World Junior Championships Is A Good Prep For NHL

This time of year is an exciting one in the world of young hockey prospects as the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships take place in various locations throughout the world.

Each year on Dec. 26, the top young prospects from ten countries gather to compete in a two-week tournament for supremacy at the Under-20 level. This year’s World Juniors will be held in Buffalo, N.Y., at both HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres, and Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University. Participating countries in the 2011 tournament include Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, where to buy Cheap NHL Jerseys? maybe ujersy is a good choice.

Players, coaches and general managers look at the World Junior Championships as a great tool to enhance a player’s skills and mentality for high-pressure situations. Many players see the WJC as a great step to move quickly into the NHL.

The Nashville Predators have three prospects in this year’s tournament – Patrick Cehlin for Sweden, Ryan Ellis who will serve as captain for Team Canada, and David Elsner of Germany.

This year is not the first time the Predators have seen their prospects make their way through the tournament, though. Several current Preds participated in past tournaments and have seen success.

Nashville’s captain Shea Weber competed in the World Junior Championships in 2005 where he was a part of one of the top teams in the tourney’s history. Weber’s teammates included Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Brad Richards, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, Patrice Bergeron and Brent Seabrook. This team took a dominating route to its first of five straight gold medals, outscoring its opponents 40-6 in the preliminaries, topping the Czech Republic 3-1 in the semifinals, then blitzing Russia 6-1 in the title game.

“Being able to compete with all the other young players that are touted as some of the best players in the world really opens your eyes,” Weber said.

Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton sees the WJC as a place where the pressure of competing with the world’s top young players helps them develop new skills.

“A lot of times, the countries will take the best players and cast them in a role that they think they are capable of playing,” he said. “If someone ahead of them doesn’t do the job correctly, they’ve got someone ready that can replace them.”

Big-game experience and pressure was a common theme among several players. Defenseman Cody Franson felt the World Juniors experience has helped him manage the stresses of the sport long term.

“Any time you can get that kind of experience under your belt, it’s going to help you in the long run,” Franson said. “They’re high-pressure situations, and there’s a lot on the line. It’s going to help you when you are able to go through that kind of stuff and stay focused, calm, and play solid under the pressure. It’s something that stays with you for the rest of your career, if you want to buy Vancouver Canucks #16 Jersey, go to ujersy.”

Paul Fenton knows that the ability to play in big games is a great experience for young players to undertake.

“Whether they’re playing pee-wee, junior, college, AHL or NHL hockey, you have to be playing for something at some point in your career to gain that experience – to feel the difference between a regular season game and a playoff game,” Fenton said. “Ryan Suter and Shea Weber gained valuable experience in the championships. They won back-to-back years, Ryan’s team in 2004, and Shea’s team in 2005. They both came out with a lot more experience playing in higher-level games with a purpose in the middle of the year.”

Suter made his World Juniors debut as a 17-year-old in 2003, then was part of the United States’ first-ever gold medal-winning squad the following season. A veteran of the tournament by 2005, the Madison, Wis., native served as team captain and was named to the All-Tournament Team after leading all defensemen in …

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