Plymouth Whaler, found Max Friberg right in front and goaltender Marek Mazanec was beaten high with backhander.

The interesting fact about Friberg is that he plays his domestic hockey in his hometown Skövde whose team is in Sweden’s third tier league, called Divison I. It almost never happens nowadays that a player from that level makes to the World U20 national team.

Marek Mazanec did not look particularly sharp on Sweden’s 3-1 goal 70 seconds later. The Czech goalie was far too lax on Jesper Fasth’s harmless shot from the slot. Late period goals, especially on defensive mistakes, are often momentum killers and this one was no exception. The Czechs, who looked sharp and motivated until then, had difficulties recovering.

Sweden grabbed a three-goal lead five minutes into the second period when Sebastian Wännström smartly used a screen in front of Mazanec and beat him with a wrister from the right circle. The Czech goalie was replaced after the 4-1 goal and Filip Novotny took his place, but the backup man was between the pipes for only 43 seconds before the Swedes struck again, with their third power-play goal. It was Fasth’s second of the day.

It was the Czech’s youngest player who provided some much needed spark with Sweden comfortably up 5-1. Frk cut the lead to 5-2 with a neat shot of the rush and he also made it 5-3 while playing on the point on a power-play.

A couple of Swedes didn’t look good on that one. Highly touted prospect Adam Larsson took a selfish penalty which led to the man advantage and goalie Peterson-Wentzel simply lost sight of the shot from the blue line, at 14:51 of the second. But that was all that the Czechs could muster.

Finally – how about this stat; Swedish centre Johan Larsson won 18 out of 19 faceoffs in Sweden’s 2-0 win against Russia the other day and his record against the Czech Republic was 12-1 for a total of 30 won faceoffs and two losses. This makes for a faceoff percentage of around 95 percent.

(Nathan can be reached at

Swiss sink Slovaks, again

Press Release

BUFFALO – Switzerland edged Slovakia in a thrilling game, 6-4, to reach the final round at the expense of the Slovaks. It was a déjà vu from last year’s event in Saskatoon for both teams.

The win also ensures Team USA a quarterfinal berth before their games against Germany and Switzerland.

The Swiss, USA and Finland battle it out for first place (and a bye to the semi-finals) tomorrow while Slovakia will go into relegation round with two points from its game against Germany, which takes over one point.

Switzerland was holding the lead for most part of the game, but Slovakia cut a two-goal deficit in the last period before Samuel Walser scored the game winner with 5:56 left.

Slovakia and Switzerland might not be what you could call geographic neighbours, nor has there been any traditional rivalry between these countries, but these nations are pretty close to each other in hockey, and this game was certainly a good proof of that.

Switzerland is seventh in the men’s world ranking and Slovakia eighth, which gives them lots of important clashes in any category. At the World U20 Championship – or the World U18s that uses the same format – the nations exchanged quite some battles in either the relegation round or in the run for a final-round berth.

In 2008 Slovakia sent Switzerland down to Division I for the first time in 12 years with a 5-2 win in the relegation round. Last year after getting back to the Top Division, the Swiss avenged the loss and sent Slovakia to relegation round with a 4-1 victory in the preliminary round. This year history repeats after the Swiss win at HSBC Arena.

Switzerland had the better start into this game and Gregory Hofmann opened the scoring at 8:15 when he rebounded the puck into the net after a long shot from Nicholas Steiner, but the lead didn’t last longer than 63 seconds.

Michael Vandas passed the puck from the end boards back to Peter Sisovsky, who tied up the score.

At 11:50 the DJ reacted to the on-ice action with the ‘90s hit “You’re unbelievable” – a song he must have dedicated to Swiss defenceman Dominik Schlumpf and the Slovak goalkeeper Dominik Riecicky. The first because he sent off a fluke shot from the red line, and the latter, well, because he let the puck in.

With two minutes left, the teams exchanged some more quality chances. Slovakia’s Miroslav Preisinger was sent to the penalty box after hooking Swiss forward Inti Pestoni from behind on his way to the Slovak cage.

After the next faceoff, however, Richard Panik got the puck and had a two-on-one breakaway with Juraj Majdan, but Reto Schäppi used his stick to stop him and the refs awarded a penalty shot. Majdan’s shot at 18:17, however, went wide the net and the play went back to the other side.

With 68 seconds left in the first period, the Swiss capitalized on their power play when Sven Bärtschi scored from the blue line. It was the first World U20 goal from the WHL’s top-scoring rookie.

The Slovak head coach Stefan Mikes reacted and replaced Riecicky with Juraj Holly for the second period. And his team reacted at 1:29 when Marek Hrivik cut the lead after a nice side pass from, again, Vandas.

Niederreiter extended the lead for the Swiss when he won the puck in the Slovak zone and defeated Holly with a hard shot from just before the left face-off circle into the top-right corner.

With 2:54 left in the second period, the Swiss thought they would have scored again, but the refs disallowed the goal after a video review.

The Slovaks were more successful in the third period when Andrej Stastny scored the 4-3 goal 5:30 into the third period. He brought the puck to the crease before being checked into the end boards and the puck landed into the cage via Swiss goalkeeper Benjamin Conz.

It continued to be an end-to-end game and it became even better for the Slovaks.

With 7:52 remaining in the third period, Richard Panik won the puck at the boards in the middle zone to end his rush with a shot into the top corner of the close side to equalize the score.

The 4-4 was on the scoreboard for only two minutes when Samuel Wasler scored on a rebound after a shot from Yannick Herren with 5:54 remaining in what became the game-winning goal. Inti Pestoni sealed the win with the 6-4 goal into the empty net 30.3 seconds before the final buzzer.

The game ended with some frustration for the Slovaks, who had already lost Peter Hrasko and Martin Marincin due to suspensions after their hits to the head in the game against the U.S.

