BUFFALO, N.Y. - Six National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players will be trading in their collegiate sweaters for the Stars and Stripes over the next two weeks, as five Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and one St. Cloud State Husky were named to the final roster for the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team, USA Hockey announced Saturday. The six NCHC selections to the U.S. National Junior Team roster are the most from the NCHC since the conference began play for the 2013-14 season.
Minnesota Duluth sophomore forwards Joey Anderson and Riley Tufte and UMD freshman defensemen Mikey Anderson (Joey’s brother), Scott Perunovich and Dylan Samberg, along with St. Cloud State sophomore forward Ryan Poehling will represent the U.S.A. at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y. from Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 5, 2018, as Team USA looks to defend its gold medal from last year.
Joey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.) will serve as captain for Team USA in his second World Junior Championship after playing in all seven games at last year’s World Junior Championship in Canada, when he dished out two assists, was +1 and put 10 shots on goal en route to the gold medal. This season, Anderson has four goals and five assists in 13 games so far this season, missing three weeks due to an injury. Last season, the New Jersey Devils draft pick was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team after finishing second on the Bulldogs with 37 points. Anderson joins Miami alum Riley Barber, Denver Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher and former North Dakota star Nick Schmaltz as NCHC players to twice play for the U.S. National Junior Team.
Tufte (Blaine, Minn.), who missed last year’s World Juniors after suffering an injury at the World Junior Summer Showcase in August of 2016, will be playing on his first U.S. National Junior Team in Buffalo. He tallied two goals and handed out an assist in Team USA’s 14-0 exhibition win over Belarus on Dec. 20. The 2016 Dallas Stars first-round draft pick has a UMD team-best eight goals to go with three assists, while playing in all 19 games this season. Last season, Tufte totaled 16 points on nine goals and seven assists.
Poehling (Lakeville, Minn.), a 2017 first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, has five goals and 16 points in 14 games for the Huskies this season, with a +8 plus/minus. He helped Team USA win gold at the IIHF U-18 Men’s World Championship in Slovakia this past April. As a rookie at SCSU last season, Poehling tallied seven goals and 13 points in 35 games.
Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.), who had an assist in Team USA’s exhibition win over Belarus Dec. 20, leads all NCHC rookies and has a Bulldog team-best 16 points in 19 games this season, scoring four goals and adding 12 assists with a +10 plus/minus. He has earned three NCHC weekly awards this season, including Defenseman of the Week twice, and was the NCHC Rookie of the Month for November, as well.
Perunovich’s teammate, Samberg (Hermantown, Minn.), a Winnipeg Jets second round draft pick, has doled out four assists in 19 games this year and leads all NCHC rookies with 36 blocked shots. The third Bulldog blue liner, Mikey Anderson (Roseville, Minn.), a Los Angeles Kings draft pick, has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 16 games so far this year. He is +3 with 21 blocked shots as well, and tallied a goal in the exhibition win over Belarus last Wednesday.
In addition to the six NCHC skaters, the U.S. squad will be led once again by St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko, who also guided Team USA to the 2017 gold medal. Current Denver junior forward Troy Terry scored the shootout-winning goal to clinch the title over host Canada in Montreal last January. The U.S. National Junior Team has won the World Junior Championship three times of late, also winning gold in 2010 and 2013, while claiming bronze in 2011 and 2016.
Team USA will play its preliminary-round games in Group A against Denmark, Slovakia, Canada and Finland with three of the games at KeyBank Center, while the U.S. will face Canada in the first ever outdoor game in tournament play at New Era Field on Dec. 29. The Stars and Stripes open World Juniors play on Tuesday, Dec. 26 against Denmark at 8 p.m. ET. All Team USA games will be televised live on NHL Network.
Minnesota Duluth led all NCAA schools with five representatives on Team USA, while Boston University and Michigan each placed three on the team. Of the 23-man roster, 19 play college hockey, with seven from the Big Ten conference, six from the NCHC, five from Hockey East and one from ECAC Hockey.
Last season, four NCHC players were part of the gold-medal winning U.S. National Junior Team as joining Anderson and Terry were current SCSU sophomore defenseman Jack Ahcan and former Miami forward Jack Roslovic.
UMD sophomore forward Joey Anderson will serve as captain of the U.S. National Junior Team, after winning gold at last year's World Junior Championship.