Wednesday was an eventful day for the U.S. National Junior Team. Just after midnight, the team returned to the hotel after it's 3-2 overtime win at Minnesota State. Less than eight hours later, there was a team meeting during which it was announced that three players were released from the roster: JT Compher, Anthony DeAngelo and Ryan Fitzgerald. While all roster decisions are tough on players, Compher's was especially difficult because he suffered a foot injury while blocking a shot during Monday night's practice and cannot continue.
“I really liked Monday, two competitive practices and seeing how the guys reacted to the practices,” general manager Jim Johannson told USAHockey.com. “Parts of last night’s game were part of the evaluation. It was an okay hockey game. [The players] always tend to grow.”
Twenty-six players now remain on the roster: 15 forwards, eight defenseman and three goaltenders. The final roster maximum is 23 players, typically broken down to 13 forwards, seven defenseman and three goalies. (NHL.com breaks down the roster)
Team USA did not skate this morning, which gave the players some down time. At noon, the squad collected its bags at Mariucci Arena and departed for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. The two-leg flight departs the Twin Cities to Amsterdam, arriving in Europe around 6:30 a.m. local time. Then, after a layover, the team heads to Copenhagen. Finally a bus across the Oresund Bridge will deliver Team USA to Sweden in the early afternoon.
"You try to rest up as much as possible and kill as much of the flight while you're sleeping," said defenseman Connor Carrick. "If 'Entourage' is the hot thing with the guys I'll jump in on that, if it's cards I'll switch over."
Traveling abroad for hockey isn't a new experience for Carrick, who said taking in the sights and local scene during downtime is something he enjoys.
"The games are stressful enough, you can't think about it 24 hours a day or you'll go crazy," he said. "So anything that takes your mind off of is great."
The U.S. has pre-tournament games vs. Sweden on Dec. 20 and Finland on Dec. 22 before it announces its final roster on Dec. 23. Both contests will be held in Angelholm, Sweden.