ZURICH – The ice hockey associations from Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Denmark have announced their preliminary rosters for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The Finnish 27-man roster is highlighted by wunderkind Mikael Granlund, whose lacrosse-style goal with the senior national team in the semi-final against Russia became one of the highlights of the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.
Granlund debuted in the World Juniors already as a 16-year-old. The Alberta edition will mark his third U20 World Championship participation after 2009 and 2010.
This time, Mikael will be joined by his younger brother, Markus, who plays with him at HIFK Helsinki. It’s the first time the brothers will play together in an IIHF tournament since the 2010 U18 World Championship.
Apart from the elder Granlund, goalkeeper Sami Aittokallio, defenceman Olli Määttä, and forwards Joel Armia, Joonas Donskoi, Teemu Pulkkinen and Miikka Salomäki have also played in the U20 World Championship before, all in the Buffalo tournament one year ago.
The Finnish team will be coached by record national team player and IIHF Hall of Famer-to-be Raimo Helminen, who trusts prospects playing in Finland’s top men’s league. Only two players – goalkeeper Christopher Gibson and Määttä – made the roster through their performances in Canadian junior hockey.
IIHF.com asked Helminen about the World Juniors recently and this and other video interviews will be on this website in the upcoming weeks leading up to the event in Calgary and Edmonton.
The Czech Republic has its team for the U20 World Championship almost complete, too. Coach Miroslav Prerost announced his 25-man roster including 11 players from the Canadian Hockey League. 13 players are under contract with Czech club teams at different levels including Tomas Hertl and Petr Holik, who have scored 15 and 10 points respectively this season in the Extraliga.
The roster also includes two players from the newly-founded Slovak KHL club Lev Poprad: defenceman Bohumil Jank and forward Jiri Sekac.
All underaged players from last year’s team will return to play their second World Juniors: defenceman Bohumil Jank and forwards Jakub Culek, Martin Frk, Petr Holik and Petr Straka.
Frk is the most notable player from North America. He had 22 goals and 28 assists in his rookie season with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads last year, but he has missed the entire 2011-2012 season due to a concussion from a pre-season game. He’s expected to stage his comeback soon.
Slovakia announced its roster for the training camp in Bratislava this week.
Out of the 24 players in the camp, 19 played this season with the Slovak U20 national team that participates in the Slovak Extraliga, including all forwards but one. The roster only includes players in Europe while players joining from North American teams have not been announced yet.
Slovakia has 14 players in the Canadian Hockey League including Tomas Jurco (Saint John) and Marek Tvrdon (Vancouver Giants), who are among the scoring leaders on their teams.
Todd Bjorkstrand, the coach of the Danish U20 national team, announced the 23 players that will make up the roster for the U20 World Championship. Denmark is one of the two promoted teams with Latvia being the other.
Among the invited players is Nicklas Jensen. The Oshawa Generals forward was drafted in the first round, 29th overall, by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Three players come from Swedish clubs including 16-year-old Mads Eller. The forward is following in the footsteps of his brother and Montreal Canadiens centre Lars Eller. He transferred from his native Rødovre to Frölunda Gothenburg last summer where he mostly plays on the U18 team.
The Danes will be the first European team to land on Albertan soil. They will play two exhibition games in Edmonton against the University of Alberta (15th/16th December) before having pre-competition matches against Sweden in Olds and against Latvia in Brooks.Click here for more information on the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship.
