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WORLDS: Who's who at the tournament for the New Jersey Devils

Get the scoop on Cory Schneider, Mackenzie Blackwood, Damon Severson, Nico Hischer, Jesper Bratt, Marian Studenic, Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes

by Amanda Stein / newjerseydevils.com

Six Devils players are competing at the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. We're going to have regular daily reports from each team that has a Devils skater and also pay a special close eye on top-ranked prospects for the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Stay tuned for special features on location from newjerseydevils.com.


Team USA

Cory Schneider, John Hynes (assistant coach), Chris 'Frosty' Scoppetto (equipment manager), Jack Hughes (#1 ranked North American prospect)

Team Canada 

Mackenzie Blackwood, Damon Severson

Team Switzerland 

Nico Hischier

Team Sweden 

Jesper Bratt

Team Slovakia

Marian Studenic 

Team Finland 

Kaapo Kakko (#1 ranked European prospect)


Cory Schneider - Team USA 

Born: Marblehead, MA

New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider was listed as one of three goaltenders for Team USA on the preliminary roster for the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia starting in May. Schneider was named alongside Vancouver Canuck Thatcher Demko and 19-year-old Cayden Primeau, drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and recently wrapped up his college career with Northeastern University.  

Just a couple of weeks after packing up his goalie gear in New Jersey for the summer, Schneider will put it right back on to once again to play for his national team. 

This won't be the first time the 33-year-old Marblehead, Massachusetts native will put on the Team USA jersey. Over the course of his career he's had that opportunity, most notably at the junior level.

When Schneider takes part in the 2019 Worlds, it will be his first time suiting up for Team USA since 2016 at the World Cup of Hockey, which was not an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) event, instead an event run by the NHL and NHLPA.

Schneider was part of the USA squad that competed at the 2004 IIHF World U18 Championship, where his 5-1-0 record led the Americans to a silver medal finish in Minsk, Belarus. 

A year later in 2005, as a member of the US National Junior Team, he competed at the IIHF World Juniors. Schneider split the net, appearing in one game with the USA and finishing fourth. A year later, with more experience under his belt, Schneider played in the 2006 World Juniors for Team USA appearing in all six games. He posted a 2-3-1 record and .912 save percentage in the fourth place US finish. 

The next stop with Team USA would take Schneider to Russia for the 2007 IIHF Men's World Championship in Moscow. Though Schneider was a member of the team, he did not suit up for any games, brought along as the third goaltender behind John Grahame and Jason Bacashihua.

At the NHL's World Cup of Hockey in 2016, Schneider had spent the summer rehabbing from off-season surgery but managed to recover in time to join Team U.S.A. as the teams third goaltender behind Ben Bishop, then with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and starter Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Schneider made two appearances, once in pre-tournament play, plus the final period of the final game of the tournament for the United States. In that lone appearance, Schneider replaced Bishop after Bishop turned aside 16 of the 20 shots he faced. Schneider stopped all seven shots he faced in relief. Team U.S.A. finished seventh in the tournament. 

While competing at the World Cup of Hockey, Schneider suited up with New Jersey Devils teammate Kyle Palmieri and also attracted a bit of attention with his selection of goalie pads. Along with Vaughn hockey, Schneider designed a set of goalie pads with the American flag motif that caught many people's eyes. 

Tweet from @lukefoxjukebox: Not sure who Team USA's true No. 1 goalie is, but Cory Schneider arrives with the best pads. #WCOH2016 pic.twitter.com/mDXuTE9mJQ

Unfortunately for fans, they won't see those USA pads at the Worlds this year. Although they are still in Schneider's possession, the materials and specs on the pads are different than the ones that he currently uses. He will however, dust off the mask from the World Cup and sport the USA themed one at the World Championship.

Medal Count: 

2003-2004 - U18 WJC Silver Medal


Jack Hughes - Team USA

Born: Orlando, FL

Potential first overall draft pick, Jack Hughes, has a long extensive list of suiting up with the red, white and blue for Team USA, despite being just 17 years old (he turns 18, on May 14). A member of the USNTDP since the 2017-18 season, Hughes' talent has been bright on the international stage. 

Hughes has represented the USA on four separate occasions at IIHF tournaments. During the 2017-18 season, Hughes competed at both the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the U18 World Championship. At the U17's Hughes captained the team to a gold medal finish, adding a remarkable 15 points in 6 games. Hughes had five goals and 10 assists at the tournament. He was also named to the U17 WHC All-Star team. At the U18's, Hughes and his American teammates were awarded the silver medal at the tournament. Hughes posted 12 points in seven games that year with five goals and seven assists. Plenty other accolades were had in his seven games: Hughes was named to the WJC All-Star Team, the WJC Best Forward, his 12 points were the most of any player and he was also named the WJC MVP. 