Slovakia will now have to regroup to avoid relegation while Switzerland can dream of a top-four finish again.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Before the game the message on the big screen to the Malmo Redhawks said “valkommen” - Swedish for welcome.

Mitch Fillman must not have gotten the message.

The Grande Prairie Storm forward made the visitors from Sweden feel very un-valkommen at the Peak Energy International Experience.

Fillman, 20, scored five times helping the Alberta Junior Hockey League Storm to an 8-4 win over the Swedish elite junior league Redhawks before 2,357 in the Canada Games Arena on Wednesday night.

“Mitch had a very hot stick and hopefully he gains some offensive confidence from tonight,” said Storm coach/general manager Mike Vandekamp of the Oakville, Ont. native, who joined the team late in the season and has four goals and three assists in 11 games. “It was great to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet because he has been a real warrior for us since he joined our team. “

Fillman set the tone for the Storm early in the game scoring on a nifty backhander over Redhawks netminder Robert Vysehrad’s shoulder just 3:13 into the game. Dan Correale, as he crashed into Vysehrad on a solo rush cutting around a defenceman, made it 2-0 at 14:43.

Before the halfway point of the game the Storm had made it 4-0 on Fillman’s second at 3:52 of the middle period – a wrist shot off a rebound from about 20 feet out - and then his third at 7:25 as he rushed in from the left side and cut in front of Vysehrad sneaking the puck along the ice past the shell-shocked Swedish netminder.

His hattrick goal triggered a Swedish comeback.

Victor Ohman scored on the powerplay to make it 4-1 at 8:52 of the second; Nicolia Meyer made it 4-2 at 15:03; and Zebastian Ilestedt narrowed it to 4-3 scoring at 17:41.

Ilestedt scored again at 7:07 of the third period to tie the game at 4-4 –cueing a Storm comeback led by the line of Fillman, Cam McWilliam and Josh Juell.

McWilliam, who also had a five-point night with a goal and four helpers, led the onslaught that saw the Storm score four goals in less than five minutes.

He started it at 7:25 to make it 5-4; Juell made it 6-4 at 8:09; and then Fillman finished up his big night with a goal at 11:37 and then another at 12:11.

It was a bit of a rollercoaster of a game for Vandekamp and his troops.

“I thought we did some very good things and made some questionable decisions as well that caused us some problems,” said the coach mentor. “When we managed the puck properly we were very good and were able to create some good offensive opportunities off of the rush. We turned over the puck a few too many times and gave them their goals. We must cut down those types of mistakes in the final third of the season. “

One thing that was consistent was the Storm penalty killing. They allowed just one goal on six Malmo extra strength chances, including a long five-on-three in the third where they allowed no real good Swedish scoring chances. The Storm had just two powerplay opportunities.

Malmo had much more jump than they did on Tuesday after losing 2-1 to the Dawson Creek Rage following a long day of travel Sunday and little sleep Monday night and an eight-hour time change to get used to.

“We played much better than we did on Tuesday,” said Redhawks coach Roger Ohman.

Malmo now heads to the B.C. coast for five games against British Columbia Hockey League teams while the Storm host the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in an AJHL regular season game at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Canada Games Arena.

“It was an entertaining game for the fans and hopefully they’ll come back for the game tomorrow night against Fort McMurray,” said Vandekamp. “It was good for us to get some of the kinks out coming back from the Christmas break. “

Fillman was the obvious choice as the Storm Player of the Game while the Malmo honors went to Ohman, who was injured in the third period after colliding with a teammate and didn’t return to the ice to finish the game.

(Nathan can be reached at

Bismarck, Aberdeen game postponed

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that tonight's (Thursday, Dec. 30) between the Aberdeen Wings and Bismarck Bobcats has been postponed due to inclement weather. The game will be rescheduled.

(Nathan can be reached at
Press Release

Sarnia, On – General Manager Dave MacQueen announced this afternoon the Sarnia Sting Hockey Club has acquired 17-year old defenceman Jack Kuzmyk from the Owen Sound Attack.

The Sting have sent a 6th round pick (Originally belonging to Saginaw) in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection to the Attack in exchange for Kuzmyk.

Dave MacQueen explains his thoughts on the transaction.

“Jack is a big, physical defenceman who competes hard. He also just turned 17 and fits our criteria as we continue to move forward both in the immediate and long term future of the program we are developing. Jack was a 3rd round pick in 2009 and has a lot of upside. In Owen Sound he was playing on a team that is very deep on defence and had his ice time cut down because of that. He will come in here and get a chance to play immediately.”

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

WINNIPEG, Man. – Robert Trzonkowski, Hunter Shinkaruk and Brandon Magee all scored goals in the final 12minutes as Pacific survived against West, earning a 5-2 win on Wednesday night in front of a standing-roomonly crowd at the MTS Iceplex.

The first period was a physical one, with skirmishes around the net and three penalties for both teams.Twoof those penalties, just 28 seconds apart, led to the game’s opening goal off the stick of Pacific captainGriffin Reinhart.

After an early penalty against West in the second period, forward Colton Heffley scored a shorthandedgoalto tie it up at 1-1, the lone goal of the middle frame. Pacific had a chance to take its second lead intothe intermission, but a potential goal was called back due to the whistle being blown before the puck crossedtheline.

Special teams was responsible for the third goal, a 4-on-4 marker by Mike Winther just 49 seconds intothethird period, and the fourth, Brendan Harms’ power play goal that brought West back even at 2-2.

The game remained tied until Trzonkowski’s goal at 8:16, followed shortly by Shinkaruk on the power playand Magee, making it a 5-2 game and rounding out the scoring.

Defenseman Reid Gow was named player of the game for West, while goaltender Mackenzie Skapski wasearnedthe nod for Pacific. Both teams will next play against the Czech Republic, with Pacific facingoff against them on December 30, while West will play them one day later, on December 31.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – If defense wins championships, then count Ontario among the favourites at the2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Plenty of big hits and blocked shots led Ontario to a 7-1 win over theCzech Republic on Wednesday night.

