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Friday, May 17, 2013

1981-82 New York Islanders Bob Bourne Jersey

On this date in 1983, the New York Islanders became the first team based in the United States to win four consecutive Stanley Cup championships with a 4-2 win to sweep the Edmonton Oilers in four games.

1982-83 New York Islanders
1982-83 New York Islanders

Having already won Stanley Cups the previous two seasons, the Islanders entered the 1981-82 season looking to make the jump from back-to-back champions into the realm of a dynasty.

The Islanders had finished first overall in the league in 1978-79, but were eliminated in the conference finals that season. That playoff run and eventual disappointment gave the Islanders valuable playoff experience that would serve them well the next season of 1979-80, as they only finished the regular season with the fourth best record, but defeated the higher ranked Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres on their way to knocking off the number one seeded Philadelphia Flyers to capture their first Stanley Cup championship.

Now full of confidence, the Islanders, led by Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Clark Gilles and the goaltending duo of Billy Smith and Chico Resch, finished first overall and defended their title by sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs, defeating the up and coming Edmonton Oilers in six, sweeping the rival New York Rangers and defending their title by knocking off the Cinderella Minnesota North Stars in five, which included a Butch Goring hat trick in Game 3 on this date in 1981, making him the first player to score a playoff hat trick with two different teams, the other coming with the Los Angeles Kings.

1981-82 was a repeat of the previous season, as the Islanders again led the league with 118 points, seven more than their next closest challengers. Bossy led the team in scoring with 64 goals and 147 points, second in the league in both categories. Additionally, Trottier was fifth with 129 and reached the 50 goal plateau for the only time in his career.

The Islanders opened their season by only losing once in their first 12 games. After a loss on the road to the Rangers, the Islanders finished the season strong. An NHL record fifteen game winning streak (all in regulation since there was no overtime rule then), began a run, with the club going 29-2-4 from January, 21st to April 3rd, which included two additional nine game unbeaten streaks.

Once in the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins gave the champions a scare, forcing the Islanders to come from behind in the fifth and deciding game of the first round, won on a John Tonelli goal in overtime. The Rangers again fell to the Islanders in six before a sweep of the Quebec Nordiques put them back into the finals for the third consecutive season.

A hat trick by Bossy, completed in the final second of the first overtime of Game 1, put the Islanders up by a game. A 6-4 win at home sent them to Vancouver now up by two. Smith shut out the Canucks in Vancouver 3-0 to take a commanding 3-0 lead before a 3-1 win gave the Islanders their third consecutive championships with a series sweep.

New York Islanders celebration
The Islanders 1982 Stanley Cup Celebration

The Islanders tied for sixth overall in 1982-83, but their battle tested playoff cunning came through as they defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the opening round best-of-five, their crosstown rivals the Rangers 4-2 and then Boston 4-2 to advance to face the up-and-coming Edmonton Oilers.

Islanders goaltender Smith earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as he held Edmonton to six goals in a four game sweep, including not allowing Wayne Gretzky a single goal, as the Islanders captured their fourth consecutive championship in 1983, earning the right to call themselves a dynasty and joining only the 1956-60 (5) and 1976-1979 (4) Montreal Canadiens as the only clubs to have won four consecutive Stanley Cups.

New York Islanders banners
The Islanders dynasty banners

Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 New York Islanders Bob Bourne jersey. Bourne originally joined the Islanders in 1974 and played 12 seasons with the club. The speedy center scored 30 goals or more three times with his best offensive season being the 1980-81 season when he scored 35 goals and 41 assists for a career high 76 points.

A member of four consecutive Stanley Cup champions, Bourne was an integral part of the Islanders playoff success, averaging a point a game from 1980-1983, including 28 points in 20 games in 1983 to lead the Islanders in playoff scoring.

Bob Bourne
Bob Bourne

Bourne played the final two seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Kings and was named the winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1988.