On the 2019 international stage, Hughes once again turned heads. Captaining Team USA at the 2019 World Juniors, Hughes had 20 points in just seven games played. Posting an incredible nine goals and 11 assists and a plus-10 rating on Team USA's way to a bronze medal finish at the tournament, he was also named to the WJC All-Star team for a second consecutive year. His 11 assists and 20 points also were tournament highs. 

The accolades would not end there on the international stage in 2019. Hughes once again was the center - no pun intended - of attention at the 2019 World U18 Championship. The tournament, which wrapped up on April 28, saw Hughes score 20 points in seven games. His nine goals and 11 assists made him just the second player in tournament history to reach 20-plus points, finishing one shy of Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov who hit 21 in 2011. 

He did, however, reach number one status in all-time U18 Worlds scoring. In his two appearances at the tournament, his 32 points marks the all-time high career points in the event, surpassing Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin's 31.

It was announced May 1st, 2019 that Hughes would join Team USA for the 2019 World Championship and at 17 years old, makes him the youngest player ever to suit up at the event for the United States. 

Medal Count: 

2017-18 - U17 WHC Gold Medal, U18 WJC Silver Medal

2018-19 - U20 Silver Medal, U18 World Championship Bronze Medal. 


Mackenzie Blackwood - Team Canada

Born: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

In 2018-19 New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood sprung onto the scene. 

After recording his first NHL victory on December 27, 2018 against the Boston Bruins, Blackwood started a run of 5-1-0 in seven games and a .936 save percentage with two shutouts. He would finish his rookie NHL season with a 10-10-0 record, .918 save percentage in 23 games played. The New Jersey Devils fan base took notice, as so did, apparently, Hockey Canada.

On April 29th, Blackwood was announced as a member of the 22-man roster Team Canada, set to compete at the IIHF World Championship in May. 

This will be only the second time the 22-year-old goaltender suits up with his national team. He appeared once before with Team Canada, at the 2016 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Blackwood played in three games in the tournament and was in net for the wild 6-5 loss to the host nation, that eliminated Canada in quarter-final play.

"Terrible," said Blackwood at the time. "It's the worst thing ever, losing. I hate it."

At the time, Blackwood was in the OHL with the Barrie Colts. Now, he enters the international stage for a second time with 23 games of NHL experience and 88 games at the AHL level. 

"[I'm] excited to be going to play for Team Canada," Blackwood said after the announcement. "It's such a privilege to be able to represent your country and its game of hockey! Also really cool to be alongside an idol of mine growing up in Thunder Bay, [Matt Murray]."

Blackwood is one of three of Canada's goaltenders at the tournament. The others are Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers' Carter Hart. 


Damon Severson - Team Canada

Born: Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada

A career year by New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson has earned him a spot on Team Canada's preliminary roster for the IIHF World Championship.

Named to Team Canada on April 29, Severson will represent his country at the World Championship in May, putting on the storied Canadian jersey for only the second time in his career. This will be his first appearance with the men's national team. He'll wear the red and white for the first time since 2011. 

"I'm super excited to get the opportunity to play for Team Canada again. It's been a few years since I last represented my country internationally, so I'm pumped to get the chance again," Severson said. "[I'm] looking forward to a solid month of May with the team."

Severson and his defense partner Andy Greene were the only two players to suit up for all 82 games of the Devils season in 2018-19. The 24-year-old defenseman's 11 goals were a career-high, while the 28 assists matched his career high set in the 2016-17 NHL season. Of his 39 points, 12 came on the power play and was one shy of his career-high mark from 2016-17.

Severson has represented his home country of Canada only once at an IIHF event in his career. At the 2012 IIHF U18 World Championship held in Czech Republic, Severson was a part of the Canadian team that won bronze. Canada defeated Finland 5-4 in overtime to finish the tournament in third behind Team USA and Sweden. Severson played in all seven games and recorded two assists. He also led all Canadian defensemen and was tied for the lead with all Canadian skaters, with a plus-7 rating at the tournament.

There was one other occasion that Severson wore the Canadian red and white jersey, as part of the 2011 World U17 Hockey Challenge, hosted by Hockey Canada and not an IIHF event. The World U17 Hockey Challenge is considered the first major international competition for hockey players under the age of 17. Canada had five regional teams in the tournament, along with eight other countries. Severson, who was playing for the WHL's Kelowna Rockets at the time, was part of Canada Western U17 team. Then 16-years-old, he played in five games and recorded two assists. 