Ontario’s defence did an excellent job at containing the quick and speedy Czechs. Patrik Machac, whoharkened images of a young Jaromir Jagr with his effortless stick handling, was curtailed by the Ontarioblueliners on more than one occasion.

A first-period goal from Ontario’s Slater Koekkoek brought an enthusiastic crowd at the PCU Centre totheir feet, as the defenceman raced away on a breakaway before lighting the lamp behind Czech goaltenderDavid Gaba.

Koekkoek’s goal seemed to energize his Ontario teammates, as they came off the ensuing faceoff landing anumber of big hits on their Czech opponents.

Ontario sniper Mathew Campanga scored on a smooth wrist shot from just inside the point to make the game2-0 at 4:46 of the second period before Chris Marchese made it a three-goal lead just six seconds later.

Scott Laughton and Martin Matecjek traded goals before the end of the middle frame, and Kerby Rychel,Andreas Athanasiou and Gianluca Curcuruto rounded out the rest of Ontario’s tallies in the third period.

(Nathan can be reached at

Swap with Sioux Falls Brings Anthony Day

Press Release

Veteran USHL forward Anthony Day has been acquired in a trade with the Sioux Falls Stampede for defenseman Andrew Prochno, the Waterloo Black Hawks announced Wednesday.

Day is spending his second season in the United States Hockey League. So far this year, the Elma, New York native has four goals and two assists in 21 games for Sioux Falls. A year ago, Day was the Stampede’s eighth-leading scorer, appearing 54 times to score eleven goals and 20 assists. He is committed to Yale University.

“To get something, you have to give something,” said Waterloo Black Hawks Head Coach and General Manager P.K. O’Handley. “We have a very high opinion of Andrew Prochno and his abilities. We feel like we’re getting a quality player who will be a solid addition to the Black Hawks in return.”

Prochno was in his first season with Waterloo. The St. Cloud State-committed defenseman two goals and five assists in 21 appearances. Prochno was also tied for third among all Black Hawks players with 46 shots on goal.

The deal extended a trend of player movement between Waterloo and Sioux Falls. Black Hawks defenseman Blake Thompson spent the 2008-2009 season with the Stampede. Former Hawks forward Patrick Divjak was in Sioux Falls for two years before joining Waterloo in 2009-2010. Ryan Hill, Angelo Vrachnas, and Colton Warner each spend time with the Black Hawks before later landing in Sioux Falls in recent seasons.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

The defending champions carried that momentum into the opening game of the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, scoring a 5-2 win over Finland Wednesday afternoon at the MTS Iceplex. Finland hasn’t medaled in the tournament since capturing bronze in 1999.

Finnish goalie Oskari Setänen withstood an early American attack but couldn’t stop a Henrik Samuelsson breakaway ten minutes into the first period. Connor Carrick, Matthew Lane and Nicolas Kerdiles also scored for the Americans. Setänen posted 46 saves and was named Finland’s player of the game while Samuelsson – son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson – finished with a pair of goals.

Despite Setänen’s strong play, the Americans were too much for Finland to handle. Their offensive attack showcased several highlight-reel goals and was complemented by their strong defensive play. Their forecheck kept the puck in Finland’s zone for most of the game and at one point sent the stick of Finland’s Markus Kojo flying into the rafters.

After giving up five goals through two periods, Finland kept the U.S. at bay while adding goals from Topi Nättinen in the second period and Jusso Ikonen late in the third. However, it was too little, too late as the deficit was too large to overcome.

With the win, the U.S. keeps pace with Quebec, tying them for first in Group A with three points. Both teams play next on Thursday in Portage la Prairie, with the Americans facing Germany and Finland playing Quebec.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – Canada’s teams from the East battled for early Group A points on Wednesday, with Quebec securing a 9-3 victory. Although this game pitted teammates against each other, there was no love lost as both teams played tough and physical for all three periods.

“We’re all so close, we play against each other all year, so there’s some rivalry brought over,” said Andrew Ryan, Atlantic’s player of the game, who finished with a goal and an assist.

Atlantic came out with a strong start, ending the first period up 2-1 thanks to Ryan and Matthew Bursey, but was overcome by the Quebec in the second period.

After killing a 5-on-3 early in the period, Quebec opened up the offence, scoring five times, capped off with a beautiful Félix-Girard-to-Julien-Leduc goal.

Quebec continued their control into the third period, as Atlantic quickly picked up two penalties. Raphael Lafontaine made it 7-2 at 1:17 on a 5-on-3 before Michael Matheson went five-hole from the point 20 seconds later at 5-on-4.

Lafontaine notched his second power play goal of the period, and Quebec’s fifth of the game just past the midway point of the final frame for the eighth unanswered goal, a run ended by Nathan MacKinnon’s man-advantage marker at 16:01.

Quebec returns to the PCU centre ice Thursday when it takes on Finland, while Atlantic sees the ice next Friday when it faces the Finns in Portage.

(Nathan can be reached at

Canada runs over Norway, 10-1

Press Release

BUFFALO – Canada took advantage of countless turnovers by Norway in its own end to cruise to a 10-1 win in Group B action at HSBC Arena tonight.

Brayden Schenn had four goals and an assist, and Canada mounted a six-goal blitz in the first period. He now leads all scorers in the tournament with 12 points, and defenceman Ryan Ellis is second with eight. It was his second straight five-point game, and the four goals ties a U20 record.

"He’s unbelievable," said teammate Quinton Howden. "He had a good last night and followed up tonight. He’s a phenomenal hockey player."

The win keeps Canada atop Group B with a perfect 3-0 record and nine points while Norway is now winless (0-3) and in danger of going to the Relegation Round. The win came despite Canada dressing only 16 skaters. Jaden Schwartz, Calvin de Haan, and Cody Eakin were all scratches because of injury, and Zack Kassian sat out the first of two games of a suspension.

