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Big German will represent at WJC

Konrad Abeltshauser is hoping to help Germany show it belongs at the IIHF world junior championship.

Konrad Abeltshauser is hoping to help Germany show it belongs at the IIHF world junior championship.

The Halifax Mooseheads defenceman from Bad Tolz, Germany, will be a key player when his country, after a one-year hiatus, returns to the event’s top division starting on Boxing Day in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Germany was relegated to the second-division WJC last year.

“We have to try and stay in the A pool and I think we have a good chance,” said Abeltshauser, who had four assists and a plus-9 rating in five games last year.

“The past couple of years we’ve been up and down, but now we have a good team and we want to stay there.”

Germany is in a preliminary-round group with the United States, Finland, Switzerland and Slovakia. While the U.S. is the defending gold medallist and Finland often ices solid teams, Germany could contend for the third and final playoff spot along with Switzerland and Slovakia.

“Those are two teams we can beat if we play good,” Abeltshauser said. “If we beat those two teams, we won’t be in the relegation round.”

The six-foot-four 196-pounder is optimistic because Germany’s roster is loaded with returnees from last year’s second-division event. He could be one of as many as seven players from the Canadian Hockey League on the team, while many of the others have pro experience in Germany.

“All of our players have great character and they all work hard,” Abeltshauser said. “We might not be as skilled but we always try to work harder than the other team.”

Abeltshauser, an 18-year-old who was drafted in the sixth round (163rd overall) of the 2010 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks, has logged plenty of ice time with the Mooseheads this season, recording three goals, 10 assists and a minus-16 rating in 32 games.

With Germany expected to employ a defensive game plan, a good tournament from Abeltshauser will help their cause.

“We try to keep the game as tight as possible, and sometimes you get a lucky bounce and win the game nobody expected you to win,” he said.

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