Medal Count: 

2011-2012 - U18 WJC Bronze Medal


Jesper Bratt - Team Sweden 

Born: Stockholm, Sweden

When Jesper Bratt was officially ruled out for the remainder of the NHL season on April 1 with an ankle injury, he had one goal in mind. 

Bratt was already skating on his own, away from the rest of his Devils team who were playing their final games of the regular season. With no NHL games left for Bratt to play, he wanted to be ready for the 2019 IIHF World Championship if Sweden came calling. 

On April 19, they did. 

Bratt was announced as part of Team Sweden's preliminary roster for the tournament. Luckily for both sides, Bratt has fully recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out the final 15 games of the Devils season and will join his national team for the tournament. Bratt joins a lineup that boasts some top tier NHL talent with Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson to name a few. 

Tweet from @Trekronorse: F��rsta NHL-f��rst��rkningen har anslutit till Tre Kronor! Jesper Bratt ��r p�� plats med resten av laget inf��r veckans dubbelm��te mot Finland 🇸 #trekronor #folketslag pic.twitter.com/yRhMiLgFbd

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Bratt, at various levels, has represented his native Sweden internationally. He was part of the silver-medal winning team at the 2016 U-18 World Junior Championship and a silver medal at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in 2015. At the 2015 U17 World Hockey Championship, Bratt and his countrymen left the tournament with a bronze medal. 

The 2019 World Hockey Championship in Slovakia will be the first time the 20-year-old will suit up with the men's national team. 

Medal Count: 

2014-2015 - U17 WHC Bronze Medal

2015-2016 - Hlinka Memorial Silver Medal & U18 WJC Silver Medal


Nico Hischier - Team Switzerland

Born: Brig, Switzerland

When Team Switzerland came calling in April 2018 for Nico Hischier to join the Swiss men's national team, Hischier had to decline. Coming off his rookie NHL season, he was dealing with a wrist injury that would keep him away from the ice to recuperate during the summer. 

There was disappointment for sure, but soon, Switzerland would call again.

On April 21, the Swiss national team announced Hischier as part of their preliminary roster that would compete in pre-tournament play against France and Latvia as a gear up to the IIHF World Championship. 

At 20 years old, this will be the first time that Hischier represents his native Switzerland with the men's national team. He isn't, however, a stranger to putting on the red, white and black Swiss jersey in international play. 

In 2015, Hischier suited up at the U18 World Junior Championship in his native Switzerland. The Swiss team ended the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Canada in the bronze medal game for a fourth place finish. In the tournament, Hischier played five games, scored one goal and had a plus-4 rating.  

Hischier once again appeared at the U18's in 2016, this time sporting the 'A' on his jersey for Switzerland. Held in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Switzerland did not make it to the medal round but Hischier contributed a goal and three assists in the five games played.

Later that year, Hischier participated in the U20 World Junior Championship for the first time contributing two assists in six games played. He was the youngest player on Switzerland's roster and the second youngest player overall at the tournament. 

It was at the 2017 World Junior Championship where Hischier stood out the most. He had a total of four goals and three assists in five games played. Out of all the 2017 NHL draft eligible players in the tournament, Hischier had the most points. 

That tournament alone shot Nico to the top of many mock drafts. In the Switzerland quarter-final game against the United States, he scored Switzerland's only two goals, nearly beating Team USA singlehandedly. In a 15-minute window, Hischier erased Team USA's 2-0 lead on Switzerland with highlight reel goals as a 17-year-old. The United States would end up winning the game, but Team USA head coach Bob Motzko called Hischier "the best player we've seen in this tournament." He also added, "You did not want to be in a one-goal game against that team with Nico Hischier on the ice."

Earlier in the year, Hischier also took part in the U18 World Championship, where he had a goal and five assists in five games while wearing the 'A' on his jersey.  

Tweet from @amandacstein: Nico Hischier trades in #NJDevils red, white & black for the Swiss national team red, white & black.He���s on the ice with his national team teammates today, readying for their first pre-tournament game against France on April 26.Thanks to my friend @RSchoedler for the 📸���s! pic.twitter.com/8YX0Pk4B0k

Leading up to the 2019 World Championship, Hischier played with his Swiss men's national team for the first time in his career in pre-tournament play. Hischier made a splash in his first appearance with the national team, scoring a hat-trick in his first game. 

Hischier will be one of four NHL players on the Swiss roster. 

Instagram from @njdevils: Hat trick for @nicohischier in his first game with @swissicehockeyfederation men's national team! 🎩 🎩 


Kaapo Kakko - Team Finland

Born: Turku, Finland

A product of the Finnish hockey system, Kakko will suit up with the men's national team for the first time in his career when the World Hockey Championship begins in May.

