04/09/2008 2:49 PM - From ChicagoBlackhawks.com: (link)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Hockey today named the first 17 players to its U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, May 2-18.
Among the 17 players named are three of the top-10 rookie point getters in the National Hockey League, including forwards Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./Chicago Blackhawks/1st, 21-51-72) and Peter Mueller (Bloomington, Minn./Phoenix Coyotes/4th, 22-32-54) and defenseman Tom Gilbert (Minneapolis, Minn./Edmonton Oilers/10th, 13-20-33).
"This is an exciting group of players that has great potential," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "Our National Team Advisory Group has worked hard to put together a team that will put us in position to be successful in the World Championship."
Team USA’s roster features nine players who have previously played in the IIHF World Championship. The group includes defensemen Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn./Phoenix Coyotes/2004, 2007) and Matt Greene (Grand Ledge, Mich./Edmonton Oilers/2007); forwards David Backes (Minneapolis, Minn./St. Louis Blues/2007), Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings/2006, 2004), Jeff Halpern (Potomac, Md./Tampa Bay Lightning/2005, 2004, 2000-01), Patrick O’Sullivan (Winston Salem, N.C./Los Angeles Kings/2006), Drew Stafford (Milwaukee, Wis./Buffalo Sabres/2006), Lee Stempniak (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Louis Blues/2007); and goaltender Craig Anderson (Park Ridge, Ill./Florida Panthers/2006)
In addition, 14 of the 17 players are 25 years old or younger, including defensemen Ballard, Greene, Gilbert and James Wisniewski (Canton, Mich./Chicago Blackhawks); forwards Backes, David Booth (Detroit, Mich./Florida Panthers), Brown, Dustin Byfuglien (Minneapolis, Minn./Chicago Blackhawks), Kane, Mueller, O’Sullivan, Jason Pominville (Buffalo, N.Y./Buffalo Sabres), Stafford and Stempniak.
Rounding out the first group of players named to the U.S. roster is Paul Gaustad (Fargo, N.D./Buffalo Sabres).
Team USA will play a pre-tournament game against Sweden at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, on April 27 at 7 p.m. EDT before beginning competition in the IIHF World Championship on May 2 at 6:15 p.m. EDT against Latvia. The United States will play two additional preliminary-round games against Slovenia (May 4) and Canada (May 6) before the qualification round begins.
NOTES: The average age of the first 17 players named to Team USA is 23.9 years old ... The 2008 U.S. Men’s National Team is under the direction of Jim Johannson and a four-member advisory group, including NHL general managers Brian Burke (Anahiem), David Poile (Nashville), Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) and Don Waddell (Atlanta). Tony Rossi, vice president of USA Hockey and its international council chair, oversees all aspects of international competition for USA Hockey ... Team USA will conduct a training camp from April 24-30 in Portland, Maine, including a pre-tournament game against Sweden on Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m. (EDT) at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Tickets for that game can be acquired by visiting www.theciviccenter.com ... John Tortorella, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was named head coach of the 2008 U.S. Men’s National Team on March 28. Mike Sullivan, assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Kurt Kleinendorst, head coach of the Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League, will serve as assistant coaches for Team USA.