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Hockey Canada announces 2018 men’s Olympic roster

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We know who the U.S. will be sending to PyeongChang next month and on Thursday, Hockey Canada revealed their team that will compete at the 2018 Olympics.

There are a handful of recognizeable names from their days in the NHL that will look to guide Canada to a third straight gold medal.

FORWARDS
Rene Bourque, Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Gilbert Brule, Kunlun Red Star (KHL)
Andrew Ebbett, SC Bern (NLA)
Quinton Howden, Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Chris Kelly, Belleville (AHL)
Rob Klinkhammer, Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
Brandon Kozun, Lokomotiv (KHL)
Maxim Lapierre, HC Lugano (NLA)
Eric O’Dell, HC Sochi (KHL)
Mason Raymond, SC Bern (NLA)
Derek Roy, Linkoping HC (SHL)
Christian Thomas, Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Linden Vey, Barys Astana (KHL)
Wojtek Wolski, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

DEFENSEMEN
Stefan Elliott, HV71 (SHL)
Chay Genoway, Lada Togliatti (KHL)
Cody Goloubef, Stockton (AHL)
Marc-Andre Gragnani, HC Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Chris Lee, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Maxim Noreau, SC Bern (NLA)
Mat Robinson, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Karl Stollery, Dinamo Riga (KHL)

GOALTENDERS
Justin Peters, Kolner Hale (DEL)
Kevin Poulin, Medvescak Zagreb (EBEL)
Ben Scrivens, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

General manager: Sean Burke
Head coach: Willie Desjardins
Associate coach: Dave King
Assistant coach: Scott Walker
Assistant coach: Craig Woodcroft

[USA Hockey announces 2018 Olympic men’s roster]

Missing from Canada’s blue line is Cale Makar, the 19-year-old UMass-Amhearst product who recently won gold at the World Junior Championship. On Wednesday, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that he turned down an invitation, likely because he preferred to play NCAA rather than potentially be the No. 7 or No. 8 defenseman.

As for some other names who played for Canada at recent tournaments during the decision-making process, there’s no Simon Despres, Max Talbot, Teddy Purcell or P.A. Parenteau, among others.

Also missing from the entire roster is the presence of any junior players, despite Hockey Canada having “full support” from the Canadian Hockey League.

[USA Hockey, Hockey Canada reveal 2018 Olympic jerseys]

As NBC Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi noted, 23 of 25 Canadian players have NHL experience, compared to 15 of the 23 announced on the U.S. roster. USA Hockey will be revealing their final two goalies on Thursday afternoon.

MORE: Full Olympic hockey schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Parity catching up to Canada at World Junior Championship

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Canada has more than one score to settle. The United States has a title to defend. And don’t discount Sweden.

The 10-nation World Junior hockey championship tournament opens in Buffalo on Tuesday with numerous subplots. The most notable involves the question of whether parity is finally catching up to the Canadians.

Bring it on, says Canada manager and two-time world junior gold medalist Joel Bouchard.

”I played in ’93 and ’94, and it was not even close to what it is right now,” Bouchard said.

”Every country is pushing it. And it’s our job to keep bringing the bar higher and higher,” he added. ”We know everybody is looking at us. And that’s good. That’s what you want.”

The landscape has dramatically shifted since 2009, when the Canadians set a world junior record by winning their fifth straight title.

In the eight years since, Canada has won just one gold medal – in 2015 with a team featuring Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

By contrast, the U.S. has won three times, including a 5-4 shootout win over Canada – and in Canada no less – in the championship game in January. Finland has won twice and the Swedes and Russians once each.

No one is discounting Canada’s chances of winning its 17th gold medal this time, especially with a roster stocked with eight first-round NHL draft picks.

And yet, as Russian defenseman and New Jersey Devils prospect Yegor Zaitsev said through an interpreter: ”Canada is not more favored than Russia.”

It’s a trend even Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who coached Canada to win the 1997 world junior title, couldn’t help but acknowledge.

”On population base alone, the U.S. should take over one day eventually,” Babcock told The Associated Press. ”But I’m going to get my passport and flag out and I’ll be cheering for Canada to get back on track.”

One drawback is Canada’s inability to draw upon the nation’s entire pool of players 20 and younger because the top talent is already competing in the NHL. McDavid, for example, could have represented Canada for two more years, but was instead busy producing at more than a point-a-game pace while winning last season’s NHL MVP honor during his first two years in Edmonton.

USA Hockey is enjoying a golden era by doubling its medal count from five to 10 (four gold, one silver and five bronze) since 2010. The surge reflects a rise of nationwide registration, and attributed to the NHL’s expansion into nontraditional markets such as Arizona, where 2016 No. 1 draft pick Auston Matthews grew up rooting for the Coyotes.

The test for the Americans is becoming the first U.S. team to win consecutive titles, and first nation since Canada’s five-year run to repeat as champions.

”Honestly, I would never say pressure,” U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. ”I would be foolish to waste energy having those feelings. I love the process. I’m more nervous about what we’re going to do at practice tomorrow.”

The Americans’ 23-player roster features seven returnees, and nine first-round picks.

The U.S. is in the same pool as Canada, and the two will meet in international hockey’s first outdoor game, which will be played at the NFL Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field on Friday.

Sweden might finally be in line to medal after finishing fourth in each of the past three years.

The Swedes’ roster is particularly strong in the back end with three goalies already drafted by NHL teams. The defense features Rasmus Dahlin, a potential No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

”He’s good, but he’s going to have a tough tournament,” coach Tomas Monten said. ”Everyone’s going to be on him. But I think that’s going to create more space for others.”

