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Pair of NCHC Coaches to Guide 2020 U.S. National Junior Team

By NCHC, 05/03/19, 1:00PM EDT

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UMD’s Sandelin to serve as head coach, SCSU’s Larson will be one of four assistants

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After leading Minnesota Duluth to a second straight National Championship, UMD head coach Scott Sandelin will look to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a gold medal at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, after being named head coach of the 2020 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. Sandelin will be reunited behind the bench with his former assistant coach at UMD and current St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson, who will serve as an assistant coach for the upcoming U.S. National Junior Team.

Sandelin returns to the bench of the U.S. National Junior Team for the second straight season after helping the Stars and Stripes win a silver medal in Vancouver at last year’s World Junior Championship as an assistant coach. Sandelin was previously the head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team in 2005, when Team USA finished fourth. He was also an assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team in 2012, serving under former North Dakota and Omaha head coach Dean Blais.

Larson, who served as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs under Sandelin twice, from 2008-11 and again from 2015-18, will be making his IIHF World Junior Championship coaching debut in 2020, but not his USA Hockey coaching debut. In 2012, Larson served as the head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team that captured the World Junior A Challenge.

Sandelin and Larson will lead the U.S. National Junior Team into the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, which will take place from Dec. 26, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020 in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic. Team USA will compete in Group B at the 2020 World Junior Championship alongside host Czech Republic, Canada, Germany and Russia.

Sandelin, who is the longest tenured coach in the NCHC after recently completing his 19th season, guided UMD to its second straight National Championship in April and third NCAA title in the last nine seasons. He was a finalist for the AHCA’s Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year for the third straight season in 2018-19, an award he won back in 2004. Sandelin led the Bulldogs to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship this past season, as well, as UMD captured the NCHC Tournament title for the second time in three seasons. Sandelin is one of only nine head coaches in college hockey history to lead a team to three NCAA National Championships. He boasts a career record of 369-311-87 at Minnesota Duluth, including 21-6 in NCAA Tournament play, the best NCAA Tournament record of any active college hockey bench boss.

Larson recently completed his first season at the helm of St. Cloud State, leading the Huskies to their second straight Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions. SCSU finished with a 30-6-3 record in 2018-19 under Larson’s watch, including an undefeated home campaign, while helping the Huskies earn the NCAA Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed. Larson won the NCHC’s Herb Brooks Coach of the Year award in his first season behind SCSU’s bench and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award this season, along with Sandelin. During his two stints as a UMD assistant coach, Larson helped Minnesota Duluth win two national titles (2011, 2018). In between his time with the Bulldogs, the UMD alumnus was a head coach in the USHL for Sioux City and an associate head coach for Ohio State.

Sandelin becomes the second NCHC head coach to serve as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team, after former SCSU head coach Bob Motzko was the head coach of Team USA in back-to-back years. Motzko led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship in Montreal and a bronze medal in 2018 in Buffalo, N.Y.

In addition to Larson, the other 2020 U.S. National Junior Team assistant coaches under Sandelin are Ohio State associate head coach Steve Miller and Dartmouth associate head coach David Lassonde, both of whom previously served as assistant coaches at both Denver and Miami, as well as Northeastern associate head coach Jerry Keefe.

The U.S. National Junior Team has medaled in four straight World Junior Championships, winning gold in 2017, silver last year and bronze in 2016 and 2018. Overall, the U.S. has claimed 12 medals, including four golds, two silvers and six bronze medals.

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