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World Juniors Insider | Big Win! U.S. Claims Bronze at World Juniors

By USA Hockey, 01/06/23, 11:00AM EST

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Follow along with Team USA's journey at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship

The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship took place from Dec. 26, 2022 - Jan. 5, 2023 in Moncton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Scroll for an inside look at Team USA's journey from the start of camp in Plymouth, Mich., through the team's final thrilling 8-7 OT win over Sweden to claim the bronze medal.

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January 5 | U.S. Earns Bronze in Wild 8-7 OT Win Over Sweden

Medal is 14th in U.S. History

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Chaz Lucius (Grant, Minn.) scored three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, in a thrilling 8-7 victory over Sweden today in the bronze medal game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Centre.

The U.S. National Junior Team finished the tournament with a 5-0-0-2 record and brought Team USA its 14th tournament medal.

“I’m really proud of our group,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “To come back today and earn a medal for our country is something everyone can share in and a moment we’ll take with us the rest of our lives.”

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ve featured players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. In today's final segment, it’s forward Charlie Stramel, who plays at the University of Wisconsin.

Favorite American hockey player: Patrick Kane

First time on skates: 5, Rosemount Community Center

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Chris Peterson, Rosemount Hockey

Favorite rink: Rosemount Community Center

Place you’d like to visit: Bahamas

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tiger Woods

Amusement park ride you avoid: The ones that drop

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Snap

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: The Office

Best advice you’ve been given: Be the hardest worker

Best holiday movie: Christmas Vacation

January 4 | Canada Knocks Off U.S.

Team USA to face Sweden in Bronze-Medal Game

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The U.S. National Junior Team outshot Canada 45-37, but fell 6-2 in the semifinals of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship before a record crowd of 10,636 at the Scotiabank Centre tonight.

Team USA will face Sweden in the bronze-medal game tomorrow (Jan. 5) at 3:30 p.m. local time/2:30 p.m. ET at the Scotiabank Centre and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“We certainly had our chances tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “I thought their goaltender was the best player on the ice. We’re all disappointed obviously, but we have a chance to win a medal tomorrow and that’s our focus.”

For full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman Jack Peart.

Favorite American hockey player: Patrick Kane

First time on skates: 3 years old, IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Grant Clafton, Peewee Coach

Favorite rink: IRA Civic Center

Place you’d like to visit: Alaska

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tiger Woods

Amusement park ride you avoid: The ones that drop straight down

Favorite video game: NHL

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham

Can’t miss show you watch: Breaking Bad

Best advice you’ve been given: Just be yourself

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


January 3 | Getting Settled In Halifax

MOVING IN 

Team USA had a 10 a.m. breakfast at its hotel headquarters in Halifax this morning after arriving at 11:30 p.m. last night from Moncton. The training staff headed to Scotiabank Centre to get the locker room set for a 4:30 p.m. practice after breakfast, while many of the players took a stroll around town.

While Team USA’s locker room set-up in Halifax is far different from the NHL-like digs it had at the Avenir Centre in Moncton, the U.S. training has spent much time and energy building a comfortable environment for the players and coaches as they get set to play in the two most meaningful games in the tournament.

The city of Halifax is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It has a municipal population of just short of 450,000. The Scotiabank Center opened in 1978 and was known as the Halifax Metro Center from 1978-2014. It seats 10,595 for hockey. The venue was the primary site for the 2008 IIHF Men’s World Championship and also hosted the 2004 IIHF Women’s World Championship and 2003 IIHF World Junior Championship

PLANNING

While the players and coaches are focused on winning the last two games of the World Juniors and bringing home a gold medal, the behind-the-scene logistics relative to getting the players and staff back home to their teams after the tournament is in full force, with Jessica Thibault, who is managing team services for the U.S. National Junior Team, working with general manager John Vanbiesbrouck and Kelly Olsen from the USA Hockey’s international hockey department, on a full exit strategy.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS THINGS

Team USA is in the semifinals of the World Juniors for the sixth time in the last eight years … U.S. netminder Trey Augustine’s real first name is Kenneth. His parents started calling him Trey as a youngster as he is a third-generation Kenneth James Augustine. Trey is just the sixth 17-year-old to play goal for the U.S. in the world juniors and the first to win three or more games … Logan Cooley, who leads the team in points with 11 (5G, 6A), is the lone U.S. player with at least one point in every game of the World Juniors. Cooley’s hat trick in Monday’s (Jan 2) quarterfinal win over Germany marked the first U.S. hat trick in the World Juniors since Matt Boldy scored three times against Austria on Dec. 26 in the 2021 World  Juniors in an 11-0 victory … Ryan Ufko had five assists in Team USA’s win over Germany on Monday, just one shy of the U.S. single-game record held by U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Doug Weight.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s goaltender Trey Augustine.

Favorite American hockey player: Ryan Miller

First time on skates: Seven years old at Novi Ice Arena

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Matt Romaniski, Honeybaked 

Favorite rink: Munn Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: South Africa

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Michael Jordan

Amusement park ride you avoid: All of ‘em

Favorite video game: NHL ‘23

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Too Hot To Handle

Best advice you’ve been given: Trust the process

Best holiday movie: Home Alone

January 2 | U.S. Advances To Semis; Travels To Halifax

MONCTON, New Brunswick – Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) tallied had three goals and an assist and Ryan Ufko(Smithtown, N.Y.) added five assists as the U.S. National Junior Team topped Germany, 11-1, tonight at Avenir Centre in the quarterfinals of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

With the win, Team USA advances to the semifinals and will face either Canada or Sweden on Wednesday (Jan. 4) at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Opening faceoff is 3:30 p.m. local/2:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“I liked the way we started and thought we did what we needed to do tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “We’re excited to get to Halifax and play in the semifinals.”

For the full recap, click here.

AFTER TONIGHT’S QUARTERFINAL

Team USA’s quarterfinal game ended just after 7:30 p.m. local time, and by 8:45 p.m., the U.S. had boarded its charter bus and was headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, an approximate 2.5 hour drive. The training staff had pre-packed as much as possible earlier in the day and loaded a good amount of the gear on the equipment truck that accompanied the bus to Halifax. After the game, there were media interviews, a cool down, a team meal in the locker room, and the final packing of equipment bags and team essentials. As the players left the back of the rink for the bus, a good number of fans were present and players signed autographs. On the bus ride to Halifax, staff and players watched the Canada-Slovakia quarterfinal game on various devices with much interest. Team USA arrived at its headquarters hotel at approximately 11:15 p.m. and after unloading the personal luggage from the bus, took the snack that was waiting for them upon arrival and retired to their rooms. The training staff made its way to Scotiabank Centre, which is just a short four-minute walk from the hotel, to begin the process of unpacking and getting Team USA’s new lockerroom home set-up for the remainder of the World Juniors.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Tyler Boucher.

