The World Junior Championships are a really big deal in Canada. The country looks forward to them almost as much as it does the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The same can't be said in the U.S., but every battle against Team Canada ratchets up the excitement level. This year will be no different. The Americans took the bronze in the World Junior tourney last year but the year before came away with the gold in a 6-5 final win over the Canadians.
USA Hockey finalized its world Juniors roster on Thursday in a much less celebrated way than Canada, which has a media scrum at the door of every cut player when he is told the news. Ouch.
The American roster that will be challenged with not only beating the Canadians on New Year's Eve in Edmonton but also with winning the gold, has some experience to speak of. Seven players who were part of the 2011 U.S. National Junior squad are playing, highlighted by some high NHL prospects like Emerson Etem, Charlie Coyle and Derek Forbort.
Notre Dame, Minnesota and Miami U lead the way with two players apiece from their schools. As far as NHL teams with most prospects named, the Florida Panthers (Connor Brickley, Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad) and Chicago Blackhawks (Brandon Saad, Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns) lead the way with three each.
The apparent strength of the roster the U.S. has assembled chock full of first-round draft picks not only bodes well for the team's chance at another gold but also at the continuing strength of USA Hockey in its development levels.
Good news for fans who want to cheer on the Red, White and Blue, all games will be televised on NHL Network. The first tournament game for USA is on Monday, the day after Christmas against Denmark.
To see the USA Hockey release and team tournament schedule, click here. You can find the full team roster here. And as a public service announcement, @DaveStarmanCBS and @chrismpeters are great follows on Twitter if you want to keep up with the news on the U.S. World Juniors squad.
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