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Money talks in Team USA's decision

There's some chatter as to why USA Hockey, as a host, would select a city so close to Canada. Doing so creates the potential for Team USA to have a home-ice disadvantage in a game against the junior hockey-loving neighbors should the north buy a good chunk of tickets to the event annually.

Well, that is the answer to that question.

Canadians, who purchased 63 percent of the tickets to this tournament, buy bunches of tickets to this event regardless of where it takes place. TSN, Canada's version of ESPN, is the reason this event has become an international tournament that ranks second only to the Olympics.

So selecting Buffalo made perfect sense as a host to USA Hockey, whose goal is to run a successful event.

The American hockey body knew what it was getting into when selecting a city 10 minutes from the Canadian border.

"The object here is to create the best environment for the young men participating in the tournament and economically it makes sense," USA Hockey Communications Director Dave Fischer said. "There is clearly a difference [in the popularity of hockey] between the United States and Canada. [Hockey] is their sport in Canada but we have come a long way."

The more than 330,000 that attended the tournament's 30 games the past 11 days rank second only to the 453,282 who went to games when Ottawa was the host two years ago.

NHL Network televised 15 games live from the tournament for the second year in a row. In 2004, when the U.S. won its first gold medal in the event, the game was shown via tape delay in the states. Fischer cited the increased coverage on NHL Network for helping hockey fans in America understand that the players in this tournament will be the same they watch in the NHL in a year or two. He also cited that it helped with the overall attendance number of the tournament, too.

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel summed up his feelings on the shootout perfectly Wednesday.

"You hate it. I love it," he said.

Fasel was asked whether the tournament would consider adding an additional 10 minutes to overtime in the medal rounds, increasing the time to 20 minutes. His answer made it clear that's not a consideration.

"It's a different culture. I know here in North America, you play until the end, especially in the playoffs," said Fasel, who's from Switzerland. "Maybe it's because of soccer. Somehow, someway they have to end the game. [The] world championship is also a question of time. You can not go and play, play, play as you do in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's just a different culture. You hate it, I love it. What can you do?"

The two men sitting to Fasel's left during the press conference were Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn and USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean, both disagreed.

"I think the point Rene is making is we're an international sport now and we're going to respect each others' views," Quinn said. "Certainly in the regular season, European hockey brought a really cool thing to the NHL in the shootout. Personally, in a championship, I think you ought to play to the finish."

Ogrean was even more succinct.

"I don't like the shootout," he said.

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Norway and Germany lost their spots in the top division of the World Junior Championship in 2012 by placing ninth and 10th this year. Taking their spots in next year's event in Edmonton and Calgary will be Latvia and Denmark.

How teams finished in the tournament determines which group they will be placed in for pool play in the following event. Next year's groups are as follows.

Group A: Gold-medalist Russia, fourth-place Sweden, fifth-place Switzerland, eighth-place Slovakia and the ninth-place team (Latvia in lieu of Norway).

Group B: Silver-medalist Canada, bronze-medalist U.S., sixth-place Finland, seventh-place Czech Republic and the 10th place-team (Denmark taking Germany's spot).

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Quinn refuted a report from Rogers Sportsnet that the team stands to make more than $10 million in profit from hosting the World Juniors.

"That's not an accurate report at all," Quinn said, before declining to reveal the exact amount.

Quinn was then asked a follow-up question about whether the Sabres made a substantial profit.

"I hope so. We're in that business of making a profit, I have no bones about that," he said. "We try to do a good job of hockey here, but we also are in business, like The Buffalo News, and we like to try and make money."

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Heading into Wednesday's games there has been 2,000,800 ounces of beer sold in HSBC Arena and the Labatt Blue Hockey Lodge Tent outside of the Sabres' home.

e-mail: sports@buffnews.com

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