Favorite American hockey player: Auston Matthews

First time on skates: 2 years old in Arizona

Youth coach you’d like to thank: There’s so many. John Gardner from Avon Old Farms 

Favorite rink: Scotiabank Arena (Maple Leafs rink)

Place you’d like to visit: Maldives

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Jesus Christ

Amusement park ride you avoid: None, I love ‘em

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call, I hate texting

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Stranger Things

Best advice you’ve been given: One percent better every day

Best holiday movie: Elf


January 1 | Getting Set For The Quarters

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR

The stars aligned for Team USA yesterday with Switzerland rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat Slovakia, thus opening the door for the U.S. to win Group B with a win over Finland. And that is exactly what transpired via a 6-2 victory before a capacity crowd at the Avenir Centre in Moncton on New Year’s Eve. The mood was naturally festive following the game. With five University of Michigan players on the team, the Michigan-TCU football national semifinal game was on in the locker room. There was also much interest in the Canada-Sweden World Juniors game being played in Halifax as well.

PREPARING FOR QUARTERFINALS

Team USA had some video meetings in preparation for tomorrow’s quarterfinal game against Germany and then hit the ice at 12 noon for a short 30-minute practice. The teams traveling from Halifax to Moncton for the quarterfinals – Germany and Sweden – had not yet arrived at the Avenir Centre so the rink was quite quiet on the first day of 2023. It was quite a contrast to the high-energy scene inside the rink last night for Team USA’s 6-2 victory over Finland and also outside the rink where streets were blocked off and a couple thousand fans gathered to watch the World Juniors on two big screens and then listen to live music and witness a fireworks show as the clock struck midnight.

THE COWBOY HAT

Following a Team USA win, one player is awarded an American-themed cowboy hat in the dressing room following the game. Coach Rand Pecknold selected the first winner, and subsequently, the player last receiving the hat selects the next recipient. Red Savage was presented the hat by netminder Trey Augustine after Team USA’s win over Finland yesterday (Dec. 31).

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman and team captain Luke Hughes, who plays collegiately at the University of Michigan.

Favorite American hockey player: My brothers (brother Quinn plays at Vancouver; brother Jack at New Jersey)

First time on skates: Probably around 2 years old on an outdoor pond

Youth coach you’d like to thank: My dad and Patrik Stefan at Little Caesars

Favorite rink: Yost Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Italy

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tom Brady

Amusement park ride you avoid: I don’t know if I really have any

Favorite video game: NHL or Madden

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text or Snap

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Little bit of both, maybe a little steak in there too

Can’t miss show you watch: Game of Thrones, maybe House of the Dragon too

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


December 31 | U.S. Beats Finland To Win Group B

Team USA to Face Germany Monday in Quarterfinals

MONCTON, New Brunswick – Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) notched a goal and three assists and Logan Cooley(West Mifflin, Pa.) had a goal and two assists to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a 6-2 victory over Finland tonight at Avenir Centre in its final preliminary round game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

With the win, Team USA advances to the quarterfinals as the top seed in Group B and will face Germany on Monday (Jan. 2) at the Avenir Centre. Opening faceoff is set for 5 p.m. and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“I thought our compete level was excellent tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “Our puck management was great and we took another step forward against a good Finland team."

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Jimmy Snuggerud, who plays collegiately at the University of Minnesota.

Youth coach you’d like to thank: My dad

Favorite rink: Mariucci

Place you’d like to visit: Austria

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Jack Nicklaus

Amusement park ride you avoid: None, love all of ‘em

Favorite video game: NHL

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Friends

Best advice you’ve been given: If you’re not first, you’re last

Best holiday movie: Home Alone 2


December 30 | Family, Hockey, Rest

MOSTLY A DAY OFF

Team USA mostly had the day off today with the exception of a stretch in the U.S. locker room run by strength and conditioning coach Will Morlock, who holds the same position at Michigan State University. The mood was upbeat but measured as Team USA prepares for its New Year’s Eve match-up tomorrow with Finland to close preliminary round play. After the stretch, many players and staff had the chance to spend some time with family and friends that are here in Moncton supporting them. The players enjoyed dinner together out of the hotel at a nearby restaurant.

A SPIN THROUGH THE LOCKERROOM

U.S . forward Rutger McGroarty filmed a tour of the team’s locker room early this afternoon with NHL Network’s Jon Rosen which is anticipated to air on NHL Network tomorrow. McGroarty, who plays for the University of Michigan, shared with Rosen when they were in the kitchen that is part of the locker room, that Seamus Casey and Gavin Brindley, both part of Team USA and also his Michigan teammates, are the best cook’s within the Wolverine hockey team. All total, there are five players from the University of Michigan on the U.S. roster, also including Dylan Duke and captain Luke Hughes.

JUST FOR FUN

U.S. teammates Luke Hughes and Jackson Blake were both playing in the Brick Invitational in Edmonton in the summer of 2013 and decided it would be fun to trade jerseys, so Luke got Jackson’s Minnesota Blades sweater and Jackson got Luke’s Toronto Bulldogs jersey. 

QUICK POSE

U.S. forwards Rutger McGroarty and Chaz Lucius, both Winnipeg Jets property, took a picture with Jesse Pollock (@jessepollock22) outside the team’s dressing room just before the team stretch today. Pollock, from TSN’s BarDown, has been in Moncton covering the World Juniors and is a self-proclaimed Winnipeg Jets super fan.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward and alternate captain Red Savage, who plays collegiately at Miami University.

Favorite American hockey player: Auston Matthews

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Steve Potvin

Favorite rink: Goggin Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Hawaii again

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Uncle Mike

Amusement park ride you avoid: Any of those wooden coasters where your head is banging around

Favorite video game: Fortnite

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham

Can’t miss show you watch: Yellowstone

Best holiday movie: The Grinch


December 29 | U.S. Beats Switzerland, 5-1

Jimmy Snuggerud Scores Twice; 12 Different Players Contribute Points

MONCTON, New Brunswick – Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.), Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn.) had two points apiece to lift the U.S. National Junior Team to a 5-1 victory over Switzerland tonight at Avenir Centre in its third preliminary round game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Team USA will round out preliminary round play in the World Juniors Saturday (Dec. 31) against Finland. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. local time/4:00 p.m. ET at the Avenir Centre and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“I really liked the way we bounced back tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “We did a good job on the forecheck and generated a lot of zone time. We’ll look forward to a day off tomorrow and get ready for a tough Finland team on Saturday.”

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Jackson Blake, who plays collegiately at the University of North Dakota.

First time on skates: Three years old in New York

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Niko Kapetanovic, Eden Prairie

Favorite rink: Ralph Engelstad Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Brazil

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Kevin Hart

Amusement park ride you avoid: Anything with loops

Favorite video game: Fortnite

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Snap

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Friends

Best advice you’ve been given: Never give up

Best holiday movie: Home Alone 2


December 28 | Slovakia Tops U.S.

Team USA to Face Switzerland Tomorrow

MONCTON, New Brunswick – The U.S. National Junior Team outshot Slovakia 36-26, but suffered a 6-3 loss tonight at the Avenir Centre in its second preliminary round game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Team USA will continue preliminary round play in the World Juniors tomorrow (Dec. 29) against Switzerland. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. local time/4:00 p.m. ET at the Avenir Centre and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“I thought their goaltender was the best player on the ice tonight,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “That said, we need to tighten things up and our guys know that. We’ll be better tomorrow."

