Boston Represented Heavily on Team USA WJC Roster


It is uncertain at the moment as to how Team USA will fare at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Canada, as the group of 30 players began vying for a spot on the roster this past week from Tuesday, Dec. 16 to Friday, Dec. 19. What is certain is the recurring theme of Boston produced hockey players invited to Team USA’s camp. Of these athletes hailing from college hockey in Boston, several are natives of Massachusetts. Not only are these Americans products of the Commonwealth, they are all highly classified by NHL scouts.

Massachusetts’ own Jack Eichel of North Chelmsford and Boston University freshman will be just one of the several highly anticipated American players entering this year’s draft. Eichel is sought to be a top four prospect alongside fellow American and Massachusetts native, Noah Hanifin of Norwood and Boston College freshman. Hanifin and Eichel have combined for 10 goals thus far while playing for their respected Hockey East team, with Eichel netting the majority with 8.

There is a total of 6 American athletes on the World Junior Camp roster who have played their college hockey in Boston. Aside from Eichel and Hanifin, Boston College’s Thatcher Demko, Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen, and Alex Tuch are all noteworthy American’s on the World Junior roster. Both Eichel and Hanifin have not been through an NHL draft yet, which means this looming World Junior Championship will influence their draft stock in some facet. These two Massachusetts natives add to the already youthful and inexperienced American team, but a number of these young Americans have the support and attention of NHL scouts who yearn to see these kids rise above their expectations at the World Juniors.

A guy like Jack Eichel is needed for Team USA to contend with Team Canada led by Connor McDavid. Both will be vying for the No. 1 draft pick stature in the 2015 NHL draft. In fact, Eichel is McDavid’s No. 1 challenger for the first overall pick.

Eichel is entering his second World Junior Championship. Last year, the Americans had a disappointing outing with a fifth place finish. On an individual standpoint, Eichel fared rather well in his first go around while playing for his home nation. Eichel posted 5 pts. (1 goal, 4 assists) in five outings. This year, Eichel has absorbed a much more pivotal role for Team USA, and will be expected to have higher production than the previous WJC. The New Year’s Eve contest between Canada and the US will be the opportune time for scouts to get a solid look at Eichel fare against the skilled McDavid and Team Canada as a whole.

Goalie Thatcher Demko is entering his second World Junior Championship, yet he did not start for the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team. He’s played 16 games thus far at BC, posting a .927 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against average. Demko has yet to officially be named the starting goaltender. The Vancouver Canuck prospect will be battling with New York Rangers prospect Brandon Halverson and Carolina prospect Alex Nedeljkovic for the starting role.

Steve Santini is returning for his second go around at the World Junior Championship. The BC defensemen found the back of the net once and started all 5 games of the 2014 WJC for the Americans. He will look to carry heavy minutes for an inexperienced USA blue line as just 1 of the total returning 6 Americans from last years tournament. The blueliner may be a game time decision for the preliminary round opener against Finland on Dec. 26. He is still rehabbing from wrist surgery from Oct. 28. Santini has yet to play since then, yet managed to score a goal with BC prior to the injury – two less than his total of 3 from last season in 35 games. In just 4 games with Boston College this year, Santini has posted 1 point. If Santini is healthy enough to play, he will likely be named Team USA’s captain.

Another veteran blueliner from last years WJC is Wisconsin native and second-year BC defensemen Ian McCoshen. The Florida Panther prospect played in all 5 games in the last WJC, yet posted 0 pts. Through 16 games at BC this season, McCoshen has slated 5 pts. (2 goals, 3 assists). He scored 5 goals in 35 games the previous year with BC. The left-shot blueliner needs a stronger outing in this year’s WJC to help lead this youthful, yet quick defense.

Right winger/center Alex Tuch is entering his first WJC after winning Gold at the Under-18 World Championship. In 17 games with BC this season, Tuch  scored 5 goals and has posted 7 assists (12 pts.). Tuch was drafted 18th overall in the 2014 NHL draft by the Minnesota Wild. The 18-year-old is valued for his speed and quick shot, which earned him a spot on the national team.

After Team USA’s 5-2 scrimmage win over Boston University on Friday, Dec. 19., the team released three players. Forwards Adam Erne and Michael McCarron and defensemen Jack Dougherty were released. That means the final 27 players have been solidified for Canada and for the Dec. 26 game against Finland.

Though there are no Bruins prospects on the US roster, Boston has produced some great American hockey players on this roster. BU and BC have sent a total of 6 players to the WJC, with Eichel and Hanifin being the two Massachusetts natives. The city of Boston should be proud, as it is sending the largest group of players from one area of the nation to the games.

The Americans may not be the favorites to win the WJC by many pundits, but they will be a favorite among the plentiful NHL scouts attending the tournament. Team USA must play with pace, heaviness, and grit to grind past group rival Canada. It’s a tall task for a young group of kids with a lot of expectations.

The US will go head-to-head with Team Canada in a preliminary round tilt at the Bell Centre at 4pm, Dec. 31.