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Campbell, Zucker to play third straight world juniors for U.S. team

NHL.com @NHL

The United States team at the world junior championship will be big on defence, somewhat small up front and experienced in goal.

The 22-man roster announced on Thursday has 19 players in their final year of eligibility for the under-20 tournament that begins Monday in Calgary and Edmonton.

USA Hockey director Jim Johannson acknowledged that having a relatively older team may help when they play in front of the large crowds in Canada, even if they didn't intentionally look for players born in 1992.

"It just sorted itself out on the ice," Johannson said on a conference call.

Goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Jason Zucker, who will return for a third world junior hockey championship, are among seven players back from the team that won bronze a year ago in Buffalo, N.Y. Campbell and Zucker were on the U.S. team that beat Canada in overtime to claim gold at the 2010 tournament in Saskatoon.

Other returning players are forward Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers and college defencemen Derek Forbort and Jon Merrill and forwards Nick Bjugstad and Charlie Coyle.

As expected, defenceman Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes was not on the list. The Hurricanes announced this week they would keep Faulk, who has a goal and four assists in his rookie NHL season.

Third-year coach Dean Blais said returning players should become the leaders, starting with Campbell, who the Dallas Stars drafted 11th overall in 2010.

"Every year you need leadership and that's got to come from the returning players," he said. "Jack Campbell is certainly the most important returning player, having won gold and then bronze last year. Without leadership you don't have a chance."

The backup goaltender is Anaheim prospect John Gibson of the Kitchener Rangers, while Andy Iles of Cornell University is not on the team but will be on hand in case of an injury.

The defence is huge, except for five-foot-11 Adam Clendening, who is expected to man the point on the power play.

The others are 6-7 Jarred Tinordi of the London Knights, 6-5 Forbert, two at 6-4 in Kevin Gravel and Stephen Johns, 6-3 Jon Merrill and 6-2 Jacob Trouba, the team's youngest player.

All that size on defence is countered by three 5-8 forwards: Austin Czarnik, Kyle Rau and T.J. Tynan. Josh Archibald is 5-10 and Zucker is 5-11.

"We have some big, big guys and they can all move and get the puck up to some pretty fast forwards," said Blais. "We have some who are small, but they're very talented."

The biggest forward, Bjugstad, has missed two pre-tournament games with a suspected shoulder injury. Blais said he was day-to-day and they hope he will be ready for their opening game Monday against Denmark.

"He practised today at full speed," said Blais. "At six foot four, we're happy to have him with us."

Other forwards are Ontario Hockey League players Austin Watson of the Peterborough Petes, J.T. Miller of the Plymouth Whalers and Brandon Saad of the Saginaw Spirit, as well as Bill Arnold and Connor Brickley.

Tinordi was picked in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens while Arnold went in the fourth round to the Calgary Flames in the 2010 draft. Two teams have three drafts picks on the squad. The Florida Panthers have Rau, Bjugstad and Brickley and the Chicago Blackhawks have Clendening, Saad and Johns.

The Americans meet Canada in round robin play Dec. 31.

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