COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey today announced the 21-man roster for its 2015 U.S. Men’s Select Team that will compete at the Deutschland Cup from Nov. 6-8 in Augsburg, Germany.
All 21 players on the roster are currently participating in European elite leagues in Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Highlighting Team USA are 11 players who have represented the U.S. at one or more International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, including eight players who have combined to win 11 IIHF medals. Those medalists are Mike Brennan (Smithtown, N.Y./Sport Vaasa), Bobby Butler (Marlborough, Mass./Modo), Cade Fairchild (Duluth, Minn./Metallurg Novokuznetsk), Cal Heeter (St. Louis, Mo./Hamburg Freezers), Sam Lofquist (Somerset, Wis./SaiPa Lappeenranta), Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Zurich Lions), Tim Stapleton (La Grange, Ill./EHC Biel-Bienne) and Ryan Stoa (Bloomington, Minn./Metallurg Novokuznetsk). Matt Gilroy (North Bellmore, N.Y./Sparak Moscow), Blake Kessel (Madison, Wis./Tampereen Ilves) and Jim Slater (Lapeer, Mich./Geneve Servette) have also represented the U.S. on the IIHF stage.
Also included on the roster are six alumni of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, including Brennan, Fairchild, Chad Kolarik (Abington, Pa./Kloten Flyers), Lofquist, Matthews and Stoa.
Additionally, three players — Stapleton, Kolarik and Ryan Zapolski (Erie, Pa./Lukko Rauma) — skated for the U.S. Men’s Select Team that won the 2013 Deutschland Cup. Stapleton also competed at the 2007 Deutschland Cup.
Notes: All total, 12 players on the 2015 U.S. Men’s Select Team have NHL experience, while five more spent time in the American Hockey League … For more information on the U.S. Men's Select Team that will compete at the 2015 Deutschland Cup, including game schedule, click here … USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. teams that compete internationally.
Many sports across the board have begun to see a decline in their number of officials. USA Hockey is no different, with numbers lagging slightly behind player growth.
With that in mind, USA Hockey has made a particularly concerted effort over the last couple of years to incentivize officials to stick around.
Not surprisingly that was the main topic discussed at the annual USA Hockey's Winter Meetings, according to National Referee-in-Chief Dave LaBuda.
“I'd say the overriding tone of the meeting was us talking about retention and trying to come up with ways in which to address that particular issue,” LaBuda said. “It's a very complex situation. There are a number of different factors that go into why an official decides not to stay registered. We can only address a certain number of those factors and the rest we have to hope fix themselves in some way.”
In an effort to be proactive, USA Hockey has implemented sweeping change in the registration process for existing officials.
It started by revamping the registration fees, and while some of the other minutiae is rather hard to digest, the most notable change is the reduction of registration requirements for officials that reach the Level 3 or Level 4 status.
As soon as an official has obtained Level 3 or Level 4 status for three consecutive years, they will become eligible to apply for tenured status. In order to attain that tenured status, officials must also attend what USA Hockey is calling an advanced officiating symposium.
“It's designed to encourage people to continue their level of registration and to advance to a higher level of registration,” LaBuda said. “Just getting them to climb that ladder and try to attain the highest level of registration will make them better officials, and in turn, improve the game.”
Essentially, USA Hockey wants to send a message to its officials, making it clear that their time is important to the organization.
“We understand that people's time nowadays is becoming tighter and tighter,” LaBuda said. “We wanted to make sure that we made the entire process as efficient as possible from a time standpoint.”
It seems to be working so far as USA Hockey has been able to stabilize its registration numbers over the last few years, according to LaBuda.
“We are starting to see some movement in that retention area,” LaBuda said. “It seems like every sport is experiencing a critical loss of officials to work their sport. We are hoping that these changes in the registration process will help us retain more officials down the road. It’s been a positive step in the right direction so far.”