New job for Fischer
For Jiri Fischer, the time with his native country's Under-20 team has been an interesting experience and an outgrowth of his role in life after hockey.
Fischer, a defenseman who retired in 2005 after spending six seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, is an assistant coach with the Czech Republic team. He is also director of player development for the Red Wings and the transition from player to front office job has been interesting, including his work with the current Czech team.
"It's been very different. Since retiring from playing in '05, I've had the opportunity to be the director of player development in Detroit and bridging over to that role from playing I've learned a lot about working with players," Fischer said. "As a player, you're focused on individual performance and now I'm working with many different players, many different personalities and different coaches. I've really looked at the personal approach to off-ice communication..
"Over the summer I had the chance to work with the Under-20 team and it has been a great opportunity. In Detroit, I'm working with players who are just a little bit older than these players and hopefully I can bring back some of my experiences."
Food, glorious food
Fans who frequent Dwyer Arena for collegiate hockey games are accustomed to the usual snack bar fare -- pizza, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels. But for the World Junior tournament, a few Western New York faves were added to a makeshift stand in the upper portion of the arena.
Available for this tournament only are chicken wings, roast beef and beer.
Seen roaming the stands of Dwyer Arena during the Sweden-Czech Republic game were Larry Carriere and his son Nick. Larry, a former Buffalo Sabre, is currently the assistant general manager for the Montreal Canadiens. Nick, an alum of the Niagara hockey program and very familiar with the confines of Dwyer, is the coach of the Buffalo State men's hockey team.
Who is most popular?
By now, it's obvious. Canada fans have dominated the crowd at HSBC Arena.
But since these junior games are in the U.S., wouldn't the Yanks draw the next-highest amount of fans to the arena? Through the first two games, apparently not.
On the official attendance count, Team USA ranked fourth with an average of 13,421 spectators. Finland (13,813) was second and Switzerland (13,581) came in third. To Team USA's credit, Thursday's game against Germany came before a nearly full HSBC Arena.
Help has arrived
A year ago, this tournament is precisely what skyrocketed Nino Niederreiter's stock. His two late goals against Russia propelled the Swiss into the semis. As a result, he became the highest drafted Swiss player ever, a shining light for a country known more for exporting chocolate than hockey players. Only 16 players from the land-locked country have reached the NHL.
After a lackluster game in Switzerland's 4-0 loss to Finland, Niederreiter scored a second-period goal against Slovakia. And while he's the face of the team, Thursday was evidence that there are more options. Six different players scored for the Swiss.
Niederreiter said he doesn't have to do all the leading for his team.
"I try my best to lead by example but at the end of the day we have 22 leaders here," Niederreiter said.
Compiled by News Sports Staff