USA Hockey announced Zach Werenski will captain Team USA at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Helsinki. Per MGoBlue, he joins current NHLers Kevin Porter (2006) and Eric Nystrom (2003) as the third ever Michigan Hockey player to lead the squad.
This is an interesting time for Michigan on a national level, considering just a year ago that seemingly the scoring majority of Michigan's top six forwards (Dylan Larkin, JT Compher, and Tyler Motte) and its best defenseman in Werenski made the trip to the WJC in Canada, leaving Steve Racine and Andrew Copp to carry the team at the Great Lakes Invitational. This will be less of a problem this year, but Kyle Connor (11th in NCAA scoring with 11G, 22pts) stands as a notable (and frankly questionable) omission from Ron Wilson's roster.
"We're excited about our leadership group here in Finland," said Ron Wilson, head coach of the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team, to MGoBlue. "Zach, Louie, Auston and Colin have led by example since day one in Lake Placid this August and have the respect of everybody in the room."
Werenski, the Big Ten's highest-scoring defenseman, hopes to return Team USA to the podium after a shocking early quarterfinal exit at the hands of Russia in Montreal. Despite questions about the roster, the team as it is assembled is widely viewed as a team far too good to leave before the medal round. If only a roster could be assembled without controversy...
Team USA's schedule for the World Junior Championship (Times EST):
Saturday, Dec. 26 -- vs. Canada, 1 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 -- vs. Sweden, 9 a.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 30 -- vs. Switzerland, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31 -- vs. Denmark, 9 a.m.
Saturday, Jan. 2 -- Quarterfinals, TBD
Monday, Jan. 4 -- Semifinals, TBD
Tuesday, Jan. 5 -- Medal Round, TBD
Team USA Roster
|10||Anders Bjork||5-11 (180)||183 (83)||8/5/1996||R||Mequon, Wis.||University of Notre Dame (HEA)||BOS ('14, 5th rd., 146th ovr.)|
|23||Brock Boeser||6-0 (183)||192 (87)||2/25/1997||R||Burnsville, Minn.||University of North Dakota (NCHC)||VAN ('15, 1st rd., 23rd ovr.)|
|12||Alex DeBrincat||5-7 (170)||161 (73)||12/18/1997||L||Farmington Hills, Mich.||Erie Otters (OHL)||2016 Draft Eligible|
|19||Ryan Donato||6-1 (185)||181 (82)||4/9/1996||L||Scituate, Mass.||Harvard University (ECAC Hockey)||BOS ('14, 2nd rd., 56th ovr.)|
|11||Christian Dvorak||6-0 (183)||187 (85)||2/2/1996||L||Palos, Ill.||London Knights (OHL)||ARZ ('14, 2nd rd., 58th ovr.)|
|14||Scott Eansor||5-8 (173)||168 (76)||1/3/1996||L||Englewood, Colo.||Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)||Free Agent|
|21||Ryan Hitchcock||5-10 (178)||170 (77)||3/30/1996||L||Manhasset, N.Y.||Yale University (ECAC Hockey)||Free Agent|
|34||Auston Matthews||6-0 (183)||199 (90)||9/17/1997||L||Scottsdale, Ariz.||ZSC Lions (National A-Swiss)||2016 Draft Eligible|
|17||Ryan MacInnis||6-4 (193)||185 (84)||2/14/1996||L||St. Louis, Mo.||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||ARZ ('14, 2nd rd., 43rd ovr.)|
|28||Sonny Milano||5-11 (180)||185 (85)||5/12/1996||L||Massapequa, N.Y.||Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)||CBJ ('14, 1st rd., 16th ovr.)|
|9||Nick Schmaltz||6-0 (183)||172 (78)||2/23/1996||R||Verona, Wis.||University of North Dakota (NCHC)||CHI ('14, 1st rd., 20th ovr.)|
|7||Matthew Tkachuk||6-1 (185)||188 (85)||12/11/1997||L||St. Louis, Mo.||London Knights (OHL)||2016 Draft Eligible|
|18||Colin White||6-0 (183)||183 (83)||1/30/1997||R||Hanover, Mass.||Boston College (HEA)||OTT ('15, 1st rd., 21st ovr.)|
|8||Louie Belpedio||5-10 (178)||194 (88)||5/14/1996||R||Skokie, Ill.||Miami University (NCHC)||MIN ('14, 3rd rd., 80th ovr.)|
|20||Will Borgen||6-2 (188)||195 (88)||12/19/1996||R||Moorhead, Minn.||St. Cloud State University (NCHC)||BUF ('15, 4th rd., 92nd ovr.)|
|26||Brandon Carlo||6-5 (196)||195 (88)||11/26/1996||R||Colorado Springs, Colo.||Tri-City Americans (WHL)||BOS ('15, 2nd rd., 37th ovr.)|
|5||Brandon Fortunato||5-10 (178)||148 (67)||6/7/1996||L||Albertson, N.Y.||Boston University (HEA)||Free Agent|
|4||Chad Krys||5-11 (180)||183 (83)||4/10/1998||L||Ridgefield, Conn.||U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL)||2016 Draft Eligible|
|25||Charlie McAvoy||6-0 (183)||205 (93)||12/21/1997||R||Long Beach, N.Y.||Boston University (HEA)||2016 Draft Eligible|
|13||Zach Werenski||6-2 (188)||214 (97)||7/19/1997||L||Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.||University of Michigan (Big Ten)||CBJ ('15, 1st rd., 8th ovr.)|
|36||Brandon Halverson||6-4 (193)||179 (81)||2/29/1996||L||Traverse City, Mich.||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)||NYR ('14, 2nd rd., 59th ovr.)|
|31||Alex Nedeljkovic||6-0 (183)||190 (86)||1/7/1996||R||Parma, Ohio||Niagara IceDogs (OHL)||CAR ('14, 2nd rd., 37th ovr.)|