MONCTON, New Brunswick – The U.S. National Junior Team will play its first of four preliminary round games in the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship here today against Latvia. Opening faceoff is set for 5 p.m. local/4 p.m. ET at the Avenir Centre, and the game will be broadcast live by NHL Network.
“We’re excited to get the tournament started,” said Rand Pecknold, head coach of the 2023 U.S. National Junior Team and the head men’s ice hockey coach at Quinnipiac University. “I really like how we’re coming together and finding our identity. and it’s a team I think fans will really enjoy watching.”
The U.S. had a snappy 35-minute practice yesterday after its team photo at 12:30 p.m.
The U.S. and Latvia have met just three times previously in the World Juniors, with Team USA winning all three meetings. The teams last played in the 2017 event with the U.S. earning a 6-1 win in preliminary round play behind two goals from Clayton Keller.
Team USA’s captain is Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.). A sophomore defenseman at the University of Michigan, Hughes is playing in his third international event for the U.S. in the last seven months. He was a member of Team USA for the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship in May, and then in August played for Team USA in the re-scheduled 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. Defenseman Sean Behrens (Barrington, Ill./University of Denver) and forward Red Savage (Scottsdale, Ariz./Miami University) are the team’s alternate captains.
Following today’s game, the U.S. will have a day off before playing back-to-back games against Slovakia on Wednesday (Dec. 28) and Switzerland on Thursday (Dec. 29). All Team USA games will be aired live on NHL Network.
The U.S. Finland, Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland are part of Group B and play preliminary-round games here in Moncton. Group A, which features Canada, Sweden, Czechia, Germany and Austria, is playing its preliminary round contests in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two quarterfinals will be played in each city, while Halifax will host both semifinals, along with the bronze and gold medal games.