The original Islanders jerseys had a lace-up collar, no names on the back and the lower part of the sleeves were white in color. In 1977-78 the collar was changed to a v-neck, the lower part of the sleeves become blue and two-color names appear on the jerseys for the first time. The following season the striping on the jersey was changed to add white above orange on the arms and the waist stripes are changed from orange above white to white above orange, making them consistent with the striping on the arms, as seen on today's featured jersey, the one in which they would win four straight Stanley Cups.

New York Islanders jersey
New York Islanders jersey

In our first video today, Bob Bourne talks about how to keep fit and prevent injuries now that he is in his 50's.

Here are brief highlights from Game 4 of the 1983 Stanley Cup Finals, played on this date in 1983, when the Islanders won their fourth consecutive championship.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks Phil Esposito Jersey

On this date in 1967, the course of NHL history was changed for the next ten years when the Chicago Black Hawks dealt Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the Boston Bruins for Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin and Jack Norris in what is considered one of the most lopsided trades in league history.

Phil Esposito Black Hawks

Left Wing Stanfield had been with the Black Hawks for three seasons, but saw his number of games with the Black Hawks decline from 58 as a rookie in 1964-65 to 39 to just 10 in 1966-67.

Right Wing Hodge had just completed his second season and had come off of a 10 goal, 35 point campaign.

Center Esposito first played 27 games with Chicago in 1963-64, although he gave little hint as to what was to come when he scored a mere 3 goals and 2 assists for just 5 points. The following three seasons he became a full-season NHL regular, scoring 55, 53 and finally 61 points with a high of 27 goals in 1965-66.

Phil Esposito Black Hawks

In exchange for those three players, the Black Hawks received Marotte, a defenseman with two seasons under his belt, goaltending prospect Norris, a player who played 23 games with Boston in 1964-65, and Martin, the second leading scorer for Boston the previous season, but with just 42 points.

Following the trade Norris would play just 10 games in goal for the Black Hawks over the next two seasons before moving to the Los Angeles Kings after a season in the minors. Marotte saw action for Chicago for three seasons before also moving on to the Kings. Martin was the bright spot in the trade for the Black Hawks, as he played ten years for Chicago, averaging 63 points per season with a high of 90 in 1972-73 and leading the team in scoring once in 1976.

In the ten years following the trade, Chicago would qualify for the playoffs nine times, reaching the finals twice, losing to the Montreal Canadiens twice, by one goal in the seventh game in 1971 and in six games in 1973.

In the years following the trade, Stanfield was a member of the Bruins for six seasons, averaging 68 points and an incredibly consistent 22.5 goals, with each season falling between 20 and 25 goals.

Hodge shown brightly in Boston, playing nine seasons with the Bruins, with remarkable durability, only once playing less than 70 games, and scoring 90 points or more on three occasions. 1973-74 was his best season, scoring 50 goals and 105 points.

It was the arrival of Esposito, admittedly along with the maturation of defenseman Bobby Orr, that transformed the Bruins. Prior to Esposito's arrival in Boston, the Bruins had missed the playoffs in the six team NHL the previous eight seasons. Following the trade with Chicago, Boston would go on a run of making the playoffs for 29 straight years.

From Esposito's 1972 book "Hockey is My Life":
It was quite a season. For the first time in history, the Hawks finished first. I had 21 goals, but a big fat zero in six playoff games as we got knocked out in the opening round. I knew that Roger wasn't impressed with me as a playoff performer. Still, in three seasons with Chicago I had scored 23, 27 and 21 goals. So what happened? I was traded to Boston. A last place club.

For the first time in my hockey life I had been rejected. Guys talk about trades being part of the game. I suupose it's always in the back of your mind if you're a professional athlete. But when it happens - pow. It's a slap in the face. What it means to a guy is that someone doesn't think enough of him to keep him around. That was my reaction anyway. Maybe if you go from a bad club to a winner you're thrilled. But Boston? That was a last place team. They hadn't been in the playoffs since 1959. It was like the guys on the Hawks were consoling me at a wake. "You'll like it in Boston," they said. "It's a great hockey town." That wasn't my reaction, though. Ther was shame. I had scored 71 goals in three years, and my club thought they were getting someone better. Funny, isn't it, that the first thing you ask when you're told you've been traded is: "Who did they trade me for?" Then when you find out the guy's name, you try to reationalize that he's really pretty good, maybe even a bigger name than you are. Every guy I know who's ever been traded want's to know; "Who'd they get for me?"

