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Barber named captain of U.S. WJC team

by Mike G. Morreale

United States National Junior Team general manager Jim Johannson on Sunday reduced the select camp roster by two players with the release of forward Henrik Samuelsson and defenseman Brett Pesce.

        Riley Barber

Johannson will need to cut one more player to reach the maximum of 23 players eligible to participate for the defending gold medalist at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

It was also announced Sunday that forward Riley Barber (Miami University; Washington Capitals) would serve as the team's captain. Forward Andrew Copp (University of Michigan; Winnipeg Jets) and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University; Boston Bruins) will be the country's alternate captains.

Barber was one of three returning players on the select roster that garnered a gold medal at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. Barber, Copp and Grzelcyk earned gold medals as teammates at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship.

"I will never forget that experience," Barber said of the 2013 WJC. "The most important thing is being able to come together as a team in such a short time. You need to put aside egos and do the best you can for the betterment of the team. Some guys will play more minutes on the power play and some will spend more time on the penalty kill but our team goal was ultimately to win a gold medal and everybody did what they needed to do in order to attain that goal. That's what I remember most."

Barber had three goals, six points and a plus-1 rating in seven games at a tournament chock-full of NHL-caliber talent since it took place during the NHL work stoppage last December.

"We are pleased to have settled on our three goaltenders and seven defensemen for the tournament," Johannson said in a statement. "Due to a medical matter, we are still evaluating our forwards and expect to make a final decision by our first game on Dec. 26."

Johannson is referring to Adam Erne (Quebec Remparts; Tampa Bay Lightning) and Tyler Motte (University of Michigan; Chicago Blackhawks). Both forwards haven't skated with the team since Dec. 17 in a pre-tournament exhibition against Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn. Erne and Motte skated on their own Sunday morning for the first time since that exhibition game.

U.S. coach Don Lucia expects both players to resume practicing with the team Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, the Americans scored a 3-2 victory against Finland in the final exhibition tune-up in Angelholm, Sweden, prior to the start of the 2014 WJC. The United States will play the Czech Republic to open the tournament on Dec. 26 at 11:30 a.m. ET (NHLN-US,


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