COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Hockey today named the first 18 players to its U.S. Men's National Team that will compete at the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Moscow, Russia, April 27-May 13.
"We've got a good mix of players with World Championship experience and younger players who will likely be a part of our program for years to come," said Jim Johannson, senior director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "Our National Team Advisory Group has done an outstanding job in selecting players who we feel will excel in international competition."
USA Hockey's National Team Advisory Group consists of National Hockey League general managers Brian Burke (Anaheim Ducks), David Poile (POY-uhl) (Nashville Predators), Ray Shero (SHEER-oh) (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Don Waddell (Wah-DEHL) (Atlanta Thrashers).
Team USA's roster includes seven players who have previously played in the IIHF World Championship. The group includes defensemen Andrew Alberts (Minneapolis, Minn./Boston Bruins/2006) and Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn./Phoenix Coyotes/2004); forwards Chris Clark (South Windsor, Conn./Washington Capitals/2002), Erik Cole (Oswego, N.Y./Carolina Hurricanes/2005) and Phil Kessel (Madison, Wis./Boston Bruins/2006); and goaltenders Robert Esche (Whitesboro, N.Y./Philadelphia Flyers/2000, 2001) and John Grahame (Denver, Colo./Carolina Hurricanes/1996).
In addition, 11 of the 18 players are 25 years old or younger, including defensemen Alberts, Ballard, Matt Greene (Grand Ledge, Mich./Edmonton Oilers) and Jack Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind./Los Angeles Kings); forwards Brandon Bochenski (Blaine, Minn./Boston Bruins), Nathan Davis (Rocky River, Ohio/Miami (Ohio) University), Kessel, Chad LaRose (Fraser, Mich./Carolina Hurricanes), Paul Stastny (Quebec City, Quebec/Colorado Avalanche) and Lee Stempniak (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Louis Blues); and goaltender Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass./Boston College).
Rounding out the first group of players named to the U.S. roster are defenseman Brian Pothier (New Bedford, Mass./Washington Capitals) and forwards Tyler Arnason (Oklahoma City, Okla./Colorado Avalanche) and Toby Petersen (Minneapolis, Minn./Edmonton Oilers).
Arnason, 28, born in Oklahoma City, Okla. where his father played for the Minnesota North Stars' Central Hockey League affiliate, is making his first appearance for Team USA. He appeared in all 82 games for the Avalanche this season, compiling 49 points (16g/33a).
Stastny, 21, who holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, also makes his Team USA debut following a standout NHL rookie campaign. He appeared in all 82 games, recording 78 points (28g/50a) which ranked second among all rookies.
Team USA will play an exhibition game against Sweden at Globe Arena in Stockholm on April 25 at 7 p.m. (local time)/1 p.m. (EDT) before beginning competition in the IIHF World Championship on April 27 at 4:15 p.m. (local time)/8:15 a.m. (EDT) against Austria. The United States will play two additional preliminary-round games against Belarus (April 29) and the Czech Republic (May 1) before the qualification round begins.
NOTES: Additional players will be named to the U.S. roster in the coming days ... Cole, Esche and Grahame were all members of the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team that competed at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy ... The average age of the first 18 players named to Team USA is 25.1 years old ... Mike Sullivan, former head coach of the NHL's Boston Bruins and an assistant coach with the 2006 U.S. Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team, was named head coach of the 2007 U.S. Men's National Team on March 26. Barry Smith, head coach and director of hockey operations with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Elite League, will serve as associate head coach of Team USA, while David Quinn, associate head coach for the Boston University men's ice hockey team, will serve as assistant coach.