Hawks Handle the Challenge

Three Waterloo Black Hawks and the rest of the United States Junior Select Team had a golden trip to the western Canadian plains, culminating with a decisive win Saturday to complete the World Junior A Challenge.

Nick Swaney, Mikey Anderson, and Jake Ryczek were each part of the victorious delegation to Bonnyville, Alberta. Todd Klein also supported the effort as team trainer.  All will bring back gold medals after the United States won the event for the seventh time in ten tries.

“I’m extremely proud of this team,” said Jay Varady, head coach of the 2016 U.S. Junior Select Team and the Sioux City Musketeers. “We stayed the course after opening the tournament with a loss and came together as a group. It was a total team effort, and this is a memory that none of us will ever forget.”

During Saturday’s final against Canada East, Swaney scored late in the first period, opening the door to a 4-0 win.  The timely tally helped Waterloo’s veteran scoring star earn a place on the World Junior A Challenge All-Star Team.

Between Swaney and Ryczek, a Black Hawks player factored into the game-winning goal during each game of the elimination stage.

Two days prior to the goal medal contest, Swaney assisted on a second period score by Brannon McManus of the Chicago Steel which proved decisive during the semifinal round.  A day earlier than that, Ryczek set up the opening goal of the quarterfinals as the United States routed Switzerland, 9-0.

For the tournament, Swaney contributed two goals and two assists.  Ryczek put in a goal and created three others for his teammates.

Pool play had included the only U.S. loss – 1-0 versus Czech Republic – as well as a win which foreshadowed the final game, 3-1 against Canada East.

The U.S. Junior Select Team was composed entirely of players from the United States Hockey League, as has generally been the case since Team USA’s first entry in 2007.  Beginning with that tournament, the U.S. has won 37 of 45 games and earned a medal every year.

Swaney’s all-tournament selection marks the fourth time a Black Hawk has been so honored.  Previously, Waterloo forwards Craig Smith, Vince Hinostroza, and Tom Novak were recognized, with Honostroza named the World Junior A Challenge MVP in 2012.

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