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World Junior Hockey 2013: What You Need To Know To Follow Team USA

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Though the tournament technically started yesterday, Team USA plays its first game today. Here's a team primer as well as their schedule.

Richard Wolowicz

It's World Junior Championship hockey time, and with today marking the first game for the red, white, and blue, we put together a Cliff's Notes version of what you need to know to follow Team USA.

The American team looks to rebound from a disappointing 2012 tournament that saw the USA uncharacteristically finishing outside of the medal round. This year's squad should be in contention, but a stacked Canadian team led by NHLer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and filled with top prospects such as Morgan Reilly, Jonathan Drouin, and Malcolm Subban is the heavy favorite to win gold.

The American team are no slouches, however. Coached by former Sabres and Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley, Team USA features top prospects of their own, including third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk, uber-prospect Seth Jones, and of course the Sabres second round pick Jake McCabe, who was chosen as team captain.

The strength of the American squad is on defense, where McCabe should contribute nicely, more on the penalty kill than the power play. Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, and Jacob Trouba are all among the top blueline prospects in the tournament, and if the Americans are to compete with the stacked offenses of Canada and Russia, it will need their defensive corps to step up big time.

You can watch all of team USA's games, and a few others, on the NHL Network, or stream them live on NHL.com. Don't forget to tune in to Russia's games to watch Mikhail Grigorenko and goalie Andrei Makarov, and Finland's games to catch up with Joel Armia.

Here's the complete viewing schedule courtesy of NHL.com:

    PRELIMINARY ROUND:
    Date Time (ET) Teams Replay (ET)
    * Thu Dec. 27 9:00 AM USA vs. GER 8:00 PM
    Fri Dec. 28 4:30 AM SVK vs. CAN 5:30 PM
    * Fri Dec. 28 9:00 AM USA vs. RUS 8:00 PM
    Sat Dec. 29 9:00 AM RUS vs. GER 5:30 PM
    * Sun Dec. 30 4:30 AM USA vs. CAN 8:00 PM
    Sun Dec. 30 9:00 AM GER vs. SVK 5:30 PM
    * Mon Dec. 31 5:00 AM USA vs. SVK 8:00 PM
    Mon Dec. 31 9:00 AM CAN vs. RUS 5:30 PM
* Game to be live streamed on NHL.com

(Medal Round Replays To Be Announced)
QUARTERFINALS:
Wed Jan. 2 4:00 AM TBD 5:30 PM
Wed Jan. 2 8:00 AM TBD 8:00 PM
SEMIFINALS:
Thurs Jan. 3 4:00 AM TBD 5:30 PM
Thurs Jan. 3 8:00 AM TBD 8:00 PM
MEDAL ROUND
BRONZE:
Sat Jan. 5 4:00 AM TBD 5:30 PM
GOLD:
Sat Jan 5 8:00 AM TBD 8:000 PM