The World Junior Championships begin in Ottawa on Dec. 26 and Team USA will ice 13 players with college hockey experience. American coach Ron Rolston takes a look at his collegiate core.
Ian Cole, Notre Dame, 6-1, 218
-- "Ian can play at both ends," Rolston said of the Nashville Predators
' draft pick. "He's the total package with a physical presence and good skating. He's also a returning player from last year who can add experience."
Teddy Ruth, Notre Dame, 6-0, 205
-- "Teddy is such a tough competitor," said Rolston, which is good news for Columbus Blue Jackets
fans. "He's a gritty defenseman that plays hard on every play, a good character player."
Ryan McDonagh, Wisconsin, 6-1, 208
-- "This is Ryan's first World Juniors, but we know he will fit right in on this defense," Rolston said. "He's a high draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens
and just another solid competitor. We're really excited about Ryan because we know he's capable of some great things out there on the ice. He's really good offensively with that big shot of his."
Cade Fairchild, Minnesota, 5-10, 186
-- "Cade is another returning player and he really impressed us last year and thus far this season at Minnesota he's having a great season," Rolston saif of the St. Louis Blues
' pick. "He's a puck-moving D-man with lots of speed and will help us a lot."
Blake Kessel, New Hampshire, 6-2, 204
-- "Blake is a bit of an unknown, I think, but he's having a great season so far in New Hampshire, leading their team in plus/minus as a freshman," Rolston said of the Islanders' pick. "He's very good positionally, has good size and actually has some offensive upside for a big kid. But we really like his reliability back there."
Kevin Shattenkirk, Boston University, 5-11, 193
-- "'Shatty' we know from the National Development Camp where he was a captain for us, so we know he's a good leader," Rolston said of the Colorado Avalanche
draftee. "He can create offense from the blue line and also gives us a big guy there that's a game-changer with his instincts offensively, moving the puck and passing."
Jimmy Hayes, Boston College, 6-3, 205
-- "Jimmy has had a great first half at Boston College," said Rolston, which is welcomed news for Leafs fans. "He had to play a certain way, using his size to create space for his linemates, and that's what he will have to do here. He's also been very good offensively. He uses his size and good reach to get to and protect the puck. That's something we'll need in an NHL arena and we know he'll provide it."
Mike Hoeffel, Minnesota, 6-3, 195
-- "Mike's another player from the National Development Program so we're pretty familiar with him," Rolston said of the future New Jersey Devil. "He's a gritty forward that will certainly be relied upon to use his size to get to the net and create space for his linemates. He had a really good first half at Minnesota and that definitely catapulted him onto the roster."
Aaron Palushaj, Michigan, 6-0, 185
-- "He's second in scoring this season on his team and while he has more assists, he's a pure goal scorer," Rolston said of Palushaj, another St. Louis selection. "He's just a great finisher and we're going to look to him for scoring for sure."
Matt Rust, Michigan, 5-10, 195
-- "Here's another returning player and a real character player for us," Rolston said of the Florida Panthers
draftee. "He's got a great two-way game and is really good at the faceoff circle. He can play a gritty game as well."
"We are really happy with this (defensive) group we've assembled. When picking the team, we wanted to get a good blend, and I think we accomplished that." -- Team USA coach Ron Rolston
Jordan Schroeder, Minnesota, 5-9, 183
-- "What can I say about Jordan? He's another player from last year's team so he'll bring experience, but him, James van Riemsdyk
and Colin Wilson
were our top line last year and they will be this year as well," Rolston said of Schroeder, who is eligible for the 2009 Entry Draft. "Jordan is an unbelievable player that just brings everything to the table. He has great puck skills, vision, and makes guys on his line better. He's that guy that every time he's on the ice, he'll have the puck on his stick and can control a game. He's a huge factor every shift he plays."
James van Riemsdyk, New Hampshire, 6-3, 211
-- "James is certainly one of our premier goal-scorers," Rolston said of the Philadelphia Flyers
' pick. "He has excellent hands and an extremely quick release. James just has a real knack to be in the right place to finish plays off. He's also back for a third time in this tournament so he brings a wealth of experience."
Colin Wilson, Boston University, 6-1, 213
-- "Colin Wilson
is a big center that plays very hard each shift and finishes every play," Rolston said of the Nashville pick. "He can move the puck into the offensive zone and really plays in tight areas. He's also a returning player so that's more experience up front."
On Campus Clips
-- Rolston was a forward at Michigan Tech from 1986-89 and an assistant coach at Lake Superior State, Clarkson, Harvard and Boston College. He is also the brother of former Lake Superior State forward and current New Jersey Devils
forward Brian Rolston
. ... Van Riemsdyk leads the nation in scoring with 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists) and Palushaj is tied for third with 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists). ... Cody Goloubef
, a Wisconsin Badgers defenseman and Columbus Blue Jackets
draft pick, is the lone NCAA player on the Canadian squad at the World Junior Championships. ... University of Denver junior forward Matt Glasser
has been named Red Baron WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for Dec. 16-22 as a result of his two-way efforts in a two-game conference road sweep against 14th-ranked Minnesota State last weekend. Glasser finished the weekend series with nine hits, three blocked shots and a plus-3 rating while also contributing his first collegiate hat trick as No. 5 Denver (13-5-1, 9-4-1 WCHA) moved into sole possession of first place in the WCHA heading into the holiday break with 3-2 and 5-2 victories against the host Mavericks on Dec. 12-13. ... Keeping with the Pioneers, sophomore forward Tyler Bozak
(Regina, Saskatchewan) will undergo arthroscopic surgery Dec. 19 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Denver coach George Gwozdecky announced this week. Bozak injured his left knee in a knee-on-knee collision with Andrew Sackrison during the second period of Denver's 3-2 win against Minnesota State last Friday. The high-scoring forward has been ruled out for the Wells Fargo Denver Cup on Jan. 2-3, 2009. "Tyler will miss the Denver Cup and we'll know more about his status after the surgery on Friday," Gwozdecky said. Bozak ranks second in scoring for Denver with 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists). He leads the team with a plus-14.