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Werenski named top defenseman at World Junior

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Zach Werenski had a World Junior tournament that he'll never forget.

The only thing missing, of course, was a gold medal.

But his American team, of which he was named captain shortly before the tournament began, picked itself up after a crushing semifinal loss to Russia and dominated Sweden in the bronze medal game. They wanted to go out as winners, and with an 8-3 victory, they did just that -- and Werenski lead the way.

He was one of Ron Wilson's most relied-upon players, sometimes logging over 30 minutes per game in all situations, and in some games it felt as though he never left the ice. At both ends of the rink, Werenski was impressive, showing the patience, poise and creativity that he was known for when the Blue Jackets selected him No. 8 overall in 2015.

The 18-year-old Werenski, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, was the tournament's leading scoring defenseman (two goals, seven assists in seven games). He led all players in the World Junior with a +10 rating and 30 shots on goal, as well.

At the conclusion of the gold medal game between Russia and host Finland, the IIHF directorate named Werenski the top defenseman in the tournament.

Werenski was also named to the World Junior's Media All-Stars team along with American teammate Auston Matthews, who was tops among U.S. players in goals and tied with Finland's Patrik Laine for the tournament lead (7).

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