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German coach gives goalie fresh chance

Monday night at HSBC Arena, Germany chose experience over momentum in net.

After surrendering four first-period goals, the Germans' starting goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, was yanked from the Sunday's opener against Switzerland. His replacement, Niklas Treutle, saved all 12 shots he faced in his 42 minutes to give his team a chance in the 4-3 loss.

But Monday night, Germany started Grubauer -- not Treutle -- in the nets for its second game against Slovakia.

Clearly, coach Ernst Hofner did not want to slam the panic button prematurely. Grubauer is no pushover. In the OHL, he led Windsor to a Memorial Cup. Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the fourth round of the 2010 entry draft, he was expected to be one sure thing on a young German team. On Monday, Hofner offered a vote of a confidence looking ahead.

These two weeks of hockey are about pride, about the world's best junior players representing their countries. But future NHL jobs are on the line, too. With scouts keeping a close eye on their draft investments, the Tampa Bay Lightning will surely be tracking Slovakia.

A pair of Tampa Bay's top prospects headline the Slovaks -- forward Richard Panik and defenseman Adam Janosik. The two were selected in the second and third rounds, respectively, in the 2010 entry draft.

Panik, who plays for the OHL's Belleville Bulls, is probably the better prospect. The Slovak captain had a head start to his junior hockey career, joining Slovakia's U-18 team as a 14-year old. Since then, his stock has risen.

At last year's games, he had five points in seven games. On a young, subpar Slovakia offense, he'll need to produce. Early on Monday against Germany, he drew a holding penalty by creeping into the slot and nearly scoring.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said it was a thrill for him to host the Christmas Eve dinner with Team Canada at his Clarence home.

"It was such a good experience," Ruff said Monday following the Sabres' gameday skate in Calgary. "My wife [Gaye] deserves a lot of the credit. She was the one who welcomed the whole team. I was a little skeptical of the whole thing to start with. She being a host thought it would be a great thing to do and made sure it was a special event for all those young men."

"I had some great interaction with the coaches during the night. We talked a lot about players, how the camps went and I thought that part was real interesting."

The meal was catered by Chef's and the players passed the time with activities such as video games and bubble hockey. Who did the cleanup?

"It wasn't me. I'm tough when it comes to cleanup," Ruff said. "I did some, but my wife did the majority and had her sister-in-law there. They were actually good, kept it tidy."

Ruff said he was impressed by the play of Sabres' draftees Marcus Foligno and Zack Kassian in Canada's 6-3 win Sunday over Russia.

"Marcus skated well in the game and certainly his energy after scoring the first goal and doing the 'Lambeau Leap' into the glass is the type of excitement they bring. It brings a smile to your face."

Compiled by News Sports Staff

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