Sweden got a boost last week when the Buffalo Sabres assigned prospect Alexander Nylander to represent his country for a third consecutive tournament. Nylander finished tied for the world junior lead last year with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in seven games.

The Russians are considered somewhat of an unknown, despite having won medals for seven straight years. That included the 2011 title when the tournament was also held in Buffalo. Russia rallied from a 3-0 third-period deficit to beat Canada 5-3 in the final.

”The comeback was crazy. And I just felt so proud,” said Russian defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov, who watched the victory on TV. ”And now we’re back here trying to do the same thing.”

The loss marked the third time Canada has settled for silver since 2010, with its other two title-game defeats against the U.S.

This past year’s shootout loss to the Americans still stings for Canada’s returning players.

”There’s no point in trying to avoid it. It’s obviously there,” defenseman Jake Bean said. ”It kind of fills you every day to be on the ice, just make sure you do everything just that much more intensely, that much more focused and just try not to leave it down to a question or a chance.”

Canada beats US 3-1 in women’s hockey Olympic tuneup

AP
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Haley Irwin and Sarah Nurse scored in the second period, sending Canada to a 3-1 victory over the United States on Friday night in the latest Olympic tuneup between the world’s top powers in women’s hockey.

Marie-Philip Poulin also scored for Canada, and Ann-Renee Desbiens made 25 saves.

Brianna Decker opened the scoring for the U.S. with a power-play goal early in the second. Alex Rigsby stopped 33 shots in defeat.

Poulin made it 3-1 with her goal 55 seconds into the third.

It was the fifth of six meetings between the rivals as they prepare for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. They play again Sunday night in Edmonton, Alberta.

Canada has won four of the five recent matchups, after the Americans took the series opener Oct. 22 in Quebec City.

”We just have to be better in the red zones – that’s the difference between winning and losing,” United States coach Robb Stauber said. ”We’ll give some focus and energy to some things we think we can do better, and we’re going to go into Edmonton and see what that end result looks like.”

The last four Olympic gold medals in women’s hockey have gone to Canada, but the U.S. has won seven of the past eight world championships.

Olympic hopes in doubt for Jarome Iginla

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On Thursday, Hockey Canada announced its 25-man roster for this month’s Channel One Cup tournament in Moscow. There are plenty of names on the list that will stick out to you like Derek Roy, Rene Bourque, Gilbert Brule, P.A. Parenteau, Simon Despres and Ben Scrivens.

One name that’s been bandied about for months but wasn’t included is Jarome Iginla.

The 40-year-old Iginla failed to latch on with an NHL team this off-season, which opened up the door to play for Canada at the PyeongChang Olympics in February. He recently underwent a minor hip procedure and was planning to begin skating again this week.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Canada had an open invite for Iginla to play in the Spengler Cup later this month but it looks like he won’t be ready by Dec. 26 and now his Olympic chances are in danger.

“As good a player as Jarome has been, as good a man as he is, if he’s not playing, it’s hard to give yourself opportunity for a fair evaluation, quite honestly, of what he might be able to do in the Olympic Games,” Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney said last month. “It’s tough to go from zero to 60 as a 40-year-old.”

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported last month that Iginla hasn’t given up hope of returning to the NHL. If the Olympics are now out of the equation he can fully focus on finding a team to give him at least a tryout for one last shot at The Show. But time is running out.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

U.S. beats Canada 5-1 to win 3rd straight Four Nations Cup

AP
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Hannah Brandt scored twice in the second period and the United States women beat Canada 5-1 on Sunday to win their third straight Four Nations Cup championship.

Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel each added a goal and an assist. Kendall Coyne had a goal, and Dani Cameranesi added four assists.

Maddie Rooney made 18 saves and improved to 3-0 in the Americans’ four games at this tournament. The goalie now is 4-0-0 this fall with three of her victories against Canada.

The United States won the event for the eighth time overall. Better yet, the Americans now have beaten their biggest rivals for the third time in four games over the past month as they tune up for the Pyeongchang Games in February. The two women’s hockey powers will meet again as part of their pre-Olympic exhibition tour on Dec. 3 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

”We are progressing toward February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said. ”That is our main objective: to be the best that we can be before February, and this is a stepping stone.”

Since Canada won the gold medal in 2014 at Sochi with a 3-2 overtime win, the United States now has won six of seven titles and 10 of 13 games overall against the only other country to win Olympic gold in women’s hockey.

Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said every loss is frustrating.

”That’s not the result we wanted, but we will go back to Calgary and work hard as a team,” Poulin said. ”It’s a long year, and we will keeping working to get better so we can get there.”

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Brandt broke open a scoreless game with her goal at 15:06 of the second period, beating Genevieve Lacasse with a wrist er from just inside the left circle. Brandt quickly gave the Americans a 2-0 lead less than 2 minutes later.

Meghan Agosta scored just past the midway point of the third period pulling Canada within 2-1. Knight scored on a power play with 3:41 remaining, and Kessel scored on a 5-on-3 with 67 seconds left as the Americans made Canada pay for too many late penalties. They went 3 of 7 with the advantage, and Coyne finished off the win with her goal with 17 seconds left.

”Unfortunately, it was really the last five minutes of the third where we weren’t disciplined that ended up costing us,” Canadian coach Laura Schuler said. ”The final score wasn’t indicative of how the game was played.”