With the Colorado Avalanche having recently begun their offseason, the opportunity to play at the annual International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships presented itself to several Avalanche players. Ultimately, only the Calder Trophy favorite Nathan MacKinnon (Canada) and reserve goaltender Reto Berra (Switzerland) made the trip to Minsk, Belarus for the tournament. Other Colorado players who have competed on the international stage before include Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, and Semyon Varlamov. At the 2012 World Championships, Varlamov helped Russia win gold.
None of those others are competing in this year's tournament, although it isn't hard to imagine why they would take a pass this time around. All four of them participated at the Winter Olympics in Sochi three months ago, in the middle of the long grind of the NHL season. Having played so much hockey in the last seven months would understandably make them not feel inclined to go all the way around the world for another international competition so soon.
As for MacKinnon, he has just become the first 18 year old to compete at the men's level of IIHF World Championship play since his fellow Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby did so eight years ago. MacKinnon's first game at the tournament wasn't a very good start for team Canada though, as they lost their preliminary round opener to France by a score of 3-2. It was only the second time in the history of the event that France was able to top Canada at the World Championships. MacKinnon and company will look to regroup against Slovakia on Saturday.
MacKinnon is showing how high his energy level and compete level are by participating in this tournament. He was the only Avalanche player to play in every single game throughout the entire season, and he wasn't ready to stop there. Being 18 has its perks.
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