Team USA Looks to Win Back-to-Back World Junior A Challenge
The World Junior A Challenge kicks off December 7 in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Team USA released their 21-man roster which includes players only from the USHL (United States Hockey League). The USHL is the premier junior hockey league for players ages 16 to 20.
Making up Team USA are 12 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies. Included on the roster are three 2019 NHL Draft picks.
- Rhett Pitlick – Forward, Montreal Canadiens – pick #131, round 5.
- Michael Koster – Defenseman. Toronto Maple Leafs – pick #146, round 5.
- Ethan Haider, Goaltender. Nashville Predators – pick #148, round 4.
Along with the three draft picks from the 2019 NHL Draft, there are nine draft-eligible players listed on the NHL Central Scouting Rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft. First, the B-rated skaters include Mitch Miller, Luke Reid, and Ryder Rolston. Following are the C-rated skaters Brendan Brisson, Sean Farrell, Trevor Kuntar, Alex Laferriere, Ben Meehan, and Grant Silianoff.
The Coaching Staff
The head coach of Team USA will be Anthony Noreen of the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Joining Noreen will be the assistant coach of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, Mark Abalan. Also of the USHL, Waterloo Black Hawks head coach Shane Fukushima will serve as an assistant coach. Rounding out the assistant coaching staff is head coach David Wilkie of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. This coaching staff has had tremendous success for Team USA, leading them to eight gold medal victories in 13 appearances.
Team USA will take on Canada East on December 5 in a pre-tournament game in Chetwynd, British Columbia. Following the pre-tournament scrimmage, the first four games come against Canada West, the Czech Republic, Canada East, and Russia. The semifinals begin on December 14, and the third-place and championship games take place on December 15. This is the 13th year the U.S. will compete in the tournament. It should be noted that Team USA has a chance to win back-to-back titles for the third time in those 13 years.
Up Next for Team USA
After the Junior A Challenge, Team USA will head to the Czech Republic for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament runs from December 26 through January 5 and features some of the best hockey talent 20 years old and younger. Other countries that will compete include Russia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia, and Kazakhstan.
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