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Seven current Gophers and one alum invited to USA Hockey World Juniors evaluation camp

Matthew Knies and Brock Faber along with six others with Minnesota Gophers ties, will bring their wealth of international hockey experience to the camp where Team USA for the 2022 and 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships will be picked.

Team Canada defender Mat Robinson (37) and Team USA forward Matt Knies (67) fight for the puck
Team Canada defender Mat Robinson (37) and Team USA forward Matt Knies (67) fight for the puck during the second period in the men's ice hockey preliminary round Feb. 12, 2022, of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at National Indoor Stadium.
George Walker IV / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – If things go well next month in Michigan, a handful of Minnesota Gophers may get a pair of all-expenses-paid trips to Canada to represent their country before 2022 ends. On Tuesday, June 21, USA Hockey announced invites for 60 players to the training camps to select the rosters for the 2022 and 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships. Their list includes seven current or future Gophers, and one recent alumnus.

The training camp will be held July 24-Aug. 3 at USA Hockey Arena in suburban Detroit. From that pool of 60 players – five goalies, 20 defensemen and 35 forwards – coach Nate Leaman and his assistants will pick 23 players to wear the red, white and blue sweaters in August for the 2022 World Juniors.

That tournament, which began in December in Alberta, but was suspended due to COVID concerns after Team USA had played just one game, will be played August 9-20 in Edmonton. USA Hockey expects to announce the final 2022 roster on August 3.

The eight players with Gophers ties are defensemen Ryan Chesley, Brock Faber and Luke Mittelstadt, and forwards Logan Cooley, Matthew Knies, Connor Kurth, Chaz Lucius and Luke Snuggerud.

Team USA's Brock Faber (14) warms up before the men's ice hockey preliminary round
Team USA's Brock Faber (14) warms up before the men's ice hockey preliminary round against Canada at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Faber, a Minnesota Gophers defenseman, was acquired by the Minnesota Wild in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings.
George Walker IV / USA Today Sports

Faber and Knies have notable international hockey experience under their belts already. Both were members of Team USA for that one World Juniors game last season before the tournament was canceled, and both represented the Americans at the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. Lucius, who played 24 games for the Gophers last season before signing with the Winnipeg Jets following his freshman year, also played for the Americans in that lone World Juniors game last season. Faber also skated for Team USA at the 2021 World Juniors, where he won gold. Leaman, the head coach at Providence, is returning to coach the 2022 Americans again.

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Chesley, Mittelstadt, Cooley, Kurth and Snuggerud are all incoming Gophers freshmen.

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The 2023 World Juniors will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, in eastern Canada. That roster is expected to be announced in December. That team will be coached by Rand Pecknold, who is the head coach at Quinnipiac.

“It’s going to be a unique camp as we evaluate players for our National Junior Teams that will be competing in the August and December World Junior Championships,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the U.S. National Junior Team and assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey in a statement. “We’ve got two great coaching staffs assembled, and with the deep player pool we have, there will be tough decisions to be made.”

USA Hockey noted that 21 states are represented among the 60 players , including a dozen from Minnesota.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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