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Stepan ready to face his college team

by Mike G. Morreale

MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota State University freshman forward Zach Stepan returns to Verizon Wireless Arena on Tuesday as a member of the United States National Junior Team select camp roster.

Stepan, who had two goals and five points in his past five games for the Mavericks prior to joining the U.S. select camp last week, is looking forward to the matchup. Minnesota State (11-7-0 overall, 9-3-0 WCHA) has won its past seven games.

Stepan will center Ryan Fitzgerald and Thomas DiPauli to open the game.

A player to watch for the Mavericks is junior forward Matt Leitner, who has four goals and 11 points in the past eight games. Leitner, the team's top-line center, has 32 goals and 90 points in 95 career games and ranks 14th on the school's career scoring list. He has also blocked a team-leading 25 shots.

Four players on Minnesota State's roster have been drafted by NHL teams: Stepan (Nashville Predators), sophomore forward Theodor Blueger (Pittsburgh Penguins), junior forward Max Gaede (San Jose Sharks) and sophomore goalie Stephon Williams (New York Islanders).

Mavericks coach Mike Hastings is in his second season behind the bench. He was the 2012-13 WCHA Coach of the Year and sports a 35-21-3 record.

Here are the probable line combinations for each team:

United States

Stefan Matteau - Vince Hinostroza - Henrik Samuelsson

Adam Erne - Jack Eichel - Ryan Hartman

Tyler Motte - Quentin Shore - Hudson Fasching

Ryan Fitzgerald - Zach Stepan - Tommy DiPauli

Will Butcher - Connor Carrick

Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce

Ian McCoshen - Anthony DeAngelo

Jaccob Slavin- Steven Santini

Jon Gillies (first half of game)

Anthony Stolarz (second half)

Scratches: Daniel O'Regan, Andrew Copp, Riley Barber, Nic Kerdiles, J.T. Compher, Matthew Grzelcyk, Thatcher Demko


Bryce Gervais - Matt Leitner - Johnny McInnis

Jean-Paul Lafontaine - Dylan Margonari - Zach Lehrke

Chase Grant - Jordan Nelson - Max Gaede

Sean Flanagan - Taylor Herndon - Mat Knoll

Zach Palmquist - Carter Foguth

Brett Stern - Casey Nelson

Nick Buchanan - Blake Thompson

Stephon Williams

Cole Huggins

Evan Karambelas

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