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Noesen ruled ineligible to play for USA

by Mike G. Morreale

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- USA Hockey general manager Jim Johannson confirmed Monday that he has no intention of inviting another player to U.S. National Junior team training camp here at the Rangers' practice facility in the absence of suspended forward Stefan Noesen.

Johannson confirmed Monday that Noesen's 10-game suspension by the Ontario Hockey League for a hit in a Dec. 8 contest against the Oshawa Generals has forced him from participation in the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russa, Dec. 26-Jan. 5. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound center is not eligible to return to the OHL until Jan. 11.

"We wanted to let the process go full and, in the end, we do not feel it's an equitable process," Johannson said. "We did send this to the [IIHF] for [its] determination since there's an opportunity for them to read and review. That was done. In the end, that suspension is behind upheld."

The IIHF recognizes suspensions from certified leagues in member federations and because there will be seven games remaining in Noesen's suspension prior to the start of the WJC, he was deemed ineligible to participate.

Noesen was contacted by Johannson late Sunday night and left training camp Monday. Johannson confirmed the ruling by the International Ice Hockey Federation following the team's morning practice session Monday.

"In the end, Stefan's 10-game OHL suspension has become a seven-game [IIHF] suspension and that's where we have a challenge with the equitable process," Johannson said. "We respect [the IIHF] decision -- we're members of the [IIHF]. But we'll work hard at changing this process in the future."

Johannson was visibly upset for Noesen in this situation.

"We lose a good player, a good solid player," Johannson said. "He was one of those guys looking forward to playing in his first championship. Here's a guy who was never suspended in two previous seasons in the OHL and, then, one forecheck play ends up determining his fate this year. I think that's hard for everybody involved in the decision. In the end, we'll have to work on the process as administrators."

Canadian National Junior Team alternate captain Jonathan Huberdeau was in a similar situation earlier this month when he received a four-game suspension from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the midst of Canada's selection camp in Calgary. Huberdeau's suspension, however, will not force him from competing at the WJC since the four-game ban ends Dec. 21. The Florida Panthers prospect will sit out a pre-tournament match against Finland on Dec. 20.

Noesen, chosen No. 21 by the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 NHL Draft, was expected to be in the running for a top-six forward spot on the American team. He had produced 17 goals and 26 points in 26 games with Plymouth this season.

"We'll go with the [remaining 26] guys we have here and we'll take them over to Finland and get the roster down to 23 after our [pre-tournament] game on the Dec. 22," Johannson said.

The selection camp will continue at the Rangers' training facility through Tuesday before the team departs for Helsinki, Finland, Tuesday afternoon for another five days of evaluation at the Tikkurila Valtti Arena.

The U.S. will have pre-tournament games against Sweden on Dec. 20 and Finland on Dec. 22. The Americans, who finished a disappointing seventh at last year's tournament, open the 2013 WJC against Germany on Dec. 27 at 9 a.m. ET.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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