2017 World Juniors: Team USA roster finalized; Krys cut, all three goalies stay

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The U.S. National Junior Team has been finalized ahead of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. As expected, the roster will feature the maximum of 23 players with three goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards.

Defenseman Chad Krys was the final player released from camp, making him the second would-be returnee to be cut from this team after Alex DeBrincat was let go two days earlier.

With the team finalized, some thoughts on the roster as a whole…

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2017 World Juniors: Team USA releases DeBrincat, Brown; One cut left to make among skaters

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USA Hockey announced Thursday morning that its preliminary roster for the U.S. National Junior Team has been trimmed by two players. Erie Otters sniper Alex DeBrincat (CHI) and big Windsor Spitfires center Logan Brown (OTT) have been released from the camp. There is still one skater left to cut and the U.S. brass has to decide if they will carry three goalies or not.

Head coach Bob Motzko had said multiple times that the hope was to have the team decided before the final exhibition game on Friday night against the Czech Republic. That game was supposed to serve more as a dress rehearsal than an evaluation game, but more time is needed.

By the way, the U.S. won their first exhibition game going into the tournament, topping Switzerland 4-3. The result is irrelevant to the main story, however, which is that the U.S. roster is cut down.

Every time a player gets cut, there’s usually a pretty wide reaction. It’s going to get more engagement than almost anything outside of a team playing in a gold medal game. This is the kind of stuff people love to talk about and debate.

The general reaction in regards to DeBrincat in particular being cut is that it’s the “same old USA Hockey” leaving a scorer at home. But the way this roster is structured makes this situation unique to previous ones.

Here’s why…

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2017 World Juniors: Team USA Notebook — USA-SUI Exhibition preview; Roster thoughts; Where’s the WJC Buzz?

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The U.S. National Junior Team has crossed the border after their five-day camp in Buffalo. Wednesday also marks a crucial evaluation day as the team looks to pare down its roster from 26 to 23, or possibly even 22 if they end up deciding to cut a goalie.

Team USA will be taking on Switzerland in Oshawa tonight at 7 p.m. ET. Unfortunately, it does not sound like any live stream will be available for the game, which is going to makes analyzing Team USA’s decisions a bit more difficult for those of us not there. However, the lack of availability of the game is another example of something I’ve noticed about this World Juniors in particular, which I’ll get into a bit more below.

The big news of the day, however, is that the U.S. roster could be decided as soon as tonight. The team hopes to make the cuts after the game so that they can go into their final pre-tournament contest Friday with their roster. Barring injury, illness or a decision they can’t just bring themselves to make yet, at least three players could learn their fate. The hope is to have the decision made by Thursday.

Team USA has typically brought 13 forwards and seven defensemen to the tournament, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they go 12 and eight instead. I don’t think it’s overly likely, but it is possible. They also have the option of bringing three goalies with them, but don’t have to take all three. U.S. GM Jim Johannson told Mike Morreale of NHL.com that it hasn’t been decided yet if the team will bring all three or send one home. That probably won’t be official until after the final exhibition.

The picture becomes clearer within the next 24 hours, either way. So let’s get into some notes. UPDATE: Includes official lineup for tonight’s pre-WJC game:

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2017 World Juniors: Team USA camp preview

usawjcThe U.S. National Junior Team opens camp Friday in Buffalo with 26 players vying for 23 spots as the Americans seek to improve on a bronze medal finish from last season.

To do that, Team USA’s head coach Bob Motzko is going to need to find the right mix with two cuts to make among forwards and one on the blue line. It appears as though all three goaltenders named to camp will be on the roster USA Hockey submits before the tournament, with each of the invitees having an honest shot at the No. 1 job.

Team USA will hold a series of practices at the HarborCenter in Buffalo starting Friday morning and running through Dec. 20 before heading to Oshawa, Ontario for the remainder of camp.

The team has often played at least one exhibition game against a college team before the end of the U.S. based portion of the camp, but that won’t be happening this year, which means one less opportunity for Team USA candidates to make their case in a game setting. The Americans will, however, be playing two pre-tournament exhibitions against Switzerland and the Czech Republic before the tournament. The final roster is expected to be announced on Dec. 24.

Here’s Team USA’s camp schedule page

With all of that in mind, let’s get into what to know about Team USA as camp nears…

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Annnnd… we’re back (for a little while)

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After more than two years of dormancy, the United States of Hockey is back just in time for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. It was exactly six years ago today (really?) that I published the first post on this little website and it’s been a wild ride ever since.

As some of you may know, I am no longer with CBS Sports, which is the job that ultimately took me away from this little passion project. It was a mostly expected and amicable split. That said, your ol’ pal is still trying to figure out the next move and since I have some time — especially with the World Juniors coming up — I decided to pull off the drop cloths, sweep away the cobwebs and turn the lights back on here.

My plan for right now is to only run the blog through the end of World Juniors. So maybe don’t call it a comeback, but it’s definitely an exciting limited engagement for me and I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to offer.

In addition to the World Juniors coverage, which probably won’t be as intense as it used to be due to time constraints and having two kids now, I’m going to try to hit on a few topics relevant to the old USofH audience. So if you’re a longtime reader or even if you’re new, there’s going to be something for you here.

Coming soon, a preview of Team USA’s World Junior camp which gets going Friday in Buffalo.

It’s good to be home.

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The Long Goodbye…

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As a noted procrastinator who utilizes the stress and anxiety of a tight deadline to focus and tighten his writing, and as someone who so often said on this very website that this piece would come at this time only to have it come later or not at all, I don’t think I’ve put off anything as long as this post. It’s the dread of finality, really.

Effective today, I will be going on an extended, possibly permanent hiatus from United States of Hockey after three-plus years of covering the things I am most passionate about in this great game.

I am pleased to say it is with good reason that I step away. On July 1, I assumed a full-time role as an NHL writer for CBSSports.com. I’ll be taking over the Eye on Hockey blog, which I have been contributing to on a part-time basis since October of 2012. It is a terrific opportunity that I am so thankful to have been offered and I can’t wait to continue building an audience for hockey under the CBS Sports masthead.

This blog started as a way for me to fill some voids at first. There was a number of things I felt were under-covered and had hoped that maybe I could shed some light on certain areas of hockey that didn’t get as much notice.  Continue reading

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U.S. Hockey Participation Numbers for 2013-14

There were more people playing hockey in the United States than ever before during the 2013-14 season according to USA Hockey. The national governing body’s membership report released in early June indicates that 519,417 people registered as players last season, which bested the previous year’s total by more than 9,000 and the previous record set in 2011-12 by 7,000. It should go without saying that this is a spectacular sign for the direction of hockey in the United States.

USAHockeyArcUSA Hockey enjoyed a 1.79 percent bump in membership from 2012-13, which helped offset a minimal decline in playing membership that season. Looking at the 10-year growth, USA Hockey has enjoyed a 16.6 percent bump from 2004-05.

The organization also reached record highs in total membership, which includes coaches and on-ice officials. USA Hockey now includes 598,841 Americans directly involved with hockey as players, coaches or officials, with an estimated 1 million-plus involved as volunteers, team managers and parents. That’s pretty good news for the game.

Coming up after the jump, a deeper dive into the 2013-14 numbers as well as a state-by-state breakdown of growth and where each state ranked in total membership last season.

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Posted in Grow the Game, High School Hockey, Junior Hockey, Minor League Hockey, NCAA, NHL, USA Hockey, Youth Hockey | 12 Comments