Friday, December 31, 2010

Czech Republic vs. Russia

Team Russia (1-2) and Team Czech Republic (1-2) come together tonight at 7 PM inside Dwyer Arena in what promises to be a fierce battle.  The stakes are high for the contest, as the winner will move on to the quarterfinals and the loser will head to the relegation round.

Russia comes into the game following a dominant 8-2 victory over Norway last night, lighting the lamp 5 times in the final 20 minutes and firing a total of 55 shots on goal.  The contest finished with 14 of the team’s skaters picking up at least a point, 7 picking up two or more.  Dmitri Orlov (0G, 3A) and Nikita Dvurechenski (1G, 2A) led the way offensively, each putting their mark on the scoresheet 3 times.  Other goal scorers included: Danil Sobchenko (2), Yevgeni Kuznetsov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Maxim Kitsyn, Artyom Voronin, and Andrei Sergeyev. 

For the full game preview, click here.

USA vs. Switzerland

Team Switzerland hopes to make a statement when they battle Team USA in the fourth and final game of the preliminary round on New Year’s Eve.

For the second straight year, Team Switzerland qualified for the playoffs after defeating Slovakia 6-4 at the HSBC Arena yesterday afternoon. Swiss Captain Nino Niederreiter scored a goal in last night’s victory, but the forward acknowledges that a win over USA won’t be easy.

“We can play without any pressure now that we advanced into the next round,” said Niederreiter. “We know USA is a big team, but everybody can beat everybody.  We will have to play with a lot of fun because it’ll be a great crowd with it being New Year’s Eve.  I am really happy to play.”

For the full game preview, click here.

Sweden vs. Canada

Team Canada (3-0) and Team Sweden (3-0) lace up for their final and most important game of preliminary play in the tournament. The winner of today’s match will claim the top seed in the Group B division and will receive a bye through the Quarterfinals and automatically move in to the Semi-finals.

The second and third place teams in each division play a cross-over Quarterfinal game where the winner will continue on to the Semi-finals and the loser will play in a placement game.

Canada and Sweden are currently tied with a 3-0 record and 9 points each. The Canadians have an edge over Sweden for first place as Canada has a +17 goal differential, while the Swedes hold a +11 goal difference. However, the title for first place rides solely on today’s game.

For the full game preview, click here.

Finland vs. Slovakia

Team Finland (2-0-1-0) faces off against Team Slovakia (0-1-0-2) at HSBC at 12:30p.m on Friday afternoon. Finland is looking to continue their momentum by winning their third straight game to finish strong in the preliminary round and gain three points to remain in second place in the Group A standings. Team Slovakia is hoping to win their first game in regulation.

Through three games, Finland has received strong goaltending from Joni Ortio, who is ranked 4th in the tournament with an impressive 1.31 goals against average and has stopped 70 out of the 74 shots he has faced through three games. Finland will look to forwards Joonas Donskoi, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Joonas Nattinen to continue their offensive production. The trio has produced 6 goals in 3 games. Finland hopes to carry their strong defensive play, scoring from their successful trio and solid goaltending from Ortio in an effort to add a third win to their record.

For the full game preview, click here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What To Do: New Years Eve

No plans on New Years Eve? Ring in 2011 with tens of thousands of Buffalonians and people from all over the world who have traveled to Buffalo for the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship!

The city of Buffalo will ring in the new year with a ball drop and fireworks at Buffalo's historic Electric Tower located downtown. The ball drop has been a tradition in Buffalo for over 20 years, and is the second largest New Years Eve gathering in the United States, second only to New York City's festivities in Times Square.

The family-friendly event will take place at Roosevelt Square in front of the Electric Tower, with stage performers and live music beginning at 10:30 p.m.

