Current & Former USHL Talent Looks to Lead Team USA at 2019 WJC
December 5, 2018 - United States Hockey League (USHL) News Release
25 players with USHL ties, including a pair of current USHL players, were named to the U.S. National Junior Team Preliminary Roster in preparation for the 2019 World Junior Championship. The announcement was made today by USA Hockey on NHL Network. The group is auditioning for a spot on the final 23-man roster that will represent the United States in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship from Dec. 26, 2018 - Jan. 5, 2019, in Vancouver and Victoria, BC.
23 of the 29 players named to the roster are currently playing or are committed to playing college hockey. 14 of the 23 former USHL players named to the roster were selected in the first three rounds of their respective NHL Draft, with seven players drafted in the first round. At least one player with USHL experience has been featured on every U.S. World Junior Championship roster since 1995. The USHL has had 10 or more players featured on Team USA since 2012, including a record 22 former players on the 2017 team, which captured the gold medal in a thrilling shootout victory over Canada.
Among those named to the preliminary roster are five members of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team that earned the bronze medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY, all of whom played in the USHL - defensemen Mikey Anderson (Waterloo Black Hawks), Quinn Hughes (Team USA) and Dylan Samberg (Waterloo Black Hawks) and forwards Josh Norris (Team USA) and Ryan Poehling (Lincoln Stars).
The U.S. National Junior Team Preliminary Roster also features a pair of current USHL players in Team USA's Jack Hughes and Spencer Knight. Hughes is projected to be the top pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, which would make him the first player to be drafted first overall straight from the USHL. Knight, a Boston College commit, was listed as an A-rated goaltender on November's NHL Central Scouting Updated Players to Watch list, which projects him as a potential first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The pair are the first current USHL players to be named to the U.S. National Junior Team Preliminary Roster since New York Islanders prospect Kieffer Bellows, Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys in 2016. Krys was the last current USHL player to be named to the U.S. National Junior Team final roster.
Other notable players named to the team include Carolina Hurricanes prospect Jack Drury (Waterloo Black Hawks), who set a USHL record with a 23-game point streak last season, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Evan Barratt (Team USA), who is currently tied for the scoring lead in college hockey with 25 points (12G, 13A) in 15 games and Vancouver Canucks prospect Tyler Madden (Tri-City Storm), who was named Team East MVP in last year's USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The 2019 U.S. National Junior Team will be led by Mike Hastings. Hastings, currently the head coach at Minnesota State University, was as an assistant coach for the Omaha Lancers during the 1992-93 season before serving as the team's head coach and general manager from 1994-2008. During that stretch, Omaha won three Clark Cups (1998, 2001, 2008) and three Anderson Cups (2002, 2006, 2008), and Hastings was named USHL Coach of the Year twice (1997, 2002) and USHL General Manager of the Year five times (1997, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008). The 2019 World Junior Championship marks Hastings' first time as the head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team and third time overall behind the bench, as he previously served as an assistant coach in 2003 and 2005.
Other staff with USHL ties include general manager John Vanbiesbrouck and assistant coaches Steve Miller and Jerry Keefe. Vanbiesbrouck served as the General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations for the Muskegon Lumberjacks from 2013-18. Miller played for the Madison Capitols during the 1984-85 season, while Keefe suited up for the Omaha Lancers under Hastings from 1994-96.
The 29 players will convene in Everett, WA, for training camp from Dec. 15-17 at Angel of the Winds Arena. The camp will serve as part of the selection process in determining the final Team USA roster for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. The complete U.S. National Junior Team Preliminary Roster can be found HERE. Following its camp in Everett, Team USA will travel to Kamloops where it will train at Sandman Centre from Dec. 18-20. During its time in Kamloops, Team USA will face off against Russia in a pre-tournament game at Sandman Centre on Dec. 20. The U.S. will then travel to Langley, BC to meet the Czech Republic in its final pre-tournament game at George Preston Recreation Centre on Dec. 22.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. The USHL had a record 45 players selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, more than any junior league in the world, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world's foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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