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman Sean Behrens, who plays collegiately at the University of Denver.

Favorite American hockey player: Torey Krug

First time on skates: Was 3 or 4 years old in Chicago

Youth coach you’d like to thank: My dad, coached me growing up

Favorite rink: Magness Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Hawaii

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tiger Woods

Amusement park ride you avoid: The big tall ones that drop

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Facetime

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Arrow

Best advice you’ve been given: Keep it simple stupid

Best holiday movie: Vacation


December 27 | A Trip To The Practice Rink

A TRIP TO THE PRACTICE RINK

Team USA had a short skate this morning at the Superior Propane Centre in Moncton, the tournament practice rink which is a short drive from the Avenir Centre, where games are played. It was a “dress and drive” day as the players hopped on the bus dressed and ready for practice, minus, their skates and helmets, which they carried. The U.S. is getting set to face Slovakia tomorrow (Dec. 28) at 5 p.m. local/4 p.m. ET in its second of four preliminary round games.

JERSEYS

Team USA has three different jerseys for use at the IIHF World Junior Championship. The white and blue jerseys are similar to the 2022 U.S. Olympic jersey with the main differences being the numbers on the back are red, and the crest on the front utilizes the signature USA wave, which is not permitted to be used by the International Olympic Committee for Olympic play. Team USA’s “third” jersey for the World Juniors is the fan favorite 1960 Olympic replica.

THIS AND THAT

Team USA players attended a 30-minute Integrity presentation from IIHF legal director Adriaan Wijckmans following lunch today. It heightened awareness and conversation about competition manipulation, abuse and harassment, and ethics and explained to players the guidelines and repercussions associated with misconduct within each of the pillars … Team USA players have enjoyed watching other games of the World Juniors, both at the rink and on television … In last night’s 5-2 win over Latvia, a total of 10 different U.S. players contributed points, with alternate captains Red Savage and Sean Behrens leading the way, each with a goal and an assist … U.S. general manager John Vanbiesbrouck played in both the 1982 and 1983 IIHF World Junior Championship … The rosters for the 2023 BioSteel All-American Game will be revealed in the first intermission of tomorrow’s (Dec. 28) USA-Slovakia game live on NHL Network. The annual contest features top players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft and the 2023 edition will be staged on Jan. 16 at USA Hockey. Many of the players on the 2023 U.S. National Junior Team played in the game. NHL Network will carry the contest live at 4 p.m. ET … The U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team will play in the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship Jan. 8-15 in Sweden. NHL Network will televise all games live.

TRAVEL A CHALLENGE

The friends and families of Team USA trying to get to Moncton for the World Juniors have been affected by the havoc being caused by the weather and airline operations. One example involves Dylan Duke’s family – mother Sharon, father Steve and sister Alyssa. The trio arrived Christmas morning at Detroit Metro Airport to begin their journey to Moncton. Result? Flight canceled. Enter Plan B which involved a flight to Toronto Christmas night and an overnight stay in Toronto; a flight from Toronto to Ottawa the next morning; a connecting flight from Ottawa to Halifax; and then a rental car ride to Moncton to arrive just in time for the faceoff of yesterday’s 5 p.m. game vs. Latvia.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Logan Cooley, who plays collegiately at the University of Minnesota.

Favorite American hockey player: Patrick Kane

First time on skates: 4 years old in Pittsburgh

Favorite song on your warm-up playlist: I don’t really listen to music before games

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Graham Harkins

Favorite rink: Mariucci Arena

Place you’d like to visit: The Bahamas

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Alex Ovechkin

Amusement park ride you avoid: Any roller coasters

Favorite video game: NHL 23

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Snap

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham

Can’t miss show you watch: Outer Banks

Best advice you’ve been given: Enjoy the process and have fun with it

Best holiday movie: Home Alone, the first one


December 26 | U.S. Downs Latvia, 5-2

Chaz Lucius nets game winner

MONCTON, New Brunswick – Sean Behrens (Barrington, Ill.), Red Savage (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Dylan Duke(Strongsville, Ohio) each tallied two points as the U.S. National Junior Team skated to a 5-2 victory over Latvia at the Avenir Centre in its opening game of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Team USA will continue preliminary round play in the World Juniors on Wednesday (Dec. 28) against Slovakia. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. local time/4:00 p.m. ET at the Avenir Centre and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Cutter Gauthier, who plays collegiately at Boston College.

Favorite American hockey player: Auston Matthews

First time on skates: 4 years old, Ozzie Ice, Scottsdale, Arizona

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Mike Hamilton, Honeybaked 13U

Favorite rink: Conte Forum

Place you’d like to visit: Cancun

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Michael Jordan

Amusement park ride you avoid: The ones that drop

Favorite video game: The new Warzone

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Outer Banks

Best advice you’ve been given: If it was easy, everyone would do it

Best holiday movie: Elf


December 25 | Merry Christmas

ONE MORE SLEEP

Team USA got in one last practice before the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship begins tomorrow here at the Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick. It was an upbeat 35-minute session ahead of tomorrow’s first of four preliminary round games against Latvia which will faceoff at 5 p.m. local/4 p.m. ET live on NHL Network.

PHOTO DAY

Players and staff took their official tournament headshots today before practice and players also had a television green screen session that included a number of animated player shots. One of the requests was simply for “something fun” and Red Savage, Cutter Gauthier, Logan Cooley, and Tyler Boucher showcased some of the best creativity among the team. The team photo was taken just prior to the start of practice.

TEAM USA LOCKER ROOM

Christmas music filled the Team USA locker room today, and players and staff alike were smiling and singing along to various tunes. The U.S. has the Moncton Wildcats locker room, which is as nice as many NHL lockerrooms. Team USA added some of its own décor to the room to give it a U.S. feel.

A FEW LAST BITS

Moncton Wildcats owner Robert K. Irving stopped by the U.S. locker room yesterday to welcome Team USA to Moncton … Some of the families of U.S. players and staff have had travel issues interrupt their arrival to Moncton  … The U.S. will host the 2026 IIHF World Junior Championship and it is anticipated USA Hockey will begin accepting bids from those interested in hosting later in 2023. The U.S. last hosted the World Juniors in 2018 in Buffalo, N.Y. … Team USA has won its opening game of the World Junior Championship in eight of the last 10 tournaments.

THEY SAID IT

U.S. forward Jimmy Snuggerud on how much time he spent playing outside while growing up.

“A lot. Probably about 40% outdoors. Lots of 2 am late night sessions just with neighbors and my brother out there on the rink, just kind of enjoying life. Just not knowing what time it is … going to bed whenever is something I’ll never forget.”

Snuggerud is a third-generation U.S. National Team player. His father Dave played on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, while his maternal grandfather Jim Westby was a  member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. 

Jimmy currently plays college hockey at the University of Minnesota, where his father and grandfather also played.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Dylan Duke, who plays collegiately at the University of Michigan.

Favorite American hockey player: Matty Beniers

Favorite gift from Santa: Zamboni – Buffalo Sabres edition when I was five. My grandma helped 

make it. It was like those little cars you can drive around in, but this was a Zamboni.