Looking for something to do before the ball drop festivities? If the weather permits (the ice rink is subject to close if there is rain and/or temperatures reach over 45 degrees), downtown Buffalo's only outdoor ice rink, Rotary Rink is just a few blocks from the Electric Tower. Rotary Rink extends its skating hours from 11 a.m. all the way to 12:30 a.m. on New Years Eve and admission is free if you have your own ice skates. If you need to rent skates, rental is only $2 for children and $3 for adults. Snacks and beverages are also available for purchase.

For the adult crowd, continue your New Years celebration by heading just a few blocks over to Chippewa, where more fun awaits!

Downtown Buffalo is always buzzing and full of excitement on New Years Eve, and it should make for an even more interesting and fun crowd with so many international visitors in town for the World Juniors!

USA vs. Germany

Tournament powerhouse Team USA will challenge Team Germany at HSBC arena tonight to remain undefeated and earn three points that would again place them at the top of the standings in Group A.

The two teams are at opposite ends of the standings, USA commanding Group A at the top with five points while Germany holds the bottom with one point from an overtime loss to Slovakia.

The Americans last battled Tuesday night against Slovakia and won 6-1 in regulation. USA peppered two Slovak goaltenders with a tournament-record 57 shots on goal.

American Kyle Palmieri led the team with two goals and an assist, while teammate Charlie Coyle netted a goal and two assists on the night as well.

For the full game preview, click here.

Norway vs. Russia

Russia (0-2) and Norway (0-3), two teams still seeking their first victory of the tournament, will face off at Dwyer Arena tonight at 7 PM.  Norway, likely destined for the relegation round regardless of the outcome, will be looking to gain some confidence in their fourth and final preliminary contest.  Team Russia, meanwhile, is virtually in a must-win situation for each of its next two games in order to qualify for the quarterfinals.

The Norwegians have had a tough time in their first appearance in the top division since 2006.  Heading into tonight’s action, they have been outscored 19-2 overall and are coming off a lopsided 10-1 loss to Team Canada last night in which their only goal came off the stick of Rasmus Juell.  Goaltender Steffen Soberg pulled himself in the first period after surrendering 5 goals on 12 shots and was replaced by Lars Volden.  Volden finished the rest of the game between the pipes, facing 31 shots and giving up 5 goals.

For the full game preview, click here.

Czech Republic vs. Sweden

Team Sweden (2-0-0-0) faces off against Czech Republic (1-0-0-1) at Niagara University at 3:00 p.m on Thursday afternoon. The Czech Republic looks to beat Sweden and gain 3 points to tie them for second place in the Group B standings. Sweden hopes to push ahead in the standings by winning in regulation to tie Canada for first place in Group B.  Sweden has won two games back-to-back and is looking to continue that momentum by winning their third straight game to remain undefeated.

Through two games, Sweden has received stellar play from goaltender Robin Lehner, who leads the tournament with a 100% save percentage, stopping all thirty shots he faced in the team’s 2-0 victory versus Russia.  Sweden dominated Norway in their first game of the tournament by a 7- 1 score. They are led offensively by their top line, Anton Lander, Gabriel Landeskog, and Patrick Cehlin. This line is proving too much for some teams to handle as the trio combined for three goals and four assists in the Norway game.  Sweden’s forward Cehlin has been dominant through two games and leads the team with two goals and two assists for a four point total. Sweden will need the trio to produce offensively and also need strong goaltending from Lehner to move towards the medal rounds.

For the full game preview, click here.

Slovakia vs. Switzerland

Slovakia and Switzerland will have to put their recent struggles behind them, as the two countries play each other in an important preliminary matchup on Thursday afternoon.

Both teams share a 1-1 record, but only one team can move to 2-1 and advance in the Group-A bracket.  

Slovakia is coming off of a 6-1 loss to Team USA where the Americans chased goaltender Dominik Riecicky from the net and out-shot the Slovaks 57-18 in their landslide victory on Tuesday night.

