Alex Ovechkin heads list of Russian World Cup hockey team

By The Sports Xchange  |  March 2, 2016 at 12:53 PM
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Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's top goal scorer, heads the list of the first 16 players named to the roster by Team Russia for the World Cup of Hockey.

The league's top rookie point-getter in Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks and forwards Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Evgeni Kuznetsov of the Capitals also were named by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation announced Wednesday.

Also named to Team Russia are: goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets), Semyon Varlamov (Colorado Avalanche) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning), defensemen Dmitry Kulikov (Florida Panthers), Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) and Dmitry Orlov (Capitals), and forwards Artem Anisimov (Blackhawks), Nikita Kucherov (Lightning), Nikolay Kulemin (New York Islanders), Vladislav Namestnikov (Lightning) and Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues).

The best-on-best international hockey championship will be held from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Eight teams -- Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America -- will compete in the two-week tournament, featuring more than 150 of the best players in the NHL.

The top two finishers in each of Group A and Group B will advance to the semifinals (Sept. 24-25), where each qualifier will face an elimination game against a team from the other Group. The two semifinal winners will meet in the Final, a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct. 1.

Each of the eight teams will have a tournament roster of 23 players: 20 skaters and three goaltenders. The balance of each team's roster will be announced no later than June 1.

The Finnish Ice Hockey Federation announced the first 16 players named to its roster. Team Finland is built upon its goaltending and defense. Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has won the Stanley Cup and goalie Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators also was named to the team.

Others named to Team Finland are defensemen Esa Lindell (Texas Stars of the AHL - Dallas Stars hold NHL rights), Olli Maatta (Penguins), Rasmus Ristolainen (Buffalo Sabres) and Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks), and forwards Aleksander Barkov (Panthers), Joonas Donskoi (San Jose Sharks), Valtteri Filppula (Lightning), Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild), Jussi Jokinen (Panthers), Mikko Koivu (Wild), Leo Komarov (Maple Leafs), Lauri Korpikoski (Edmonton Oilers), Jori Lehtera (St. Louis Blues), Teuvo Teravainen (Blackhawks).

The Czech Ice Hockey Association named three goalies, four defensemen and nine forwards.

Named to Team Czech Republic are goaltenders Petr Mrazek (Red Wings), Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia Flyers) and Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets), defensemen Radko Gudas (Flyers), Michal Kempny (Avangard Omsk - KHL), Roman Polak (Sharks), Andrej Sustr (Lightning), and forwards Michael Frolik (Calgary Flames), Martin Hanzal (Arizona Coyotes), Tomas Hertl (Sharks), David Krejci (Bruins), Ondrej Palat (Lightning), David Pastrnak (Bruins), Tomas Plekanec (Canadiens), Vladimir Sobotka (Avangard Omsk - KHL) and Jakub Voracek (Flyers).

Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr was not named to the initial Team Czech Republic roster. Jagr, 46, had announced his retirement from international play after the bronze-medal game of the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, but there was hope that he would come back for this best-on-best tournament.

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