Good news for UMD men's hockey fans as the Christmas holiday fast approaches. The IIHF World Junior Championships start Monday in Montreal and Toronto, and UMD will be represented on Team USA.
Freshman forward Joey Anderson has made the final cut of 13 forwards on the American squad. Anderson missed the Bemidji State home-and-home series to attend the U.S. training camp in Buffalo, and he scored a goal in a pre-tournament win over Switzerland on Wednesday night in Oshawa, Ontario.
It's the 13th time a UMD player has skated in this tournament, the first since defensemen Justin Faulk (USA) and Dylan Olsen (Canada) played in the 2011 tourney. UMD head coach Scott Sandelin was head coach of Team USA in 2005 and an assistant in 2012.
Anderson has six goals and 17 points for UMD this season in 16 games. All six of the goals and 11 of the points have come since NCHC play started (ten games). He's a responsible, smart two-way forward with a wicked shot. Anderson picked up the Bulldogs' system quickly enough to be elevated to the top line with seniors Dominic Toninato and Alex Iafallo by the time conference play started.
It's unclear the exact role Anderson will play for the U.S. team, but he was in the bottom six for the pre-tournament games. With the unexpected cut of OHL star Alex DeBrincat and injuries to expected contributors Brock Boeser (North Dakota, of course -- wrist surgery and out until next month) and Logan Brown, St. Cloud State's Bob Motzko (Team USA head coach) and staff will be looking for balanced scoring from all lines to pick up the slack. Key among that could be guys like Anderson, Kiefer Bellows, and Clayton Keller, stars on last year's Under-18 National Team (Bellows and Keller are freshmen at Boston University).
The gold-medal game of the tournament is Jan. 5 (as is the matchup for bronze), so Anderson will at least be back in Duluth in time for the series against Colorado College if the U.S. plays for gold or bronze. Obviously, it'll be up in the air if he plays, but it likely helps that the tournament is in North America as opposed to overseas.
The schedule for Team USA in the preliminary round is below. All Team USA games will air on NHL Network (channel 215 on DirecTV) with Steve Mears and the great Dave Starman on the call. They will also pick up the TSN feed of many other games during the tournament, so that's a great place to park the TV and watch some super international hockey.
Monday vs Latvia, 2:30pm
Wednesday vs Slovakia, 6:30pm
Thursday vs Russia, 2:30pm
Saturday, Dec. 31, vs Canada, 2:30pm
Quarterfinal games are Monday, Jan. 2, with the semifinals on Wednesday the 4th.
Enjoy the holiday. Be aware of the storm situation if you're traveling anywhere, and we'll talk sometime closer to the New Year. Follow me on Twitter @BruceCiskie for the latest updates.