FOUR AMERKS ALUMNI WIN MEDALS AT THE 2012 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPNews | 5/21/2012 11:35:34 AM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS
Four Rochester Americans alumni are taking home hardware as the 2012 IIHF World Championship came to a close on Sunday afternoon in Helsinki, Finland with the Russian national team outlasting Slovakia 6-2 in the gold medal game and the Czech Republic earning its second straight bronze medal finish with a 3-2 win over host Finland in the consolation contest.
This year’s event marked the first-ever time in the history of the international competition that former Amerks comprised the rosters of each three medal-finishing nations. The 2012 tournament also saw four different Rochester alumni earn medals with their respective countries, including Russia’s Dmitri Kalinin, Milan Bartovic and Andrej Sekera of Slovakia and Jiri Novotny of the Czech Republic.
Kalinin was part of a Russian team who captured its third World Championship in five years after helping his countrymen to back-to-back first-place finishes in 2008 and 2009. With a medal in this year’s tournament, the Russians finished among the top three teams for the fifth time in six years after losing the bronze medal game to the Czech Republic in 2011. Kalinin recorded four points (1+3) and a team-high 25 penalty minutes for Russia, despite appearing in just five games. His plus-six on-ice rating was also the third-best among team defensemen.
Kalinin, a resident of Chelyabinsk, made his professional debut with the Amerks in 1998-99 following three seasons of junior hockey and quickly became a regular among Rochester defensemen. After only appearing in three games at the end of the 1998-99 season, Kalinin erupted for 21 points (2+19) in 75 games the following year, finishing fourth among team blueliners and earning a spot on the 1999-00 AHL All-Rookie Team. Kalinin also notched 11 points (2+9), the most among team rearguards, during the 2000 Calder Cup playoffs, guiding Rochester to the Calder Cup Finals, where it would ultimately fall to the eventual champion Hartford Wolf Pack four games to two.
With a second-place finish in this year’s tournament, the Slovakians claimed their first medal in nine years since defeating the Czech Republic in the bronze medal game in 2003. It was also just the fourth medal-winning year for Slovakia, who previously won three medals in a four-year span between 2000 and 2003.
Bartovic earns his first medal with Slovakia after scoring three goals and registering a team-high 27 shots while appearing in all 10 games. Bartovic, a second-round selection (35th overall) of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, played five seasons (2000-05) in the Flower City, the most among any former Amerk participating in the event. In 270 American Hockey League games with Rochester, the Trencin native scored 62 goals and 51 assists for 113 points, good enough for 76th on the franchise’s all-time forwards list.
Sekera, who made his IIHF debut at this year’s event, also wins his first international medal after posting nine points (2+7) in 10 games to finish first among team defensemen in overall scoring. Sekera, who also made his professional debut with the Amerks, completed his AHL career scoring 36 points (5+31) in 94 appearances. After the 2007-08 season, Sekera earned a full-time spot in the defensive corps of the Buffalo Sabres, where he has collected 80 points (15+65) and 98 penalty minutes in 302 career NHL games.
The bronze marks the third straight medal-finishing performance for Novotny and the Czechs, who won bronze at last year’s tournament and gold in 2010. The third-place finish is also just the fifth in the national team’s history and the 2012 event marks the fifth time in eight years the Czechs went home with a medal.
A native of Pelhrimov, Czech Republic, Novotny finished his fifth stint with the Czech national team, having been part of the IIHF World Championships in 2007, 2008, 2010 and again in 2011. This year, Novotny finished second on the team with four goals and tied for third with five points on the way to collecting his third straight medal for the first time in his international career. After missing the event in 2009, Novotny returned to the event in 2010 and guided the Czechs to their first gold medal since 2005. Novotny would contribute six points (1+5) in nine games, good enough for second most on the team.
After four consecutive seasons (2002-06) with the Amerks, Novotny left Rochester with 105 points (25+80) in 218 career games. In 2005-06, he finished as the team’s top point-getter with 54 points, collecting career-highs along the way in every offensive category in goals (17), assists (37), points (54) and games played (66) en route to being named the Amerks’ scoring champion.