Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad of the Gophers continues to wear a yellow jersey, meaning nobody can hit him, at the U.S. team's tryout camp in Camrose, Alberta. A roster of 28 players is preparing for the World Junior Championships starting next week in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta.
"It's nothing really serious," Bjugstad said on Monday when asked about his injury. "It's day-to-day. I'll play in the third exhibition game and definitely be ready for the 26th."
The U.S. team plays Russia on Tuesday and Switzerland on Wednesday. And, in its third and final exhibition, it plays Slovakia on Friday. The World Junior Championships start on Dec. 26. The U.S. meets Denmark in its first game.
Bjugstad would not say what the injury was nor narrow it down to upper body or lower body. He said his coaches would not approve of him providing details.
The Pipeline Show, an Edmonton radio show on hockey prospects, had one of its co-hosts, Guy Flaming, at the U.S. team's practice on Monday. Flaming interviewed Dean Blais, the U.S. team's head coach.
Afterward Flaming tweeted that Blais said Bjugstad would not play unless he was 100 percent healthy. Several sources, including The Pipeline Show, were reporting Bjugstad's injury was to one of his shoulders.
Bjugstad said he was hurt on his first shift on Dec. 10, the last game the Gophers played. "It happened at Michigan Tech, but it is not serious," Bjugstad said. "It was the first shift. I hit a guy, but it [the injury] was not noticeable."
Bjugstad continued to play in the Gophers' 6-2 victory over Michigan Tech at Mariucci Arena. He scored his 16th goal of the season in the third period of a four-goal uprising by the home team.
Near the end things got a little crazy on and off the ice with coaches yelling at each other. Jordan Baker of Tech gave Bjugstad a whack to the back with 2:19 left to play and for that blow -- and maybe for what he said -- Baker received a 10-minute misconduct. Thirty-three seconds later in the game, Bjugstad was one of three player receiving roughing penalties.
So his undisclosed injury was not hampering Bjugstad much against the Huskies if at all.
There are 17 forwards at the U.S. camp. Thirteen are likely to make the team, 12 starters on four lines and one sub.
Bjugstad, who played on the U.S. team last season when it took third place at the World Juniors in Buffalo, was considered a cinch for the team again before his injury.
He said not being able to scrimmage has not set him back too much. "It would be nice to get adjusted, to skate with everyone on lines," Bjugstad said. "But I'm a little more hungry in practices and will hopefully recover."
Bjugstad is participating in practices, but when the players scrimmage, he works on his conditioning with the team's trainers. "I am doing a lot of biking, a lot of workouts," he said. "I'm staying in just as good of shape.
Kyle Rau, is linemate of Bjugstad's on the Gophers top line, is also trying for a roster spot. "From what I've seen, [Kyle] is doing a great job," Bjugstad said. "Hopefully, he will make the team."
The present roster will be trimmed by six after the second exhibition game.
Bjugstad leads the Gophers and is second in the nation with 16 goals in 20 games. Rau has 12 goals, the most among all Division I freshmen.