COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Nine players with National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) ties will take part in the upcoming 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, representing either their native Canada or United States, as the rosters were announced Wednesday and Thursday. Four of the nine are rising sophomores, including two each on Team USA and Team Canada, while four incoming NCHC freshmen and one NCHC alumnus are also on the U.S. roster.
Among the 44-man U.S. World Junior Summer Showcase roster are Denver defenseman Slava Demin and Western Michigan defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, as well as incoming Denver forward Bobby Brink, incoming Minnesota Duluth forward Luke Loheit, incoming North Dakota forward Shane Pinto and incoming Omaha goaltender Isaiah Saville. Former Miami forward Jonathan Gruden was also named to the U.S. roster. Representing Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase are North Dakota rising sophomore defensemen Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick, who are among the 43 players selected from Canada.
The 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase runs from July 27 through August 4 and will take place in Plymouth, Mich., home of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Canada and the U.S. will be joined by teams from Finland and Sweden and compete in exhibition games in preparation for the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship.
Demin (Cypress, Calif.) was a stalwart on the DU blue line in his first season in the NCHC, playing in all 41 games to help lead the Pioneers to the NCAA Frozen Four. The Vegas Golden Knights draft pick scored four goals and added 10 assists for 14 points in his first season with Denver, while posting a +19 plus/minus. Samuelsson (Voorhees, N.J.) appeared in 35 games for the Broncos as a freshman, chipping in five goals and seven assists for 12 points, to go with a +3 plus/minus and 48 blocked shots. The 2018 second round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres was named NCHC Rookie of the Week once last season. He also played for the 2019 U.S. National Junior Team that won a silver medal in Vancouver, as he appeared in all seven games, and looks to make the roster again in 2020.
Bernard-Docker (Canmore, Alta.) and Tychonick (Calgary, Alta.) were teammates at UND last season and are among only four current college hockey players chosen for Team Canada’s roster. Bernard-Docker, a 2018 first round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, played in 36 of UND’s 37 games as a freshman, tallying five goals and 12 assists for 17 points, tying for fourth on the team. He also fired 70 shots on goal and blocked 37, while twice earning NCHC Defenseman of the Week honors. Tychonick appeared in 28 games as a rookie, dishing out four assists and putting 16 shots on goal, while blocking 10. Tychonick is also a draft pick of the Senators, being taken in the second round of last year’s NHL Draft.
Gruden (Rochester Hills, Mich.) suited up in all 38 games for Miami in his lone season with the RedHawks. He scored three goals and added 12 assists for 15 points, ranking seventh on the team. Like Bernard-Docker and Tychonick, Gruden is an Ottawa Senators prospect, being taken in the fourth round in 2018 and signing with the Senators this past spring. He participated in the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase as well, but did not make the final U.S. National Junior Team. Gruden is expected to play for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) next season.
Among the incoming NCHC freshmen, Brink (Excelsior, Minn.) was named the USHL Forward of the Year and to the USHL First All-Star Team this past season, tallying 35 goals and 68 points in 43 games for the Sioux City Musketeers. He also represented Team USA at the 2019 IIHF U-18 World Championship, chipping in three goals and six points in five games to help the U.S. win a bronze medal. The draft-eligible forward will join the Pioneers this coming fall.
Loheit (Minnetonka, Minn.) played in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) last season, scoring eight goals and totaling 24 points in 43 regular-season games for the Penticton Vees. He was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of the 2018 NHL Draft and will suit up for the UMD Bulldogs this fall.
Loheit will become rivals with Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.), who heads to North Dakota for the upcoming season. Pinto spent last season in the USHL, appearing in 30 games for the Lincoln Stars, before being traded to the Tri-City Storm for the final 26 games of the regular season. The draft-eligible forward compiled 59 points last season between the two teams, potting 28 goals to go with 31 assists, while adding nine points in six playoff games with the Storm. Pinto was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team this past season, and helped the Storm capture the Anderson Cup as regular-season champions.
Pinto’s teammate in Tri-City was Saville (Anchorage, Alaska), who had a phenomenal season in the USHL, earning the league’s Goaltender of the Year award, as well as landing on the USHL First All-Star Team and the All-Rookie Team with Pinto, after playing in the NAHL in 2017-18, when he was their Midwest Goaltender of the Year. The draft-eligible netminder led the USHL with a 1.90 goals-against average last season, while posting a .925 save percentage in 34 games, with a 25-4-2-1 record. The incoming Omaha goaltender backstopped the Storm to the Anderson Cup with the best regular-season record in the USHL. He also earned USA Hockey’s Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year award earlier this month.
Brink, Pinto and Saville are expected to be selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, which takes place this Friday and Saturday, June 21-22 in Vancouver, B.C. The final rosters for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held in the Czech Republic, will be announced some time in December.
Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin is serving as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team for 2020, while St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson will be an assistant for Team USA.