Team USA Announces Preliminary World Junior Roster
CHN Staff Report
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Team USA's preliminary roster for the 2014 World Junior Championship is NCAA-heavy, as announced by USA Hockey today.
Twenty-six players are on the list, which will be whittled to 23 when the tournament begins at the end of the month. The team will be relatively inexperienced, with only three players returning from one that won the gold medal last year.
The United States will be looking to defend its gold medal Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.
The roster is typically mainly NCAA players, though in recent years, thanks to numerous blue chippers by-passing college, there have been more and more major junior players on the list. This year, 20 former, current or future NCAA players are among the 26.
The goalie favorites are Providence's Jon Gillies and Boston College's Thatcher Demko, with Anthony Stolarz also on the list. Stolarz, a second-round NHL Draft pick, left Nebraska-Omaha last year for London of the OHL.
Of the 15 forwards, 11 are NCAA products, including Minnesota's Hudson Fasching, Wisconsin's Nic Kerdiles, Michigan's Tyler Motte and Andrew Copp, Boston College's Ryan Fitzgerald and Boston University's Danny O'Regan. The only returner from last year is Miami sophomore Riley Barber. Of the four non-NCAA forwards, Ryan Hartman also returns from last year. He was originally a Miami recruit but went to major junior. He's been injured since early November, but is expected to be ready for the tournament.
On defense, six of eight are NCAA products, including Boston College's Ian McCoshen and Steve Santini. The others are Matt Grzelyck (BU), Will Butcher (Denver), Brett Pesce (New Hampshire) and Brady Skjei (Minnesota).
Two defensive stalwarts from last year's team, Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba, are both playing in the NHL this season and are unavailable.
The only underage player on the list is Jack Eichel of the U.S. National Program, a Boston University recruit.
"He's an absolutely dynamic offensive player," Team USA general manager Jim Johansson said. "But he's also physically ready. He had real good success in the college schedule we've played and dominated the USHL schedule. ... It's going to be a hard-working, skilled team, not a dynamic offensive team. But Eichel is a dynamic offensive player."
Said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, who is this year's Team USA head coach for the World Juniors, "I saw him play in September when he was just coming back (from the world Under-18 tournament). He is a dynamic offensive player. If he's going to be on the team, he has to show what he can do from an offensive standpoint. Can he play a top role for this team? That's what we have the camp and exhibition games for."
Lucia's assistants will be St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko, Boston College assistant Greg Brown, and Denver's David Lassonde.
The team will hold a four-day camp, Dec. 15-18, in Minneapolis, and will play a pre-tournament game against Minnesota State at Mariucci Arena on Dec. 17.
From Minneapolis, training camp will move on to Angelholm, Sweden, Dec. 19-23. The U.S. will play pre-tournament games Dec. 20 vs. Sweden and Dec. 22 vs. Finland. The final 23-player U.S. National Junior Team roster will be announced Dec. 23.