Photo: Forward Phil Varone currently leads the Rochester Americans with 29 points through 32 games. Varone is in his third year at the AHL level. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, made their return to the Spengler Cup this winter after placing third in 1996. However, the Amerks were outmatched in the prestigious tournament this time around, allowing 15 goals and losing all three of their games. Participating in the tournament meant taking a 12-day break from AHL play, but three extra games' worth of experience can be beneficial to a young team.
Photo: Finland defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen celebrates with the Championship Trophy at the 2014 World Junior Championship after he scored the gold medal-winning goal in overtime to defeat Sweden, 3-2 (courtesy of LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
It was a nearly identical gold medal-winning goal as the one scored two years by Mika Zibanejad, only this time, Sweden was on the receiving end. Finland defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen grabbed the puck along the boards and powered his way to the front of Sweden's net to beat Oscar Dansk for the overtime goal, giving the Finns a stunning 3-2 win in the finale of the 2014 World Junior Championship.
Photo: Russian players Nikita Zadorov (L) and Mikhail Grigorenko (R) celebrate Grigorenko’s goal, the first one for Russia in their 2-1 win over Canada in the bronze medal game at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of LUDVIG THUNMAN / TT/AFP/Getty Images)
For the fourth straight year, Russia earned a medal at the 2014 World Junior Championship. And, for the third time in those four years, Canada was on the losing side of that equation as Russia won the bronze medal game at this year's event, 2-1. With both countries entering the tournament with elevated expectations, playing for bronze is not something they planned on doing. But, with other countries showing improvement in their hockey programs, it may well be the new normal for these two hockey powers.
Photo: Team Russia forward and Buffalo Sabres prospect meets with the media following his country’s win over the USA at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
Team Russia took advantage of some penalty problems enndured by the USA to pull out a 5-3 win in their quarterfinal match at the 2014 World Junior Championship. The win sends the Russians on to the semi-finals where they'll meet the winner of the Sweden-Slovakia contest.
Photo: Team Russia players Nikita Zadorov (L) and Anton Slepyshev celebrate Zadorov’s go-ahead goal in their country’s 5-3 win over the USA at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of ANDREAS HILLERGREN/AFP/Getty Images)
After falling behind Team USA 3-2 in the first period of their quarterfinal match at the 2014 World Junior Championship, Russia proceeded to score the next three goals in the game to secure a 5-3 win along with a trip to the semi-finals.