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GAMEDAY: U.S. Ready for WJAC Championship Game

By, 12/16/18, 12:30PM EST


Team USA looking for third title in last five years

The United States Junior Select Team will wrap up tournament play at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge tonight (Dec. 16) in the championship game against Russia at 4 p.m. local time/6 p.m. ET in Bonnyville, Alberta, at R.J. Lalonde Arena. Tonight's game marks the second meeting between the U.S. and Russia at the 2018 tournament.


The U.S. Junior Select Team will play its sixth game of the 2018 World Junior A Challenge tonight against Russia at R.J. Lalonde Arena. Live game updates will be provided by @USAHockey on Twitter.

Tonight’s Opponent: Russia

Team USA is 2-2 (W-L) in its last four meetings with Russia at the World Junior A Challenge. The two teams squared off in the final game of this year's preliminary round in a battle for first place. The U.S. needed a regulation win to clinch first place and pulled Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.) with 1:30 remaining tied at 3. The U.S. would fall, 4-3, in regulation with Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.), Luke Johnson (Edina, Minn.) and Zac Jones (Glen Allen, Va.) recording multi-point games.

The U.S. has won four of the last six World Junior A Challenges, while Russia has four top-three finishes in the past five years, including two second place finishes in 2013 and 2015.

2018 WJAC

WJAC History

Semifinal Recap

Team USA won in dramatic fashion at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge on Saturday with a 3-2 overtime victory against Canada West in Bonnyville, Alberta. Josh Nodler (Oak Park, Mich.) and Ronnie Attard (White Lake, Mich.) each scored in regulation for the U.S. and Griffin Ness (Wayzata, Minn.) finished the game in overtime with a breakaway goal. Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.) made 25 saves on 27 shots. Team USA outshot Canada West 34-27.

Noreen Leading the Charge

Anthony Noreen (Kearney, Neb.) is the head coach of the 2018 U.S. Junior Select Team after serving as an assistant coach at the 2013 and 2017 World Junior A Challenge. In 2017, he helped lead the U.S. Junior Select Team as assistant coach to a second-place finish. Prior to that, Noreen served as an assistant coach with the 2013 team that took home first place for the second consecutive year at the World Junior A Challenge. Noreen, who is head coach of the United States Hockey League's Tri-City Storm is joined on the U.S. coaching staff by assistant coaches Mark Abalan (Sioux City, Iowa), Shane Fukushima (Waterloo, Iowa) and David Wilkie (Omaha, Neb.). Marc Boxer (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey's director of junior hockey, is serving as general manager.

International Experience

The 22-player roster includes 10 players who have skated for the U.S. internationally. Of those 10 players, nine have skated on U.S. Select Teams, including seven skaters who helped lead the U.S. to first-place finishes at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Plano, Texas, in 2016 and Ostrava, Czech Republic, in 2017. Moreover, Trevor Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn./Central Illinois Flying Aces) was a member of the 2018 U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team that earned a silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship last April in Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk, Russia.

More Big Stages

Along with international experience, eight players have competed in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, an annual event featuring the top American players eligible for the NHL Draft. Ethan Frisch (Moorhead, Minn./Green Bay Gamblers), Janicke, Jones, Robert Mastrosimone (East Islip, N.Y./Chicago Steel), Shane Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y./Lincoln Stars), Isaiah Saville (Anchorage, Alaska/Tri-City Storm) and Grant Silianoff (Edina, Minn./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) all participated in the 2018 event. Furthermore, Ryan O'Reilly (Southlake, Texas/Fargo Force) played in the 2017 event before bring drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round, 98th overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, Texas.