Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.

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Gophers hockey pair Skjei, Fasching on preliminary U.S. Junior National Team roster + VIDEO

Posted by: Jason Gonzalez Updated: December 4, 2013 - 5:55 PM

A pair of Gophers will join coach Don Lucia at the U.S. National Junior Team training camp next weekend at Mariucci Arena.

Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei and freshman forward Hudson Fasching were among the 26 players named to the preliminary roster on Wednesday. Lucia is this year’s National Junior Team head coach.

The two Gophers are the only Minnesotans on the roster. Illinois leads the way with five players, Massachusetts has four, six states have two representatives, and five states have one.

“It’s a really big honor. It’s a team I’ve always wanted to play on. I came up a little short last year, so hopefully this year I can make a little difference and it should be a fun tournament if I make it,” Skjei said. “There’s definitely a little chip on my shoulder from last year, but I still haven’t made the team this year yet, so I still gotta keep working and see what happens.”

Lucia thought Fasching and Skjei put themselves in good position to earn a roster spot coming out of last summer’s evaluation camp. Since then, the pair has done even more to prove themselves worthy.

Fasching has played on the Gophers’ first line since opening day and is the team’s third-best scorer with 14 points (six goals, eight assists). Skjei has been among the Gophers top defenseman and played a regular role on special teams. He has two goals and two assists.

Four Gophers and six Minnesotans attended the National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., over the summer. However, Gophers forward Taylor Cammarata and defenseman Michael Brodzinski were informed by Lucia this week that they did not make the cut.

Fellow Minnesotans, Dominic Toninato (Minnesota-Duluth) and Jake Guentzel  (Nebraska-Omaha), were also cut. Guentzel is the son of Gophers associate coach head coach Mike Guentzel.

Brodzinski and Cammarata, both born in 1995, should get another chance to earn a spot on next year’s team, Lucia said.

St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko will be one of Lucia’s assistants.

National Team general manager Jim Johannson said there’s a chance they’ll add players to the preliminary roster after this weekend’s college schedule. Lucia wouldn’t confirm or deny if any Gophers would be considered for the late additions.

Lucia will make a stop in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thursday to see Michigan and the U.S. National Team Developmental Program face off at Yost Arena. Three Wolverines and one developmental program standout were named to the preliminary roster.

“We’re excited about our group. I thought we had a good summer,” Lucia said. “It’ll be fun to have the camp here at Mariucci Arena and have our exhibition game against Minnesota State Mankato. And I’m happy for our two guys that made it.”

Forwards Riley Barber (Miami) and Ryan Hartman (OHL), and goaltender Jon Gillies (Providence) return from last year’s gold-medal winning Junior Team.

Johannson said he expects to cut one or two players before leaving for Sweden. The final roster of 23 will be announced on Dec. 23 after exhibition games against Sweden and Finland. 

Training camp opens on Dec. 15 and will be open to the public. 

The full roster is here.

2014 U.S. National Junior Team Training Camp Schedule
Dec. 15-23 • Minneapolis, Minn. & Angelholm, Sweden

Date

Event

Venue

Location

Time

Sun., Dec. 15

Practice

Mariucci Arena

Minneapolis, Minn.

6:30-8 p.m. CT

Mon., Dec. 16

Practice

Mariucci Arena

Minneapolis, Minn.

10-11:30 a.m. CT

 

Practice

Mariucci Arena

Minneapolis, Minn.

5-6 p.m. CT

Tues., Dec. 17

Practice

Mariucci Arena

Minneapolis, Minn.

10-11:30 a.m. CT

 

at Minnesota State University

Verizon Wireless Center

Mankato, Minn.

7:30 p.m. CT

Wed., Dec. 18

Practice

Mariucci Arena

Minneapolis, Minn.

9:30-10:30 a.m. CT

Fri., Dec. 20

vs. Sweden

Lindab Arena

Angelholm, Sweden

1:30 p.m. ET

Sun., Dec. 22

vs. Finland

Lindab Arena

Angelholm, Sweden

7:30 a.m. ET

 

• The Gophers will be without Tom Serratore and Vinni Lettieri this weekend at Michigan State.

Serratore was hurt in Tuesday’s practice and will undergo an MRI on Wednesday. Lucia said it’s a sprain that affects his skating, but team trainers are hopeful the senior forward will return for the Mariucci Classic in early January.

Lettieri was banged up over the weekend against Wisconsin. Lucia said he will likely only miss a week of action before getting back on the ice.

Serratore’s absence will break up the recently hot Gophers third line of Serratore, Travis Boyd and Seth Ambroz and test the team's depth once again. Last week, Connor Reilly was successful on the second line filling in for injured Taylor Cammarata.

Cammarata will be back in the lineup this weekend. The freshman forward sat out against Wisconsin with back issues.

Gophers coach and U.S. National Junior Team coach Don Lucia:

Gophers defenseman and U.S. National Junior Team preliminary selection Brady Skjei:

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