It appears as though the managerial staff for the U.S. National Junior Team has some more thinking to do in the wake of the team's 5-1 loss to Finland in the final pre-competition tournament game in Helsinki on Saturday.
USA Hockey had planned on releasing three players to pare its roster for the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, to the required 23-man unit following the exhibition against Finland. It apparently needs more time.
According to USA Hockey, the final three cuts will now be announced on Sunday, at approximately 3 a.m. ET/10 a.m. Helsinki. During a 5-1 loss to Finland on Saturday, U.S. coach Phil Housley listed defensemen Brady Skjei and Patrick Sieloff, forward Jim Vesey and goalie Garret Sparks as healthy scratches.
Team USA will fly to Ufa on Sunday night. The first game for the United States at the 2013 WJC is Thursday against Germany.
Finland scored three power-play goals in the third period to blow open what had been a one-goal game for the first two periods. Blake Pietila scored the lone goal for the United States. Goalie John Gibson made 25 saves. After Pietila made it 3-1 at 3:12 of the third, Stefan Matteau was assessed a two-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a hit to the head at the 3:40 mark. On the ensuing power play, Artturi Lehkonen redirected a shot by Aleksander Barkov past Gibson to make it 4-1 at 5:02.
Matteau, a first-round draft pick (No. 29) of the New Jersey Devils last June, finished the game with 4:36 of ice time for the United States.
Despite not being in the lineup, Sparks will be a member of the final 23-man roster, either as a backup to probable starter Gibson or an emergency backup in case of an injury to Gibson or Jon Gillies.
The Americans are coming off a seventh-place finish at the 2012 WJC, their worst showing since finishing eighth in 1999.
The 2013 WJC will run Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. All preliminary-round games for the United States and Canada will be played at the 7,950-seat Ufa Arena. The United States and Canada will join Slovakia, Germany and host Russia in the Group B field. Defending gold medalist Sweden, which scored a 1-0 overtime victory against Russia in last year's final, heads the Group A field, with Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.
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