Preliminary U.S. junior team full of collegians

The 29-man preliminary roster for the United States’ entry for the World Junior Hockey Championship was unveiled today and 23 of the players named have college hockey connections, including head coach Keith Allain, currently guiding the top team in the country in Yale.

The Americans are the defending champions, having defeated Canada in overtime in a thrilling gold medal final last January in Saskatoon, Sask.

This year’s tournament will be held from Dec. 26, 2010-Jan. 5, 2011 in Buffalo, N.Y.

In goal, Cornell freshman Andy Iles will compete for time with returnee Jack Campbell, a one-time Michigan recruit.

Nine of the 10 defensemen are currently in college with the lone exception, Nick Leddy (Minnesota) a former collegian. Leddy signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in the offseason and is playing for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs this season.

Adam Clendening (Boston University), Brian Dumoulin (Boston College), Justin Faulk (Minnesota-Duluth), Derek Forbort (North Dakota), Jon Merrill (Michigan), Jamie Oleksiak (Northeastern), John Ramage (Wisconsin), Philip Samuelsson (Boston College) and Patrick Wey (Boston College) make up the rest of the blue line.

Up front, North Dakota recruit Rocco Grimaldi is the youngest player on the roster and won’t turn 18 until February.

Denver teammates Drew Shore and Jason Zucker are two of the forwards, along with BU teammates Charlie Coyle and Matt Nieto.

Rounding out the rest of the college-connected forwards are Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota), Connor Brickley (Vermont), Chris Brown (Michigan), Jerry D’Amigo (played at Rensselaer last season, now with AHL’s Toronto Marlies), Chris Kreider (Boston College), Brock Nelson (North Dakota) and Kyle Palmieri (played at Notre Dame last season, now with AHL’s Syracuse Crunch).

Campbell, Ramage, D’Amigo, Kreider, Palmieri and Zucker were all a part of the gold medal team a year ago.

The roster will be cut to 22 players on Dec. 23.

Team USA’s training camp will take place in Albany, Troy, Rochester and Jamestown, N.Y., Dec. 16-23, and will include pre-tournament games against RPI (Dec. 19), the Czech Republic (Dec. 21) and Norway (Dec. 23).