OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) will be well represented at the upcoming 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, as five NCHC players were named to final national junior team rosters on Monday. The U.S. National Junior Team will include a quartet of NCHC players, while Team Canada will have one NCHC representative.
Earning a spot on the final 23-man U.S. National Junior Team are Denver freshman forward Bobby Brink, North Dakota freshman forward Shane Pinto, Western Michigan sophomore defenseman Mattias Samuelsson and Omaha freshman goaltender Isaiah Saville, with Samuelsson making his second straight U.S. National Junior Team. UND sophomore blue liner Jacob Bernard-Docker is the only college hockey player to make Team Canada’s final 23-man roster.
All five NCHC players are looking to bring home a gold medal from the 2020 World Junior Championship, which takes place Dec. 26, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020 in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic. Team USA and Canada are both in Group B for the 2020 World Junior Championship, along with Germany, Russia and the host Czechs, and will play their games at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava. The border rivals open World Juniors facing each other on Thursday, Dec. 26. All Team USA games can be seen on NHL Network, while Canada games can be seen on TSN in Canada. Round-robin group play runs through Dec. 31, while medal-round play begins Jan. 2 with the gold medal game on Sunday, Jan. 5.
Samuelsson (Voorhees, N.J.) will serve as captain for Team USA, marking the third straight year an NCHC player will wear the 'C' for the U.S. National Junior Team. Last winter, he played in all seven games and helped the U.S. win a silver medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver. The Buffalo Sabres second round draft pick has a goal and three assists in 12 games so far this season, along with 13 blocked shots, a team-high 35 penalty minutes and a +3 plus/minus. He totaled 12 points (5g, 7a) in 35 games as a freshman for the Broncos.
Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.) is second among NCHC rookies with 13 points in 18 games this season, scoring seven goals and adding six assists. The Philadelphia Flyers second round draft pick is a two-time NCHC Rookie of the Week and was the NCHC October Rookie of the Month, after earning USHL Forward of the Year honors last season with Sioux City. 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.
Ahead of Brink in NCHC rookie scoring is Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.), who leads all NCHC newcomers with 14 points in 17 games this season (0.82 ppg). His eight goals and +12 plus/minus are also tops among NCHC newcomers, while he is also a two-time NCHC Rookie of the Week. The Ottawa Senators second round draft pick was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team last season.
Saville (Anchorage, Alaska) has posted a 6-5-2 record with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage in 14 starts this season for the Mavericks. The Vegas Golden Knights prospect was the NCHC Goaltender of the Week after backstopping Omaha to a split at Ohio State earlier this season. He was named the USHL Goaltender of the Year last season with Tri-City, as well as the USA Hockey Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year.
Bernard-Docker (Canmore, Alta.) is third among NCHC defensemen in scoring with 14 points in 17 games this season, while his 11 assists tie for second among blue liners in the conference. His +11 plus/minus is third among NCHC defensemen, while he’s blocked 20 shots on the year. The Ottawa Senators first round draft pick totaled 17 points (5g, 12a) in 36 games all last season as a freshman for the Fighting Hawks. Bernard-Docker was named NCHC Defenseman of the Week at the end of November.
In addition to the four players, Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin is serving as head coach of the 2020 U.S. National Junior Team, while St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson is an assistant for Team USA.
Last year, Team USA earned a silver medal at the World Junior Championship in Vancouver, while Canada finished sixth. The U.S. has medaled in four consecutive World Junior Championships (2019-silver, 2018-bronze, 2017-gold, 2016-bronze) for the first time in U.S. history. Canada has won 31 medals at the IIHF World Junior Championship since 1977, including 17 gold, nine silver and five bronze. Team Canada last took home gold in Buffalo in 2018.
A year ago, the NCHC had six players representing at the 2019 World Junior Championship, with five on Team USA and one on Team Canada. Samuelsson helped the U.S. to a silver medal last year with Sandelin serving as an assistant coach. The NCHC has now had 31 representatives on the U.S. National Junior Team in its history (including this year), while Bernard-Docker is the third NCHC player to make Canada’s National Junior Team, joining former UND standout and current Colorado Avalanche forward Tyson Jost in 2017 and current Denver junior captain and defenseman Ian Mitchell last year.