Yet, there was something positive about the Boston deal. For the first time I realized I was a celebrity. I never thought people knew my name or that the papers cared much about me. But when the trade was announced, I was the major figure in the deal. The Hawks had to get rid of me before I saw my name in big type. At Chicago I'd been overshadowed by Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, Ken Warrham. All of a sudden, I was a big man in Boston. Together with Orr. And I liked that.

Esposito would immediately surpass his career high 61 points with Chicago and lead the Bruins in scoring with 84. Paired with Hodge and Ron Murphy in 1968-69, the line would explode offensively, setting a record for points by a line with Esposito's 126 points leading the league in scoring and obliterating the NHL single season record in the process, as he became the first player to ever reach 100 points in a season.

The 1969-70 season featured Orr winning the scoring title with Esposito second with 99 points as the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1941 thanks in part to Esposito scoring 27 points from 13 goals and 14 assists in just 14 games.

Phil Esposito 1970 Stanley Cup
Phil Esposito with the Stanley Cup in 1970

Dozens of scoring records fell to the Bruins the following season as Esposito upped the scoring record to 152 points and the goal scoring mark to 76. Remarkably, Esposito and Orr with 139 points, Johnny Bucyk with 116 and Hodge with 105, finished 1-2-3-4 in league scoring, something no NHL teammates had ever done before. Hodge's 105 points were a record for right wings and Orr's 139 still stands as the record for defensemen.

Esposito would again win the league scoring title in 1971-72 with 133 points, with Orr again second as the Bruins won their second Stanley Cup in three years. During the playoffs that season Esposito was again a major contributor, scoring nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 15 games.

1971-72 Boston Bruins
The Stanley Cup Champion 1971-72 Boston Bruins

Another scoring title for Esposito was in store for 1972-73, this time with 55 goals and 133 points with Hodge and Stanfield fourth and fifth for the Bruins.

The Bruins offense again reached the point of domination again in 1973-74 with Esposito's fifth scoring title, and fourth consecutive, when he scored 68 goals and 145 points. Once more, Esposito, Orr (122 points) and Esposito's linemates Hodge (105) and Wayne Cashman (89) swept the top four places in the scoring race, the only other time in league history teammates have swept the top four places, as the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Esposito lost out on the scoring title to Orr (135 points) in 1974-75, but still came in second overall with 127 points while leading the league in goal scoring with 61, his fifth consecutive season with 55 goals or more.

12 games into the 1975-76 season, the Bruins dealt Esposito to the New York Rangers, with Hodge following him there a year later, closing the most successful chapter in Boston Bruins history.

Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 and Boston retired Esposito's sweater #7 in a memorable ceremony in 1987.

While a member of the Bruins, Esposito won five Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, two Lester Pearson Awards, and two Stanley Cups, as did Hodge while Stanfield captured one.

It would take the Chicago Blackhawks another 43 years following the trade to win another Stanley Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks Phil Esposito jersey, as worn in Esposito's rookie season with Chicago. This was the first year for this exact style of Black Hawks jersey with three stripes on the sleeves and would be used for just two seasons before the lace up collar would be discontinued.

1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks jersey
1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks jersey

Today's video section begins with the Legends of Hockey profile of Phil Esposito.

One of Phil's all-time great moments, the Hockey Sock Rock, with The Unknown Comic, Alan Thicke and Gil Gerard. Some things you just can't unsee. You've been warned.

On a serious note, one of Phil's most memorable moments was his disappointment with the home fans after Game 4 of the 1972 Summit Series, where, always wearing his heart on his sleeve, Phil vents his frustration in front of the entire nation.

