For the second year, USA Hockey’s World Juniors Pre-Tournament Camp has returned to Boston, Massachusetts and to the Boston University Terriers campus where the roster of 28 hopefuls must prove their skill and commitment to the coaches and management. For the coaches and management they will have the unenviable task of paring that roster down to the 23-man roster they will showcase at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship taking place in Helsinki, Finland beginning on December 26, 2015.
The players flew in to Boston on Monday, had a meeting with management and the coaches Monday night and were on the ice Tuesday at Agganis Arena doing some drills and scrimmage. And while all eyes are on what is being currently referred to as the “first line” of Matthew Tkachuk, Auston Matthews, and Alex DeBrincat, as Head Coach Ron Wilson said after practice, he’s finding chemistry with all the lines, which looked like this:
- Matthew Tkachuk – Auston Matthews – Alex DeBrincat
- Sonny Milano – Christian Dvorak – Colin White
- Kieffer Bellow – Nick Schmaltz – Brock Boeser
- Ryan Donato – Ryan MacInnis – Anders Bjork
- Scott Eansor – Clayton Keller – Ryan Hitchcock
- Zach Werenski – Brandon Carlo
- Chad Krys – Charlie McAvoy
- Louie Belpedio – Will Borgen
- Casey Fitzgerald – Brandon Fortunato
- Alex Nedeljkovic
- Brandon Halverson
- Tyler Parsons
“Well I just kind of put a lot of guys together I thought would be compatible and after one practice I was amazed at how compatible everybody was together,” said Wilson. “And the one line that surprised me, I would call it our fifth line, they were really good, so we’ve got a lot of possibilities to put guys together with different people as well.”
Some of these players are returning for their second chance to represent the United States in the World Junior Championship, but all of them are hungry to bring home some hardware.
The week of practice continues on Wednesday and will culminate with an exhibition game against the UMass-Amherst Minutemen on Friday night at the Mullins Center in Amherst before the group heads on to Finland for the second week of camp and the competition. Before the puck drops on their first game against Team Canada, decisions will have to be made of who must be cut to get the roster down to the required 23 men. Coach Wilson did indicate that he is hoping to carry eight defensemen, but a lot will be up to the players and what they bring to each practice.
See the complete interview with head coach Ron Wilson here: