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World Juniors

Turcotte, Caufield lead United States World Junior Championship roster

No. 5 pick by Kings in 2019, Canadiens prospect among eight returning players

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Alex Turcotte is one of eight players returning for the United States at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The forward, who was named to the final 25-player roster announced Saturday, had two assists in five games at the 2020 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. He was selected by the Los Angeles Kings with the No. 5 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft.

The United States finished sixth at the 2020 WJC, ending a run of four straight tournaments with a top-three finish that included the 2017 championship.

"I think one of my problems last year was I was a little too hard on myself and I think it ate away at me a little bit," Turcotte said. "It's a huge tournament, and everyone in the whole world that follows hockey is watching it, and I think just enjoying the moment, having fun, bonding with the guys and trying to win a gold medal is all you can control. That's what I was trying to do at select camp and it's been a lot of fun so far."

Other returning players from the 2020 team are forwards Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers), Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens), Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) and Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks), defenseman Cameron York (Flyers), and goalies Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames).

Zegras led the United States at the 2020 WJC with nine points, all assists, in five games. Kaliyev tied for first with four goals and was third with six points.

The 2021 WJC is scheduled for Dec. 25-Jan. 5, 2021 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, without fans in attendance and in a secure zone similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Teams are scheduled to arrive in Edmonton on Sunday.

"I think we have some real good sticks, whether it's our power play with Arthur Kaliyev, Cole Caufield, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras," United States general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said.  "I think we've got a real competitive group. I think our defense is going to be able to get up in the play and we're going to play very fast from our goal line out. I think we do have a couple extra players who have really shown great promise, but not a lot of people have played hockey coming in, so we went with the guys that we think that can best score and are available to us."

Video: USA Hockey World Junior Head Coach Nate Leaman joins

An undisclosed U.S. player tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and was cut. The United States roster has 13 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, one fewer forward than they would have preferred.

"This isn't optimal. But we're up against really strict protocols, and we've been doing everything as diligent as we can possibly do it," Vanbiesbrouck said. "We were looking at 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies going into the tournament, and due to the circumstances that were presented early this morning and requirements of us having to get our list in, there was no way to mitigate the circumstances that were before us. It's unfortunate for a couple players, and so here we are today with our roster that we're very, very proud of."

The roster includes two players eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft: forward Matthew Beniers of the University of Michigan and goalie Logan Stein of Ferris State University. Beniers is an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list. Players with an A rating are considered potential first-round picks.

The United States will play its preliminary-round games in group Group A, starting with Russia on Dec. 25, followed by games against Austria (Dec. 26), the Czech Republic (Dec. 29) and Sweden (Dec. 31).

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals will take place on Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games on Jan. 5. Games will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network.

"I really like our defensive corps," United States coach Nate Leaman said. "I think that the strength of this team will obviously be from the net out. But I think our defensive corps has really surprised us during this camp; nine defensemen that are very capable of playing in the tournament. I think we're going to have to be dangerous on the power play. We've worked (on) specialty teams every day that we skated, so we're kind of focused on that also."

Four players were cut Saturday: forwards John Beecher (Boston Bruins), Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks) and Nicholas Robertson (Toronto Maple Leafs), and defenseman Cameron McDonald (2021 draft eligible). Robertson wasn't made available by the Maple Leafs and was not at selection camp.

"This was a hockey decision by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I think we can all respect hockey decisions," Vanbiesbrouck said. "They wanted Nick to be ready for the start of when their camp starts, which is what we were told. ... But it was a hockey decision, and we respect the hockey decision for sure."

UNITED STATES WJC ROSTER

GOALIES: Spencer Knight, Boston College, HE (Florida Panthers); Logan Stein, Ferris State, WCHA (2021 draft eligible); Dustin Wolf, Everett, WHL (Calgary Flames)

DEFENSEMEN: Brock Faber, Minnesota, Big Ten (Los Angeles Kings); Drew Helleson, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Ryan Johnson, Minnesota, Big Ten (Buffalo Sabres); Tyler Kleven, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators); Jackson LaCombe, Minnesota, Big Ten (Anaheim Ducks); Jake Sanderson, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators); Hunter Skinner, London, OHL (New York Rangers); Henry Thrun, Dubuque, USHL (Anaheim Ducks); Cameron York, Michigan, Big Ten (Philadelphia Flyers)

FORWARDS: Matthew Beniers, Michigan, Big Ten (2021 draft eligible); Brett Berard, Providence, HE (New York Rangers); Matthew Boldy, Boston College, HE (Minnesota Wild); Bobby Brink, Denver, NCHC (Philadelphia Flyers); Brendan Brisson, Michigan, Big Ten (Vegas Golden Knights); Cole Caufield, Wisconsin, Big Ten (Montreal Canadiens); Sam Colangelo, Northeastern, HE (Anaheim Ducks); John Farinacci, Muskegon, USHL (Arizona Coyotes); Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Patrick Moynihan, Providence, HE (New Jersey Devils); Landon Slaggert, Notre Dame, CCHA (Chicago Blackhawks); Alex Turcotte, Eisbaren Berlin, DEL (Los Angeles Kings); Trevor Zegras, San Diego, AHL (Anaheim Ducks)

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