"We knew we played against the probably best team of the tournament, and we’re underdogs," said Sondre Olden. "We just had to go out there and play our best game and as hard as we could, but Canada is a good team and we didn’t have a chance."

Canada plays its final game of the Preliminary Round on New Year’s Eve against Sweden while the Norwegians face Russia in a do-or-die game Thursday night

The game was scarcely two minutes old before Casey Cizikas opened the scoring on a close-in two-on-one after Norwegian defenceman Nicolai Bryhnisveen simply fell while carrying the puck out of his own end as the last man. The goals kept coming in quick succession after that, the only excitement from Norway coming off the faceoff after Canada made it 4-0.

Rasmus Juell claimed the puck at centre, skated in on goal, and lifted a weak shot that goalie Mark Visentin flubbed. The goals were just eight seconds apart. Canada came right back when Schenn got his second of the night. No sooner had the puck bulged the twine than goalie Steffen Søberg skated quickly to the players’ bench, removing himself from the game in favour of Lars Volden.

The self-imposed exile had little effect, though, as Marcus Foligno made it 6-1 before the end of the period.

"We just wanted to have good habits and overall we played pretty well," Ellis said. "They started turning on, but we didn’t sit back at all. You always want to score points, to hit and play as well as you can and do things right."

Schenn got his hat trick just 44 seconds into the second period when Volden messed up on a routine shot. The rest of the game was played in cruise control until a late flurry of three goals, including Schenn's fourth, in the last three and a half minutes. Point made; point taken.

(Nathan can be reached at

Stenerson signs with Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves

Press Release

The Surrey Eagles are pleased to announce the commitment of Michael Stenerson to the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves.

The product of Semiahmoo Minor hockey is thrilled to be headed north.

"This is a great Christmas present. I am really excited to be going to Alaska-Anchorage, a Division 1 team. I would like to thank Coach Shyiak for providing me this opportunity and the Eagles coaches, especially Matt Erhart, and players for helping me attain my goal of playing collegiate hockey."

In his first BCHL season, Stenerson has tallied 21 points including 7 goals while earning time on the second power play unit. The 1993-born forward impressed all Eagles coaches at training camp with his playmaking ability.

Coach Erhart was very happy to hear the news.

"Mike has worked extremely hard for this and will be a key part to a great school in the WCHA. The coaching staff is very proud of his accomplishment and we look forward to developing his skills for Div 1 hockey."

Alaska Anchorge plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association which boasts powerhouses North Dakota, Denver, and Wisconsin. WCHA member teams have won a record 36 men's NCAA hockey championships.

Stenerson will finish his Grade 12 year at Earl Marriot Secondary School this June. This is the fifth scholarship obtained by current Eagles players while playing for Surrey.

(Nathan can be reached at

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finland flies to final round

Press Release

BUFFALO – Finland claims back first place in Group A after a convincing 5-1 victory against Germany. The win brings Finland into the final round while Germany has to play against relegation.

Germany showed its two faces of this tournament. In the first period the Germans played with powerful forechecking, but then conceded goal after goal following an evenly played first period.

The Finns have only unveiled one face so far: the one of a medal contender. Same as in their 4-0 blanking of Switzerland, the Finns showed more technical skill, most notably their superior skating and passing.

The first period of the game almost reminded of a World Juniors version of the NHL vs. Soviets clashes that were once played in the city, with Germany’s North American style of play.

Already a few seconds into the game Germany scared its opponents with aggressive forechecking. Finnish defenceman Nico Manelius lost the puck to Laurin Braun just in front of his own net, but Braun, probably surprised about this chance himself, couldn’t capitalize on this opportunity.

At 9:40, Finland’s Rasmus Rissanen continued an unfortunate series of cheap, hazardous hits in this tournament when checking Braun from behind into the boards. Braun could continue while Rissanen got 2+10. The Germans had several shots, but Finland could also have scored shorthanded when Henri Tuominen and Joonas Nättinen had an unsuccessful two-on-one rush.

Same as yesterday against Switzerland, it was Finland’s second line that managed to end the deadlock. And same as yesterday it was Joonas Nättinen, who redirected a puck into the net following a shot from the blue line from Tommi Kivisto at 15:59.

While the Germans might well have planned their race to catch up, the Finns started controlling the game from the second period.

At 6:23 into the middle stanza, Miikka Salomäki scored the 2-0 goal through Philipp Grubauer’s five hole. The goal came after Finland had had an 8-2 shot-on-goal advantage in the first few minutes of the middle stanza, compared to 13-10 in the first period.

The German resistance definitely broke up in the second half of the middle period.

At 13:47 Joonas Donskoi scored after a back pass from the end boards from Julius Junttila. Only 92 seconds later, Jesse Virtanen scored the 4-0 goal and forced Germany to replace starting goaltender Grubauer by Niklas Treutle for the second time in three games.

3:28 into the third period, the German Rammstein goal song could eventually be played when Tobias Rieder, after a nice pass from Marcel Noebels, succeeded on a one-man rush by deking Ortio.

With 3:53 left to play Erik Haula restored the four-goal lead, which remained until the final buzzer.

With this win Finland tops the group – although with one more game played than the U.S. – with seven points from three games. And no matter what they do in their last game on Friday against Slovakia, the Finns cannot finish worse than third.

Newly-promoted Germany on the other hand will have to play in the relegation round even if they would beat reigning champion USA tomorrow evening. It will be a tough fight for the Germans at Dwyer Arena as they might go there with only zero or one point after their losses against Slovakia (in OT) and Switzerland.

(Nathan can be reached at

Two Slovaks, Kassian suspended

Press Release

BUFFALO – Dan Marouelli, the IIHF`s appointed Disciplinary Single Judge, handed out suspensions totalling six additional games to three players for flagrant violations in games played yesterday.