First time on skates: Age 2 at Strongsville Ice Arena

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Coach Tim; coached me in Strongsville

Favorite rink: USA Hockey Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Hawaii

Amusement park ride you avoid: None at Cedar Point, I love ‘em all

Favorite video game: NHL

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: The Office

Best advice you’ve been given: Work hard and stay true to yourself

Best holiday movie: Christmas Vacation


December 24 | Christmas Eve in Moncton

ON THE ICE

Team USA returned to the ice today after having yesterday off and had an upbeat, spirited session that last just under an hour. “We had a good energy level today,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the 2023 U.S. National Junior Team and also the head coach of the Quinnipiac University men’s ice hockey team. “I like how we’re building toward our identity as we get set to start the tournament.”

HERE COMES STANTA CLAUS

The U.S. enjoyed a festive Christmas Eve dinner tonight at its headquarters hotel here in Moncton, New Brunswick, with ham, turkey, buttermilk whipped potatoes, Caesar salad, Greek pasta salad, mixed seasonal vegetables, festive cakes, and assorted fruit pies on the menu. A U.S. National Junior Team tradition followed dinner with a visit from “Stanta Claus” -- i.e. Hall of Fame trainer Stan Wong -- playing Santa Claus and sharing gifts with U.S. players and staff. Wong is part of the U.S. National Junior Team staff for the 21st straight season.

THEY SAID IT

U.S. defenseman Lane Hutson when asked to describe Team USA … “Smart, fast, hard to play against.” Hutson plays at Boston University and has 17 points (6G, 11A) in 15 games to date this season.

A LITTLE ABOUT JACKSON BLAKE

Team USA forward Jackson Blake scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to lift Eden Prairie (Minn.) over Lakeville South in the championship game of the famed Minnesota State High School State Hockey Tournament on April 3, 2021. He calls it the best moment of his life and one that will be hard to beat. Team USA defenseman Luke Mittelstadt was also on that Eden Prairie squad and played more than 30 minutes in the title game. Blake and Mittelstadt both attended Breakaway Academy in Chaska, Minnesota, and Blake shared that Mittelstadt was his best friend growing up.

After his high school season, Blake joined the USHL’s Chicago Steel and on May 23, 2021 -- less than two months after scoring that double OT winner for Eden Prairie -- he tallied the game-winning goal in the game that lifted the Steel to the Clark Cup championship. Team USA defenseman Ryan Ufko was also part of that team.

Blake’s father Jason enjoyed a 13-year playing career in the NHL. Jason played for the 2006 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team and also competed for Team USA in the IIHF Men’s World Championship. Jackson is playing college hockey at North Dakota, where his father skated for three seasons.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s goaltender Kaidan Mbereko, who plays collegiately at Colorado College.

Favorite American hockey player: Auston Matthews

Favorite gift from Santa: My first Xbox

First time on skates: Four years old at the Aspen Rec Center

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Craig Furstenau, Rocky Mountain Snow Kings

Favorite rink: Ed Robson Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Peru

One person you’d like to have dinner with: LeBron James

Amusement park ride you avoid: Roller coaster

Favorite video game: Fortnite

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham

Can’t miss show you watch: Outer Banks

Best advice you’ve been given: Be yourself

Best holiday movie: Elf


December 23 | A Day Off The Ice

MUCH NEEDED BREAK IN THE ACTION

Team USA had today off. Since gathering for its first practice in Plymouth, Mich., at USA Hockey  Arena on Dec. 12, the U.S. has had just one day off the ice, that on Dec. 18 when it traveled to Canada. Many players made their way to the Avenir Centre and spent part of the late morning/early afternoon getting treatments, stretching and enjoying the amenities of the Moncton Wildcats locker room, which Team USA occupies. While inclement weather put a damper on any thoughts of exploring Moncton today, the players and staff enjoyed a leisurely day with playing cards, watching movies and sleep among the activities. After dinner, Buffalo Sabres star Tage Thompson, who helped Team USA to a gold medal in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, made a surprise visit via Zoom. Many of the players gathered in the team meeting room to conclude the evening and enjoyed some NHL hockey and local pizza.

CATCHING UP WITH GENERAL MANAGER JOHN VANBIESBROUCK

As Team USA’s opening game in the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship nears, we had a chance to catch up with John Vanbiesbrouck, who is serving for the fifth time as general manager of Team USA. The Hall of Fame goaltender works full-time for USA Hockey as its assistant executive director of hockey operations.

What makes the World Juniors so special?

It’s such a great tournament on many fronts. For the fans, they get to witness the emerging talent and see players that in a lot of cases will become stars in the NHL. On the team side of things, it inspiring to see the staff and players come together in such a short period of time. We’re fortunate to have a terrific group of players, coaches and support staff who all really care about representing our country.

How would you describe what you saw at the training camp at USA Hockey Arena?

It was fun to see the overall team speed our group has. We also have a good balance and a lot of continuity – lines that have seemed to fit without having to do too much juggling. 

What you have seen in the two pre-tournament games that excites you?

What excites me is that we can push the pace from our defense. We have a really smart group and I’ve seen the willingness to stretch some plays and move the puck quickly. We have the ability to really turn up the tempo of a game and when you can be faster, that’s a real benefit.

What kind of team can fans expect to see?

They’re going to see a team under control, meaning we’re going to come out together as a team and really push the pace and play a fast game. We really like our connection and the way our guys support each other. I think fans will enjoy watching this team.

When you think about the growth of the game in the U.S. from the time you were a kid until now, what comes to mind?

Depth. We have players from all over the country now that can make our national teams. We didn’t really have that before. We had players from specific pockets and now they’re from all over and that’s really important and great to see. The expansion of the NHL has helped and our volunteers at the grassroots level of the game in all corners of our country have played an important role in providing the infrastructure needed as our sport continues to grow.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman Ryan Ufko, who plays collegiately at the University of Massachusetts.

Favorite American hockey player: Adam Fox

First time on skates: 5 years old, The Rinks in Hauppauge

Favorite song on your warm-up playlist: Anything by Morgan Wallen

Favorite gift from Santa: Hockey gear

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Ryan Haggerty, Fairfield Junior Rangers

Favorite rink: Mullin Center

Place you’d like to visit: Somewhere over in Europe

One person you’d like to have dinner with: My grandpa

Amusement park ride you avoid: Drop towers

Favorite video game: Fortnite

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Outer Banks

Best advice you’ve been given: You get what you deserve

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


December 22 | Back To Practice

PRACTICE AT AVENIR CENTRE

After yesterday’s 5-1 win over Sweden in pre-tournament action here in Moncton, New Brunswick, Team USA returned to the Avenir Centre for a noon skate as preparation continues for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship

The Avenir Centre is a sparkling new facility that opened in September of 2018 and serves as the home of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior League. The arena seats 8,500 and hosted a Rivalry Series game on Dec. 17, 2019, where the U.S. Women’s National Team beat Canada by a 2-1 count.

The U.S. moved into the Moncton Wildcats locker room today and will utilize it throughout its remaining time at the Avenir Centre. Team Canada, which relocated to Halifax today where it will play its preliminary round games in Group B, was previously in the space for their training camp. The Moncton locker room rivals the amenities and overall space of most NHL lockerrooms, and includes a kitchen, training room, changing room, showers, steam room, cold tubs, coaches offices, weight room, equipment room, lounge, and more. 

