The 2011 World Championship for hockey - set in Budaj's home of Slovakia - begins today with a number of preliminary matchups including Canada v. Belarus at 12:15 pm MT/2:15 pm ET. The USA plays their first game tomorrow at 8:15 am MT/10:15 am ET, against Austria. Unlike the Olympics, the USA and Canada won't get the chance to meet up in the finals. The Qualification round combines the top 3 teams in one group with those in another; thus, Canada's Group B and USA's Group C become a new group (F), which pits them against the top 6 teams from Groups A and D. Basically, it boils down to a match up in the semi-finals at best; the winner of which goes on to the gold medal round and the loser to the bronze. Last year, neither team even made it to the semis, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
Here are the groups:
|Group Assignments (link will aslo take you to the schedule)|
When you look at the group assignments, it's a pretty good guess Canada won't have much trouble in the first round. Team USA, on the other hand, will probably have a tougher time with Sweden than they'd want, especially considering the Swedes took bronze last year. The real excitement will start in the Qualfication round. Regardless, the WCs are always fun games to watch, and the few Avs players involved give us some investment in the outcome.
Avalanche players making an appearance include
Matt Duchene - Canada
Jonas Holøs - Norway [Edit: or maybe he won't be - see comments]
Former Avs players include
Chris Stewart - Canada
Kevin Shattenkirk - USA
Martin Skoula - Czech Republic
Additonal Avs' participation includes
Avalanche Head Athletic Trainer, Matthew Sokolowski - physical therapist with Team Canada
- Last year, Kyle Cumiskey (Canada), TJ Galiardi (USA), Ruslan Salei (Belarus), Marek Svatos (Slovakia) and Peter Budaj (Slovakia) all played in the tournament. What a difference a year makes, eh?
- Duchene is making his second trip to the WC, while Holøs is making his sixth. Both made their WC debuts at 19 years of age.
- Both Stewart and Shattenkirk are playing in the WC for the first time in their careers.