The Slovakia-United States game produced five of those games to two Slovaks, the heaviest suspension going to Martin Marincin (three games). Peter Hrasko received two additional games while Canada's Zack Kassian got one extra game.

The IIHF has very specific rules regarding dangerous hits. These are not limited just to the head but to the neck area as well, which is defined by that part of the body above the collarbone and shoulder pads (i.e., unprotected areas).

All players were automatically given one-game suspensions for their match penalties for a hit to the head and neck area. Here are the details for each violation.

Slovakia’s Martin Marincin was assessed a further three-game suspension (four games in total) by the IIHF for his hit to the head and neck area on American forward Jason Zucker with 7:51 left in the third period of the United States-Slovakia game on December 28.

In making his assessment, Marouelli analyzed the play on DVD. As well, he received a verbal report from the IIHF’s medical staff and discussed the play with the referee supervisor and the chairman of the championship.

Some of the criteria used to make this decision included the distance travelled by Marincin to deliver the hit. In Marouelli’s opinion, this was a premeditated act as the puck had long left the vicinity of the play. Marincin took advantage of a defenceless and unsuspecting opponent and deliberately targeted the head and neck area, resulting in an injury to Zucker.

Slovakia’s Peter Hrasko was assessed a further two-game suspension (three games in total) by the IIHF for his hit to the head and neck area on American forward Jerry D’Amigo.

In making his assessment, Marouelli analyzed the play on DVD. As well, he received a verbal report from the IIHF’s medical staff and discussed the play with the referee supervisor and the chairman of the championship.

Hrasko deliberately targeted the head of the American player, using his elbow and upper arm to deliver the blow and causing D’Amigo to be thrown violently into the boards. As a result, D’Amigo struck his head against the glass, sustaining an injury.

The additional suspension was a direct result of Hrasko’s targeting the head of his opponent on the play.

Canadian forward Zack Kassian was assessed a further one-game suspension (two games in total) by the IIHF for his hit to the head and neck area on Czech forward Petr Senkerik.

As a result, he will miss Canada's next two games, against Norway and Sweden.

In making his assessment, Marouelli, who called more than 1,600 games in his 26 years as an NHL referee, analyzed the play on DVD from every available angle. As well, he examined the medical reports, discussed the play with on-ice officials, and met with the referee supervisor and Chairman of the championship.

Marouelli affirmed that the on-ice officials followed correct protocol by discussing the incident while Senkerik was being treated on ice by doctors. It was after this discussion that the referees decided to assess a five-minute major and match penalty.

(Nathan can be reached at

Rangers Acquire Hasson

Press Release

Rangers Head Coach and General Manager Steve Spott announced that the team has acquired Michael Hasson from the Niagara IceDogs.

In acquiring Hasson the Rangers send an 11th round pick in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Hasson has tallied 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 games with the IceDogs this season.

Hasson is expected to be in the line-up tonight against the Windsor Spitfires.

(Nathan can be reached at

Team Ontario Names Captains and Alternates for 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Matia Marcantuoni of the Kitchener Rangers has been named Captain of Team Ontario for the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge set to take place December 29 to January 4 in Winnipeg, MB.

Marcantuoni, a 16-year-old from Toronto, ON, leads all Team Ontario players in OHL scoring with 24 points in 32 games including nine goals and 15 assists which has him ranked 10th overall among OHL rookies this season. He is a graduate of the Toronto Marlboros minor midget program in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

In addition, defencemen Gianluca Curcuruto of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Slater Koekkoek of the Peterborough Petes, along with forwards Brendan Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls, and Scott Laughton of the Oshawa Generals have each been named assistant captains for Team Ontario.

Team Ontario’s final roster includes 20 current OHL players including 14 players selected in the first round of the 2010 OHL Priority Selection. Last season Team Ontario captured the silver medal in the 2010 event held in Timmins, ON.

(Nathan can be reached at

Pascal Vincent joins select group

Press Release

MONTREAL, Monday, December 27, 2010 – With a 5-2 win tonight versus the Victoriaville Tigres, Pascal Vincent became the sixth head coach in Quebec Major Junior to reach the 400-win plateau and the second to do so prior to his 40th birthday (Ghislain Delage – 36 year-old).

Vincent joins a prestigious group comprised of Richard Martel (585), Guy Chouinard (569), Réal Paiement (520), Gaston Drapeau (440) and Ghislain Delage (430).

(Nathan can be reached at

Americans roll to easy 6-1 win

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BUFFALO--Kyle Palmieri scored twice in the opening period to lead the U.S. to an easy 6-1 win over Slovakia at HSBC Arena.

The Americans remain undefeated in Group A and have five points (one regulation win, and one overtime win) while Slovakia’s record falls to 1-1. The Slovaks still have three points. USA’s next game is Thursday against Germany while Slovakia plays Switzerland that same day.

Palmieri finished with two goals and an assist while Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists.

"I think the guys have been a little shaken up by the injuries," Palmieri said, alluding to the absence of Brock Nelson and Jeremy Morin from the lineup, "so we focused on getting off to a quick start. We dominated the first five minutes, scored a couple of goals, and took them out of the game."

“We know the USA is a really good team. We tried to play better, but it’s tough to play almost half of the game shorthanded,” said Slovakia's Tomas Jurco. “I don’t know why we had so many penalties. We know it was too much. We must try to be more careful in the next game, but it will be a tough game against Switzerland.”

The Americans started out with impressive speed and the Slovaks simply couldn’t answer in kind. The result was an opening 20 minutes in which the shots were 22-1 in favour of the home side. Palmieri got the first goal at 4:31 by finishing a nice two-on-one with Coyle. Defenceman Peter Hrasko slid too early to try to block the pass across, and Coyle simply skated by him and made a perfect pass to Palmieri as he reached the crease.

