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U.S. Junior Hockey Team Set for Tournament

December 26, 2005

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ The 10-team round-robin junior world hockey tournament begins Monday afternoon with a matchup between defending champion Canada and Finland.

Also on Monday, Latvia faces the Czech Republic; Sweden challenges Russia, and the United States meets Norway.

The U.S. junior team is coached by Walt Kyle, head men’s hockey coach at Northern Michigan University. Most of his team consists of college players.

The top three teams in each group, after a week of round-robin competition, advance to the playoffs, which begin with quarterfinals on Jan. 2.

Group A, playing at the Pacific Coliseum, consists of Canada, the United States, Finland, Switzerland and Norway. Group B, playing in Kelowna and Kamloops, British Columbia, includes Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia and Latvia.

Last year in Grand Forks, N.D., Canada took the gold medal, but this year’s Canadian team does not have the experience of last year’s. Canada is young and has only one player, defenseman Cam Barker, with previous experience at the world championships.

``I think the pressure, it’s unreal,″ Barker said. ``Everyone wanting us to repeat and us wanting to repeat, it hasn’t happened in a long time in Canada. We’re looking forward to the challenge.″

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