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Three Rangers prospects on Team USA

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Bourque Watch

Kreider Watch
Stepan Watch

New York Rangers’ prospects Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Derek Stepan have been selected represent the United States on the 22-man roster for the IIHF World Junior Championship in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  The tournament will take place from December 26 to January 5.  This is the first appearance for all three players in the tournament.

Chris Kreider
Kreider, 18, is currently a freshman at Boston College (HEA).  The 6’2, 205-pound center has registered two goals and three assists in 14 games.  Kreider also tallied three goals in two exhibition games for Team USA.  A native of Boxford, Mass., Kreider was the Rangers’ first selection, 18th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Bourque, 18, is a member of the Quebec Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  Through 31 games, the 5’9, 175-pound center is tied for fifth on the team in goals (12), and ranks sixth in points (27).  Among QMJHL rookies, he is tied for fourth in goals, sixth in points and seventh in assists. 

A native of Beverly, Mass., Bourque was originally drafted by the Rangers in the third round, 80th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Ryan Bourque
Stepan, 19, is skating in his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin (WCHA).  In 18 games, the 6’0, 172-pound center ranks second on his team in assists (17) and points (22) and fifth in goals (5).  He is tied for third in the WCHA in assists and fourth in points.  Stepan was originally drafted by the Rangers in the second round, 51st overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

This marks the first time in 27 years that three previously drafted Rangers prospects will be skating for Team USA at the World Junior Championship tournament. The last time that happened was in 1983 when Rangers draftees John Vanbiesbrouck, Tony Granato, and Kelly Miller also made the team as a trio. Two years later, in 1985, Mike Richter and Brian Leetch joined Rangers draft pick Clark Donatelli on the team, but Richter and Leetch did not become Rangers property until they were drafted after the tournament.

Derek Stepan
The three Rangers prospects were named to the final tournament roster one day after Team USA fell to the Czech Republic in its final tuneup. Team USA lost its exhibition game to the Czech Republic 3-2 in an overtime shootout on Tuesday night in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Kreider and Bourque provided the two U.S. goals, both of which tied the score at the time. U.S. team capatain Stepan was chosen to participate in the overtime shootout, but was stopped by the Czech goalie, who denied all three American shooters.

Kreider scored on a power-play at 2:20 of the second period to tie the score at 1-1. The goal was his third in two exhibition games with Team USA. Bourque eventually netted the goal that forced overtime, scoring at 6:58 of the third to make it 2-2.

Roman Horak
Bourque's heroics in the third earned him the nod as the U.S. Player of the Game. Bourque had not played in the earlier exhibition at the University of North Dakota, where No. 1 star Kreider scored twice and Stepan had two assists.

The U.S. begins World Junior tournament play on Saturday against Slovakia. The game will be played in Saskatoon, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. All of Team USA's games will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.

The Americans have only won the World Juniors once in the tournament's history, with their gold coming at Finland in 2004.

A fourth Rangers prospect, 2009 fifth-round pick Roman Horak, will also be competing in this year's World Juniors for the Czech Republic team. Horak's Czech squad also opens play Saturday, facing Sweden at 2 p.m. ET.
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