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Edm Journal article (Team USA takes over Camrose as it prepares for world juniors tourney)

December 16 2011 at 8:20 PM
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Team USA takes over Camrose as it prepares for world juniors tourney

By Elise Stolte

December 16, 2011 8:05 PM

Front to back: Charlie Coyle, Josh Archibald and Derek Forbort of the USA junior men’s hockey team arrive at the Edmonton International Airport on Dec. 16, 2011, for the World Junior Hockey Championship. They will head to to Camrose, which is hosting the team.

Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, Ed Kaiser

EDMONTON — Gold-medal hockey contenders Team USA landed Friday in Edmonton, knowing what to expect at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“The fans here are crazy, in a good way,” said Nick Bjugstad, a centre who was on the team last year for the championship in Buffalo, N.Y. which attracted thousands of fans from north of the border.

“On Canadian soil, it will be a lot more intense. It will be a good environment,” said the 19-year-old who normally plays for the University of Minnesota.

The team arrived on separate flights from across the United States, then immediately boarded a bus for Camrose, which will be home to the team and where the American flag was raised at noon. The 29 players will practise all weekend, then play three exhibition games in Camrose, Red Deer and Three Hills before head coach Dean Blais cuts seven of them make a final 22.

Practice is at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day at the Edgeworth Centre and is open to the public, local host Mike Telford said.

Some of the players have been drafted to NHL teams. One of them, Justin Faulk, is on leave from he Carolina Hurricanes. Eight players were in last year’s championship in Buffalo, where Team USA won bronze.

Two played in Saskatchewan in 2010, when the team took gold.

Shane Prince, from Rochester, N.Y., plays for the Ottawa 67s. He has been drafted by the Ottawa Senators. “If you’re drafted, your NHL team is watching closely. It’s absolutely a good opportunity to make a good impression.”

Plus, he said, “it’s a huge deal any time you get to throw on your country’s colours.”

The championship runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 with games in Edmonton and Calgary. The hockey teams are being hosted by smaller towns and nearby cities.

Michigan-born Austin Czarnik spent the days before arriving here practising, weightlifting and trying to focus. He packed a big bag of gummy bears, but his real secret to playing well is a one- to two-hour power nap before every game.

“All the NHL scouts will be here for this tournament, but obviously you just focus and represent your country the best you can.”

estolte@edmontonjournal.com

twitter.com/estolte

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

 
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