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Defenseman Ryan Ufko has four points (1G, 3A) to lead Team USA through its two pre-tournament games. Next is forward Charlie Stramel with two goals – including one on the power play and one shorthanded, along with an assist for three points. A total of nine players have at least one point in both games, including Gavin Brindley, who has helpers on both of Team USA’s game-winning goals. The others are Ufko, Stramel, Jackson BlakeCutter GauthierJimmy SnuggerudLane HutsonLuke Hughes and Logan Cooley.

SHORT BITS TO ENJOY

Team USA’s hotel is just a two-minute walk across the street from the Avenir Centre … The U.S. will not skate tomorrow … The U.S. has medaled in five of the last seven IIHF World Junior Championships … The line of Cutter Gauthier, Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud played together during their time at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. They are all first-round NHL Draft picks with Cooley selected third overall by Arizona; Gauthier fifth overall by Philadelphia and Snuggerud 23rd by the St. Louis Blues. Snuggerud and Cooley are teammates at the University of Minnesota and have played together on a line with 2022 U.S. Olympian Matthew Knies this season. Snuggerud is currently second in the NCAA with 27 points (12G, 15A), while Cooley is sixth with 25 points (10G, 15A) … U.S. defenseman Sean Behrens, who serves as an alternate captain for Team USA, helped the University of Denver win the 2022 NCAA Division  I men’s ice hockey national championship last season in his freshman year … Rutger McGroarty wears #2, which is not a typical number for a forward. Why #2? The story stems back to when his father, Jim, was an assistant coach for the Lincoln Stars in the USHL, and Rutger‘s favorite player at the time was Mike Dalhuisen, who wore #2. McGroarty also wears #2 at the University of Michigan, where he is in his sophomore campaign.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Noah Laba, who plays collegiately at Colorado College.

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Papa John, Howell, Mich.

Favorite rink: USA Hockey Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Europe

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Elon Musk

Amusement park ride you avoid: Anything that spins

Favorite video game: Fortnite

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham

Can’t miss show you watch: Dexter

Best advice you’ve been given: Just work hard

Best holiday movie: Elf


December 21 | Win Over Sweden

Twelve Different Players Contribute Points

MONCTON, New Brunswick – The U.S. National Junior Team got points from 12 different players here this afternoon in a 5-1 victory over Sweden at the Avenir Centre in pre-tournament action ahead of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Team USA will open play in the World Juniors on Monday (Dec. 26) against Latvia in its first of four preliminary round games. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. local time/4:00 p.m. ET at the Avenir Centre and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“Our buy-in was excellent today against Sweden,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “The players are committed to our identity and we need to continue to build our habits and our culture as we prepare for Latvia."

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman Seamus Casey who plays collegiately at the University of Michigan.

First time on skates: 5 years old, Germain Arena

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Ryan Brindley, Matt West, Pat Peek and the list goes on

Favorite rink: Hurts Rink in Estero, Florida

Place you’d like to visit: New Zealand

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Jimmy Buffett

Amusement park ride you avoid: Ones that shoot you really up high and pull you back down

Favorite video game: Call of Duty Blackhawks 2

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: The Office

Best advice you’ve been given: The cream always rises to the top

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


December 20 | Setting Up Shop in Moncton

HIGH NOON SKATE

Team USA had breakfast at the Delta Hotel in St. John, New Brunswick, and then packed up the bus with its personal belongings to head back to the QPlex in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, for a 12-noon practice today. The U.S. beat Finland, 5-2, at the QPlex last night in pre-tournament action before a standing-room-only crowd with 11 players contributing points. Following the game, the team was treated to a delicious meal of Italian fare at Vito’s, featuring chicken parm, pasta, vegetables and salad.

MOVING TO MONCTON

After a snappy 60-minute practice today at the QPlex, two different kinds of pizza and five kinds of sandwiches were on the menu for Team USA for lunch. Many players were seen with a slice of pizza in hand headed toward the team’s cool-down session with performance coach Will Morlock.

It took just a short time for the U.S. training staff to finish packing the gear and the 90-minute trek to Moncton began 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. The U.S. settled into its new hotel where it will stay at least through Dec. 31. The Avenir Centre, where Team USA will play its final pre-tournament game tomorrow against Sweden (3:30 p.m. local/2:30 p.m. ET) and all four of its preliminary round games, is right across the street from Team USA’s hotel.

The training staff was busy setting up Team USA’s new locker room, while the players had a team stretch and brief team meeting, along with dinner at the hotel.

A HANDFUL OF TIDBITS

The U.S. staff gathered at a local establishment following its game vs. Finland last night to watch the Rivalry Series game between the U.S. and Canada in Los Angeles … U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold, who is in his 29th season as head coach at Quinnipiac University, did not have an office when he first took the job at Quinnipiac and the program was NCAA Division III. His team practiced at midnight (as that was the ice time available) and then switched to 4:30 a.m. after some parents voiced concern. The players, however, preferred the midnight time slot and it was quickly shifted back. Today Pecknold has an office, is coaching an NCAA Division I program that he has built into a national power, and plays in the state-of-the-art M&T Bank Arena … Team USA’s game against Sweden tomorrow will air live on NHL Network. Opening faceoff is 2:30 p.m. ET … Tyler Boucher’s father Brian played in the IIHF World Junior Championship for Team USA in both 1996 and 1997. Brian is currently a color analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the NHL … Jimmy Snuggerd’s father Dave played on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s defenseman Luke Mittelstadt, who plays collegiately at the University of Minnesota.

First time on skates: Age 4 on my backyard pond

Favorite song on warm-up playlist: I don’t listen to music before games

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Niko Kaponevich, Cretin-Derham Hall

Favorite rink: Braemar Arena (Edina, Minn.)

Place you’d like to visit: Greece

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tiger Woods

Amusement park ride you avoid: Anything that drops

Favorite gift from Santa: Hockey stick

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey, but neither

Can’t miss show you watch: Friends

Best advice you’ve been given: Enjoy the ride

Best holiday movie: Elf

Favorite American hockey player: Casey Mittlestadt


December 19 | Win Over Finland

U.S. Bests Finland In World Juniors Pre-Tourney Contest

QUISPAMSIS, New Brunswick – Charlie Stramel (Rosemount, Minn.) and Ryan Ufko (Smithtown, N.Y.) each had a goal and an assist and 11 different players contributed points overall as the U.S. National Junior Team earned a 5-2 victory over Finland here tonight at the QPlex in pre-tournament action ahead of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The U.S. will play its second and final pre-tournament game on Wednesday (Dec. 21) against Sweden in Moncton, New Brunswick, at the Avenir Centre. Opening faceoff is set for 3:30 p.m. local time/2:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.

“I thought we got better as the game went on,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team and also the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “It was good to get a game under our belts and we’ll continue to build on this as we get closer to the start of the tournament.”

For the full recap, click here.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s Will Morlock from Michigan State University, who leads Team USA’s strength and conditioning.