For the full game preview, click here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day Four: Canadian Invasion

As the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship progresses, it seems there are more and more Ontario license plates and people donning red and white jerseys roaming the streets of Buffalo. The Canadians certainly seem to be enjoying each others company in Buffalo, with fellow Canadians waving at passing cars with familiar Ontario plates, and Americans seem to be hospitable and acknowledging this "Canadian Invasion".

Canadians packed in the lodge prior to puck drop.

Entering the lodge tonight, I was greeted by hundreds of excited Canadians waiting for their beloved team to take on Norway, and there were a few USA jerseys sprinkled throughout the crowd. The mood was still friendly with a few playful jabs here and there, but as the quest for the gold medal is coming closer, the tensions between these rivals have been mounting.

Both teams are on a quest for the same title, but for two different reasons. There's no doubt that Canadians are proud of their roots and their hockey history, but over the past several years, hockey has grown in the US and American fans are looking to show the world that American born and bred players and USA hockey programs are making serious strides in the hockey world.

Canadians in HSBC Arena's atrium entering the Canada-Norway game.

With many people hoping for and anticipating another USA-Canada gold medal game, I'm hoping that the game (if it happens) wouldn't get too ugly in the stands. While hockey fans from around the world are proud of the sport's culture that produces fisticuffs and the hard hitting "old time hockey" atmosphere, let's hope that the fans will try and keep it clean in the crowd.

What To Do: Chippewa

For the 21-and-over crowd, Chippewa is probably the best bet on where to go to enjoy the nightlife. On the weekends, people pack the street roaming up and down hopping from bar to bar. Ranging from Irish pubs, sports bars, night clubs and with last call being at 4 a.m., Chippewa is a premier entertainment district.

With Chippewa only being steps away from several downtown hotels, and just a short free metro rail line ride from the arena, its prime location makes it perfect for IIHF World Junior hockey fans looking to spend a night out on the town.

Banner on Chippewa welcoming IIHF World Junior fans to Buffalo.

Chippewa's entertainment district starts from the corner of Delaware Avenue and Chippewa, and expands to Pearl Street. There you'll find a strip packed with plenty of bars as well as some located on side streets such as Franklin and Pearl.

With the street always buzzing until the wee hours of the morning on the weekends, you're bound to have a great night out with your friends when you visit Chippewa. And with the strip being within walking distance of many hotels and with plenty of taxis waiting to pick up patrons, there is no worry about drinking and driving.

Canada vs. Norway

Team Canada challenges Team Norway for both teams’ third game of the tournament today for a 7:30 p.m. contest at the HSBC Arena.

Canada looks to today’s game as an opportunity to steal three key points and advance past Sweden for the lead in the Group B division. Canada hopes to increase their lead to pressure the Swedes,who have today off and face-off against Czech Republic on Thursday afternoon.

Team Canada is ranked highest among the 10 teams in the Championship for scoring efficiency and for power-play opportunities. Canada leads goals for with 13 goals on 81 shots, resulting in a goal scoring percentage of 16.05%. The closest team behind Canada is Switzerland with 11.11%. The Canadians have capitalized on 7 of 11 power plays for a 63.64% efficiency, Team USA trails with 36.36%.

For the full game preview, click here.

Germany vs. Finland

Team Finland (1-0-1-0) sealed their first win of the tournament with a 4-0 shutout of Switzerland (1-0-0-1), earning second place in the Group A division, only one point behind Team USA. Finland looks for a second victory as they play host to Team Germany (0-0-1-1), who looks to break into the win column for the first time this year, after falling 2-1 in overtime to Slovakia on Dec. 27.

Germany starts today’s game with two tough losses against two solid opponents. The Germans were edged by Slovakia and Switzerland, but only lost by one goal in both games. Germany outshot Slovakia 48-39 but could not capitalize for the game-winning goal. Goaltending proved to be a problem in the game versus Switzerland. The Germans chose their goaltender with the most experience over momentum in net.  In the game against Switzerland, Philipp Grubauer and Team Germany surrendered four unanswered goals to the opposition. Grubauer was relieved by backup Niklas Treutle, whose stellar play helped give the Germans a comeback opportunity, but could not net a tying goal and fell 4-3. The Germans are looking to rebound and build off these tough losses with hopes of winning today and claiming a crucial three points.

