World Junior A Challenge Scheduled for Next Month
The United States has won a medal during each of the first nine years it has sent a team to the World Junior A Challenge, but Team USA had to scramble for bronze in 2015. Three members of the Waterloo Black Hawks will try to bring the U.S. back to the top of the podium when the 2016 event is held in Bonnyville, Alberta, December 11th through 17th.
Black Hawks veterans Nick Swaney, Mikey Anderson, and Jake Ryczek were among the players on the 22-man roster released by USA Hockey today and will bring experience from over 250 combined United States Hockey League appearances.
“This group will represent the Black Hawks well on an international stage,” indicated Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “Playing for your country is very meaningful, and I am proud that Black Hawks players have had a lot of success at this event over the years.”
No player currently on Waterloo’s roster has more USHL goals than Swaney. The Minnesota-Duluth recruit led the Hawks with 30 last season and has totaled 48 during regular season league games over his career.
Ryczek is committed to Providence and currently paces the team with a +14 plus/minus differential. Last summer, he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Anderson is a well-regarded prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft. Destined for UMD after completing his junior career, he currently leads Waterloo defensemen with ten points.
Waterloo has now had at least one player named to the U.S. Junior Select Team in nine of the ten years during which Team USA has skated in the World Junior A Challenge. This is the sixth time the United States’ roster has included three or more Black Hawks for the event. Last season, Waterloo was represented at the World Junior A Challenge by forward Liam Pecararo.
The 2016 U.S. Junior Select Team is composed entirely of players from the United States Hockey League.
In Bonnyville, the U.S. will compete against two squads of Canadian players, as well as teams from Czech Republic, Russia, and Switzerland. Each entry will play two games during the preliminary round. The top squads from two three-team pools will receive byes into the semifinals, while other participants will be paired up in quarterfinal games. Team USA is seeking its seventh gold medal from the competition.