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Matthews tops U.S. World Junior camp invite list

by Mike G. Morreale

Auston Matthews, expected to be the first player picked at the 2016 NHL Draft, was among the 29 players invited to USA Hockey's selection camp for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, USA Hockey announced Monday.


Goalies: Brandon Halverson, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (New York Rangers); Luke Opilka, Kitchener, OHL (St. Louis Blues); Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Tyler Parsons, London, OHL (2016 draft eligible)

Defensemen: Louis Belpedio, Miami University, NCHC (Minnesota Wild); Brandon Carlo, Tri-City, WHL (Boston Bruins); William Borgen, St. Cloud State University (Buffalo Sabres); Ryan Collins, University of Minnesota, BIG 10 (Columbus Blue Jackets); Brandon Fortunato, Boston University, H-EAST; Chad Krys, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Charlie McAvoy, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Zachary Werenski, University of Michigan, BIG 10 (Columbus Blue Jackets); Casey Fitzgerald, Boston College, H-EAST (2016 draft eligible)

Forwards: Kieffer Bellows, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Paul Bittner, Portland, WHL (Columbus Blue Jackets); Anders Bjork, University of Notre Dame, H-EAST (Boston Bruins); Brock Boeser, University of North Dakota, NCHC (Vancouver Canucks); Alexander DeBrincat, Erie, OHL (2016 draft eligible); Ryan Donato, Harvard University, ECAC (Boston Bruins); Christian Dvorak, London, OHL (Arizona Coyotes); Scott Eansor, Seattle, WHL (2016 draft eligible); Ryan Hitchcock, Yale University, ECAC (2016 draft eligible); Clayton Keller, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Auston Matthews, Zurich, SUI (2016 draft eligible); Ryan MacInnis, Kitchener, OHL (Arizona Coyotes); Sonny Milano, Lake Erie, AHL (Columbus Blue Jackets); Nick Schmaltz, University of North Dakota, NCHC (Chicago Blackhawks); Matthew Tkachuk, London, OHL (2016 draft eligible); Colin White, Boston College, H-EAST (Ottawa Senators)

Camp will be held Dec. 15-18 at Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University. It will include four practices and an exhibition game against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on Dec. 18.

The 2016 WJC will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2016 in Helsinki, Finland. The U.S. opens play Dec. 26 against Canada in a Group A preliminary-round game. Also in Group A are Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland and Belarus are Group B.

Matthews has 11 goals and 20 points in 19 games with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. He earned an A rating from NHL Central Scouting on its November players to watch list.

He is one of eight 2016 draft-eligible players invited to the camp, a list that also includes goaltender Tyler Parsons and forward Matthew Tkachuk from London of the Ontario Hockey League; forward Alexander DeBrincat from Erie of the OHL; defenseman Charlie McAvoy, a freshman at Boston University; and defenseman Chad Krys and forwards Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team. Tkachuk, DeBrincat, McAvoy, Krys, Keller and Bellows also earned A ratings from NHL Central Scouting.

Bellows, at 17 the youngest player invited to the camp, leads the NTDP with 20 goals and is second with 36 points in 25 games.

Matthews, who had one goal and two assists in five games at the 2015 WJC, is one of seven players returning from last year's tournament team, which finished fifth. Joining him are goaltenders Brandon Halverson (New York Rangers) Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes); defensemen Zachary Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Brandon Carlo (Boston Bruins); and forwards Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks) and Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets). Milano tied for second on last year's team with two goals and four points in five games.

"We're excited with this talented group of players coming to the camp," U.S. National Junior Team general manager Jim Johannson said. "We'll have some tough decision to get down to our final roster but we're looking forward to Boston to help us get a clearer picture on the team's final makeup."

The U.S. will have a final training camp in Vierumaki, Finland, from Dec. 19-23, where the final 23-player tournament roster is expected to be set.

Three players with junior eligibility not invited to the camp are Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin, and forwards Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings.


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