For the full game preview, click here.

Day Three

With Team Canada winning convincingly over the Czech Republic 7-2, and Team USA beating Slovakia 6-1 during today's tournament, many fans are hoping for rematch of last year's gold medal game. The USA looks to defend their gold medal and Canada looks to take home their 16th gold medal. With the way these two teams have been playing, a rematch may very well be in the cards.

Finland notched their first win of the tournament after shutting out Switzerland 4-0, and Sweden also blanked Russia 2-0 at Dwyer Arena in Niagara Falls.

After checking out the festivities at the arena, I headed over to Encore for a late dinner. If fans are looking for a place to eat and drink before or after a game, Encore is the place to go! Located in Buffalo's theatre/entertainment district, this is one of the city's trendiest spots to eat dinner or to have a drink or two. Encore serves up some delicious contemporary dishes such as lobster pot pie, strip steaks, and pastas. Their bar menu consists of tried and true favorites such as steak sandwiches and chicken wings, and even poutine for all you Canadians! Encore also has a sushi bar and serves up fresh and tasty rolls ranging from the classic spicy tuna roll to a unique spin on Buffalo's most famous dish, the chicken wing roll!

Sushi I ordered at Encore.

After dinner hours, Encore turns into one of Buffalo's most fun and entertaining bars. This 2-floor building can accommodate plenty, and believe me, it's always a party when you spend the night at Encore!


With Encore located minutes from the arena and from several hotels downtown, it certainly is a place that should be on many fans' radar!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What To Do: Elmwood Village

As I've already mentioned, the Elmwood Village was recently named one of America's 10 Best Neighborhoods, and for good reason. This is one of the best areas in the city. Plenty of locals brave the cold weather daily to spend a day on Elmwood. With plenty of boutiques, clothing stores, restaurants, bars, food stores, art galleries, the Elmwood Village has something for everyone.

Just a short ride from the HSBC Arena, this small strip is packed with anything you can think of. If clothes shopping is in your itinerary, the Elmwood Village has several clothing stores and boutiques filled with items that you won't be able to find at the mall.

If you're looking for a place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a small snack, there are countless of options to choose from. If you're looking for a night out on the town or just a place to get a beer with some friends, there are several destinations in the Elmwood Village.

If you're looking to see some of Buffalo's renown architecture, take the scenic route by driving down Delaware Avenue, which runs parallel to Elmwood to see some breathtaking mansions from the 1800s. Once you're in the Village, drive down Chapin Parkway for some more outstanding mansions and carriage houses.

Below I've compiled a list of my favorite places to go when I'm roaming the Elmwood Village:

Urban Threads - Trendy clothing boutique for men and women. Some of the brands carried at this store are Volcom, French Connection, Buffalo Jeans, Miss Sixty, Levi's, and much more.

Lotions & Potions - Women's boutique that carries unique clothing, lingerie, cosmetics, and accessories.

Splash Panic - Trendy men's and women's clothing boutique that carries clothing lines such as American Apparel and even goods made from local designers and artists.

Shoe Fly - Unique shoe boutique.

Positively Main Street - An eclectic gift shop with household items, candles, jewelry, and rare, hard to find gifts.

Everything Elmwood - Another unique gift shop full of artistic items such as handbags, jewelry, and beauty products.

Spoiled Rotten - Gift shop on Elmwood with fun, unique gifts plus popular graphic t-shirts and other clothing items.

Urban Threads and Everything Elmwood.

Anna Grace and Shoe Fly.

Dining & Drinks
Wasabi - Sushi restaurant located in the heart of the Elmwood Village.

The Wine Thief - Upscale restaurant with an extensive wine selection.