Another great video moment from YouTube, Phil Esposito, along with basketball star Bill Walton and football legend Dick Butkus, on the game show, "Wheel of Fortune"!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Finest Season in NHL HIstory

On this date in 1977 the Montreal Canadiens successfully completed the finest season in NHL history when Jacques Lemaire scored his second goal of the game at 4:32 of overtime to give the Canadiens a 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, sweeping the Boston Bruins to capture their 20th Stanley Cup championship.

The Canadiens season began on October 7, 1976 with a 10-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, setting the tone for what would become the most dominant season in NHL history. Another win was followed by their first loss at Buffalo. Three more wins and a loss at Boston were followed by four wins and a tie to put Montreal at 9-2-1 after 12 games. A loss to Boston, their only home loss of the season, was followed by a seven game unbeaten streak, putting the Canadiens at 14-3-3 at the quarter mark of the season.

A 1-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs was followed by five wins as part of a ten game unbeaten streak. After losing to the New York Rangers they went on a new 11 game unbeaten streak to reach 32-5-6.

A loss to the St. Louis Blues, a win at the Los Angeles Kings and another loss to Boston on January 17th, their third loss of the season to the Bruins, sent Montreal on an amazing run to finish out the regular season.

Over the next 34 games, from January 18th to April 3rd, Montreal would lose just once more. A 21 game unbeaten streak (17 wins, including a season high eight game winning streak, and four ties) was stopped by a loss at Buffalo. A tie with Toronto preceeded another eight game winning streak as part of a 12 game unbeaten streak to close out the season and finish at 60-8-12, setting an NHL record with 132 points which still stands today.

During the regular season, Montreal scored 387 goals while allowing just 171, outscoring their opponents by 216 goals, an average margin of victory of 2.7 goals per game. They shutout their opponents 14 times and scored seven or more goals 18 times, including a high of 11 twice, with a 11-0 win over the Capitals providing their largest margin of victory.

Steve Shutt led the team, and the league, in goals with 60, while Guy Lafleur was second on the team and in the league with 56. Additionally, Lafleur led the league in assists with 80 and points with 136 to win the scoring title by 14 points over Marcel Dionne. Shutt came in third with 105 points, the only other player to top 100.

In all, eight Canadiens scored more than 20 goals each and another six had more than a dozen.

In goal, Ken Dryden went 41-6-8 and Michel Larocque posted a 19-2-4 mark.

Once in the playoffs, Montreal swept St. Louis in four, outscoring the Blues 19-4, beat the up and coming New York Islanders four games to two and then beat Boston in the finals 7-3 and 3-0 at Montreal before winning in Boston 4-2 and 2-1 in overtime to complete their finest season in the history of the franchise, dating back to 1909. The Stanley Cup was not only the 20th for the franchise, but the second of four consecutive from 1976 to 1979.

Serge Savard 1977 Cup

The club also dominated the post-season awards, with Dryden and Larocque sharing the Vezina TrophyLarry Robinson taking the Norris Trophy and Lafleur having a season for the ages, as he took home the Art Ross Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy, the Hart Trophy, the Pearson Award and even the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's Top Athlete, with coach Scotty Bowman the recipient of the Jack Adams Award.

1976-77 Montreal Canadiens

Dryden, Lafleur, Robinson and Shutt were all named to four of the six spots on the NHL First All-Star Team while Guy Lapointe was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team.

To date, nine members of the 1977 Stanley Cup champions have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Lafleur, Shutt, Robinson, Lapointe, Lemaire, Yvan CournoyerSerge SavardBob Gainey and Dryden.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens Jacques Lemaire jersey as worn during the Canadiens record setting season in which Lemaire scored both Canadiens goals in a 2-1 overtime win to capture the Stanley Cup and complete the most dominant season in NHL history.

Lemaire would play his entire 12 year NHL career with Montreal, winning eight Stanley Cups, including scoring the cup winning goal in 1977 and 1979, one of only six players to have done so twice. He scored at least 20 goals in every one of his NHL seasons.

