12/05/2011 5:52 PM
- From ChicagoBlackhawks.com: (link)
Armed with eight returning players, eight first-round NHL draft picks and a few promising prospects eligible for future NHL drafts, USA Hockey on Monday announced its 30-player roster for a preliminary camp that will serve as the final tryout for the team that will represent the U.S. at the IIHF 2012 World Junior Championship.
Team USA's training camp will take place Dec. 17-23 at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose, Alta. The club also will play three exhibition games -- in Red Deer, Alta., against Russia on Dec. 20; in Camrose against Switzerland on Dec. 21; and in Three Hills, Alta., against Slovakia on Dec. 23.
The final 22-player roster for the tournament is expected to be announced Dec. 22.
Team USA followed its gold medal in Saskatoon at the 2010 WJC with the bronze medal last year in Buffalo, making it the first time in the 35-year history of the tournament that the U.S. has won medals in consecutive tournaments. They'll hope for a medal three-peat when the 2012 WJC is held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Edmonton and Calgary.
The U.S. will play in Group B, along with Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic and Canada. Group A will consist of Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia.
Team USA General Manager Jim Johannson and coach Dean Blais announced the 30-player roster exclusively on NHL Network's Cisco NHL Live.
"We're very excited to see what this group of players brings to camp," Johannson said. "The talent and skill that all of these players bring will make trimming the roster tough, but we look forward to the process."
Returning from last year's team are goalie Jack Campbell of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), defensemen Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes, Derek Forbort of the University of North Dakota (WCHA) and Jonathon Merrill of the University of Michigan (CCHA), along with forwards Nick Bjugstad of the University of Minnesota (WCHA), Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL), Charlie Coyle of Boston University (HE) and Jason Zucker of the University of Denver (WCHA). Zucker also won a gold medal with the 2010 WJC team.
Faulk was named to the preliminary roster pending release by the Hurricanes. Cornell University's Andy Iles, who was the backup to Campbell at the 2011 WJC, is the team's emergency goaltender and will not attend the pre-tournament camp.
Campbell, who has worn the U.S. sweater in the last two WJC tournaments, was voted the Most Outstanding Goalie of the 2011 WJC after going 4-1-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
He went 1-1-1 with a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage in three games in 2010, but is best remembered for coming off the bench in place of starter Mike Lee 3:56 into the second period of the gold-medal game against Canada and making 32 saves on 34 shots to backstop the U.S. to the gold medal.
The U.S. roster also is full of recent first-round draftees. J.T. Miller was taken by the New York Rangers with the 15th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. Campbell (No. 11, Dallas), Forbort (No. 15, Los Angeles), forward Austin Watson (No. 18, Nashville), Bjugstad (No. 19, Florida), Tinordi (No. 22, Montreal), Coyle (No. 28, San Jose/traded to Minnesota) and Etem (No. 29, Anaheim) all were taken in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Sixteen NHL teams will have at least one prospect at the camp, led by three each from the Florida Panthers (Bjugstad, University of Vermont forward Connor Brickley and University of Minnesota forward Kyle Rau) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Johns, Saginaw forward Brandon Saad and Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening). The Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, and Minnesota Wild will have two prospects each.
There are two promising 2012 NHL Draft prospects invited to camp, defenseman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-18 team (USHL) and forward Austin Czarnik of Miami University (CCHA). Additionally, top 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones, a defenseman with the USNTDP U-18 team, earned an invite.