MARTIN MERKFinland’s U20 roster
Sami Aittokallio, Ilves Tampere
Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Jonathan Iilahti, Espoo Blues
Richard Ullberg, SaiPa Lappeenranta
Jani Hakanpää, Espoo Blues
Miro Hovinen, Jokerit Helsinki
Olli Määttä, London Knights (OHL)
Konsta Mäkinen, Ilves Tampere
Julius Nyqvist, HIFK Helsinki
Ville Pokka, Kärpät Oulu
Simo-Pekka Riikola, KalPa Kuopio
Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS Turku
Joonas Valkonen, Espoo Blues
Miro Aaltonen, Espoo Blues
Joel Armia, Ässät Pori
Aleksander Barkov, Tappara Tampere
Joonas Donskoi, Kärpät Oulu
Markus Granlund, HIFK Helsinki
Mikael Granlund, HIFK Helsinki
Petteri Halinen, JYP Jyväskylä
Roope Hämäläinen, SaiPa/Jukurit
Markus Hännikäinen, Jokerit Helsinki
Mikael Kuronen, Ilves Tampere
Otto Paajanen, HPK Hämeenlinna
Teemu Pulkkinen, Jokerit Helsinki
Alexander Ruuttu, Jokerit Helsinki
Miikka Salomäki, Kärpät OuluCzech U20 roster
Libor Kasik, HC Zlin/HC Olomouc
Tomas Kral, Kärpät Oulu (FIN)
Petr Mrazek, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Tomas Bartejs, Pirati Chomutov
Marek Hrbas, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Daniel Krejci, Slavia Prague
Bohumil Jank, Lev Poprad (KHL)
Vojtech Mozik, BK Mlada Boleslav
David Musil, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Filip Pavlik, HC Trinec/HC Slovan Ústecti Lvi
Jiri Riha, HC Bili Tygri Liberec/HC Benatky nad Jizerou
Petr Zamorsky, HC Zlin
Jakub Culek, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Tomas Faksa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Tomas Filippi, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Tomas Hertl, Slavia Prague
Petr Holik, HC Zlin
Tomas Hyka, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Dmitrij Jaskin, Slavia Prague
Tomas Nosek, HC CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice
Daniel Pribyl, Sparta Prague
Lukas Sedlak, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
Jiri Sekac, Lev Poprad (KHL)
Petr Straka, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Michal Svihalek, HC Ceske Budejovice
Dominik Uher, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)Slovak U20 roster
Dominik Riecicky, VSR SR 20
Richard Sabol, HC ´05 Banska Bystrica
Juraj Simboch, HC Nitra
David Bajaník, VSR SR 20
Peter Bezuska, HC Ocelari Trinec (CZE)
Richard Buri, HC Nitra
Mario Kurali, VSR SR 20
Patrik Luza, VSR SR 20
Miroslav Macejko, VSR SR 20
Tomas Nechala, VSR SR 20
Peter Trska, VSR SR 20
Matej Bene, VSR SR 20
Milos Bubela, VSR SR 20
Matus Chovan, VSR SR 20
Martin Daloga, VSR SR 20
Marko Dano, VSR SR 20
Matej Hindos, VSR SR 20
Martin Jakubek, VSR SR 20
Martin Kalinac, VSR SR 20
Michal Kristof, Vaasan Sport (FIN)
Tomas Matousek, VSR SR 20
Tomas Mikus, VSR SRR 20
Richard Mraz, VSR SR 20
Tomas Zigo, VSR SR 20Denmark’s U20 roster
Dennis Jensen, EfB Esbjerg
Sebastian Feuk, Herlev Eagles
Christian Larsen, Malmö Redhawks (SWE)
Emil Kristensen, EfB Esbjerg
Jannik Christensen, EfB Esbjerg
Martin Rahbek, Herlev Eagles
Anders Thode, Frederikshavn Whitehawks
Mark Müller Larsen, Frederikshavn Whitehawks
Patrick Madsen, Herning Eagles
Tobias Hansen, Rødovre Mighty Bulls
Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Patrick Bjorkstrand, Herning Blue Fox
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Herning Blue Fox
Thomas Spelling, Herning Blue Fox
Anders Schultz, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
Nicolai Meyer, Malmö Redhawks (SWE)
Jonas Sass, Herlev Eagles
Rasmus Bjerrum, Frederikshavn Whitehawks
Nicki Kisum, Copenhagen Hockey
Mathias Bau Hansen, Rødovre Mighty Bulls
Thomas Søndergaard, Frederikshavn Whitehawks
Joachim Linnet, Herning Blue Fox
Mads Eller, Frölunda Gothenburg (SWE)