Twenty-seven players, 23 spots.
That’s the math problem that Team USA will try to solve as it whittles its roster for the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship,to be held in Toronto and Montreal Dec. 26, 2016 to Jan. 5, 2017.
USA Hockey announced Monday that 27 players have made the preliminary roster for the tourney and will attend a training camp Dec. 16-20 at HarborCenter in Buffalo, N.Y. The final 23-man roster will be announced on Dec. 24.
Three players of color, all members of National Hockey League Draft class of 2015, are vying for jobs on the U.S. squad. They are:Caleb Jones, defense, Portland Winterhawks, Western Hockey League. Jones is the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, who starred in Portland before the Nashville Predators selected him with the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. Jones joined the NHL after competing in the World Juniors.
Now Caleb Jones is making a name for himself in Portland. He’s fifth on the Winterhawks in scoring with 3 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. His 25 points is tops among the team’s defensemen. He’s tied for second in assists among WHL defensemen.
The Edmonton Oilers chose Jones in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and signed him to an entry-level NHL contract in April.“Caleb has had a chance in the past to represent USA at several international events but I know the opportunity to play in the World Junior tournament on the biggest stage is something he’s always looked forward to,”said Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks head coach and general manager. “I am confident he will impress at the camp.”
Jordan Greenway, forward, Boston University, Hockey East. Greenway, a6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore is second on the Terriers in scoring with 6 goals and 7 assists in 13 games. He’s tallied 3 game-winning goals so far this season.
The Minnesota Wild drafted Greenway in the second round with the 50th overall pick of the 2015. His younger brother, defenseman J.D. Greenway, plays for the University of Wisconsin. The Toronto Maple Leafs chose him in the third round with the 72nd overall pick of the 2016 draft.Erik Foley, forward, Providence College, Hockey East. Foley leads The Friars in scoring with 6 goals and 8 assists in 14 games. He also leads the team with 3 power play goals and 2 game-winning goals. The Winnipeg Jets plucked Foley in the third round with the 78th overall in the 2015 draft.
If Foley makes the USA roster, he’ll have company from Rhode Island. Friars Assistant Coach Kris Mayotte was named to the U.S. National Junior Team in June.
And Foley also may end up playing against a fellow Friar in Toronto and Montreal as teammate Kasper Björkqvist was named to Finland’s preliminary roster for the World Juniors on Monday.