USA Hockey named 16 players to the preliminary roster for the 2004 United States National Junior Team, which will compete at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship from Dec. 26, 2003-Jan. 5, 2004 in Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland. The 10-nation tournament features the world’s top ice hockey players under 20 years of age.
The roster is highlighted by 10 returning players, and 13 of the 16
players were members of the 2002 U.S. National Under-18 Team, which won a
gold medal at the 2002 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Slovakia.
Fourteen of the U.S. players have been drafted, six in the first round of
the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, including Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y.), who is
currently playing for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, and 13 players are alumni of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP).
“A large core of the players we announced today have already played in
the World Junior Championship. They will bring solid experience, which
will be a key factor when we compete in the tournament this year,” said Mike Eaves, coach at Wisconsin and for Team USA at the World Juniors.
Sharing the goaltending duties for Team USA will be Maine’s Jimmy Howard
and Michigan’s Alvaro Montoya. Howard was a member of the 2003 U.S. National Junior Team that advanced to the bronze-medal game. He was named Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year in 2003, and set a record at Maine for consecutive shutout minutes with 193:45 last season. Montoya set Michigan freshman records for wins (30), save percentage (.911) and games played (43) en route to a 30-10-3 record in the 2002-03 season.
Nine others are returning from last year’s squad, including defensemen
Mark Stuart (Colorado College) and Ryan Suter (Wisconsin). Suter was taken in the first round, seventh overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators, and was the highest American selected.
Returning forwards include former Ohio State center Ryan Kesler, who now is in the AHL, North Dakota’s Zach Parise, the top returning scorers, registering seven and eight points, respectively, at the 2003 tournament. Parise was selected in the first round and 17th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He was also the only freshman finalist for the 2003 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, and was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team.
Greg Moore (Maine) and Brett Sterling (Colorado College) also return.
Joining the returnees will be forward Patrick Eaves (Boston College), who was slated to compete in last year’s World Junior Championship, but was sidelined by injury. Eaves was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week three consecutive times last October, and registered seven points (5-2) in only eight league games before his injury. A Hockey East opponent of Eaves’, Stephen Werner (Massachusetts), will be making his first appearance for Team USA. Werner was a unanimous selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team in 2002-03 after leading all league freshmen in scoring.
Newcomers Matt Carle (Denver) and Corey Potter (Michigan State) are two defensemen who competed on the gold-medal winning 2002 National Under-18 Team. Rounding out the newcomers is defenseman Jeff Likens (Wisconsin). Likens competed with the NTDP for two years (2001-02 and 2002-03), and during that time he won a gold medal with the U.S. National Under-17 Team at the 2002 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Eaves’ coaching resume with USA Hockey includes guiding the 2001-02 U.S. National Under-18 Team to a 37-21-4 record, the best mark in NTDP history, and leading the team to the gold medal at the 2002 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Piestany, Slovakia. With a 7-1-0 record, the Under-18 Team earned the first ice hockey gold medal for the U.S. at an A-Pool IIHF World Championship, excluding the Olympics, since 1933. Last October Eaves became the first USA Hockey coach to be named the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Developmental Coach of the Year, after also guiding the 2001-02 U.S. National Under-18 Team to a silver medal at the 2002 Five Nations Cup in Tyumen, Russia.
Joining Eaves and assistant coaches John Hynes and Moe Mantha on the coaching staff will be Ken Martel. Martel serves as an assistant coach for the NTDP’s U.S. National Under-18 Team.
The final 22- player roster will be announced December 2.