Following his playing career he began a coaching career, including being head coach of the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild, which included a Stanley Cup championship with the Devils in 1995, being named the winner of the Jack Adams award in 1994 and 2003 as well as being on the staff of the gold medal winning Canadian team at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Montreal Canadiens 1976-77 Jacques Lemaire jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens Ken Dryden jersey as worn during the Canadiens record setting season in which Dryden earned the third Vezina Trophy of his career with Larocque following his 41 win season. Dryden would go on to win five Vezina trophies, six Stanley Cups and pulled off the unusual feat of winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP before winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year the following season!

Montreal Canadiens 76-77 #29 jersey photo MontrealCanadiens76-7729jersey.jpg

Here are brief highlights of Game 4 of the 1977 Stanley Cup Finals, followed by an extended version which shows much of the overtime as well as the presentation of the Stanley Cup to Canadiens Captain Serge Savard.

Monday, May 13, 2013

1969 Czechoslovakia Josef Černý Jersey

Josef Černý, the only boy in his family's nine children, began his top level playing career in 1957-58 at age 18 with HC Plzen in Czechoslovakia. He would see action in 15 games, which included scoring his first 4 goals in a career which would eventually see him become the first player in the Czechoslovak league to score 400 goals, an impressive number keeping in mind the much shorter European regular season, as Černý would never play more than 46 games in a season.

The left winger's stay would be short lived, as he would join Rudá Hvēzda (Red Star) Brno the following season for a run that would last the next 20 seasons. Černý would score 13 goals his first season with Brno and then upping that to 16 in 1959-60, which also saw Brno and Černý capture the first seven consecutive Czechoslovakian championships. Three seasons later, by which time the team had changed it's name to ZKL (meaning "Ball Bearing Factory") Brno in recognition of it's change away from being an army hockey club, Černý's career highs would creep up to 18 goals and 28 points before simply erupting for a stunning 44 goals and 56 points in only 32 games in 1963-64! His linemates during this time period were center Frantisek Vanek and right winger Rudolf Scheuer.

Cerny ZKL Brno photo CernyZKLBrno.jpg
Černý early in his career with ZKL

It would be the first of eight consecutive seasons with 20 goals or more, which included seasons of 34 in 1965-66, 30 in 1968-69 and 32 in 1969-70. The 1965-66 season also saw Černý and Brno capture not only the seventh Czechoslovakian championship of his career, but the first of three consecutive European Cups, which went to the top club team in Europe beginning in 1966 which included defeats of EV Füssen of Germany in 1966, Ilves Tampere of Finland in 1967 and fellow Czechoslovakians Dukla Jihlava in 1968.

Černý was named an assistant captain of HC Kometa in 1967-68 and succeeded veteran and linemate Vanek as team captain two seasons later in 1969, a position he would hold for four seasons. 1973-74 saw Černý achieve his final 20 goal season with 23, his ninth overall and his milestone 400th goal would arrive in 1976-77, a year after the team name again was changed, now to Zetor Brno. Černý would play one final season with HC Kometa Brno in 1977-78 and his 22 year career would come to a close with one final season with ATSE Graz in the Austrian league in 1978-79.

Černý's international career was typical of a top-flight European star of the era, as his domestic season would end early enough in the spring to make him available on an annual basis for the World Championships.

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Josef Černý

His first World Championship action came in 1959 on home ice at the age of just 19 in Prague and Bratislava, which netted him a bronze medal. 1961 resulted in a silver medal and a second bronze in 1963. Consecutive silver medals arrived in 1965 and 1966. Czechoslovakia took home a bronze in 1969 before Černý was named captain of the Czechoslovakian National Team in 1970, which saw Černý earn his fourth bronze medal. His final World Championships in 1971 brought him another silver, his fourth.

Černý's first Olympic Games came in 1960 and his first Olympic medal was a bronze in 1964, which was followed by a sliver medal in 1968.

1960 Czechoslovakia Olympic team photo 1960CzechoslovakiaOlympicteam.png
The 1960 Czechoslovakia Olympic team

The final chapter of his international career came at the 1972 Olympics where Černý was rewarded with another bronze medal, the 11 medal of his career out of 13 opportunities.

