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Americans travel to Russia with 24 players

by Mike G. Morreale

It appears as though the United States will refrain from making its final roster decision at the tournament deadline.

On Sunday, USA Hockey was expected to cut three players from its preliminary roster to get down to the 23-player limit for the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. Instead the Americans made two cuts -- defenseman Brady Skjei and forward Stefan Matteau -- leaving the roster at 24 as they boarded the plane for Ufa, Russia.

It is expected that the United States plans to release another defenseman before submitting its final roster to the IIHF before the Dec. 25 deadline.

The delay in announcing the final cut may have something to do with the upper body injury sustained by defenseman Connor Murphy last week. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound blueliner from the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League took a puck to the neck area last Thursday against Sweden and earned less than eight minutes of ice time in Saturday's pre-tournament exhibition against Finland. Murphy did practice with the team in Ufa on Monday. Defenseman Patrick Sieloff was a healthy scratch for the Finland game.

According to IIHF Bylaw 802.2, the United States only needs to register 15 skaters and two goalies by Dec. 25. After that deadline is met, a team can roster additional players each game, until reaching the maximum of 20 skaters and three goalies, which includes one emergency backup goalie.

Once a player has seen action in the tournament, he is permanently on the roster and cannot be removed.

So, the United States could actually roster anywhere from 15 to 19 skaters, and two goalies for its Dec. 27 opener against Germany while reserving its decision on the final roster spot.

The United States would most certainly have at least 12 forwards, six defenders and two goalies in the lineup for the first game.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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