Blue Monk - Gastropub with a wide range of beer selections from Belgium.

Cole's - Great bar on Elmwood that has a long history with a sports bar atmosphere and an extensive beer menu.

J.P. Bullfeather's - Another bar/restaurant on Elmwood that's a perfect place to watch a game.

Mister Goodbar
- Located right near Cole's, this bar is a Buffalo staple.

Pano's - A large, 2-floor Greek restaurant that serves until after midnight.

¡Toro! - One of Buffalo's only Tapas bar.

Kuni's - Another great sushi restaurant, located on Lexington Avenue, a side street off Elmwood.

Mezza - A Lebanese/Mediterranean restaurant.

Trattoria Aroma - Located on Byrant Street off Elmwood. A delicious authentic Italian restaurant with a great wine selection.

The Globe Market - A great place to get soup and a sandwich for lunch, with vegetarian and vegan options available.

Casa di Pizza - A pizzeria that's a perfect place to bring the whole family. Inside there is also JJ's Sports Bar.

- Upscale restaurant with a great martini menu.

Blue Monk

SPoT Coffee - One of the trendiest spots on Elmwood. This large café features an extensive drink menu as well as a food menu with specialty soups, sandwiches, pizzas, and desserts.

Caffé Aroma - A small, European café that features a coffee and espresso menu as well as beer, wine, and martinis. Specialty sandwiches and desserts are also available. Attached to Caffé Aroma is Talking Leaves Books, a locally owned bookstore.

These are just some of the many, many options available to visitors when they spend the day in the Elmwood Village. This is definitely a "must go" destination when you're visiting Buffalo!

Coming up next, I'm going to feature Buffalo's most popular entertainment district, Chippewa! Chippewa is a perfect place to spend a night out on the town because it is very close and accessible from the arena or to anyone who is staying downtown.

Where To Go: Local Hotspots

For the fans coming in from out of town for the tournament, many fans may not be familiar with the Buffalo area and the places to check out between games. Today I'm going to cover some of Buffalo's best areas to go to eat, shop, and enjoy the nightlife after games. Here's a quick rundown of what you can expect from me today:

The Elmwood Village - Recently rated one of the "Top 10 Best Neighborhoods in America", this neighborhood has it all: Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art galleries, shopping boutiques... There's no need to take the drive to the mall when the Elmwood Village is just a short drive from the arena!

Allentown - Located near the Elmwood Village. A smaller, more "bohemian" area with plenty of restaurants, bars, and unique shops and boutiques. Here you'll find some of Buffalo's greatest restaurants and unique shops that you won't find anywhere else!

Chippewa - Where last call is 4 a.m. Buffalo's most popular entertainment district is just minutes from the HSBC Arena. The Chippewa strip is packed with bars and nightclubs where there is something for everyone. Don't forget to venture on Chippewa's side streets like Franklin and Pearl where more bars and clubs await!

Later I'll go more in depth about each area and I'll share where my favorite places to shop are and what restaurants are the best places to eat, so stay tuned!

Slovakia vs. USA

Team USA hopes to repeat Sunday night’s success on home soil tonight as they challenge Team Slovakia in their second game of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship. The two teams are tied for second place in the Group A division with 2 points each.

USA won their first game of the tournament on Sunday when Nick Bjugstad scored a power-play goal three minutes into overtime to give the Americans a 3-2 win over Finland. Goaltender Jack Campbell was a key asset to the victory, stopping 28 shots to help secure their first preliminary game.

Slovakia is also 1-0 in the tournament as they defeated Germany 2-1 last night in overtime at the HSBC Arena. Marek Hrivik notched the overtime goal past German goaltender Philipp Grubauer for two essential points in the Group A division.

For the full game preview, click here.

Russia vs. Sweden

Team Sweden (1-0) looks to build off a dominating opening win as they take the ice against Team Russia (0-1) tonight.  The Russians will try to bounce back with a strong effort after dropping their first game of the tournament.  The contest is expected to be a fast-paced affair between two tremendously talented lineups. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena.