Favorite rink: Munn Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Thailand

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Tim Howard

Amusement park ride you avoid: Zipper

Favorite gift from Santa: Snowboard

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Friends

Best advice you’ve been given: The way you do anything is the way you do everything

Best holiday movie: The Holiday

Favorite Holiday Song: All I Want For Christmas, Mariah Carey


December 18 | Chipotle Lunch Big Highlight Of Travel Day

TRAVEL DAY

After a week of training camp at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., for the 25 players and coaching and support staff of the U.S. National Junior Team, it was a day to re-locate to New Brunswick and get set for tomorrow’s pre-tournament game against Finland. Today started with a 10 a.m. breakfast in the team’s meeting room at the Marriott Livonia where the World Cup final was playing. A short video session followed breakfast.

A CHIPOTLE LUNCH

Prior to boarding the bus to head to the Detroit airport for its flight to Saint John, New Brunswick, this afternoon, Chipotle provided lunch for Team USA at the Marriott Livonia. It is not a stretch to say that most players on Team USA would be happy to dine on Chipotle burritos/burrito bowls pretty much every day. Chipotle bags were seen regularly throughout the week in the hands of U.S. players and staff, both at the hotel and USA Hockey Arena. Team USA’s flight departed just after 3:30 p.m. ET and landed two hours later with snow falling.

A WARM WELCOME

Team USA was warmly greeted at the Saint John airport by boys and girls from the Kennebecasis Valley Hurricanes, a U13 house league team from the area. The group of kids were decked out in their hockey sweaters and had big smiles as U.S. players signed autographs and posed for some photos. Many are expected to be at the QPlex in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, for tomorrow’s pre-tournament game against Finland.

A FEW LAST THINGS

Card games, various movies and television shows, and sleep were common activities for players on the two-hour flight from Detroit to St. John. One group of players was using sticks of gum as currency for their game of blackjack … The U.S. had a team stretch and dinner at the hotel upon arrival … Team USA will have a pre-game skate tomorrow at the QPlex in Quispamsis at 11:30 a.m. … The U.S. Junior Select Team, featuring players from the USHL, won the World Junior A Challenge tonight in Cornwall, Ont., with a 5-2 victory over Canada East in the championship game … The U.S. Women’s National Team will face Canada tomorrow night in L.A. at Crypto.com Arena in the Rivalry Series. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. PT and the game can be seen live on NHL Network. Team USA leads the best-of-seven series, 3-1.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s forward Sam Lipkin from Quinnipiac University.

First time on skates: 2 years old on roller skates Wissahickon Skating Club

Youth coach you’d like to thank: Vinny Smith, North Jersey Avalanche 16U

Favorite rink: Quinnipiac

Place you’d like to visit: Bahamas

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Lionel Messi

Amusement park ride you avoid: Any ride that involves heights

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Breaking Bad

Best advice you’ve been given: Get one percent better every day

Best movie: The Wolf of Wall Street


December 17 | Last Day at USA Hockey Arena

LAST PRACTICE AT USA HOCKEY ARENA

The U.S. National Junior Team training camp in Plymouth, Mich., concluded today after a week-long stay that began with 32 of the top players in the nation seeking to find a spot among those heading to Canada tomorrow for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. The group was ultimately pared down to the final 25 making the trip following yesterday’s skate and includes 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders, with 14 from the 2003 birth year, 10 from the 2004 birth year and one from 2005. Eight players were part of Team USA for the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship that took place in August, including netminders Kaidan Mbereko and Andrew Oke; defensemen Sean BehrensLuke Hughes and Jack Peart; and forwards Logan CooleyRed Savage and Charlie Stramel.

CAPTAINS NAMED

Just prior to the team taking the ice for practice today, U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold informed the players that Luke Hughes will be serving as team captain and Sean Behrens and Red Savage as alternate captains. All were members of the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team. All three are second-year college players, with Hughes competing at the University of Michigan, Behrens at the University of Denver and Savage at Miami University. Each of the three also played two years at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

MOVING TEAM USA

The job of “packing up” Team USA for its move to Canada tomorrow is at the able hands of the U.S. training staff and is a significant undertaking that began in earnest after Team USA’s practice today, will go deep into the night, and ultimately finish tomorrow just before noon. 

The group, including equipment managers Bubba Kennedy and Sean Schmidt, athletic trainers Stan Wong and Kevin Ricks, and team physician Dr. Phil Johnson, is being assisted by Scott Aldrich, manager of hockey operations for USA Hockey who has been here in Plymouth, Mich., this week to assist with the training camp and brings decades of experience with the varied international tournaments that the U.S. participates in. 

The packing list is lengthy (and heavy) and includes 31 player bags (two bags for each goaltender), five coaches bags, four stick bags, a skate sharpener, video equipment and a large sports performance trunk. It also includes two rolling trunks and six large bags for the medical staff, as well as two pelican cases for the team physician. In addition, the team will have four 10-gallon coolers, three ice chests, and a handful of other hockey bags filled with miscellaneous supplies that will be used for the final 20 days of the journey. A second skate sharpener and the jerseys that the team will wear in the tournament were shipped separately and will meet the team in Canada. Tomorrow, Aldrich will be arriving at USA Hockey Arena with a 20-foot truck that will be loaded with all the hockey equipment from the rink. He’ll then drive to the team hotel and the team’s personal luggage will be loaded aboard with the final destination being the plane, which will bring Team USA to St. John’s, New Brunswick. The personal baggage will be tagged separately from the hockey equipment so upon landing in St. John’s, the ground crew will be easily able to distinguish what should go to the team hotel and what needs to go to the QPlex, the rink where the U.S. will face Finland on Monday in its first of two exhibition games.

This same process will be repeated likely two more times during the tournament and then again at its conclusion.

JUST FOR FUN

Applesauce, beef jerky and protein bars are the most consumed snacks by members of Team USA according to team services manager Jessica Thibault … Cutter Gauthier was born in Sweden and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was two. His first name of Cutter came from his grandmother, who saw it in a cookbook … U.S. netminder Kaiden Mbereko said that “the pads drew me to the goalie position.” Mbereko, who competes collegiately at Colorado College, also played soccer, rugby, football and basketball as a kid … Red Savage lived in Salzburg, Austria, with his family under a castle for nearly a year when he was 12 years old. How did he get the name Red you might wonder? When his mom was pregnant with him, Red’s brother Ryan, who was two-and-a-half years old at the time, called his mom’s stomach Big Red throughout her pregnancy, after Clifford the Big Red Dog. So that, coupled with the Irish heritage of both of his parents, led to his official name of Redmond, which most all shorten to Red.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s U.S. athletic trainer Stan Wong, who is a member of the U.S. National Junior Team staff for the 21st time.

Favorite rink: USA Hockey Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Paris, France

One person you’d like to have dinner with: My dad

Amusement park ride you avoid: Tower of Terror

Favorite gift from Santa: When I was 13, I got an AM/FM radio with a built-in cassette player, which allowed me to record songs from the radio on a blank cassette.

