Michigan's Motte the Last Team USA Cut
by Nathan Wells/CHN Reporter
Team USA has finalized its 23 man roster for the 2014 World Junior Championships and Michigan freshman forward Tyler Motte is the last one cut.
Motte, a 2013 4th round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, joins New Hampshire defenseman Brett Pesce and Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) forward Henrik Samuelsson forward in being sent home from Sweden, where the team has been preparing since December 19.
With the cuts, Team USA’s 23 man roster features 17 collegians and 1 recruit in 17 year-old Jack Eichel.
In one sense Motte being left off the final roster doesn’t come as a surprise. He has been battling an injury, albeit one not as serious as teammate J.T. Compher, who is scheduled to be out for a few weeks with a leg injury.
However, the injury did stop Motte from playing in either overseas exhibition game – a 4-2 loss to Sweden and a 3-2 win over Finland.
That doesn’t help being the last one cut a day before the tournament begins.
The 18 year-old from St. Clair, Michigan, who has 13 points (5G-8A) in 14 games for the Wolverines, was embracing the opportunity to play in a bottom-six role when speaking last week at training camp in Minneapolis.
“Obviously with the guys on this team I won’t be needed as much in the power play position, but killing penalties is one of my favorite parts to the game,” he said.
Still, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound freshman is on the smaller side for an Under-20 tournament that Team USA head coach Don Lucia said is “for men only.”
Motte, who spent two seasons at the USNTDP and led Team USA with 5 goals in the 2013 U-18 World Championships, could have played a role without the injury, but the Americans are bringing in bigger bodies on the third line.
He’ll also have another chance to play in the World Juniors next season. That’s good for Motte, who relished the opportunity to put on the USA sweater again after extensive international experience, and possibly for Michigan. The Wolverines are 10-2-2 this season with a second-half schedule that almost exclusively features Big Ten conference play.
Although Michigan is looking like a lock to return to the postseason after missing the NCAA Tournament last year, Motte wasn’t content with just the first half.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can work on as a team moving forward,” he said. “I think our team has a lot more potential than we’ve shown so far this year. Obviously we’ve played well so far, but there’s a lot more we can work for.”
The 2014 Under-20 World Junior Championships run from December 26 to January 5, 2014 in Malmo, Sweden. Team USA begins defense of its 2013 Gold Medal on December 26 against the Czech Republic.