From: Grand Forks Herald
by Brad Elliott Schlossman
When Ralph Engelstad Arena was built nine years ago, Dean Blais had one of his main philosophies posted just outside of University of North Dakota’s locker room: Speed kills.
Blais left the school five years ago, but the saying still stands. And it appears, so does his philosophy.
The 2010 U.S. World Junior team opens play at 6 PM (MT) tonight with a preliminary game against Slovakia. If there’s one thing that highlights the Blais-led Americans, it is their speed.
Forwards Danny Kristo, Jordan Schroeder and Tyler Johnson — the three returning members from last year’s fifth-place squad — all are speed burners.
The Americans also added Ryan Bourque, Kyle Palmieri, Jason Zucker and Chris Kreider to the forward group. Although only one player in those players is taller than 6 feet, they all have dynamic speed.
They showed that during last Saturday’s 4-2 exhibition against the Sioux. Team USA’s goals were scored by Kreider (two), Zucker and Kristo.
They were favorites in that game. But once the U.S. team starts play in Saskatoon, Sask., they will be underdogs.
The Americans have won only two medals in the past 12 years (gold in 2004, bronze in 2007) and five medals in the history of the tournament. Winning another one will be the team’s goal this year.
“We’re not going up there just to drink Molson Canadian,” said Blais, who is taking a month-long hiatus from his job coaching Nebraska-Omaha to join the Americans. “We’re going up there to medal. I think the talent is there.”
Blais has been working on the team’s cohesion during the past week. For the first time ever, the Americans held a pre-tournament camp in Grand Forks. During the camp, Blais limited cell phone use and didn’t allow his players to listen to headphones in the locker room, because he wanted them to interact.