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State of Hockey Sends Four to World Juniors

12/22/2011, 11:23am CST
By MHJ Staff

World Junior Championships will be held from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary.

Going for Gold

Four Minnesotans were named to the U.S. National Junior Team's final roster, USA Hockey announced on Thursday.

"Every year this decision seems to get harder," Jim Johannson said in the release, the general manager of the 2012 U.S. National Junior Team and also the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "The number of talented players from which we get to form a team says a lot about hockey's growth in the United States as a whole."

The World Junior Championships will be held from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary. Both Bjugstad and Forbort won a bronze medal with the U.S. at last year's tournament. A total of 22 players were selected to the final roster.

Take a look.

Nick Bjugstad (Blaine), University of Minnesota

Bjugstad has been one of the NCAA's best players throughout the first half of the season. He leads the No. 2-ranked Gophers with 27 points in 20 games. The sniper has already tallied 16 goals and continues to look like a man amongst boys in college hockey, even though Bjugstad is still just a 19-year-old sophomore. He scored big goals and was a key player for the U.S. last winter.

Derek Forbort (Duluth), University of North Dakota

A staple on North Dakota's blue line and another returning member for the U.S. His experience will counted on heavily, as injuries have taken their toll on the team and South St. Paul's Justin Faulk is playing big minutes with the Carolin Hurricanes, thus will not be joining the Americans at the tournament. Tall, mobile, strong defenseman who will receive lots of ice time and big-time assignments.

Kyle Rau (Eden Prairie), University of Minnesota

Has to be the favorite for WCHA Rookie of the Year right now. Tallied 12 goals and 10 assists in 20 games for the Maroon and Gold. Rau brings energy, speed, scoring ability and grit. He can play on the power-play and penalty kill. Plays on a line with Bjugstad at the University of Minnesota and they may stay together for the tournament.

Josh Archibald (Brainerd), University of Nebraska Omaha

The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick scored 7 goals for Dean Blais and the Mavericks in the first half of his freshman campaign. With Blais coaching the U.S., Archibald earned his trust -- and thus a spot on the U.S. roster. He scored 1 goal and 1 assist in the first two exhibition games of the World Juniors. Another skilled, speedy forward for the U.S.

"Having been behind the bench when we won the gold medal two years ago, I can't wait to get started again," said Dean Blais, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "This is an incredible group of players whose speed and tenacity should help us succeed in Edmonton and Calgary."

Minnesota Wild prospects Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle were also selected to the final roster.

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