U.S.'s Clendening one tough nut

Team Russia’s Sergei Barbashev, left, and Yaroslav Kosov take Team USA’s Adam Clendening into the...

Team Russia’s Sergei Barbashev, left, and Yaroslav Kosov take Team USA’s Adam Clendening into the boards during second-period action at the Enmax Centrium in Red Deer on Tuesday. (Amber Bracken, QMI Agency)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:37 PM ET

CAMROSE, ALTA. - Hats off to Adam Clendening.

Make that helmets off Ñ or at least, the same helmet twice.

The five-foot-11, 190-pound defenceman out of Niagra Falls, N.Y., showed it was the size of the fight in the dog and not the size of the dog in the fight that really counts.

The only blue-liner under six-foot-two on Team USA, Clendening didn't have to wait long to prove good things can come in small packages.

Opening the pre-competition schedule of the 2012 world junior hockey championship against Russia, the Boston University player was nearly beheaded along the boards in each of the first two periods.

In the first, Russian defenceman Igor Ozhiganov was called for charging after Clendening's helmet hit the ice after coming unattached.

The second period saw it get knocked loose again as the American became the meat that was pulverized in between two slices of Russian bread, initially by Sergey Barbashev, who teed up Clendening for a charging Yaroslav Kosov hit.

Kosov received five minutes for checking to the head and a game misconduct.

Clendening was able to make it back out for his next shift, although Team U.S. was watching closely for any signs of headaches or concussion symptoms from Clendening on Wednesday.

While he seemed to escape serious injury, fellow defenceman Seth Jones was not so lucky.

The six-foot-three, 195-pound Texas native and member of the USA under-18 national team had to leave Tuesday's game against Russia early to get his left shoulder bandaged and did not suit up Wednesday in Camrose against Team Switzerland.

"I hope we didn't lose one of our best young prospects," said U.S. head coach Dean Blais. "He's obviously a great athlete and not injured very often in his career, so this would be very devastating for him. Hopefully he will make a recovery and it's not as serious as we think."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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