1972 Czechoslovakia Olympic team photo 1972CzechoslovakiaOlympicteam.jpg
Černý  and the 1972 Czechoslovakia Olympic team

Following his playing career, Černý would go into head coaching, first in Austria and later in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, including coaching the Czech U18 National Team from 2006 to 2010.

Černý's career was recognized with his induction into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2007.

Cerny Czechoslovakia photo CernyCzechoslovakia.jpg
Černý, with pucks representing his many international goals,
which is probably easy to score when you are playing with three sticks

Today's featured jersey is a 1969 Czechoslovakia National Team Josef Černý jersey as worn in the emotionally charged 1969 World Championships when Czechoslovakia defeated the Soviet Union twice, thrilling the Czechs back at home who were still under occupation by the Soviets.

While many would expect Czechoslovakia to wear red, they have in fact, worn blue off an on during their history, including periods of use in the 1930's, 40's and 50's as well as from 1965 to 1974 before a permanent change to red jerseys in 1975.

This striking jersey is an all-time classic, with the simplicity of the striping, lace up collar, heraldic main crest as well as the unique font for the numbers, which are then drop shadowed and outlined, a treatment which is also carried over to the CSSR lettering on the back, which is then radially arched, an early precursor to player names on the back, which did not become a regular part of NHL jerseys until the mid 1970's.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here is a special treat, footage of Czechoslovakia beating the Soviet Union at the 1969 World Championships, showing footage from the game as well as the heroes welcome the received when they returned home.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 IIHF World Championship Update

There are three days left in the Preliminary Round of the 2013 IIHF World Championships, and to date, it's been a surprising and unpredictable event.

In Helsinki's Group H, Finland leads the way with 14 points from 4 wins, an overtime win and a a loss from six games played. Everyone else in the group, save Austria, has only played five games. That leaves the United States in a position to move to the top after their game today against Germany, as the US is 4-1 with 12 points, with 3 up for grabs for a regulation win in IIHF competition.

Russia currently lags behind with 9 points following their stunning defeat at the hands of France and a loss to Finland, but no one expects them to lose their next two games to Slovakia and Austria, so anyone with sights on winning the group will be aiming for a minimum of 16 points.

There is an intense battle coming to a head for the fourth and final playoff spot, as Slovakia and Germany are tied with 2 wins, 2 losses and an overtime loss, good for 7 points, while France is one point back with a 2-3 record, each with two games remaining but with France having an easier schedule remaining against Latvia and Germany.

Austria with 5 points will be looking to stay ahead of Latvia, who are at 3 points, but Latvia has two games remaining against France and Finland, while Austria has only one game left against a fired up Russian team in the battle to see which side will be relegated to Division I for next year.

Group S is currently being led by the only undefeated team in the tournament, Switzerland, who lead the competition in scoring with 22 goals in five games. The Swiss sit at 14 points with Canada right behind at 13, thanks to their shootout loss to the Swiss. Both teams have two games remaining.

Host Sweden has hit a few bumps in the road on their way to a 4-2 record. They have only one game left on their schedule, but their 12 points looks to have them solidly on track to advance to the playoffs.

The final playoff spot is down to Norway, 3-2 and 9 points, and the Czech Republic, at 2 wins, 1 overtime win and a pair of losses for 8 points. The Czechs needing a shootout to down Denmark is the reason they currently find themselves on the outside of the playoffs.

The relegation struggle is down to Denmark and Belarus with 3 points each from 5 games played, while winless Slovenia needs a miracle of epic proportions, as they have one game remaining against Canada and require a regulation win to pass Denmark and Belarus, who both have wins over Slovenia in the event of a tie.

There are four games scheduled for today and Monday, and a full slate of six on Tuesday to lock up the teams which will advance to the Playoff Round, as well as determine which two last place finishers will be relegated and replaced by Kazakhstan and Italy for 2014.

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