Just a short time later, Hrasko hammered Jerry D’Amigo with a vicious elbow to the head along the boards. The American lay prone on the ice for several minutes, and Hrasko was given a five-minute major and match penalty, punishment which carries a further and automatic one game suspension. D’Amigo was back in action a few minutes later.

Palmieri got his second goal of the period on the ensuing penalty, getting the puck near the goal line and firing a perfect shot from a bad angle. The Americans made it 3-0 on another man advantage early in the second when Coyle roofed a shot over Riecicky’s glove from close range. Palmieri earned an assist on the play, his third point of the night.

Fans, whose makeup consisted of Canadians staying after their team’s earlier game and Americans in attendance to support their own players, engaged in several friendly verbal chants of “Let’s go Canada, let’s go!” versus, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

And then there was another group of fans, the anti-Emerson Etem crowd, as it were, who booed the American forward every time he touched the puck. And why? Because on a recent Twitter post he called Buffalo a “ghost town” and “the worst city ever.” He went on: “It makes Medicine Hat look like paradise.” Ergo the boos all night—and the power of Tweeting.

"You can, of course, hear it. I kind of zoned in and just played my game. It’s a hockey town. What you write in Twitter can be portrayed in many different ways. I wasn’t trying to put a negative spin on it, and I had my apologies early on. I just want to move on."

Chris Brown made it a 4-0 game at 11:47 on another power play, the Americans’ speed forcing their opponents to take several penalties trying to hold up or negate that speed. Then, for reasons unknown, the Slovaks found another gear for a brief time. They got one goal back at 12:26 when Tomas Jurco banged in a rebound, and then Marek Hrivik missed an open net with goalie Jack Campbell down and out. For Jurko, the goal came on his 18th birthday, playing in his first game without a full cage.

Hrivik’s turned out to be a big miss. The Americans regained their four-goal lead at 13:32 when Drew Shore scored a highlight-reel goal, deking Andrej Kudrna out of his jock and roofing a backhand over Riecicky to make it 5-1.

"We played the majority time in their defensive zone," Palmieri noted, "and that probably made them frustrated. We have a day off tomorrow but have still some stuff to work on."

Etem scored before the end of the period on a routine shot, producing both cheers and boos. The goal spelled the end for Riecicky as coach Stefan Mikes brought in Juraj Holly with 3:03 left in the period. By this point, shots were 40-11 and Riecicky had had a full night’s work anyway.

Slovakia's Martin Marincin earned five minutes and a game misconduct for a vicious elbow to the head of Jason Zucker in the third period. Zucker lay on the ice in all too familiar fashion before woozily making his way to the bench. This was the fourth ejection of the day, giving the IIHF Directorate much to discuss later tonight.

"That’s hockey," Etem said philosophically, sporting a cut on his nose from an elbow. "It’s tough to see our guys going down. There were guys playing dirty on the other team, but we cannot control that. All we can do is focus on our own game."

Said Drew Shore: "I think that was the most complete game we played since we’ve been assembled. Everything is getting better and that’s what we have to do to win the gold medal."

(Nathan can be reached at

Sweden leans on Lehner

Press Release

NIAGARA – Swedish goaltender Robin Lehner has already debuted in the NHL, but the game against Russia on Tuesday was his first ever World U20 performance. And what a performance it was--a 2-0 win.

A quick scouting report on the Swedish team says that there is no Jacob Markström, the goalie who was so dominant at the 2010 U20 in Saskatoon and in 2009 in Ottawa. But now this can be added – they have Robin Lehner, who has never played in Sweden’s top league--and until Tuesday never played in a World Junior game--but who has already been tested in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators.

Lehner made several brilliant saves, especially along the ice, when Russia pounded him with rubber. Apart from the 30 shots he had to handle, the Swedish staff noticed no less than 28 scoring opportunities created by the Russians, who grew more and more desperate by the minute.

Symbolically, Lehner caught the last shot as time expired and he kicked it out with his pad as his teammates skated to mob him.

“He has the potential to become a world-class goaltender,” said coach Roger Rönnberg, who also pointed out that his team won despite being far from perfect. But his goalie was.

“Robin not only makes the saves, but he basically runs our defence the way he communicates with the skaters,” said Rönnberg.

Lehner was also a little bit lucky with eleven minutes left when he committed himself to his right post and Nikita Durechevski had an open net directly in front of him and the puck on his stick, but he fanned on the shot.

“I was, of course, relieved when I saw that the puck went wide, but luck only comes when you’re playing well,” said Lehner, who was selected as his team’s best player.

“I am very satisfied with my game, but all our skaters backchecked really well,” said Lehner. “When the team plays well in front of you, it makes everything so much easier.”

With the win in the tiny but crowded Dwyer Arena close to Niagara Falls, Sweden is 2-0 and has all but qualified for the playoff round.

This while winless Russia is facing what could be one-game qualification to avoid the relegation round when they face the Czech Republic on New Year’s Eve. But they first have to play Norway on Thursday, which also is a must-win game for the Russians.

Neither Russia nor its predecessor Soviet Union has ever had to play in the relegation round in a World U20 Championship. Sweden play the Czechs on Thursday.

Sweden has had easy time with Russia in the IIHF World U20 Championship lately. Since losing 4-2 at home in Leksand in 2007, the Junior Tre Kronor have defeated the Russians 4-1, 5-0, and 2-1 in the last three meetings.

But entering the game without injured forward Gabriel Landeskog was a cause for concern for Swedish management. On a team with solid defence, the forward lines are not deep with pure goal scorers and Landeskog, who arguably has been the best forward in the Ontario Hockey League this season (Kitchener Rangers), was meant to be the go-to guy.

Landeskog injured his foot in the opener against Norway, and his status for the remainder of the championship is unclear. Nevertheless, his teammates seemed determined to get the job done without him.

