As the World Junior Hockey Championships pre-camp wrapped up in Jamestown on Thursday, teams praised the city for being a gracious and worthy host of the grand-scale event.
Jim Johannson, general manager of the United States National Junior Team, said that the event was a great showcase for Jamestown and that the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena provided a good tuneup for the team as it prepares for the tournament itself in Buffalo next week.
''It's great to come into a community that really supported the event,'' Johannson said. ''This is a real quality facility, and it's perfect for this type of game. The team's been really happy with all the facilities and all the amenities.''
Local hockey fans Brendan Hirliman, back, Baylor Hirliman, right, and John Susz watch the World Junior pre-camp games at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena on Thursday.
Photo by John Conti
Alex Clark, manager of communications for USA Hockey, updates the team’s official stat sheet on its website while action takes place at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena on Thursday night.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
Team USA played Team Norway in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday, after a matchup between the junior teams from Russia and Slovakia.
Twenty-one of the 22 players who made up the Team USA roster that played in the arena Thursday night have already been drafted by National Hockey League teams, including 16 in the first or second rounds of the 2009 and 2010 drafts. Three players have already appeared in NHL games.
The team was playing its third pre-tournament exhibition game, after having played against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy on Sunday and against the Czech Republic in Rochester on Tuesday. The Americans arrived in Jamestown at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday and were scheduled to ship out for Buffalo late Thursday night.
Johannson had been in Jamestown for about a day and a half, he said, helping to make sure all the other teams in the city were settled in and that all their needs were met. He said that the feedback he received from the teams' representatives about the venue and the location had been overwhelmingly positive.
''It's been a good experience for them, all about getting prepared for the tournament,'' he said. ''To have the crowd and support that we've had just means so much for the players, to play in front of a lot of fans instead of having an empty exhibition game.''
In addition to having full crowds to play in front of on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, the players on the three foreign teams that have been in Jamestown for the better part of a week also had a good time milling about the city.
Igor Bobkov, a goaltender on the Russian junior team, also said that his team's visit to the city was a good experience. The main objective on his and his teammates' minds during their stay in the city was hockey, but during their downtime they explored the streets.
''Everybody's excited, because this is a good chance to show what you can do for NHL scouts,'' said Bobkov, a third-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2009 NHL Draft. ''But when we have free time, we walk around and visit the shops, yeah.''
Jan-Petter Selvik, team manager for the Norwegian junior team, said that all the people his team encountered during its stay in Jamestown were very kind. The only problem Team Norway had while in Jamestown, he said, was the loss of its equipment, which resulted in the rescheduling of its game with Slovakia from Tuesday to Wednesday. However, that was the result of foul weather in Europe, and Selvik said those who provided assistance in the Jamestown area were very helpful during the transition period.
''We thank everybody who did their best for us,'' he said.
Selvik also said that while Norwegian players have been visiting downtown Jamestown establishments during their time in town in the past several days they have experienced many friendly encounters, including one notable example of generosity at a local coffee shop.
''They went to one cafe to get some cappuccino, and the owner said, 'No, no pay - that's on the house,''' Selvik said.
The Norwegians and the other teams who had been in Jamestown for the pre-camp practices and games are now in Buffalo, preparing for World Junior tournament that officially kicks off Sunday.
''In the end, this whole thing is always about the players, and the players have had a great experience here,'' Johannson said. ''It's been fantastic.''