USA Hockey announced that the U.S. National Junior Team selection camp will be held Dec. 16-18 at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y., the New York Rangers' practice facility.
The camp will be used to determine the final 22-man roster for the 2013 World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia. Seven-time NHL All-Star and U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Housley will coach the team.
The United States is coming off a seventh-place finish at the 2012 WJC after entering the tournament with its usual high expectations. Successive preliminary-round setbacks to Finland, Czech Republic and Canada knocked the U.S. team from medal contention for the first time in 13 years. The team needed a 12-2 victory against Latvia in the opening game of the relegation round in order to earn a ticket to the 2013 WJC. The seventh-place finish was the lowest for Team USA at the WJC since finishing eighth in 1999.
"We're always looking to be better or have a better system, but also the player pool evolves and changes every year and we have a real good book on a lot of players," USA Hockey assistant executive director of hockey operations Jim Johannson, who will serve as the WJC team's general manager, told NHL.com. "Just the fact the tournament is being held in Russia means we'll probably have smaller numbers at the initial camp. There will be enough competition that as long as there are a couple of open spots, there's competition for those spots. How that all pans out, it's too early to know [right now]."
The United States will play in Group B at the 2013 WJC, along with Russia, Canada, Slovakia and Germany, with preliminary-round games being played at the 7,950-seat Ufa Arena. Defending gold medalist Sweden, which scored a 1-0 overtime victory against Russia in last year's WJC final to end 30 years of championship futility, heads Group A, which includes Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.
"I think as we look back on [the 2012 WJC], it comes down to the fact the performance wasn't what all of us expected," Johannson said. "Do we have to look at some of the makeup of the team? Certainly. But it comes down to performance on the ice and we didn't get that performance."
Housley will be assisted by Ohio State University coach Mark Osiecki, who served as an assistant for the 2010 WJC team that won the gold medal in Saskatoon, and University of Minnesota assistant coach Grant Potulny.
In August, USA Hockey conducted its National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., which had 45 participants. Among the invitees were three returnees from the 2012 WJC team, defenseman Jacob Trouba, forward J.T. Miller and goalie John Gibson.
Two players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft also were invited -- defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League and forward Ryan Hartman of the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League.
However, not all players who attended that camp necessarily will have spots on the team that goes to Russia.
Housley and Johannson recently spent time with Jones, Hartman and others at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. Housley said positions still remain available to be won.
"Certainly we're going to keep an open mind," Housley said. "We haven't picked our team yet. There's always two or three guys that catch your eye in October and November heading into December that make the team that weren't at Lake Placid. Certainly I'm going to be watching. I've seen Seth Jones and Ryan Hartman, but there's a lot of other prospects here that certainly have a chance to make the team."
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