On the IIHF stage, Kakko first suited up at the 2018 World Junior Championship, a tournament where the Finns won the gold medal and Kakko contributed 10 points in seven games. Kakko ended the tournament tied for third in scoring at the tournament, with American Jack Hughes at the top of the class with 12 points. Of Kakko's four goals, one was scored in the gold medal matchup against the United States, where Finland secured their gold medal finish for the fourth time in Finland's history at the tournament. He was also named a Top 3 player for Finland at the tournament. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: 👀��👀 pic.twitter.com/CjprpZVVoa

A gold medal would once again come into Kakko's possession at the 2019 World Junior Championship held in Vancouver. Kakko had five points in seven games (two goals and three assists), including the gold-medal winning goal with just 1:26 left on the clock against the United States. 

Kakko, having played in both the U18's and U20's in 2018, elected not to participate at the 2019 World U18's, instead focusing on his game with the Finnish men's national team. 

Most recently the Finnish top prospect, participated at the Euro Cup Challenge, a tune up for the IIHF World Championship. He faced off in games against Sweden and New Jersey Devils' Jesper Bratt.  

Medal Count: 

2017-18 - U18 WJC Gold Medal

2018-19 - U20 WJC Gold Medal


Marian Studenic - Slovakia

Born: Holik, Slovakia

New Jersey Devils forward prospect Marian Studenic will be part of the hometown team when the Worlds open. The tournament, hosted by Slovakia, will begin on May 10th, with the home team in action on the first day of the tournament, hosting the United States.

The 20-year-old Studenic, who grew up playing in his home country before departing for Canada and the OHL in 2016-17, has played for his national team on multiple occasions. His first appearance came as part of the Slovakian team that competed at the World U17 Hockey Challenge, during the 2014-15 hockey season. While a year later and still playing at the club-level in Slovakia, Studenic made the national team once again on the U-18 World Junior Championship roster. 

At the 2017 World Juniors, and in the midst of his first season in North America with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, Studenic would join his national team once again. When he made the Slovakian team, the tournament, which takes place over the December holiday season, marked the first time he would spend a Christmas away from his family. Slovakia did not medal, while Studenic played in all five tournament games. 

His most recent appearance on the international stage came for Slovakia at the 2018 World Junior Championship, his second time at the tournament. Though Slovakia did not make it to the medal round, Studenic was part of one of the more memorable games. In preliminary play, Slovakia defeated the United States 3-2, shocking not only the hockey world, but themselves. 

"This is the first time I've beaten a team like USA," he said at the time. "For our small country, this is like winning the Stanley Cup."

On May 3, 2019, Studenic was announced as part of the 27-man roster that Slovakia would ice at the 2019 World Championship, an opportunity to represent his country on home soil. He will join his men's national team of the first time, on a roster with five NHL players and as one of three current AHL-roster players.


Staff: 

John Hynes - Team USA - Assistant Coach

Born: Warwick, RI

Beginning May 10, New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes will be back behind a hockey bench. At the 2019 World Championship, Hynes has been selected to represent Team USA as an assistant coach, working alongside head coach Jeff Blashill and fellow assistant coaches' Dan Bylsma (Red Wings assistant coach) Kevin Reiter (USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Director of Player Personnel Kevin Reiter). 

It will be the second time Hynes coached at the Worlds. His last appearance with Team USA came as the team's head coach in 2016. Hynes also was behind the Team USA bench as an assistant coach at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. 

The Devils head coach has an extensive list of appearances behind the Team USA bench in different roles, dating back to the 1998-99 hockey season, serving in both head coach and assistant coach roles for Team USA.

At the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship, Hynes served as an assistant coach to the gold-medal winning team. That same year, while serving as the head coach of the 2004 World U18's Championship, Hynes coached his team to a silver medal finish. 

His appearance at this years World Championship will mark the 12th time he's served as a coach at an IIHF tournament, which does not include his role as assistant coach at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, an event run by the NHL and NHLPA. 

Medal Count: 

2004 World Juniors (Assistant Coach) - Gold Medal

2004 World Under-18's Championship (Head coach) - Silver Medal

2006 World Under-18's Championship (Head coach) - Gold Medal

2008 World Under-18's Championship (Head coach) - Bronze Medal 


Chris 'Frosty' Scoppetto - Team USA - Head Equipment Manager

Born: Hamden, CT

Affectionately known as 'Frosty,' Chris Scoppetto is the New Jersey Devils head equipment manager, a role he has held with the club since the 2016-17 season. Scoppetto was named Team USA's 2019 World Championship head equipment manager, a role which he also held at the 2017 tournament. This will be the second time that Scoppetto holds the head equipment manager role for Team USA at the Worlds, having done so in 2017 as well. 

Scoppetto has also represented his country at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia and at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. 

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