Forget playing the Star Spangled Banner if the United States wins the hockey World Junior Championships, Beautiful Ohio might be just as fitting.
Four native Ohioans and two others who have ties to teams in Ohio are on the nearly finalized roster for the United States National Junior Team. A roster of 27 was whittled to 24 on Sunday. One more defenseman will need to be cut on Monday.
The reason for the additional cut is due to the injury status of Dublin’s Connor Murphy who took a puck in the neck in an exhibition game against Finland on Saturday. Assuming his health checks, he will make the final roster.
The United States had two exhibition games in Finland leading up to the World Junior Championships in Russia which begins on Wednesday. The tournament features the best players under 20 years old. Of the 24 remaining players on the United States’ roster, 14 play in the college ranks along with nine who play in the Canadian Hockey League and one who plays in the American Hockey League.
The United States split a pair of exhibition games over the weekend.
“I thought in the two games, our penalties mounted and took away the flow of our game,” United States head coach Phil Housley said. “As a result Finland beat us 5-1 but overall, we have to address a few things. I feel confident in the players we have picked for our roster.”
Mark Osiecki joins Housley on the coaching staff. Osiecki is leaving his post as Ohio State’s head coach for several weeks to help prepare the United States for the tournament.
Joining Murphy on the roster is fellow Dublin resident and current Miami RedHawks forward Sean Kuraly. Murphy and Kuraly both had points in the United States’ 3-2 overtime exhibition win over Sweden on Thursday in the first of two exhibition games.
“We came out to a good start and got our first win and now build off that,” Murphy said about Thursday’s performance.
East Palestine, Ohio product and current Connecticut Whale star J.T. Miller made the cut. He is a 2011 first round draft pick of the New York Rangers. The other Ohio native who made the cut was Kuraly’s linemate Tyler Biggs who is now playing for Oshawa in the OHL. Biggs was born in New York but is a native of Loveland, Ohio; a suburb of Cincinnati. He played for the RedHawks last season
Also making the roster is RedHawks forward Riley Barber. The Capitals prospect leads all freshmen in the NCAA with points.
Blue Jackets prospect and Minnesota Gophers defender Mike Reilly was on the roster as well. Murphy and Reilly could give Housley good options in this year’s tournament.
“We have a lot of great players on the D core,” Murphy said. “I think we all play well together when we’re matched up. Hopefully when we get everyone in the lineup, we will do well.”
The United States’ first game is Thursday at 9 a.m. against Germany.
Jenner faces suspension
For as much excitement the Blue Jackets’ brass had to see one of their highest prospects play in the World Juniors, the agony awaits as Team Canada’s Boone Jenner awaits possible punishment from the IIHF thanks to a late hit in Saturday’s exhibition against Sweden.
Jenner crushed Jesper Petterson in a late hit after Petterson passed off the puck.TSN reported that Petterson faced a broken wrist and shoulder. Jenner was handed a game misconduct for the hit.
Jenner has had an amazing season with Oshawa scoring 47 points in just 32 games.