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: King of Queens

Best advice you’ve been given: Just be yourself

Best holiday movie: A Christmas Story

Favorite holiday song: Little Drummer Boy


December 16 | Roster Taking Shape

ROSTER TAKING SHAPE

Following its practice session late this morning at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., the U.S. further reduced its roster with goaltender Tyler Muszelik, defenseman Shai Buium and forwards Ryan Leonard and Jack Devine released. The remaining 25 players are anticipated to be with Team USA throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship.

NHL NETWORK

NHL Network has had a crew on site the past two days at the U.S. National Junior Team training camp in Plymouth, Mich., collecting footage and interviews for pieces it will utilize as part of the broadcasts of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. Jon Morosi spent three hours last night and three more hours this evening at the team’s hotel interviewing nearly 20 players with the guidance of producer Sean Hyland. The wide-ranging conversations and stories will be featured throughout NHL Network’s exclusive coverage of the IIHF World Junior Championship. NHL Network will air all Team USA games – in addition to many others -- live in the United States.

YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED

Lane Hutson and Logan Cooley coined nicknames for each other with Cooley tabbed “Sparky” and Hutson “Sneaky” … Team USA will have its final practice at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., tomorrow at 11 a.m. The U.S. will depart for Canada on Sunday afternoon and play an exhibition game on Monday against Finland in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, at 6 p.m. ET. Team USA’s game schedule and broadcast information is available here … The U.S. will host the 2026 IIHF World Junior Championship. The dates and location are to be announced … The U.S. Women’s National Team faces Canada in the Rivalry Series Monday at Crypto.com Arena in L.A. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. PT and tickets are available by clicking here. NHL Network will televise the game live. The Rivalry Series is an annual seven-game competition between the two world powers. The U.S. leads the 2022-23 Rivalry Series by a 3-1 count … The U.S. Junior Select Team is competing in the World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ont. Team USA will play in the semifinal tomorrow against either Sweden or Canada East.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s Team USA trainer Kevin Ricks from the University of Notre Dame.

Favorite rink: Compton Family Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Acadia National Park in Maine

One person you’d like to have dinner with: George W. Bush

Amusement park ride you avoid: Anything that spins; love all coasters

Favorite video game: Super Mario Brothers

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Ham all day

Can’t miss show you watch: American Idol

Best advice you’ve been given: Control the things you can control

Best holiday movie: Christmas Vacation


Kevin Ricks (Right)


December 15 | Bowling Anyone?

DAY FOUR ON THE ICE

After three days of two-plus hours on the ice, the U.S. spent about 80 minutes on the rink today as preparations continued for the IIHF World Junior Championship continued at USA Hockey in Plymouth. The U.S. roster was bolstered by the arrival of Logan Cooley today. Tyler Boucher, who got hit with a puck in the mouth yesterday, had a successful visit to the dentist this morning and is expected to return to the ice tomorrow.

ON THE LANES

Team USA hit the bowling alley in Plymouth after practice today for some team bonding and friendly competition. The players were split up into four-person groups and Red Savage, Ryan Ufko, Kaidan Mbereko and Logan Cooley were crowned champions with a combined score of 524. Andrew Oke recorded the high score of the day at 174 and utilized an unusual style on the way to that top score (see video). Oke said he and his friends regularly bowled to pass the time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Savage had the second-best score at 170, while most scores hovered around 100. Dave Starman from NHL Network, who will be providing color commentary for Team USA games during the IIHF World Junior Championship, was in town today and sat down with U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold and assistant coaches Pat Ferschwiler and Reid Cashman individually at the bowling alley to discuss team preparations.

Dave Starman from NHL Network interviewing Head Coach Rand Pecknold

Dave Starman from NHL Network interviewing Head Coach Rand Pecknold


Red Savage and Kaidan Mbereko with their winning t-shirts

THIS AND THAT

With both the U.S. National Under-18 and Under-17 Teams from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program on the road, it was much quieter at USA Hockey Arena today … Danny Briere and Cutter Gauthier crossed paths in the lobby of Team USA’s hotel on Tuesday night and had a brief conversation. Briere, who played nearly 1,000 regular-season NHL games, works for the Philadelphia Flyers as a special assistant to general manager Chuck Fletcher and Gautier was drafted by the Flyers fifth overall in the 2022 NHL Draft … To finish an extended interview today, Mike Morreale from NHL.com asked U.S. general manager John Vanbiesbrouck to fill in the blank, “The U.S. will win gold if _____.” The response … “we play together.”

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, it’s a two-for-one as we hear from Team USA’s equipment manager tandem of Rob “Bubba” Kennedy from Quinnipiac University and Sean Schmidt from Cornell University.

ROB “BUBBA” KENNEDY

Favorite rink: New rink in Edmonton

Place you’d like to visit: Swiss Alps

One person you’d like to have dinner with: My grandfather  

Amusement park ride you avoid: Anything that drops straight down

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Yellowstone

Best advice you’ve been given: Never lose your passion for the game

Best holiday movie: Polar Express

SEAN SCHMIDT

Favorite rink: Lynah Rink (home of Cornell hockey)

Place you’d like to visit: Australia

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Michael Jordan

Amusement park ride you avoid: Most of them

Favorite video game: Original Mario

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Yellowstone

Best advice you’ve been given: Enjoy the process

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


December 14 | Scrimmage Wednesday

AFTERNOON SESSION

After late morning sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the U.S. National Junior Team mixed it up a bit today with an afternoon ice session at USA Hockey Arena that followed the U.S. National Under-18 Team’s USHL game against Muskegon (which the U18s won, 7-2, on Kid’s Day). The two hours included a 5x5 scrimmage, w and also a special teams scrimmage. 

ROSTER REDUCED

The U.S. reduced its preliminary roster by three today, releasing forwards Will Smith and Cam Lund, along with defenseman Aidan Hreschuk. The U.S. roster now includes 29 players. The IIHF is allowing 25 players to be credentialed for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship with a final roster size of 23 players.

DR. PHIL JOHNSON

Dr. Phil Johnson, who has been a regular face on the international stage for parts of the last three decades, is making his 16th and final appearance as the team physician for the U.S. National Junior Team. From Fargo, North Dakota, Johnson is winding down his practice and will officially retire on Dec. 31, 2023. “Phil has been such an important part of our group of medical volunteers for a long time,” said Dr. Mike Stuart, chief medical and safety officer of USA Hockey. “We’re so thankful to him for all his contributions, and wish him the very best in retirement.” In addition to his work with the U.S. National Junior Team,  Johnson has also served as team physician for many other U.S. teams, first starting in 2000.

DID YOU KNOW

The IIHF World Junior Championship concept originally came from U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame coach Murray Williamson back in the early 1970s. Williamson, who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota, thought establishing a tournament such as the World Juniors would be a great promotional vehicle for junior hockey in the United States. 

The first tournament was the 1974 edition, which the IIHF did not sanction. It took place Dec. 27, 1973 – Jan. 6, 1974, in Leningrad, Soviet Union, and along with the U.S., including the Soviet Union, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. The Soviets won the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, while the U.S. finished fifth at 1-4. 