Sweden enters tonight’s action after defeating Norway 7-1 in their first game.  The Swedes were led by their forward line of Anton Lander, Patrick Cehlin, and Gabriel Landeskog, as the trio combined for 7 points.  Twelve different players recorded at least one point for the team and goaltender Fredrik Petersson Wentzel stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced. 

For the full game preview, click here.

Czech Republic vs. Canada

Team Canada and Team Czech Republic both look for their second win of the tournament to secure three key points in today’s 4 PM contest at the HSBC Arena.

After two days of preliminary play, Canada (1-0) is tied with Sweden (1-0) and the Czech Republic for first place in the Group B division with three points after defeating Russia 6-3 on Dec. 26. Team Czech Republic completes the three-way tie with a 2-0 victory over Norway last night.

Russia scored first in Canada’s opening game, but Marcus Foligno notched a power-play goal before the end of the first period to tie the game at one heading into the second. The second period yielded back-and-forth play as neither team held the lead for more than five minutes. Tied at 3 to start the third period, Canada added three unanswered goals to secure the win. Two of Team Canada’s three goals in the final period were scored on the power play as the Canadians went 3 for 6 on power-play opportunities.

For the complete game preview, click here.

Finland vs. Switzerland

While Sunday night held two different outcomes for Team Switzerland (1-0-0) and Team Finland (0-0-1), the two will face each other for the first time in three years on Tuesday afternoon, both looking for another win.

Team Switzerland is looking for another win after they defeated Germany in a 4-3 decision, where they scored a quick four goals in the opening period. Star left winger Nino Neiderreiter helped Switzerland take control after they capitalized on three power play goals. Neiderreiter had a goal and an assist in the match.

For the full game preview, click here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day Two

With only two games taking place today, Day Two was slightly quieter than yesterday's festivities. Still, fans attending the Germany-Slovakia game gathered in the lodge before heading inside the HSBC Arena to see the two teams take the ice.

Fans inside the lodge before the Germany-Slovakia game.

Fans watching the game in the lodge.

Fans entering in the arena entering the Germany-Slovakia game.

Inside the arena, fans can shop in the Sabres Store, where there is a wide selection of Buffalo Sabres and other NHL memorabilia available for purchase. The store is also stocked with plenty of IIHF World Junior merchandise to go along with the tournament. Fans can pick up jerseys of their favorite teams as well as national gear such as scarves, hats and flags to show off their national pride.

Team Canada gear.

Team USA gear.

2011 IIHF World Junior Championship jersey.

International gear.

If you're attending any of the games at the HSBC Arena, be sure to stop in the Sabres Store which is located in the west end of the arena's pavillion.

What To Do: Hockey TowneUSA Fan Fest

For visitors looking for something fun to do for the whole family, Hockey TowneUSA Fan Fest at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center is the perfect place to go.

Today fans had the chance to meet René Robert, Gilbert Perreault, and Rick Martin who were members of the French Connection, one of the most famous and talented scoring lines in the NHL.

The French Connection

Michael Blabac and Adam Page of the 2010 USA Paralympic sled hockey team were also signing autographs for fans. Blabac and Page won the gold medal in the Paralympics held in Vancouver last March and are both from the area.

Adam Page and Michael Blabac.

In addition to autograph signings, fans in attendance were able to participate in the popular bubble hockey tournament were fans had the chance to play against members of the French Connection, enjoy live music, enter a contest to win an ice rink for their backyard, and eat popular Buffalo dishes like chicken wings and beef on weck.

Bubble hockey competition

Young fans playing an interactive shooting game.

La Nova wings stand

For only $5 admission (children 12 and under entering with an adult are free), it makes for a fun day out for the entire family. The event goes until December 29th and is just minutes away from the HSBC Arena.

