Tuesday, December 24, 2013

U.S. Begins WJC Play on Thursday in Sweden

The U.S. National Junior Team will attempt to defend its title when it begins the 2014 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden this week.

The U.S. opens WJC play on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. ET against the Czech Republic, in a game that will be televised on the NHL Network. The U.S. will also face Group 'A' opponents Slovakia, Germany and Canada in the preliminary round, which runs through Dec. 31. All of Team USA's games will be shown on the NHL Network, according to USAHockey.com.

Only three members of last year's gold-medal-winning squad in Russia return this time out for the Americans, including goaltender Jon Gillies (Providence) and captain Riley Barber (Miami). The only other returnee is Ryan Hartman of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.

The 24-man roster includes 23 NHL draft choices, and 18 players who are currently skating for NCAA Division I schools. The head coach this year is Don Lucia (Minnesota), a two-time NCAA national championship winner with the Golden Gophers who will attempt to guide the Americans to their second straight gold medal, and third in five years. The U.S. previously won gold in Saskatoon in 2010, and in Finland in 2004, both times by besting Canada in the title game.

Drop the puck, and Merry Christmas!

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