World Junior Championship Begins Tonight

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Gameday: USA vs. Denmark (USAHockey.com)

Sophomore Nick Bjugstad and freshman Kyle Rau are playing for the U.S. National Junior Team, which opens play at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship with a game against Denmark tonight at 7 p.m. C.T.

"It is a great opportunity for both of them," said coach Don Lucia. "They certainly both had great first half of the years with us and are deserving to play. That is one thing with that team, you have to play your way on it. It is a great opportunity for both those guys to represent their country in a big time event."

The game can be seen on NHL Network and is also being streamed on NHL.com. Bjugstad, who did not play in any of the three exhibition games, is wearing No. 27 for Team USA.

"With Bjugstad being on it last year he was pretty much a lock to be on it this year," said Lucia.

Bjugstad is tied for fourth in the nation in points (27) and is tied for second in goals (16). He has registered at least one point in 15 of Minnesota's 20 games this year.



Rau, who leads all freshmen nationally in points (22) and goals (12), has points in 14 of 20 games this year. He is tied for first in the nation with five game-winning goals. Rau, who played in two of the three exhibition games, will be wearing No. 20 for Team USA.

"Kyle was not even invited to their camp last summer, but proved his worth based on his production for us the first half of the season and when he went up to camp this month," said Lucia. "I don't know what his role is going to be, if he is going to play with Bjugstad or if he will be a penalty kill and power play guy, but the one about Kyle is that he can play anywhere. He can kill penalties and he can be a defensive forward. One of the things I have been most impressed with about him is how conscientious he is on both ends of the rink. He works just as hard defensively as he does offensively."

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