Sweden took the lead thanks to captain Anton Lander midway through the opening period. Lander, the player with most junior national team games among all Swedes, dug the puck out of the corner, took it right in front and sent a backhander high over Shikin.

Two players are listed as providing assists, but this was as much a solo goal as they possibly can come.

The Swedes padded their advantage with six minutes left in the first, when Calle Järnkrok jumped on a neutral zone turnover by defenceman Nikita Pivtsakin and sent the puck over to Jesper Fasth, who one-timed it for a 2-0 lead.

Both teams changed goalies from their opening games as Robin Lehner debuted for Sweden while Dmitri Shikin somewhat surprisingly got the call at Igor Bobkov’s expense. Lehner was the only player on the ice who this season already has played in the NHL.

Lehner showed at the end of the first period, but also throughout the game, what an asset he is for the team. Trying desperately to cut the lead, the Russian staged a furious assault at the Swedish net, but Lehner made some superb pad saves, especially on a Maxim Kitsyn effort when a Russian goal seemed inevitable.

Also Shikin showed that he is capable at the other end when he made two quick saves. Sebastian Wännström and Oscar Lindberg could have put the game away with a double chance midway through the game, but Shikin was that much better.

This Swedish team doesn’t have the shining stars and game breakers like Magnus Pääjärvi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, Jacob Josefsson or André Petersson, but true to traditional Swedish hockey values, it is a team with plenty of character and good organization.

The games against the Czechs on Thursday and especially the one versus Canada on New Year’s Eve will show the true potential of this group. This will also be the first time that Sweden will leave the smallish college rink to play at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

(Nathan can be reached at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Little Luke’s Schenn Shines

Press Release

BUFFALO – Canada defeated the Czech Republic 7-2 in a fierce and tense game marked by a breakout performance from Brayden Schenn, an injury to Calvin de Haan, a suspension to Zack Kassian, and a more serious-looking injury to Petr Senkerik. Oh, and two players were ejected along the way.

The game at HSBC Arena ran the full gamut of emotions in a second period in which Canada scored the only three goals to take control and in which Senkerik was taken off the ice on a stretcher.

In all, Canada scored four power-play goals, while Schenn had a goal and four assist and captain Ryan Ellis a goal and three assists. Goals came from seven different players for the Canadians.

"I think we were really strong and took advantage of our power plays," said Ryan Johansen. "Everybody did a good job and contributed. That’s why it went so well. We have lots of skill on our team with four lines that can play."

As in their first game, the Canadians started off slowly and allowed their opposition to get on the board first. In today’s game, the goal came just 49 seconds after the opening faceoff. Defenceman Ryan Ellis mishandled the puck at centre ice, and Antonin Honejsek claimed it with speed. He ripped a shot through the glove of goalie Olivier Roy who was left looking at his leather as if allocating blame, although it was all his.

The Czechs had little incentive to press after this and almost allowed Canada to tie the score thanks to a terrible giveaway by their captain Jakub Jerabek. He threw the puck up the middle in his end, and Kassian was there to pick it up and move in on goal. Fortunately for Jerabek, Kassian fired his shot way high and wide.

Canada built confidence quickly, though, and by the midway mark was clearly in control. The team got two late power-play goals to go ahead before the end of the period to erase Roy’s error at the other end. On the first, Ryan Johansen feathered a pass to a streaking Schenn down the left side in the Czech end, and he beat goalie Filip Novotny with a quick shot between the pads at 14:43.

Less than two minutes later, Shenn, whose brother Luke plays for Toronto in the NHL, made a nice cross-ice pass inside the Czech end and Jaden Schwartz ripped a shot to the open side to give Canada the lead. It outshot the Czechs 14-2 in the period and brought the huge Canadian contingent of 17,919 alive.

The game become rougher in the second period. First, Calvin de Haan suffered an injury when he went hard into the corner boards in his end. He was slow to get up and didn’t return. Then, at 5:53, Kassian cut through the middle of the ice when he nailed Senkerik with a shoulder check. Senkerik fell to the ice and lay motionless for several moments following the controversial hit, and he was put on a stretcher and carried off.

“It was a pretty scary moment the way he left the building, but he was awake and communicating,” the Czech assistant coach Jiri Fischer said. “We will know more tomorrow after the examination at the hospital.”

Referees initially didn’t call a penalty, but after conferring they decided Kassian merited a match penalty for checking to the head and neck area. The penalty entails an automatic one-game suspension as written in the IIHF Rulebook. The tournament’s Disciplinary Single Judge, former long-serving NHL referee Dan Marouelli, will decide whether this hit will entail supplementary disciplinary action, i.e. a suspension of more than one game.

The Czechs might have used this extended power play to get right back into the game, but instead it was Canada that got the only goal of the extra Czech player. The goal began with Roy’s finest save of the tournament on a clean chance by Honejsek, and play carried up ice as Schenn made a great pass to Louis Leblanc. Leblanc made an equally nice deke on Novotny and tucked the puck in the short side to make it a 3-1 game when it could have been a 2-2 game only moments earlier.

Soon after, Schenn figured in on his fourth goal of the night during a delayed penalty against the Czechs. He made a nice pass from behind the goal to captain Ryan Ellis in the slot, and Ellis rifled a shot home. The Canadians put the game more or less out of reach with 16.3 seconds left, Cody Eakin finishing a play that started with a lovely touch pass from Casey Cizikas inside the Czechs' blue line.

Martin Frk added to the tension when he took a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing Erik Gudbrandson in the groin early in the third. Two more Czech penalties gave Canada a lengthy two-man advantage, and Tyson Barrie connected with power-play goal thanks to another Schenn assist. Just 23 seconds later, Jared Cowan made it 7-1 on a slapshot.

Jerabek closed out the scoring with a late power-play goal for the Czechs.

