World Championship Bound
Nine Avalanche Players Will Compete At The 2013 IIHF World Championship
The Colorado Avalanche will have nine players competing at the 2013 IIHF Men's World Championship, which begins Friday. The tournament runs from May 3-19 in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden.
Four of the nine players will be representing the United States, as defensemen Matt Hunwick and Erik Johnson, along with forwards Aaron Palushaj and Paul Stastny, will compete for Team USA. Forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly will play for Team Canada, while defenseman Jan Hejda (Czech Republic), forward Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden) and goaltender Semyon Varlamov (Russia) will all represent their respective countries at the event.
Varlamov, 25, backstopped Russia to the gold medal last year at the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki and Stockholm. He went 8-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in eight appearances during the tournament. Varlamov’s eight victories and .939 save percentage led all goaltenders.
This marks Varlamov’s third world championship overall, as he helped Russia to a silver medal at the 2010 tournament in Germany. He started five of Russia’s nine games at that event, finishing second among all goaltenders in both goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951) while posting a 4-1 record. He was selected to Russia’s 2008 squad but suffered an injury just prior to the tournament. The Samara, Russia native was also named to the 2010 Russian Olympic team as the third goaltender but did not see action at the Winter Games.
Stastny, 27, will be making his second straight appearance at the world championship, as he finished as Team USA’s second-leading scorer with nine points (3g/6a) in eight games at last year’s event. He led the Americans in faceoff percentage (64.1%) and was third in plus/minus (+6). This will be Stastny’s third trip to the worlds overall, as he also finished second on the Americans with eight points (4g/4a) in seven games at the 2007 event in Moscow. Stastny represented the United States at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where he helped Team USA to a silver medal. Born in Quebec City, Quebec, Stastny was raised in St. Louis, Mo., and holds dual citizenship.
Duchene, 22, will also be playing in his third world championship, as he represented Team Canada at both the 2010 and 2011 tournaments. The Haliburton, Ontario native totaled seven points (4g/3a) in seven games at the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany, finishing second on the team in goals and points (tied).
O’Reilly, 22, will make his second straight trip to the world championship. He tallied four points (2g/2a) with a +3 rating in seven games for Canada at last year’s event. The Clinton, Ontario native finished second on the Canadians in faceoff percentage at 62.1%.
Landeskog, 20, will also be representing his native Sweden for the second straight year. The Avalanche’s captain served as an alternate captain for his nation at the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki and Stockholm, tallying five points (1g/4a) in eight games.
Hejda, 34, will be playing in his sixth IIHF World Championship, having already represented his nation five previous times: 2003-06 and 2008. The Prague native helped the Czech Republic win the gold medal at the 2005 IIHF World Championship in Austria and captured a silver medal at the 2006 IIHF World Championship in Latvia. Hejda also represented the Czech Republic at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Johnson, 25, will be making his second appearance at the world championship and his first since 2007. He appeared in all seven games for the United States as a 19-year-old at the 2007 worlds in Moscow. The Bloomington, Minn., native helped Team USA capture the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Hunwick and Palushaj are both competing in their first world championship. Hunwick, 27, did play for Team USA at two IIHF World Junior Championships, including USA’s first-ever gold medal-winning junior national team in 2004. Palushaj, 23, also has international experience, playing for the United States at the 2009 world juniors. Palushaj is a native of Livonia, Mich., while Hunwick hails from Warren, Mich.