“The thing I remember most is what an eye-opener it was for the kids who got the opportunity to play against other great hockey players their age from around the world,” said Williamson, who coached the team. Two more editions of the event were staged before the IIHF formally took over running the event in 1977.


“We really had no idea we were getting in on the ground floor of something that would grow into something so big,” Williamson said. “The truth of the matter is our initial goal was to promote junior hockey in the United States.”

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, we hear from forward Rutger McGroarty, who plays at the University of Michigan.

Three songs on your warm-up playlist: I Should Have Walked Away (Kaaze); Ocean Eyes (Billie Eilish); After Party (Don Toliver)

A youth coach you’d like to thank:  My dad

First time on skates: Age 1 in Omaha, Neb.

Favorite rink: Yost Ice Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Greece

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Phil Mickelson

Favorite video game: NHL 23

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Snap

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: Friday Night Lights

Best advice you’ve been given: Find the hardest worker and outwork them

Best holiday movie: Elf


December 13 | Title Belts Go To…..

BACK AT IT

It was the second day on the ice for Team USA here at USA Hockey Arena in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth. The U.S. hit the ice just after 11 a.m. for an up-tempo and spirited two hours that included a break halfway through to re-surface the ice. U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold and his staff continued to introduce concepts to players today with the penalty kill a focus. 

The U.S. National Under-18 Team from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program practiced prior to the U.S. National Junior Team, giving those in attendance a prime chance to see many players who will populate NHL ice surfaces in the not-too-distant future. The U18s will host Muskegon in USHL action tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. in the annual Kids Day game with school children from the area filling the building. Nearly 1,700 kids ages 9-13 will descend on USA Hockey Arena for the festivities.

WHAT COACHES ARE HANDLING WHAT

Head coach Rand Pecknold and assistant coach Reid Cashman are sharing duties coaching the U.S. penalty kill, while assistant coach Pat Ferschwiler is guiding the power play. Cashman is leading the U.S. defense, while Jared Waimon is Team USA’s goaltending coach

TEAM BONDING AT DAVE & BUSTER’S

Team USA took an afternoon trip to Dave & Buster’s for a late lunch, games and plenty of laughs. The players were split up into teams of three with two different competitions – one for the most tickets accumulated and the other for most points in basketball. The trio of Red Savage, Ryan Chesley and Cam Lund handily won the most tickets accumulated competition and Rutger McGroarty was tops in hoops. All four were presented championship belts by head coach Rand Pecknold.

QUICK HITS

Mike Morreale from NHL.com, Corey Pronman from The Athletic, and Jon Morosi from NHL Network are among the assembled media covering the U.S. camp in Plymouth … Team USA is slated to travel to Canada on Sunday afternoon … Team USA will practice at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

CASHMAN-HUGHES CONNECTION

U.S. assistant coach Reid Cashman, currently the head men’s ice hockey coach at Dartmouth College, had Jim Hughes – the father of Luke Hughes, who is vying to make his second straight U.S. National Junior Team -- as his first professional coach when he played with the Toronto Marlies. The photo included with this post is from Nov. 2007 where the group gathered was celebrating American Thanksgiving at the Hughes residence. Jim Hughes is on the bottom left step in the photo. Cashman is on the right wall in the light shirt. The question is, can you find Luke Hughes and his brothers Jack (who plays for the New Jersey Devils) and Quinn (who plays for the Vancouver Canucks) in the photo?

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, we hear from defenseman Shai Buium, who plays at the University of Denver.

Three songs on your warm-up playlist: Anything country; love Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, Zach Bryan

A youth coach you’d like to thank: Richie Metro, Shattuck St. Mary’s

First time on skates: Age 6 at San Diego Ice Arena

Favorite rink: Little Caesar’s Arena

Place you’d like to visit: Europe

One person you’d like to have dinner with: Adam Sandler

Amusement park ride you avoid: Don’t avoid any. Love the amusement park

Favorite video game: Call of Duty

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Call

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Can’t miss show you watch: White Collar

Best advice you’ve been given: Control what you can control

Best holiday movie: Home Alone


December 12 | Opening Day!

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for the players who have gathered here in Plymouth, Michigan, at USA Hockey Arena for a week-long camp in advance of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, set for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Moncton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Most of the players (and staff) were competing with their current teams over this past weekend, and on Sunday, either drove or flew to Plymouth in hopes of donning the USA crest to represent their country in perhaps the most anticipated and celebrated hockey tournament on the calendar each season – the IIHF World Junior Championship.

“It’s nice to be back closer to normal (in reference to the pandemic) than we have in the last three years,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, Hall of Fame goaltender, who is serving for the fifth time as general manager of the U.S. National Junior Team. “We’re really excited about our team and the camp here this week.”

The group gathered for a team meeting last night to set the stage for the week, and today, hit the ice for the first time. U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold, who has turned Quinnipiac University’s men’s ice hockey team into a national power, will be closely watching with his team of coaches this week as roster decisions get made.

“We’re about being relentless and playing fast,” said Pecknold, who is leading the U.S. National Junior Team for the first time. “It was fun to see the buy-in from our players on the ice today. We’ve got a lot to accomplish this week and we’re off to a really good start.”

LANE HUTSON

Defenseman Lane Hutson helped his seventh-ranked Boston University Terriers to a 3-2 victory (including scoring a goal) over 10th-ranked Connecticut on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 11) before catching a scheduled 9 p.m. flight from Boston to Detroit that was slated to land just after 11 p.m. Plans didn’t go quite according to Hoyle as Hutson wound up delayed, and ultimately arrived around 3 a.m. That did not stop him, however, from being on the ice for today’s 11 a.m. Practice with his U.S. teammates.

USA HOCKEY ARENA

When The USA Hockey Foundation purchased USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, back on March 31, 2015, it did so to not only provide a home for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, but also to have a facility U.S. national teams could utilize to prepare for competitions, including world championships. That is exactly what is happening this week as the U.S. National Junior Team is together for a week in advance of heading to Canada for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

While the two teams of the NTDP don’t break for the holidays for another week, housing the additional 32 players and support staff involved for a week of the U.S. National Junior Camp is not an issue, as the USA Hockey Arena facilities include 18 total lockerrooms and two ice sheets

THE LATEST AND GREATEST

CCM and Bauer representatives were on site today to showcase their latest products to the players and staff of the U.S. National Junior Team. Both are long-time partners of USA Hockey. Representatives from True Hockey, also a USA Hockey sponsor, are expected to be at USA Hockey Arena on Wednesday.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Throughout the IIHF World Junior Championship journey, we’ll regularly feature players and staff in the “Lightning Round” to help you get to know Team USA. Today, we begin with U.S. head coach Rand Pecknold, who is the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey.

First time on skates: Age 3 in Winchester, Massachusetts

Favorite rink: Quinnipiac

Place You’d Like To Visit: Bali, Indonesia

One Person You’d Like To Have Dinner With: My wife, Nikki

Amusement Park Ride You Avoid: Roller coaster

Text, email, Snap, DM, or call: Text

Turkey or Ham for holiday meal: Turkey

Best Gift from Santa: When I was young I got Cooperalls and that was exciting

Can’t Miss Show You Watch: Game of Thrones

Saying That Resonates: Hunt the puck

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