The IIHF World Hockey Championships got underway on Friday, May 1 as the United States took on Finland. And while New Jersey Devil Tuomo Ruutu would be suiting up for Finland, his Devils teammate, Stefan Matteau would not.
USA Hockey announced that he would miss the tournament when he was injured in USA’s exhibition game against Austria the Tuesday prior. Matteau returned home and will not participate in the tournament, according to a report on the Devils website.
Meanwhile, Team USA, minus Matteau defeated Ruutu’s Finnish squad 5-1 at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Friday. The Devils website tracked Ruutu’s progress, saying he had one shot on 15:23 of total ice time.
Matt Hendricks of the Edmonton Oilers had three points on two goals and one assist for Team USA. Five Americans had a multi-point game including Steve Moses, Brock Nelson, Torey Krug and Dan Sexton in addition to Hendricks.
Finland will play Denmark in Group B the preliminary round on Sunday, May 3. The United States will next play Norway on May 2.
Ruutu is looking to medal in his fifth World Championships; he has won a medal in every one of his trips to the tournament. He previously won bronze in 2006 and 2008, silver in 2007 and gold in 2011. In 2011, Ruutu had six goals in nine games for Team Finland, according to a press release on the Devils’ site.
Other Devils connections in the tournament include Jacob Josefson suiting up for Team Sweden, former Devil Jaromir Jagr will play for the host Czech Republic (these two will play each other later in the day on May 1). Josefson last played internationally for Sweden in the 2010 World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal. In addition, Devils prospect Artur Gavrus was recently named to the Belarussian team, which plays Slovenia on Saturday at the CEZ Arena.
Gavrus, is a 5-foot 11-inch center, a native of Raitichi, Belarus, who played with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL until 2013 when he was traded to the Oshawa Generals. That year he left for the KHL. He had his best season in 2011-12 when he registered 37 points (15 goals / 22 assists). All of this information comes via his profile on the Devils’ site.
Although it is disappointing that Matteau could not play for Team USA (it would have been nice to see him in a lengthy tournament against NHL caliber players to watch how he does), seeing other Devils players get a shot in international play is always exciting. What is kind of a surprise is that Jagr is playing for the Czechs, as he had previously announced his retirement from international play following last year’s World Championships. The chance to play in front of his countrymen on a big stage must have been too big of a draw for him.
But, otherwise, it should be an exciting tournament with the Americans getting off to a fantastic start and getting to follow a Devils prospect playing with Belarus.