COLORADO SPRING, Colo. - James vanRiemsdyk, the No. 2 pick in the NHL draft, headlines the U.S. team for the world junior hockey championship later this month in the Czech Republic.
VanRiemsdyk, from the University of New Hampshire, was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the draft behind Pat Kane, who is currently playing for the Chicago Blackhawks and will not participate in the world junior tournament.
The six-foot-three, 211-pound vanRiemsdyk has six goals and nine assists in 15 games for New Hampshire.
The U.S. team includes eight players - seven forwards and one defencemen - returning from the team that lost in a shootout to Canada in the semifinal of the 2007 world junior championship in Sweden and settled for a bronze medal.
"The good news for USA Hockey is our players go in expecting to be in the final," coach John Hynes said Wednesday in a conference call. "We've been in the semis the last five years and we've lost some really tight hockey games."
The U.S. last won the world junior title in 2004.
The Canadian Hockey League players on the team are Plymouth Whalers goaltender Jeremy Smith and defencemen Jonathon Blum of the Vancouver Giants, Kevin Montgomery of the London Knights and Bobby Sanguinetti of the Brampton Battalion.
Blum leads all Western Hockey League defencemen in points with seven goals and 26 assists.
The seven first-round NHL draft picks on the team are: vanRiemsdyk (Philadelphia), Sanguinetti (New York Rangers), Blum (Nashville), forwards Kyle Okposo (New York Islanders) and Max Pacioretty (Montreal) and defencemen Ian Cole (St. Louis) and Chris Summers (Phoenix).
The University of Minnesota has four players on the team and the University of Michigan has three.
"I think we have a lot of guys on our team that are willing to play for the team and sacrifice for the team," Hynes said.
"The team is going to carry the flag. I don't think there's one or two players we're going to rely on."
The U.S. is in Pool B at the world junior championship with Russia, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and Finland and opens against Kazakhstan on Dec. 26.
Canada, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Denmark are in Pool A.