On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden.
In addition to Lucia, five current Gophers are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei, freshman forward Hudson Fasching, freshman forward Taylor Cammarata and freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski are currently participating at the 2013 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid. Freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli is also in the hunt for a roster spot for the U.S. team.
Next year, the U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates using "Eyes on Sweden".
Editor's Note: Gophers sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei will contribute periodic blogs throughout the National Junior Evaluation Camp. In his first report, Skjei brings us up to speed with the first few days of camp.
"Greetings from Lake Placid,
We're a couple days into camp now, and so far things have gone really well. Having the experience from last year has been really helpful for me personally, and I'm doing my best to help out the new guys. So far, we've had a couple good practices/scrimmages, and I am pleased with my play so far. I am trying to make the game simple and be a strong, shut-down guy but also jump up in the play once in a while.
One of the best parts of the camp has been getting to know the other guys in camp and hanging out off the ice. All of the other Gopher guys have been playing strong too, and it's nice getting to know them more while we are out here.
We had the first round of cuts yesterday, so we're down to around 30 guys. It's difficult because everyone is here for the same reason -- to help the U.S. win, and you don't want anyone to have to go home. But it's part of the game. At this point, we're all used to it, and you just move on one way or the other. For me personally, I'm just trying to work hard and compete and do what ever i can to make the team.
One thing that everyone in Minnesota might enjoy knowing is how much respect everyone here has for Coach Lucia and the staff.
We have a game today against Sweden, so I better wrap this up and start getting ready. Hope everybody is enjoying summer back home."