What To Do

With people from all over the world gathering in Buffalo for the tournament, some people are looking for things to do in the area between games or whenever they have some down time. I'm heading over to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center to check out the Hockey TowneUSA event where today the French Connection will be signing autographs.

In the meantime, another great place to visit is the Forty: The Sabres in the NHL exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The exhibit commemorates the team's 40 years in the National Hockey League with hundreds of photographs taken from 1970 to 2010. There are also video reels that highlights certain aspects of the game such as fights, goaltending, and the fans.

One of the coolest parts of the exhibit is the "NHL in 360" feature which gives viewers the perspective of playing in an NHL game. Cameras were strapped on the helmets of skaters, goalies, and fans up against the glass to give viewers every perspective and angle of the live action of a hockey game.

The exhibit is a must-see for any hockey fan, and from January 2nd-5th the Stanley Cup (the Cup is only on display on the 2nd and 3rd) and other Hall of Fame trophies will be on display to coincide with the exhibit and the World Juniors.

Be sure to check back later where I'll have a recap of my time spent at the Hockey TowneUSA convention as well as some updates of the festivities going on at the arena when Germany takes on Slovakia at 7 p.m.!

Germany vs. Slovakia

Team Slovakia will make their 2011 World Juniors tournament debut tonight playing host to Team Germany at the HSBC Arena.

Slovakia starts this year’s tournament with a strong defensive unit that includes: Martin Marincin and Adam Janosik. Stefan Mikes will coach Slovakia for the fourth straight year.

Last year proved to be a tough tournament for Slovakia as they dropped three out of their four preliminary games, eliminating them from the tournament playoffs.  The last time Slovakia won a medal was in 1999 when they defeated Team Sweden to earn a Bronze medal.

For the full game preview, click here.

Norway vs. Czech Republic

Niagara University, NY – Team Czech Republic looks get off to a good start in their first game of the tournament tonight against Norway (0-1), who will be eager to avenge last night’s opening loss to Sweden.  The puck drops at 7 PM at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena. 

The Czechs finished the preliminary round of the 2010 tournament with a record of 1-3, losing to Sweden, Finland, and Russia, while defeating Austria.  They went on to win all three games in the relegation round, resulting in a 7th place finish overall. 

For the full game preview, click here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day One

With four games taking place today to kick off the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship, it's been a busy day in Western New York.

Fans with tickets to games held at the HSBC Arena can enjoy pre-game and post-game festivities in a heated indoor lodge located adjacent to the arena that was built especially for the Championship. Inside, fans can enjoy food and drink, listen to live music and watch the other games taking place on dozens of flat screen TVs.

Canadian fans watching the Canada-Russia game.

Germany rallied within one goal against Switzerland, but key goaltending kept Switzerland on top to win 4-3. Sweden ousted Norway 7-1 at Dwyer Arena in Niagara Falls, but the real fun was the Canada-Russia game held at 4 p.m. at the HSBC Arena.

With the teams tied at 3 to start the 3rd period, Team Canada put up 3 goals to secure the 6-3 victory over Russia. As ecstatic fans poured out of the arena, they headed to the lodge to celebrate. Accompanying the Canadian fans were Team USA fans who were inside the lodge preparing to watch the United States take on Finland at 8 p.m.

Fans entering the lodge after the Canada-Russia game.

Inside the lodge.

Canadian fans celebrating Team Canada's victory over Russia.

Team USA fans heading to the HSBC Arena to watch the USA-Finland match up.

The mood was light and fun, with Canadian fans overjoyed from the exciting game they just witnessed, and eager USA fans awaiting to see their team take the ice. While the United States and Canada are friendly border neighbors, the hockey rivalry between the two nations has been heating up since Team USA beat Canada for the gold medal in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships that were held in Saskatoon, Canada. It will be interesting to see how these two loyal fanbases interact as the Championship progresses, with both fanbases hoping that their respective teams take the gold.