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Junior Journal / News, notes and quotes

The ties that bind

Don Luce may work for the Philadelphia Flyers, but the former Buffalo Sabre still lives in Western New York.

It's kind of convenient that the IIHF World Under-20 Hockey Championship is taking place in his own backyard but this event produced a holiday surprise as his son Scott, the director of scouting for the Florida Panthers, got to spend some time on Christmas Day. He too has been in and out of town scouting players in the championships.

Usually the nature of their jobs prevents in-season gatherings but when they can meet up, they enjoy the moment.

"This is unusual, nice but it's unusual," said Don Luce, the director of player development with the Flyers and Sabres' former director of amateur scouting.

They don't talk hockey during their get togethers. It's the nature of the business and they're not allowed to discuss each others' teams.

"We talk about family, friends, how the kids are doing," Luce said.

This event is a who's who of former Sabres employees.

Former General Manager and coach Scotty Bowman has been in attendance. So has ex-Sabres player and coach Rick Dudley, the Atlanta GM.

Luce talked to Bowman for about two minutes but that's because Bowman is such a popular figure at these events that he'll dart away to talk with someone else who sees him.

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Marotta in front row

Chris Marotta has been quite busy the past few days.

The manager for Front Row Sports at the Northtowns Center and Tonawanda resident has been moonlighting as one of the on-site equipment managers for the world junior championship while still taking care of his day job.

Marotta was asked by tournament organizers if he'd be interested in working the event and the answer, of course, was yes.

"It's obviously a once in a lifetime thing so you want to take advantage of that," he said. "It's a big honor.

"You take care of any needs they have, equipment repairs, towels and laundry and provide any other stuff they need to have."

Marotta said it's been a learning experience, seeing all the different teams and their country's different skate-sharpening techniques.

Hydration is also different than North American teams' methods, he said. The U.S. and Canada prefer their water and sports drinks cold. Most of the European teams prefer them warm. Germany's players like to drink chocolate milk after practices and games.

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Goals of many colors

Sometimes, team goals are lofty. Other times, they're more basic.

At the IIHF World Juniors, the goals are as diverse as the competition.

For Finland, the expectation is to win a medal, preferably gold, but any color would be welcomed.

"Of course, we can go in the end," Finland's captain Sami Vatanen said. "We hope we can get the medal back to Finland this year."

Finland last medaled in 2006, winning the bronze. They medaled consistently from 2001-04 and last won the gold in 1998.

For the Germans, it's all about staying in the top level of the World Championship division.

"Everyone believes we can stay in the A group." German assistant captain Konrad Abeltshauser said. "We're still waiting for that first win. We hope to be the first team in awhile to stay in the A pool."

Indeed, the Germans have spent the last eight years alternating between the top level and relegation. The last time they stayed in the upper tier consistently was from 1992-93, though Germany has never medaled at World Juniors.

Compiled by News Sports Staff.

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