CHRISTMAS EVE GREETINGS FROM TORONTO
The U.S. National Junior Team players and staff arrived in Toronto just after midnight after it's 4-0 shutout victory over the Czech Republic last night in Kingston, Ontario. The players and staff will spend Christmas Eve on their own with family and friends before returning to the ice on Christmas morning. While some players will venture outside of the hotel to the Toronto city streets, the availability of a ping-pong table in the Team USA rooms may cause some to stay inside for a couple of games.
FINAL 23-PLAYER ROSTER NAMED
This morning, USA Hockey announced the final 23-player roster for this year's International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. The roster includes three goaltenders, seven defensemen and 13 forwards.
"We're excited about this group of players and the way in which they will maximize the style of hockey that head coach Bob Motzko wants the team to play," said Jim Johannson, general manager of the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team and assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "The talent level in the United States is among the best in the world and the difficulty we had identifying this year's roster speaks to that. These players earned their way on to this roster and we're looking forward to the tournament getting underway."
LAST-MINUTE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING
Like many others, players and staff of Team USA are out and about in nearby Toronto stores and malls seeking last-minute Christmas gifts for this year's Secret Santa exchange. The Team USA tradition returns after a one-year hiatus last year that saw players and staff, in addition to receiving small gifts, take turns celebrating the holiday by thanking those who helped them on and ice growing up.
RECORD-BREAKING USHL TIES
A record 22 players named to this year's U.S. National Junior Team roster have spent time in the United States Hockey League, the only Tier I junior hockey league in the United States. In addition to the 17 players who spent time in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program that plays in the league, this year's roster includes several other notable ties to the USHL:
Last season forward Tanner Laczynski (Shorewood, Ill./Ohio State University) was named to the All-USHL Second Team while Jack Ahcan (Savage, Minn./St. Cloud State University) was tabbed USHL Defenseman of the Year and a All-USHL First Team selection after helping the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders claim the Anderson Cup regular-season championship. Two seasons ago, Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Boston University) helped the Sioux Falls Stampede claim the 2015 Clark Cup while being named 2015 USHL Rookie of the Year and a All-USHL First Rookie Team and All-USHL Third Team selection.
USHL ties are also shared by this year's staff, as general manager Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) spent five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans where he led the Vulcans to the 2000 USA Hockey Junior A National Championship in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Head coach Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud State University), played in the USHL for Dubuque Fighting Saints (1980-81) and Waterloo Black Hawks (1979-80) before coaching the North Iowa Huskies (1986-91) and Sioux Falls Stampede (1999-01). Twice named USHL General Manager of the Year, his all-time USHL coaching record stands at 165-143-14 (W-L-T). In addition, two assistant coaches skated in the USHL as Kris Mayotte played for the Sioux City Musketeers (2001-02) and Grant Potulny (Grand Forks, N.D./University of Minnesota) played for the Lincoln Stars (1998-00) where he helped the squad claim the Anderson Cup as the team’s MVP in 1999-2000.