The teams last played in the Preliminary Round in 2009 when Canada thumped its rivals by an 8-1 count. Canada now has 24 hours to prepare for Norway while the Czechs have a day off before playing Sweden at Dwyer Arena on Thursday night.

(Nathan can be reached at

Nättinen outpaces Switzerland

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BUFFALO – After losing in overtime against the U.S., Finland regrouped and faced little challenge in dethroning Switzerland from first place with a 4-0 victory.

Joonas Nättinen broke the Swiss resistance with his, and his line's, smart play in the first period, and the blue-and-whites didn’t allow their opponents to find their way back into the game.

The Finns dominated the play from the opening faceoff and had an 18-5 shots-on-goal advantage after the first period, but for a long time they struggled to convert puck possession into quality scoring chances.

Only with the seventh shot against an excellent Benjamin Conz in goal did the Finns challenge for the first time. At the other end, the Swiss hardly managed to create offensive action in the first period apart from a Nino Niederreiter breakaway at 13:35 and two shots on a power play.

The Finnish penalty kill worked as well and at the other end the team seemed to capitalize on its first man advantage. Joonas Nättinen passed the puck to the right side to Joel Armia, and the puck went in, but referees disallowed the goal at 16:22 after a video review because the net came off its moorings before the puck crossed over the goal line.

With 19 seconds remaining in the first period, Nättinen obstructed Conz’ view to tip in the puck and open the scoring following a long shot from Toni Rajala. It was a late, but well deserved goal for Finland.

"I was in the right place, I guess. It was a bit lucky," Nättinen said of his game-winning goal. "We knew they came out hard against Germany the last game and went ahead 4-0, so we wanted to make sure we were ready for them."

They definitely were, especially the line with Nättinen, Rajala and Armia that was most active in the first period.

Just 25 seconds into the second period it was again Rajala who initiated a great scoring chance. He attempted to deke Conz before skating behind the net and trying to score from behind by banking a shot off Conz’ pads.

"We started pretty well, skated a lot and our goalie was excellent, again. I don't know why we struggled in scoring, but after the second period it went better," Rajala said. "The Swiss were hard-hitting, but we were a bit surprised about their passive play and expected more skating from them."

At 4:37 Jaakko Turtiainen punished the still passive Swiss play when he scored the 2-0 goal on a rebound following some nice tic-tac-toe passing in the Swiss zone and a shot from Jyrki Jokipakka.

An ugly hit from behind into the boards from Sami Vatanen against Gregory Hofmann gave the Swiss the opportunity to play five-on-three for 70 seconds, but even with the two-man advantage the Swiss showed little self-confidence. Iiro Pakarinen even had a breakaway, but Conz prevented a double shorthander with his save.

Teemu Pulkkinen extended the lead at 4:37 of the third period after a rinkwide pass from Erik Haula, and at 7:51 Julius Junttila made it 4-0 on a fine rush, splitting the Swiss defence and beating Conz. The Swiss resistance was definitely broken.

"I think the third period was easier for us. It seemed they didn’t try as hard, and we were pretty much in control," Rajala said.

Nine minutes into the third period Hofmann had the best chance to score the consolation goal for the Swiss when shooting on a rebound in front of an empty net, but a Finnish defenceman blocked the drive at the last moment.

It seemed a day to forget for the Swiss, who will play Slovakia on Thursday in a game that could potentially determine which of those two teams will reach the quarterfinals.

"We didn’t come out hard enough in the first period. It took us way too long to get into the game and it was too late," Switzerland’s captain Nino Niederreiter commented the game. "We can’t lose 4-0 like that."

Finland will face Germany tomorrow and Slovakia on Friday. With four points from two games, the Finns are far from being through yet, but they gained self-confidence in the right time.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Portland, OR -- The Portland Winterhawks have acquired center Craig Cunningham and a sixth round pick in the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for forwards Spencer Bennett, Teal Burns, a first round pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft and a second round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft.

Cunningham, a 20-year-old center, was the Western Conference finalist for the WHL’s Player of the Year Award last season when he amassed 37 goals and 60 assists for 97 points, sixth in the league. He then added 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 16 playoff games. This season Cunningham has 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points in 36 games, tying him for sixth in the league.

“Craig is an elite player, as evidenced by being named the Western Conference finalist for the WHL’s Player of the Year Award last season. We’re very excited to have him join our team,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston.

For his career, Cunningham has registered 86 goals and 136 assists for 222 points in 295 games. Cunningham was a fourth round pick, 97th overall, by the Boston Bruins in the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Going to Vancouver are Spencer Bennett, 20, and Teal Burns, 18. Bennett was in his second season with the Winterhawks, and in 108 games had totaled 31 goals and 30 assists for 61 points. This season he has 21 points in 37 games. Bennett was a fifth round pick, 141st overall, by the Calgary Flames in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Burns was in his first WHL season, and had seven points in 37 games. He was Portland’s eighth round pick, 156th overall, in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft.

“We would like to thank Spencer and Teal for their hard work here,” said Johnston. “Spencer has developed into a solid prospect for the Flames, while Teal is a young player with a bright future. We wish both of them the best as they continue their careers.”

(Nathan can be reached at

Game between Sea Dogs and Rocket postponed

Press Release

BOUCHERVILLE, Tuesday, December 28, 2010 – Due to hazardous weather conditions and the accumulation of snow in eastern New Brunswick, the game scheduled tonight between the Saint John Sea Dogs and the P.E.I. Rocket at the Charlottetown Civic Centre has been postponed.

The game will be played on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7 pm (local time).

(Nathan can be reached at

Game between Titan and Wildcats postponed

Press Release

BOUCHERVILLE, Monday, December 27, 2010 – Due to hazardous weather conditions and the accumulation of snow in certain areas of New Brunswick, the game scheduled on Tuesday, December 28 between the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and the Wildcats in Moncton has been postponed.

More details to follow regarding a new date and time for the game.

(Nathan can be reached at