The 2013 U.S. National Junior Team kicked off the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship with a day off from competition, but not from practice.
The team took the ice at the Ufa Arena here in Ufa, Russia, and some players and staff will return to the arena later today to watch the games between Canada and Germany as well as host Russia against Slovakia.
Last night was the team Christmas party. The players and staff had a meal and took time to celebrate the holiday with each other. The players shot a video sending holiday greetings to friends and family as well (Watch)
Roster update: Team USA submitted its roster to tournament officials, but left an open spot leaving the team flexibility to name another defenseman later in the tournament. Matt Grzelcyk and Patrick Sieloff are not on the roster sent to the IIHF, but are with the team. View full roster
Practice Notes: Head Coach Phil Housley put the players through a spirited workout with many game-like drills that simulated what the players will see in the tournament. In addition to 5-on-5 drills, the U.S. also spent time on special teams and even included a shootout period.
The shootout ended with Alex Galchenyuk scoring on the backhand for Team White to win the mini-game. (Watch video of goal)
After practice the coaches left the ice and let the players relax and have some fun for the last ten minutes of ice time. Team captain Jake McCabe said it was nice to horse around, but added that the team is ready to start the tournament.
"It's kind of a fun thing to mess around with the goalies," McCabe said. "It's been almost a week and a half now and I think we want to get the tournament started. You can't wait around at all, you have to come out with a jump in your step and we need to get all over Germany."
The U.S. starts tournament play on Thursday against Germany at 9 a.m. EST. Check back later today for game notes and lineups for the first game of the tournament.
You responded to our request for questions for Phil Housley and we asked a few after practice on Wednesday. The video is coming soon. Keep an eye out for more chances to ask questions to members of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team.